Local Stories

MATURE SUBJECT MATTER, VIEWER DISCRETION ADVISED: WEDU is honored to present the personal Vietnam War experiences of our local citizens. The stories presented here have not been edited and are presented as originally shared by the author. The content may contain coarse language, images, or remembrances that may be disturbing to some viewers. Viewer discretion is advised.


Ron S.’s Story

Shared on May 31, 2017

 

I served in Nam in 1970 with the 589th Engineers, Co. ‘C’.

 

H A I R D

Just been assigned my barracks in Basic Training. Head freshly shaven, brand new fatigues baggy and stiff. I never was much fer hats but here I am ear-deep in brim. My arms are sore already from doing pushups… I just fukkin’ got here! Duffel bag weighs a ton with all the shit in it to be neatly folded and in it’s right place within fifteen minutes or it’s more pushups. “Anybody know where this goes?”

I got the top bunk, first row by the door. The guy in the bunk beneath me looks like he’s 40 years old… looks like Popeye, wink and all. I introduce myself an’ he says his name is Haird, Haird White. Just to be sure I asked, “Your name again?” He repeats, “Haird.” I ask Haird where he’s from and he says, “Wes’ Ginya.” Believe me, it’s easier for you to read it than for me to understand what he said. This was my first experience with any accent other than Philly, New York, or Boston. As time went by he must have thought I was a lil’ slow because everything he said to me was followed by my, ”What?” We were two months into basic training and I was still calling him Haird when I found out his name was Howard. I wonder if he thought all of that time I was mocking his accent? He was cool though, he never said nothing and I went on calling him Haird.

 

W E L C O M E H O M E B R O T H E R

On a bench in the park they found him today,
Last night, in the dark, his life slipped away.
He appeared to be sleeping as people walked past,
No one was weeping as he breathed his last.

What was his name? Who had he been?
From whence he came? Had he any kin?
He’ll go to his grave unknown and not lauded,
But once he was brave and hundreds applauded.

Nowhere was evident the medals pinned on
That day by the President on the White House lawn.
Also not seen as he came to his end
The life that had been, no family, no friend.

Who sees, who knows what’d be our fate
‘F our life goes like the guy on the grate.
If you see him tonight, whisper, “Welcome Home Brother.”
He went left, you right, or one might be the other.


Sponsored in part by

R.O.C.

Retired Officers’ Corporation at Freedom Plaza

Production Credits: THE VIETNAM WAR is a production of Florentine Films and WETA, Washington D.C. Directed by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick. Written by Geoffrey C.  Ward.  Produced by Sarah Botstein, Lynn Novick and Ken Burns.

Funding Credits: Funding provided by: Bank of America; Corporation for Public Broadcasting; PBS; David H. Koch; The Blavatnik Family Foundation; Park Foundation; The Arthur Vining Davis Foundations; The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation; The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation; National Endowment for the Humanities; The Pew Charitable Trusts; Ford Foundation Just Films; Rockefeller Brothers Fund; and Members of The Better Angels Society: Jonathan & Jeannie Lavine, Diane & Hal Brierley, Amy & David Abrams, John & Catherine Debs, Fullerton Family Charitable Fund, The Montrone Family, Lynda & Stewart Resnick, The Golkin Family Foundation, The Lynch Foundation, The Roger & Rosemary Enrico Foundation, Richard S. & Donna L. Strong Foundation, Bonnie & Tom McCloskey, Barbara K. & Cyrus B. Sweet III, The Lavender Butterfly Fund