"If you are able, save for them a place inside of you and save one backward
glance when you are leaving for the places they can no longer go.
Be not ashamed to say you loved them, though you may or may not have
always. Take what they have taught you with their dying and keep it with your own.
And in that time when men decide and feel safe to call the war insane, take
one moment to embrace those gentle heroes you left behind.

Major Michael Davis O'Donnell
1 January 1970
Dak To, Vietnam
Listed as KIA February 7, 1978

Sunday, July 26, 1992

Walking into the kitchen of Crabapple Farm, Andrew Belden sighed. Some things never changed and the smell of coffee brewing in the kitchen he had grown up in was one of them. He was in town for Mart’s wedding to his high school sweetheart, Diana Lynch. Business dealings in Scotland and a sheep farm in Iowa made it difficult to visit his hometown of Sleepyside-on-the-Hudson very often.

When Mart and Diana had set their wedding date, Andrew had marked the calendar, insisting that he have time to spend with his brother as well as his nieces and nephews. His only hope was that he would not find himself in the midst of one of his niece Trixie’s mysterious adventures. Several years ago, when she was in high school, Trixie had managed to find adventure that had prematurely grayed his hair, not once but twice in a matter of about three months.

As he sat down next to his niece, he glanced over at his brother who was reading the business section of the Sunday paper. Peter Belden did not have a grey hair on his dark head. If it had been anyone else, Andrew would have sworn that he colored his hair but he knew Peter was not vain enough to do that. Maybe it was God’s gift for having to put up with Trixie’s attraction to adventures.

His sister-in-law, Helen, on the other hand had commented on occasion that only her hairdresser knew how many grey hairs Trixie had given her over the years.

Fortunately, for all those involved, the adventures had slowed down when Trixie had entered college. Of course, maybe it was because Trixie just didn’t share everything with her parents. What happens at college stays at college.

Helen handed him a cup of black coffee and placed a plate of scrambled eggs and sausage patties in front of him. “I hope you slept well last night,” she said.

“You’ll hear no complaints from me,” Andrew said. “I felt like I was back in high school. The only thing missing was Harold’s snoring.”

Peter looked up from the paper. “It’s a good thing he’s not here to defend himself. He would insist that you were the one who snored.”

“Well, I know and you know that he’s the one with the snoring problem,” Andrew replied. “By the way when is Harold going to get here? It’s been too long since I’ve seen him.”

Trixie snorted. “Aunt Irene called last week. She said they couldn’t make it because of some problem in one of the mines in South America. Of course, that was after she had tried to get an invitation to some society function she thought Mrs. Wheeler would be attending. When she couldn’t wrangle the invitation, they suddenly couldn’t make it.”

“Trixie,” Helen scolded. “You don’t know that. Ever since that mine accident,Harold has been more hands on with all of the mines.”

Trixie shook her head in dismay. “Well, even though Uncle Harold and Aunt Irene won’t be here, Cap, Knut, and Hallie will be.” Trixie sipped her coffee and opened up the front page of the paper. After a few minutes, she said. “It says here The Moving Wall will be in White Plains this week. I hope Jim and I can go view it before the wedding festivities get into full swing. Last semester I needed to fulfill an elective, so I took a history course about the Korean and Vietnam conflicts. It really opened my eyes to what happened.” She read aloud the article that explained about the history of The Moving Wall. “Uncle Andrew, you served during the conflict. Would you like to go with us?”

Andrew’s raised coffee cup stopped and he quickly glanced at his brother. He was remembering another morning in this very kitchen almost twenty-three years ago.

Sunday, May 18, 1969

Andy was sitting at the table, staring at the scrambled eggs his mother had just placed in front of him. The eggs were fresh. He had gone out and gathered them first thing in the morning. It was just one of the many jobs he had to do each day. It didn’t seem fair that since his older brothers, Harold and Peter, were now married with children of their own, he was expected to do all the chores they had done and more.

He couldn’t wait for his high school graduation. In less than three weeks he’d be out of school and on his own. He had been accepted at Cornell University in their agricultural program and was reluctantly planning to go there.

