My Original Veteran’s Day Post

I'd guess Phil probably resembled this young marine when he arrived

I hadn’t thought about my old running buddy, Phil, for a while.  That last blog entry got me chewing on thoughts of him.  I’ll tell you a bit more about him.

Phil went to the Marine Corps as the result of being a 17 year old driving from Temple, Texas, to Austin with a case of beer in the car.  A Williamson County Sheriff Deputy stopped him on a tail light violation, asked for his drivers license and saw the case of beer.  Old Phil, being a clever youth, gave the officer a Texas Drivers License with an altered date of birth, so’s to keep from being arrested as a minor in possession of alcoholic beverages.

The deputy wasn’t fooled.  He hauled Phil off to the slammer to reflect on his sins.  He was offered the alternatives of going to prison for presenting a phony ID, or going into the US Marine Corps.

In Vietnam, at least, Phil was old enough to drink.  He became Marine Recon and a sniper.  Phil was in the jungle with a squad of other snipers surrounded by a NVA rocket launching unit when the first rockets were fired into Da Nang AFB.  The squad wisely stayed hidden and didn’t take any shots, they radioed in the location of the rocket unit and brought an airstrike down on top of themselves.

They’d be dropped into an area where the NVA was expected to set up a battalion or division headquarters, sit there a couple of weeks waiting quietly, and try for a head shot at a senior officer.  Once the shots were fired they’d try to sink back into the bushes until things went quiet, then slink out to some place where they could be lifted out.

Phil did two tours over there.  When he came back he had such a chest full of medals they snatched him up for Nixon’s Honor Guard.  Which Phil believed would be easy duty.

Instead, it was riot control.  Wherever Nixon went there were anti-war riots, and Phil and his unit busting heads, which he thoroughly hated, since he agreed with the demonstrators.

Phil hated politicians, hated war, hated the men responsible for sending him over there and making him the troubled, rage filled human being he was during the decade and a half I knew him.

But the Vietnamese body counts were a lot higher because of Phil.

When I last saw him half his face was eaten away by Lupus, contracted as a result of Agent Orange in those jungles.  The Veterans Administration was fighting and squirming denying all those guys were ill from Agent Orange, that the problems were Service Connected, so they’d have to offer disability and whatnot.

Phil used to observe that he might have been a lot better off if he’d just let them send him to prison for the beer and phony ID.  Then they couldn’t have even drafted him for that place.

I wonder if that old Agent Orange has killed him yet.  Another victim of friendly fire with a delayed action fuse.

Old Jules

Tom Russell –Veteran’s Day

11 responses to “My Original Veteran’s Day Post

  1. Listening to you here.
    Take care.

  2. That was cool. It really doesn’t make a big difference in the world, but it means something to those who served, when someone (anyone) can take the time and the sincerity to spell out a heartfelt thank you – or just a moment of time – to think about those who served.
    Im no longer in the service, but I thought about my friends who still are today. When I read this it reminded me. This was a very cool post. Thanks.

    • Squelsch: Thanks for the read. I saw Phil come close to slugging someone once who said, “Thank you for your service”. He believed he killed a lot of human beings in a meaningless war he wanted nothing to do with. The thanks he got was Lupus and a Veterans Administration denying the Agent Orange was the cause. He figured “Thank you” just didn’t quite fit the picture. Figured he’d be lucky to survive anymore thanks. Gracias, Jules

  3. I had a friend who was contracted polio at 3 years old. She lived a few years inside one of an iron lung. Her father killed her mother. She was left alone on earth. At some point she was able to breathe on her own. She spent 62 years alone in a wheel chair, could not walk, use her hand, go to the bathroom by herself, or get into bed without help. She could not get a drink of water from the faucet by herself, and only one of her hands worked.

    She received two college degrees, and became a nature conservancy volunteer at the Conservancy of Southwest Florida. I will never forget Jan. I met her when she was around 62 years old. One day she took me to the booardwalk that meanders through the nature conservancy. Jan, in her wheelchair, and I walked along for awhile. A bug was crawling across the boardwalk. As Jan approached it with her wheelchair she stopped and waited for the bug to get safely to the other side. I never killed another bug after that. Jan died two years ago. I have never killed a bug since the day at the nature conservancy. Even if I see a worm struggling on the cement sidewalk in the hot summer. I find some way to relieve its suffering. That is why we are here – to relieve one another of our suffering.

    • Hi livvy1234. Maybe you’re right. I hope you’re wrong. I wouldn’t take kindly to anyone thinking they were here to relieve me of anything they believe is suffering on my part. But I’m not wise enough to know what other people ought to dedicate themselves to. Thanks for stopping in and commenting. Jules

  4. Few things knit friendship like adversity, and stronger still from adversity unjustified. Here’s to friends who understand.

  5. Pingback: Do You Know A Veteran Like, Phil? They Are Out There — Mostly Forgotten! « Becoming is Superior to Being

  6. Damn Jules…1st post and I’m hooked. Great writing.


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