“Dear Mrs. Carlson,
I received your letter and I’m very sorry about the death of your son Richard. I often
wonder if it was worth the sorrow and the pain which so many of us fret over now each
day. I guess this is a (situation) nobody can explain.
Richard and I were very good friends, as (we) were the two medics attached to Delta Company. During the month of May our company was on search and destroy mission in the South Vietnam National Forest. We had been searching the area from the beginning of May up until the 20th without making any contact with the enemy. On the 21st day of May we met enemy resistance consisting of heavy automatic weapons fire, which caused our company to pull back and call in artillery and air strikes. Our commanding officer received reports that we were up against a regimental size force, so for three days we called in artillery and air strikes before moving back into the area of contact.
We advanced without any contact whatsoever when our lead element spotted two enemy soldiers and killed them both. As we continued on farther, Charlie had concealed himself and set up an ambush, which he let us walk right into before he sprung the trap. The enemy opened up hitting one of our men in both legs. At this time we pulled back, but in the excitement we didn’t know that we had a man lying back there wounded until we heard his shouts.
At this time we couldn’t get to him because the firing was so heavy, so i crawled forward and aided the man but I couldn’t pull him back because they had me pinned down. A five man team was sent forward to provide a base of fire for me while I carried my wounded buddy back. But those five men never mad it to my position. They were all shot down and wounded. So I left the other man and began applying aid to the other wounded members of my company. Richard crawled up to my side and began patching up the nearest man to him when he was shot in the leg. He was bleeding badly and in great pain. I applied morphine to his wound to ease the pain.
He finally told me the pain had subsided a great deal. So I told him to lay there until I could drag him back. But he saw that an officer had been hit in the head and was losing a lot of blood. Richard rolled over several times until he was by the officers side. He then began to treat the man as best he could. In the process he was hit several more times, twice in the chest and once in the arm. He called me, and I went to his side and began treating his wounds. As I applied bandages to his wounds, he looked up at me and said, “Doc, I’m a mess.” He then said: “Oh, God, I don’t want to die. Mother, I don’t want to die. Oh, God, don’t let me die.” We called a helicopter to take him and the rest of the wounded to the hospital. Richard died before the ship arrived. I did everything in my power to save Richard. Every skill know to me was applied. I often wonder if what we’re fighting for is worth a human life. If there is anything that I can do, please, call on me.
This was taken from the book “Dear America, Letters Home From Vietnam.” I share this letter with you to give you a glimpse of what our solders go threw when in war, just to come home and not be given the respect they earned. We have lost Respect for our American Solders.
Never in American History has a funeral been protested, let alone a military funeral. Since the 1960’s we have lost Respect for our American Soldiers. When these men and women returned home from vietnam, they were NOT greeted with smiling faces, parades, a hand shake of thank you, not even shown a little respect or common courtesy. Instead they were called names, like “baby killer” and they were even spat on (the lowest form of disrespect).
Respect, on Dictionary.com is defined “deference to a right, privilege, privileged position, or someone or something considered to have certain rights or privileges; proper acceptance or courtesy; acknowledgment.”
Courtesy: “the showing of politeness in one’s attitude and behavior toward others.” (definition by google) I feel that Courtesy and respect mean the same thing.
People didn’t agree with the governments decision to go to war in vietnam thus they “flexed the muscle” freedom of speech and started to protest. The protesting went overboard when when they lost respect for the American solder.
At one point, with a little help from those vietnam vets and people who didn’t want to repeat history, we started showing respect again when our troops would come home. I had even thought we learned from our mistakes and was starting to show some respect again, until, July 2005 when the Westboro Baptist Church picketed the funeral of Carrie French, A solder who died in Iraq. The U.S. Supreme Court stated that they have every right to picket these funerals because it is a type of freedom of speech. With that I have to agree, we are blessed with the freedom of speech and you have the right to picket a funeral. However, where is our respect for those that are willing to lay down their lives so that we can keep that right, and so that other countries can experience what it feels like to have that right (freedom of speech). The Bible states this in John 15:13 “Greater Love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” These solders are laying down their lives for people they don’t know. No, we may not agree with everyones life style and we may not agree with the government, but there are other ways of using your freedom of speech, to try and get them to change their minds. Where would this country be without them (our solders)? What would the outcome have been on Dec. 7, 1941 (Pearl Harbor)? What would the outcome have been on Sept.11, 2001, If no one was willing to go and fight back? People seem to take advantage they will always be there to fight, but who would want to if your family cannot greave in peace, or if your spat upon, called names for something that wasn’t true, when you came home after giving your all for these people who are not thankful or have the common courtesy to show some respect. These solders are just following orders and have nothing to do with the governments decisions.
Take your anger out somewhere else, these men and woman have earned their Respect!
I leave you with this a poem by Michael O’ Donnell, from Springfield, Illinois. It was written the 1st of January 1970. He was a helicopter pilot and “on 24th March 1970, attempting to rescue eight soldiers, his chopper was shot down. He and three crew members were declared missing in action. In 1977, he was promoted to major. A year later, he was officially declared killed in action.” (Dear America Letters Home From Vietnam)
“If you are able,
save for them a place
inside of you
and save one backward glance
when you are leaving
for the places they can
no longer go.
Be not ashamed to say
you loved them,
though you may not have always.
Take what they have left
and what they have taught you
with their dying
and keep it with your own.
An in that time
when men decide and feel safe
to call the war insane,
take one moment to embrace
those gentle heroes
you left behind.”
"Dear America Letters Home from vietnam" Edited by Bernard Edelman
Foreword by William Broyles, Jr.