That was until the mail came yesterday. When he had turned eighteen, he had registered for the selective service. His draft number had come up. He wasn’t sure if he agreed with the United States’ participation in the conflict in Vietnam, but he did feel a duty to serve his country if he was called. He had a decision to make. Be drafted, serve his minimum stint in the Army or enlist in the Marines for four years. His Uncle Fred had served in the Marines and spent time guarding embassies all over the world. Maybe he could avoid the Vietnam Conflict all together by applying to the Marine Security Guard.

He was still staring at his eggs when his mother, Sarah, said, “Those eggs are getting cold. You haven’t taken single bite of them. Are you okay?”

“I’m fine, Mom,” he replied. “I just have a lot on my mind today.”

“Yeah,” his brother Peter said, as he walked through the door with his very pregnant wife, Helen and their eighteen-month-old son, Brian. “He’s worried about whether he should ask Patty Matthews to the graduation festivities or not.”

Andrew glared at his brother. “If it were only so simple,” he said.

His father joined them in the kitchen. William Belden was a wizened man who had spent most of his life working the land. He milked twenty-five cows twice a day. “I’m sure it’s nothing that a little hard work wouldn’t cure. I need help with the planting today.”

“William,” Sarah Belden admonished. “It’s Sunday, a day of rest. You’ve been working all week and you need a break.”

“I need to get the corn in the fields,” he insisted. “Any day now it’s going to start raining and then we won’t be able to get into the fields for a week.”

“Don’t worry, Mom,” Andy said as he stood up from the table. Before he had pushed the chair back in, his mother had already grabbed his plate and was scraping the remains into a bucket for the pigs. “I don’t mind. It will probably be the last spring I’ll be able to help with the planting for a long time.”

“What are you talking about, son?” his father asked. “I know you won’t be able to be home every weekend in May but you can’t stay away from spring planting. It’s in your blood.”

“It might be in my blood, but I won’t have much of a choice in the matter,” Andy solemnly said. “I got my draft notice yesterday and I’ve decided to enlist in the Marines instead.”

Helen and Sarah gasped in shock.

“You what?” William Belden shouted. “Please tell me you didn’t just say you are going to enlist in the Marines.”

Quietly, Andy replied, “But I did. I don’t want to risk being assigned an infantry unit. Not after all of the casualties the United States suffered last year. Hopefully, I can get assigned to the Marine Security Guard like Uncle Fred did,”

His mother and sister-in-law wept in each other’s arms. “How could this happen? I thought if you were enrolled in college you could defer your draft,” his mother said, trying to wipe the tears that were freely falling down her cheeks.

“I could,” Andy said. “I just don’t want to. I’m really not ready for college right now and this is a good opportunity to learn something and serve my country.”

There were numerous discussions inthe following weeks about Andy’s plans. Both of his parents tried to convince him to change his mind but he was bound and determined to join the Marines. Something had driven him to do it and he couldn’t explain what it was. The weeks leading up to his graduation had been fraught with anger and emotions. The only good thing that had happened was his nephew, Martin, had been born. That had taken some of the attention off of him.

Graduation came and went and soon he found himself in Parris Island, South Carolina doing nine weeks of basic training followed by advanced training at Camp Pendleton. By the fall of that year he was in Vietnam, assigned to a CH-46 Helicopter as an aerial observer. He hadn’t avoided combat duty but hoped he would avoid becoming a casualty.

“Uncle Andrew, did you hear me?” Trixie asked. “Would you like to go along with Jim and me to view The Moving Wall?”

Andrew hesitated for a moment. “I don’t know, Trixie,” he stalled. “There’s a lot that needs to be done for the wedding. Maybe it would be better not to go and visit it.”

Trixie didn’t hide her disappointment. “You’re sure you don’t want to go? Diana said she went to see the Wall in Washington, D.C. last spring when she was visiting Rosewood Hall. She said it left her speechless.”

“I don’t want to go see the Wall,” Andrew snapped and then abruptly got up from the table and left the room, leaving the rest of the family speechless.

As he headed outside he heard his brother say to Trixie, “Just drop it, sweetheart. Many Vietnam vets saw horrible atrocities that they just can’t talk about and may never be able to talk about.”

