I had a buddy who was a Nam vet

It was the summer of 1971 in Michigan.  I was 13 1/2, and between my 8th and 9th grade school years.  I had been given a job in the machine shop where my father was the supervisor.  A co-worker ran over my foot by mistake with a fork lift and broke a bone in my foot (still hurts occasionally).  My grandparents took me up north to stay with them at their cabin to recuperate. 

The son of the guy across the street showed up, also in a cast.  “Michael” is all I remember as his name.  A white guy with dark hair and a ‘stash.  He had safely done a tour of duty in ‘Nam, but once home, had been intentionally sideswiped while on his motorcycle by a black dude in broad daylight.  (Racial tensions in and around Detroit were high back then, just a few years after the ’67 Detroit and MLK Jr’s assassination.)  So he went to his father’s cabin to recuperate, too. 

We spent our days fishing “out at the point.”  Grandpa’s cabin was on Crooked Lake, Michael’s was across the street.  We both hobbled down with our crutches, fishing tackle, and Michael’s pot.  We got high, high, high. (Michael wasn’t an evil influence–he found out I already got high before letting on that he smoked, too.)

We had a great two weeks pal-ing around.  I’m sure I wasn’t his ideal companion, but I was the only companion around.  He didn’t tell me much about his tour, but he did make it sound as though most of the troops were stoned a lot.  My grandparents trusted  him because he was a vet.  I don’t think they ever caught on that I was a pothead back then (I quit my senior year and haven’t smoked since).

We caught a lot of fish, worked on our tans, and stayed high all day long.  I remember feeling angst that my budding football career was over.  I was quite a sensational half back in 8th grade football, and had been hoping to become a star on the junior varsity the following fall, before I broke my foot.  The pot and Michael’s companionship eased the physical pain and kept my mind from wondering if my football days were over. 

At the end of the two weeks, I went home, tore my walking cast off prematurely (it kept getting wet and I got tired of having it replaced).  I made the varsity that fall, and ended up as the only freshman starter (linebacker, not at halfback) due to injuries to upperclassman.  We won our division title and missed going undefeated by one overtime touchdown. 

I never saw Michael again, and long ago lost track of what happened to him. He was a great guy, seemingly unscathed by his experience in Viet Nam.  He seemed matter of fact about it, not ashamed and not particularly proud, either.  Back then, I naively thought that of course we would win the war.  We were America–nobody could beat us.  

I did not know the significance of it when it happened, but that fall, on our bus trips back to the locker after all our football games, the upper classmen, who were subject to possible draft in less than a year or two, would lead the entire team in singing (I know, how corny).   One that sticks out was more important to them than to me:  …”and it’s one, two, three what are we fighting for, don’t ask me I don’t give a damn, I don’t care about Vietnam…” (Country Joe and the Fish). 

To paraphrase LBJ, if you’ve lost the high schoolers, you’ve lost middle America. 

I never gave up on the war, and I was pissed when we betrayed Vietnam.  But easy for me to say, it was over before I was old enough to have to worry about it, and then the draft was abolished.  I saw first hand how the liberal peaceniks operated, and learned quickly how they operate.  They tried the same old stunts during Iraq.  If GWB had listened to those old ex-hippies now in control of the Democratic party, we would have pulled out before the surge and lost there, too.   One of the many reasons why I hate hippie peaceniks.

7 responses to “I had a buddy who was a Nam vet

  1. and that is what is happening in America today. The Great Apology Tour coupled with the fact that AssHat in Chief never gave a damn enough to serve (if he is even eligible) really puts the military in an awkward position.

    The military cannot say “Look ! We have a President that served, look at the heights you can reach through the military.”

    Instead we have a President that wasn’t even proud of the US till it was time to dictate.

    I am thankful our 3 daughters are involved int he military and I wish one day ALL kids would be so inclined to seek out the military to help them become active responsible adults…I know ~ a pipe dream but what the hell.

    I learned alot from the only Vietnam Vet I knew closely. Ritchie taught me about owning up to the mistakes and what it really meant to die for your country. He did die, Agent Orange tore through his body where the bullets couldn’t, but we spent so much time watching airplane take off and land in the wee hours of the mornings, I miss him dearly. He was strong, smart and survived 3 tours to ‘Nam, but the lack of consistent care killed him.

    I look back over the 3+ years I served, mostly on the USS Savannah AOR-4 out of Norfolk with laughter and pleasantries but always wondered…what if…what if there had been a war during the mid 80’s…

    I display the flags of our fathers for the sole purpose of showing the occupants of this great land, that there are some people that will stand blindly behind our troops, because they are our last line of defense…not the first.

    The first SHOULD be our politicians but they have become so money hungry the blood of our troops matters little…if any. They tell the voters what the voter wants to hear then just do whatever the hell they want afterward.

    So, Democrats, try and show some support FOR THE TROOPS, hell, your President is sending over 60,000 to Afuckistan soon, including 3 of my very dearest friends…so even if you don’t like WAR, fly an AMERICAN flag, to show you are not like our leader….a coward.

  2. My father was a Korean war vet. He didn’t join any crappy ass group opposing that war, or any other war. In fact, he always gently encouraged me to enlist.

  3. If GWB had listened to those old ex-hippies now in control of the Democratic party, we would have pulled out before the surge and lost there, too. One of the many reasons why I hate hippie peaceniks.

    Hey John…I resemble that hippie remark, you sweetheart, you!

    John please, …one of the many reasons I hate hippie peaceniks,…I’m sorry John ; that seems more than a bit harsh?

    President Obama has presently maintained President Bush’s surge in Iraq and has actually, accentuated our presence in Afghanistan…
    President Bush should have concentrated on Afghanistan and disregarded the oil resources for American blood; he pursued with Halliburton and VP Cheney in Iraq…!

    I wouldn’t follow either George or Dick to a slit trench to take a dump!

    Olde soldier sends…best regards!

  4. If I were you, I’d take a look around at the people who infest those peacenik rallies. Do you just stand around and cheer when they burn the flag, or do you just ignore that part of the peacenik rallies?

  5. If I see someone burning our flag, I’ll stick my foot so far up their ass, they’ll be tasting shoe leather!

  6. Pingback: 1970 Greatest Hits « Smash Mouth Politics

  7. I wouldn’t follow either George or Dick to a slit trench to take a dump!

    Mon apologies gents…

    I couldn’t have followed either…[Lil’] George or [Big] Dick to a slit trench… ‘cause, neither one, ever served were he’d halfta… take the kinda shit…

    HOOOAH…!

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