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11-13-2016 06:46 PM
“THANKYOU FOR YOUR SERVICE”
I have waited over forty years to hear those words. I first heard these words 3 years ago when I was at the home of a veteran of the current war in Afghanistan. I was at his home which suffered damages from a flood. I work for the Small Business administration disaster loan department. I was wearing a US Navy veteran’s hat and he ask when I had served. I told him I was in during the Vietnam War in a Recon Squadron which flew off the USS Enterprise. Then he reaches out his hand and said, “Thank you for your service.” A young Vet to an old Vet. All those years I realized I had never been welcomed and thanked for the time I spent on that wall protecting our freedom. My welcome home had been quite a bit different.
It was Janurary 1968 and our squadron had boarded the USS Enterprise for a West Pac cruise to relieve one of the aircraft carriers cruising in the Gulf of Tonkin off of Viet Nam. We would be out for 10 to 12 months. We sailed out under the Golden Gate Bridge and made our way to Hawaii for a one day stop to take on ordnance. I had just turned 21 and had the realization this was not a game. We were headed into War. After leaving Hawaii we had no way of knowing we were about to participate in a couple of historic events. We had been invited to Japan. This was a big first since there had been no nuclear surface vessel invite to Japan since the US dropping the atomic bombs on Japan in WWII. As it turned out what we thought was going to be great liberty turned out not so good. For the 4 or 5 days we were Sasibo Japan they had riots against the Nuclear Carrier Enterprise and it wasn’t safe to be ashore. It was also winter and very cold.
We were sort of glad when we left Japan because we were headed for the Philippines were it was warm and sunny. The day after leaving Japan we were up on the flight deck and noticed the sun was in the wrong direction if we were supposed to be headed for the Philippines. The captain came over the carrier’s speaker system and informed us we were headed for the Sea of Japan off of Korea. It Seems the North Koreans seized one of our ships, USS Pueblo, and we were going to get our men and our ship back.
Well we sailed up and down the Sea of Japan launching and retrieving aircraft to put on a show of strength. We did this for a month until another carrier relieved us and we headed straight for the Gulf Of Tonkin.
We finally made it to warm weather and the war. For the next 8 to 9 months we launched planes night and day. We were on Yankee Station in the gulf of Tonkin and we had become members of the Tonkin Bay Yacht Club. We would spend 30 days on station and 5 days in the Philippines.
Our squadron consisted of 6 RA5C Vigilantes, with twin jet engines it was probably the fastest plane on the ship and it had to be. It carried no weapons just electronics equipment, cameras, radar, auto navigation systems with a pilot and navigator. During our deployment one of our planes was shot down and the pilot and navigator spent the rest of the war as prisoners. There were also losses of planes and personnel among the other squadrons aboard.
The big day finally came when the Enterprise was relieved and we headed for home. I think all of us were proud to have served on the Enterprise and serve our country. We would be sailing into San Francisco under the Golden Gate Bridge. We were expected to man the rail around the flight deck in our dress white uniforms. Can you imagine the sight we made, the largest nuclear aircraft carrier in the world with 2 to 3 hundred men in dress white uniforms standing at parade rest. Now throw in the Golden Gate Bridge one of the largest suspension Bridges in the world. Yeah Man we were young and proud. As the ship got closer to the bridge we could see maybe 100 to 200 people on the bridge. What a welcome home this is going to be – Wrong. As the ship past under the bridge the people started throwing and then dumping what we thought to be flowers. As is it turned out it was garbage and not one word of welcome, not one “Thank you for your service”.
As time moved on I had forgotten about this until all of the Vets coming back from desert Storm , the Iraq war and Afghanistan and the welcome home they were getting. There were songs made up for them, big surprise welcome home broadcast on TV, new homes for them and of course lots of “Thank you for your service.”
Please don’t get me wrong. I’m all for them getting this kind of treatment. They have spent their time on that wall protecting our freedom and liberty so strike up that band.