Andrew walked out onto the verandah and sat in one of the lounge chairs. He shouldn’t have gotten so upset. After all it had been twenty years since the official ceasefire had been called and eighteen since the fall of Saigon. Some days it seemed like it was a million years ago and other days like it was just yesterday.

When he had enlisted, he had been so full of pride and excitement about being a Marine. The basic training had just about killed him, but he had survived. There had been days that he swore he was ready to give up, but with the help of his buddy Tom Jackson he managed to make it through basic training as well as the advance training.

Each had told their parents they had enlisted so they could avoid the draft, but they both admitted they wanted to do more for their country.

Tuesday, July 16, 1969

Andy had just boarded the bus taking him on the final leg of his journey to the Marine Corps Recruit Depot in Parris Island, South Carolina. He had been traveling since the previous day and was looking forward to sleeping in a bed. There were few seats available when he climbed aboard the bus and he took the first one he saw. After stowing his duffle bag under his seat he turned to his seatmate and introduced himself.

“I’m Andy Belden from Sleepyside-on-the-Hudson, New York.” He extended his hand in greeting.

“I’m Tom Jackson from Philadelphia,” his seatmate replied.

During the hour-long drive to the base, the two became fast friends. They discovered they were both the youngest in a middle class family. Both had never strayed far from home and both hoped this experience would help them decide what they wanted to do for the rest of their lives.

When the bus finally arrived on base, Andy felt like he was ready to take on the world, or at least the Marines. They disembarked, their bags were searched for contraband, and then they were called into their first formation. Standing on yellow footprints in the asphalt, they learned how to stand at attention. At first there were a few guys that didn’t seem to want to take the drill instructors seriously. After doing several sets of push-ups, they had realized it wasn’t a laughing matter. They learned that the purpose of basic training would be to teach the recruits to function as a team and not to question authority.

Several times during Basic Training, Andy thought he would never make it. The physical training was excruciating but that was nothing compared to the mental anguish they were put through. Any little misstep was met with some sort of punishment. By the time the training was over, Andy swore he’d never want to scrub a latrine again, even if he was given something bigger than a toothbrush to clean it with. He didn’t think he was antagonizing the drill sergeants but it always seemed like he was the one on the receiving end of their wrath.

They were nearing the end of their training and had to do the obstacle course. It wasn’t about who could go through the course the fastestbut that the entire squad had to complete the course in less than fifteen minutes. No one could be left behind. The hardest part of the course was climbing over a wooden wall with only a rope to help you over. It required a lot of upper body strength. Everything had been going fine with the run. They had broken the squad up into groups rather than everyone trying to stick together. Tom, Andrew and one other recruit were running the course together. Each of them had previously posted a good time on the course and weren’t worried about having any trouble on the course.

As Tom made it over the wall and dropped to the ground, he turned his ankle. He didn’t scramble out of the way fast enough and Andy then came down on top of him. As they got up to finish the race, Tom found he couldn’t put his weight on his foot without experiencing great pain. Knowing that a Marine didn’t show pain he tried to run on it but collapsed after a few feet.

Andy and the other recruit ran up beside Tom, each grabbing an arm and placing it around his shoulder and together they carried him the last 100 yards to the finish line. They made it with a minute to spare.

“You should have left me behind,” Tom said, as they leaned over to catch their breath.

“No, we couldn’t,” Andy said. “You never leave a man behind. We’ve always got each other’s back.”

“Well, don’t think I won’t forget it,” Tom said.

Luckily, Tom’s injury wasn’t as severe as they originally thought it would be. Andy was pleasantly surprised that he and Tom were able to do their advanced training together and were assigned to the same base after their training had been complete. Theywere both assigned to a helicopter unit. Andrew worked as aerial observer and Tom was a door gunner.

As they worked daily side by side the two young men became lifelong friends.

“Andrew,” Helen called out, “We’re going to late church service. Would you like to join us?”

