After a bit more than a half-century, I should probably tell you how each Memorial Day, every one of you has been front and center in my heart. As a young single lieutenant, I could not believe that those of you who were married, many with children back home, would willingly and overtly place yourself in harm’s way with the motivation that “with every truck kill we are saving some GIs”; with every RESCAP we are delivering one jock back to his buddies, back to his family, back to his home.
I marveled at your calm as I gave each briefing. On those just-before-dawn days when I drove you to your aircraft, sometimes I stayed to watch and lifted a prayer at your liftoff. As you walked in for each debrief, I gave thanks at your return. And when reports came back of “Misty 11 down”, or 21, 31 or 41, I worried about you like you were my brothers. And for those who didn’t return, I grieved like they were family…still do, frankly.
I adored your courage. I wanted to fly over ground that you flew over, try to see a target with “Misty eyes”, hear the crack of AAA that you heard, and feel the surge of adrenalin–the fear born of living on the edge that you must have felt. That’s why, while waiting at Danang for the R&R flight to see that beautiful young lady who has shared my home now for more than 50 years, I foolishly talked a couple of O-2 FACs into strapping me in so I could show them the SA-2 just north of Fingers that PK had captured on Pentax the day before. When we found it, the guns opened up and I rather quickly learned that I did not have what it takes to endure 4 hours of this, day after day after day. My awe of you grew.
So on this Memorial Day 2020, after 50+ years of procrastination, I’ve finally let it out.
I am forever honored to be called a Misty and forever humbled to be your friend.
So thankful that each of you came home.
P.S. OK! No need to say it! I can hear you: “Hey Lieutenant, now shut up and get that DISUM out!” 😀