It was hot and humid. The hissing overhead lights around the compound were drawing bugs of all kinds. All he wanted was to go get dinner at the mess tent. Then the darkness of the night exploded with the sound of bullets whizzing in from the dark jungle outside the fence. Snipers were using everyone out in the main area as targets and at least 3 men were down that he could see from the doorway of his quarters. The big overhead lights made it easy for the snipers to pick off anyone who tried to move in any direction. Hearing groans and knowing that there were men who needed medical assistance, he grabbed his M-16. Making a dash for the relative cover of a picnic table in the yard, he set up to shoot—not at the snipers, who he could not see. No, he shot out the lights, one after the other, until the snipers bullets stopped coming and help could get to the wounded in the cover of darkness. Though he was not a “combat” soldier, he was awarded the Bronze Star medal for his bravery and the lives he saved.
This was my dad. Thirty-five years old, career Air Force—had a wife and three children waiting for him at home. It took 20 years but this is what he finally told me about why he received the Bronze Star. He was never one to talk about the war and not one to talk about himself. A lifetime of hunting and fishing had prepared him for the marksman’s medal he received before even heading in-country. A marksman’s medal that saved many lives one hot, humid night at Pleiku AFB in Vietnam in 1967.
Many of those who came home from this horror of a war were Continue Reading