It was something Helen always asked when he visited on a weekend and something that he always declined. Except for weddings and funerals, Andrew Belden didn’t go to church. He hadn’t gone to church for a long time, twenty years to be exact. He was mad at God. How could a God that was supposed to be so loving allow such atrocities to happen?

“No, thanks, Helen,” he replied. “I’m going to sit out here on the verandah and enjoy the nice weather.” He drank the rest of his coffee and then sat down on a lounge chair and closed his eyes, soaking up the sun.”

“Well, okay,” she said. “If you’re sure, we’ll be home around noon.”

He didn’t move and pretty soon he had fallen asleep.

May 1, 1970

The chopper landed in a clearing about thirty yards from the main camp. He ducked as he made his way to the waiting whirlybird. Following behind him was his best friend, Tom. As soon as they were inside, they took off, heading into Cambodia. They had started an offensive to attack supply bases of the North Vietnamese Army, hoping to catch them off guard as May Day was a traditional Communist holiday. They met little resistance for an hour. As they came upon a supply base, Andy spotted some NVA moving away from the base. They were just about on top of the base getting ready to fire at it when the NVA opened fire on them.

“Damn,” pilot Lieutenant John Becker said. “I’m gonna try to dodge their fire. Corporal Belden, keep an eye on those NVA down there. Corporal Jackson, get ready to fire on my call.”

Andy didn’t take his eyes off of the enemy. They began firing again right at their chopper. “They’re aiming right at us,” he called out through his headset. He glanced over to his left and saw more gunfire coming from another direction. “There are more of them over to your left, Lieutenant.”

“Can you get them in your sight, Jackson?” the lieutenant asked. Before he could reply the helicopter took a hit to its rear rotor. It lurched in the air.

“We’ve been hit!” Andy cried. Lieutenant Becker tried to control the bird. He managed to turn it around and head back to base. They hadn’t gone very far when they felt another reverberation.

“Damn,” Becker yelled again, watching the gauges on the dash of the copter. “They hit a line. I’m losing oil pressure. Hopefully, we can limp back to camp.” His voice betrayed his words and Andy knew they were in big trouble.

The helicopter began to lose elevation. Pretty soon they were skimming the trees. “Brace yourself for impact,” the officer ordered.

The next thing Andy remembered was feeling pain. Horrible pain. Slowly, he opened his eyes. It was dusk. How long had he been lying here and why was he here?

Then it came back to him. The copter he was in had been hit. They must not have made it back to base. Carefully, he began moving his head then shoulders and hands, finally he wiggled his toes. He winced in pain as he moved his right foot. At first he was worried about the pain but then it dawned on him that if he could feel the pain at least his back hadn’t been broken.

Cautiously, he tried to raise himself up into a sitting position. In the last rays of daylight he saw the wreckage of the helicopter about twenty feet away. He had no idea how he had gotten where he was. He could see the pilot, Lieutenant Becker leaning against the console. His head in an unnatural position, blood covering one side of his face. He suspected he hadn’t made it. Where was Tom?

He wanted to yell Tom’s name at the top of his lungs. He stopped himself when he realized there might be NVA nearby. When he took a deep breath, he experienced deep pain. Light was fading fast. He had to locate his friend.

“Tom,” he whispered. “Are you okay?” There was no response. He looked frantically around. First at the wreckage, it didn’t appear that he was in there. Where could he have gone? He continued to call out but even at a whisper his voice began to give out. Finally, he saw him. He was lying in a crumpled heap about thirty feet from him.

Slowly, he tried to push himself up to make his way over to his friend. He stifled a cry of pain when he put weight on his right leg. Not giving up, he dragged himself towards Tom. Time stopped as far as Andy was concerned. He had no idea how long it had taken him to make it to his friend. Fortunately, the moon was full that night and the sky was clear so he could still make out his friend’s still form.

When he finally got to his friend, he gently shook him, trying not to do any further damage. He didn’t get any response. Not wanting to believe the worst, he gently rolled him over and gasped. His head appeared to have been smashed in and part of his cheek had been torn off on impact. Andy placed two fingers on his neck searching for a pulse. No matter how hard he prayed, and how hard he searched, there was none to be found.

