When I was a senior at Lodi Union High School in Lodi, California, you were a sophomore in some of my sister’s classes.
We never talked when we went through basic and advanced unit training at Fort Riley, Kansas in 1966. But I heard your name on our radios as a KIA while on an operation. You were murdered on March 14, 1967, ironically on my sister’s birthday. Recently, I looked you up in my 1963 Tokay yearbook. It’s hard to believe that it’s been 52 years since you were KIA. I’m sorry you lost your life in a war that we should never have been in, a war we were lied into. There have been many more regime change wars since your death. I live with the guilt that the U.S. murdered between 3 and 5 million civilians in Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam. I leave you with this poem from my published book What They Wanted, 2015, Veterans Day, Future Cycle Press, written under Victor Henry aka Victor H. Bausch, US 56424348
LOCAL BOARD NO. 32
During the Vietnam War two thirds who went enlisted
For years now I’ve longed for
The executive secretary, the principle clerk,
To understand that her decisions
Were the reasons why twelve men
From my hometown died in Vietnam.
That Congress had not formally declared war,
That there was no clear and present danger,
That there was no need to impose a draft
That I need her to explain to me
Why I was drafted when others were not.
That her signature on my induction notice
Was like a death warrant.
Old matriarch and executioner,
You could have been anybody’s mother or grandmother,
And I wondered then, as I do now,
How many of your sons and grandsons got drafted.
How many died in the red dirt and monsoon mud of Vietnam.