As I said at the beginning of all of this, I travel a lot for the US Governments disaster loan department and more and more people See my hat and ask “Were you in the Navy” and with a lot of pride I answer “Yes a long time ago”. Then I hear the words. Words that you cannot imagine what they mean to me. The words that drive that American pride wright up into my throat making it hard to speak ---- “THANK YOU FOR YOUR SERVICE”
So what does Vetrans Day mean to me. As a man having served my country and to have returned home the Vetrans Day has become a day to remember who paid for this day. Our day of
11-12-2016 10:00 PM
It meant any body can get away with elderly financial abuse in conway SC just ask Miss Andrea -Melton - Peavey -Edge she can tell you how.
11-12-2016 06:00 PM
I see the void of morals in our nation, the very values so many fought and died for. I pray my Gods help I can stand for those values in respect and honor to the sacrifice and death of american soldiers that I hold dear and sacrete.
11-12-2016 02:20 PM
Teri, first I love and miss grandpa, who served in II and Korea (we also believe I but he was young and we can't prove).
My second love is my friends lost in Vietnam.
My third is son-in-law lost to PTSD ME1.
Finally, but no less important, every soldier, police officer/1st responder everywhere, and citizen hero...
Murder is no different whomever the victim(s) is/are. That is what we need to stop, imho...
11-12-2016 02:12 PM
What an amazing story, r313616s. I appreciate it as it gave me a different perspective of November 11th.
For us, perhaps as we were 3rd gen US born at the time, November 11th was always Veterans' Day; Armitise Day was end of WW 1 but Veterans' Day honors all US Military Veterans.
I do think Armitise Day would be a great way to honor the soldiers of all nations. Thank you for reminding me there are people all over the world who just want PEACE!
11-12-2016 06:19 AM
When I was a kid my parents still called it Armistice Day, and we always wore paper poppies to remember those who died in the first world war. We also observed silence at 11:00, the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month, when the fighting stopped on the Western Front. To me, this day will always be about the coming of peace, the returning home of those who survived, and reflection on the sacrifices made by those who did not.
This year I'm serving in the Peace Corps in the Republic of Macedonia, which was on the Eastern Front in WWI. There's a cemetery nearby where alost 8,000 French soldiers who fought in that war are buried. I took the opportunity to visit, to pay my respects to allies of our country who fought in what they hoped to be the War to End All Wars, hoping that some day their hopes will be realized.
11-12-2016 02:00 AM
As a veteran of foreign wars I rejoice that our efforts have not been in vain. God bless you all and God bless America!
11-11-2016 10:07 PM
Veteran's Day is a celebration of our military members who serve and fight for freedom's of people around the world. My father was a POW during WWII, my 2 brothers served in the Marines and one became a disabled veteran of the VietNam War. I was honored to serve 30 years for this great country in the Air Force and Army. I know that America is the greatest country in the world. Our freedoms are second to none. As a naturalized citizen, I appreciate American and our way of life. My only hope is that our children and grandchildren learn that America is great because it is a land of opportunity and as my father said, "You can become whatever you work to become. It is not the government's responsibility to provide for you but only to give you the opportunities. You must work hard to succeed!. Never depend on someone else or the government to take care of you!" Servicemembers are truly a unique cross-section of our nation and build bonds and commitment like no other.
11-11-2016 03:54 PM
In 2017 I will be 78 years young and I do remember my mother holding me when the Civil Service came around during World War 2 and the curtains had to be drawn so that no lights were allowed to be seen from the street in case of an air raid. I was only 3 years old at that time but it was frightening. At the time we lived in the Bronx, NY.
I have seen a lot of wars since then and my favorite charity is DAV. I never turn down their requests to help the disabled veterans and feel very thankful and proud for these brave soldiers service to keep us safe.
11-11-2016 09:08 AM
I am thankful for America and my freedom. My dad served in WWll, he was on Iwo Jima when the flag was raised. He didn't talk about it much, but I am sure he went through unbelievable things. After the war was over he went to China to help transfer the Japanese back to their homeland. I feel that for the bombs on Japan my dad would have never made it home. Therefore I would not be. Thanks to all the Vets. I pray that the young people will learn the price that has been paid for their freedom, and will learn to appreciate America.
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