“Oh, Tom,” he sobbed, wrapping his arms around his friend. How long he stayed in that position he didn’t know. It was where he was found the next day when a platoon of U.S. soldiers came upon him.

Andy didn’t remember much of the next few months. The first few weeks he spent in and out of a drug-induced fog. He had severely broken his right leg, punctured a lung, and suffered a bruised spleen as well as a concussion. When he finally came out of the fog there was a letter waiting for him from his brother, Peter.

May 14, 1970
Dear Andy,
We are all praying for your speedy recovery. The Marines were finally able to notify us of your injuries yesterday. By now, hopefully, you are on your way to a speedy recovery.
They also told us about your friend, Tom. We are so sorry for your loss. His memorial service will be in two weeks. Mom and Dad are planning on attending it. We know how much you would want to be there and it’s the least we can do. I would like to go as well but my hands are kind of full right now. While you were off fighting on May 1, Helen was delivering our adorable little girl. Beatrix Helen Belden was born at 7:10 a.m. She has a head of blonde curls and ice blue eyes.
Brian is enjoying playing big brother. Mart isn’t quite sure what to think. He doesn’t like all the attention given to Trixie, as we’ve taken to calling her.
I never thought I would say this but it was a good thing Mart started walking early. It has made things a little easier given that he isn’t even a year old yet.
Well, I’d better get going. Helen and the kids are napping right now, but pretty soon they will all be up. I’ll send you a picture of the kids with my next letter. In the meantime, if there’s anything we can do to help, let us know.
We are all so grateful you are alive and proud of you.

Andy shut his eyes to stave off the tears when he finished reading the letter. He would be forever grateful to his parents for attending Tom’s memorial service. He hoped in the future he would be able to associate May 1st with his niece’s birthday and not such a tragic event.

The screen door slammed and Andrew awoke, startled. It took him a few moments to get his bearings. Bobby raced onto the veranda. “Uncle Andrew, Dad says we’re going to go to White Plains for lunch. Are you coming with us?”

He stood up and stretched trying to shake the sleep and his disturbing dream off. “That sounds like a great idea,” he replied. “Who’s going along?”

“Mart is going over to Diana’s to work on some last minute wedding details, whatever that might be,” Bobby said disgustedly. “You’d think by now they’d have everything done.”

The screen door opened and Peter and Helen came out. “Bobby,” Helen admonished. “You know how your brother wants everything to be perfect. Are you going to join us, Andrew?”

“I think I will,” he replied.

In the end, Trixie and Jim joined her parents, Bobby and Andrew for lunch. Brian wouldn’t be in town until Friday afternoon. He hadn’t been sure he’d be able to make it even then, since he’d just begun his residency.

As they drove into White Plains they passed Renaissance Plaza. As he looked out the car window, Andrew could see volunteers working to get the Moving Wall into place. He resisted the urge to shutter his eyes and instead stared in wonder at all of the people working so hard to get the display set up. They ranged in age from grade school to senior citizens. All of them were diligently working to get everything just right.

Peter didn’t stop the vehicle to watch. He knew how Andrew felt and didn’t want to push the memorial onto him. They continued on to the restaurant. From the back seat, Bobby started to whistle “White Christmas”.

“Bobby,” Trixie said. “Why are you singing Christmas songs in July?”

Bobby blushed. “Ever since I was in Crimpers yesterday, I haven’t been able to get that song out of my mind. They were having a Christmas in July sale and playing Christmas songs over the loud speaker.”

Andrew started to shake. While he had enjoyed watching White Christmas as a child, he could not even think about the movie or song without reacting.

Tuesday, April 29, 1975, 10:48 a.m.

U.S. Embassy, Saigon

“I’m dreaming of a White Christmas, just like the ones I used to know,” crooned Bing Crosby over the American Radio station.

Staff Sergeant Andy Belden was guarding the main gate of the U.S. Embassy. After he had recovered from his injuries, he had applied and been accepted as a Marine Security Guard. For the past eighteen months he had been guarding the embassy in Saigon.

