Dear David,

How many years have passed since I received the news of your death in Vietnam! I will be 80 in June but it’s all so fresh in my mind. Hardly a day has gone by when I  didn’t think of our childhood and wondered who you would have become~~a missionary like your dad or like me, a lifelong antiwar activist. I lost touch with your sister but I hope she remembers you by saying no to war. I hadn’t heard of Vietnam or quagmires in those days. I grieve for you and for lessons not learned.
Yours in peace & hope,
Christine  “Mimsica” Taylor

Dear Soldier,

 We lost you

Halfway around the world, in a land that need not have been destroyed

We Lost You

we learn about the world at that time

a place with very high emotion

Turmoil, Unrest

should we have even been there?

you suffered

We Lost You

The lessons of your battle are still being taught

The loss is undeniable

War is blood 

too much blood in the soil

you were called by your country.

what else could you have done?

We Lost You

you were just

Following Orders

We Lost You

the thanks we give

are not enough

for this ultimate sacrifice

We Lost You

We can not change the past

We can remember and teach history

We can work for a better future

I will teach my children of the ugly truth of war

We Lost You

As strong as the granite your names are on

Is my resolve to remember

We will not forget

We Lost You

—Sarah Taylor

It was Tay Ninh Province in Vietnam, 1969. I was stationed in a fire support base at the foot of Nui Ba Dinh. In the middle of the night the Viet Cong had come out of their mountain caves and rained down rockets and mortars on us. We took a pretty good hit.

I was a medic with an Artillery unit (105’s). When the firing subsided, I checked the area and looked in all the bunkers for wounded. No one had gotten hit. I did hear moaning in the distance where the infantry troops were. I asked my captain for permission to leave our encampment and see if help was needed.

I, soon after, came upon a young soldier with the Vietnamese army. He was bleeding heavily from the chest. I tried as best I could to stop the bleeding but between the darkness and the blood, it was hard to even find the wound.

Soon, another soldier from my unit arrived and asked if I needed help. I knew this soldier was a nervous guy but I needed help getting the wounded soldier to the helicopters that were just arriving.

I instructed him on how to lift the stretcher from the front. Almost immediately he started to run with the stretcher and I yelled at him to just walk since the medivacs had not touched ground yet. He started to walk and in a couple seconds he began to run again. This time, I stepped in a puddle and a metal object (I believe it was part of a shell casing) hit me in the shin. I saw stars but somehow managed to hold on to the stretcher. I was not very happy with my helper.

By this time gunships had arrived, and with flares going off, they were blasting away at the mountain.

This nervous soldier and I continued toward the landing area with him constantly trying to run and me constantly yelling at him. We arrived as the helicopter was landing and I told my helper to twist his body and place one end of the stretcher on the helicopter. He said, “I can’t.” I tried to calm him and asked him again. He said, “I can’t.” Eventually I asked him why he couldn’t. With sobs he said, “because the helicopter landed on my foot.” I looked up at the dark ominous mountain, the flares popping off in the darkness, and the fire from the gunships whizzing through the air. I let out a little chuckle—one a madman would utter. I thought—am I finally losing it? I then caught myself and caught the attention of one of the men on the chopper and pointed out the problem to him. He had the pilot raise up the chopper and when they came back down he jumped off and helped with the stretcher.

I doubt the Vietnamese soldier lived—he was close to death when we put him on the stretcher.

As far as my helper is concerned, I was still angry with him for the pain he caused me. I suggested he get on the helicopter since some of his toes might be broken from the helicopter. He assured me the helicopter missed his toes and only landed on the front of his oversized Army boot.

I walked back to my unit saying, “Damn Army boots.”

Frank Toner

I have been a member of the Veterans For Peace organization for some time. I did not serve during this “conflict,” but I had classmates who did. At the urging of a neighborhood friend who was a Captain in the National Guard, I joined in 1962 after I graduated from college. My unit (a tank battalion) was never called. I guess the Army rightly concluded that we were ill trained, with antiquated WWII surplus equipment. I was honorably discharged in 1968, so it was before Vietnam was beginning to reach a boil. I was beginning to hate that war and the false premises on which it was justified. I have been anti-war ever since and (among other actions) was part of the massive protest against the Iraq war, again, a war based on lies and deception. I am proud of my preteen grandson who has also learned a healthy skepticism of the rationales for war, especially wars of choice. As most boys between about 6 and 9, he was fascinated with tanks, artillery and other weapons of war, but (thankfully) has now abandoned the “toys” of war and conflict.

J.R. Tyldesley