series of vignettes. Some were significant; most were trivial.
War is the seminal event in the life of everyone that has endured it. Though I
fought in Korea and the Dominican Republic and was wounded there, Vietnam was my
Now 42 years have passed and, thankfully, I rarely think of those days in
Cambodia, Laos, and the panhandle of North Vietnam where small teams of
Americans and Montagnards fought much larger elements of the North Vietnamese
Army. Instead I see vignettes: some exotic, some mundane:
*The smell of Nuoc Mam.
*The heat, dust, and humidity.
*The blue exhaust of cycles clogging the streets.
*Elephants moving silently through the tall grass.
*Hard eyes behind the servile smiles of the villagers.
*Standing on a mountain in Laos and hearing a tiger roar.
*A young girl squeezing my hand as my medic delivered her baby.
*The flowing Ao Dais of the young women biking down Tran Hung Dao.
*My two years as Casualty Notification Officer in North Carolina, Virginia, and
It was late 1967. I had just returned after 18 months in Vietnam. Casualties
were increasing. I moved my family from Indianapolis to Norfolk, rented a house,
enrolled my children in their fifth or sixth new school, and bought a second