The last month had been non-stop hectic. Ambassador Graham Martin had been issuing exit visas to any and all who wanted to evacuate Saigon. Operation Babylift had evacuated about 2000 orphans and Operation New Life had evacuated approximately 110,000 Vietnamese Refugees.

The playing of “White Christmas” signaled all remaining US citizens to make their way to the evacuation points. The end was near and this would be the last chance to get out of the country. Word had just come down that the airport had been bombed, so the remaining evacuation would be by helicopter.

Vietnamese had been camping outside the embassy for days hoping to gain transport out of the country. Over a thousand people were camped out, hoping to get out. Andy Belden spent most of the day trying to keep the masses under control. He worked throughout the day with little rest and no relief. They tried to evacuate as many refugees as they could but at some point they realized that they would not be able to accommodate everyone and the command came down to evacuate only U.S. citizens.

Gradually, the Marines made their way up to the rooftop of the embassy. As each perimeter began moving toward the roof, those remaining began to realize what was happening and started to push their way to the rooftop as well.

Once all of the Marines were on the rooftop, they barricaded the doors and waited and waited. There were no signs of any helicopters, but Andy didn’t doubt they would eventually get there. They would need nine helicopters to get all of the Marines off of the roof. After an hour of waiting and listening to refugees trying to break down the barricaded door, the last wave of helicopters approached. By agreement, the Marine Security Guards were the last to leave.

Andy helped load the Marines. There was one helicopter left and about twenty Marines left to evacuate.

“Okay, Sergeant,” Master Gunnery Sergeant John Valdez ordered. “It’s your turn. You get in and I’m following.”

They climbed aboard the CH-46 chopper. As the door closed, it lifted off of the rooftop. Andy looked out the window and saw the remaining refugees still trying to make their way to the rooftop, hoping they were not too late.

He noticed a young woman of about twenty looking up in the sky, tears running down her cheeks. Although it was impossible at their altitude, it seemed to Andy that she was looking directly into his soul. He shut his eyes and didn’t open them again until they landed on the USS Blueridge. No one spoke on the flight. It was as if they were afraid to acknowledge what had just happened.

Andy’s life changed that day. For months he could barely sleep. Every time he closed his eyes that girl’s face was there. To add to the trauma, when he returned to the States he was met with angry citizens. There was no welcome home parade, no one cheering them for a job well done. People failed to realize the efforts they had made and how tirelessly people tried to make sure as many people who wanted to get out of Saigon were able to.

When the time came, Andy decided not to re-enlist in the Marines. His remaining two years with the Marine Security Guard had been spent in the United Kingdom. While London could get to be overwhelming at times, Andy had discovered Scotland on a long weekend. He spent time researching their sheep operations. When he returned to the United States he enrolled in agriculture program at Cornell University.

Midnight, Tuesday, July 28, 1992

Andrew stared up at the ceiling, unable to sleep. All day he’d been having flashbacks to the war. The slightest thing would bring up bad memories. He had been tossing and turning for the last hour. Finally, he decided to get up and do something. He pulled on a pair of jeans and a shirt, not quite sure why he felt the need to get fully dressed, and headed into the kitchen.

He was desperate enough to try anything, even his mother’s tried and true warm milk. He hadn’t slept well for the past few nights and it was taking its toll. He tried to quietly pull a pan out but as he did a lid fell out of the cupboard and crashed to the ground. He looked around, half suspecting to see Helen coming down the stairs. By the time he got the lid put back in the cupboard, he decided he didn’t want to fuss with the milk.

Something was driving him. He went back into the guest room, put on a baseball cap and his shoes, grabbed the keys to his rental car. He headed through the kitchen and was almost out the door when he heard something.

“Uncle Andrew.” It was Trixie. “Are you okay?”

He turned and looked at his niece. “I don’t know,” he answered, honestly. “I just have to go.”

Trixie didn’t say anything but turned and ran back up the stairs. Before Andrew had reached the car, she was opening the passenger side door and climbing. She didn’t say a word.

Silently, they rode down Glen Road and onto Sawmill Parkway. She reached over and patted his shoulder in comfort. They continued in silence until they made their way into White Plains. Still not a word was said.

They pulled up into the parking area of the Renaissance Plaza. Light illuminated the Wall; off to the side a white canopy stood. Two volunteers sat in lawn chairs but no one else was there. Andrew got out of the car and walked toward the Wall. Something drew him to the monument. It was like a magnet; nothing could stop him.

He stopped at the first panel and stared. His eyes started to scan the names, trying to find names that he knew. They darted across the words, afraid he would miss someone’s name. He gradually made his way from each panel, trying to find the names of those he had lost.

As he moved to the next panel, someone gently tapped him on his shoulder.

“Sir,” the gentleman said. “Is there someone special you’re looking for?”

For a second, Andrew stared at the man, not really seeing him. Then the words sunk in and he replied, “Yes, I think so.”

The man led him over to the canopied area to a large book. As he moved he explained, “The names of the wall are in order of when they passed away. We have a book over here that lists the names alphabetically.

He located the names of John Becker and Tom Jackson. Then he headed over to the panel that held their names. It took him several more minutes to find them.

Reaching up with both hands, he traced the letters of their names with his fingers. For the first time in twenty-two years he felt a weight lift off of his shoulders. It was a weight he didn’t even realize he had been carrying. It was the weight of survivor’s guilt.

He could hear his good friend Tom tell him that it was okay and that he was okay. For the first time Andy cried. It wasn’t sobs, but tears streamed down his cheeks. As they fell they cleansed him of the guilt he had been carrying: the guilt of surviving when his friend had died, the guilt of leaving so many people behind in Saigon, and the guilt of coming home alive.

He stood there in silence for what seemed like hours. He had no idea what the time was. No one came and those who were there allowed him to expunge his demons on his own.

Slowly, the tears stopped. He wiped his eyes, straightened his shoulders and snapped his smartest salute. He made a crisp about face and saw Trixie standing off in the distance, hastily wiping tears away from her eyes. He walked ten paces, just like he had as a Marine, stopped and, as if hearing his commanding officer, waited for a second to be called to at-ease and then dismissed.

As if someone had turned a switch, he went from Marine to successful businessman and beloved uncle. He quickly made his way over to his niece and pulled her into a tight embrace. “Thank you so much, Trixie,” he said.

“I didn’t do anything,” she replied.

“Yes, you did. I’ll never be able to tell you exactly what you did, but know that it was something very important.”


  manure pile home  


Author Notes

-Last year I wrote “Some Gave All” at the last minute to honor the many veterans who have honorably served our country. In March, I started this story with the hopes of having it finished for National Welcome Home Vietnam Veteran’s Day which is the last Sunday in March. I realized I wanted to make sure this story was as realistic as possible and that would require more research than I had realized. So I plugged at it and decided to get it ready for Veteran’s Day.

Many people helped in the research and writing of this story. First of all, I have to thank my editors, Bonnie H. and Beverly for patiently keeping my commas in check and challenging me to write a better story.

I know I’m going to miss someone but I’ll try to remember everyone who provided me information about helicopters, the Marines, or Vietnam Conflict. Kellykath, PatK., Misty and my peeps from WWW, Bonnie H, PatK, Trish B., Mary N. and Ryl all provided much needed feedback and support. Any errors I made are not because of the information you gave me. I hope I haven’t stretched the truth too much.

I did a lot of research on the internet and unfortunately did not keep track of all of the sites I visited. The quote at the beginning of the story is one of those things I found but don’t remember where. I have however credited the author and that’s the most important thing.

The Moving Wall was really in White Plains from July 27 – August 2, 1992.

On May 1, 1970 there was an offensive launched into Cambodia to attack the supply bases of the North Vietnamese.

Thomas Jackson and John Becker served in Vietnam and gave their lives for the cause. I chose John because he was from Kenosha, Wisconsin, he was a Lieutenant so I figured he’d be a pilot and he died on May 2, 1970.

The story of Mastery Gunnery Sergeant John Valdez is true. Most of that part of the story I took from his account of being the last Marine out of Saigon before it fell. His story can be found at FallofSaigon.org

Finally, as always, I thank Mal for hosting my site and doing the awesome graphics.

Word count, 5,710

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