When I first started working for the Pamlico News it was just in time for the Viet Nam Veteran’s Homecoming in Charlotte, North Carolina. In preparations for attending the homecoming with my father-in-law, I did several interviews with veterans of the Viet Nam War. The men and women I spoke to were from every branch of service. They told stories that could make your blood run cold and some that could fill you with joy. Surprisingly, none felt the were heroes. The common mantra was “I was just doing my job”.
My friends Robert and Avonne Quinn were newly weds when Robert was drafted. He did not want to go to Viet Nam and chose not to enlist, hoping to just do his job and come home.
“When we landed in Viet Nam we had to sit on the tarmac and extinguish our cigarettes and all lights. There was a fire fight going on in the town near the air port. When the bus finally got through to pick us up, the driver sped through town barely keeping the tires on the road in his haste to get us to the base alive,” Robert told me when I did my interview with him. Yet he says he is not a hero.
He was lucky to get a job on a boat ferrying supplies up and down the river. “We had to sleep on our boat to keep them from being stolen or sabotaged.” Mr. Quinn told of supplies and boats blowing up and ports being sabotaged.
Young, afraid, away from home and his life, Mr. Quinn was one of the lucky ones. He came home to his wife and the baby girl who was born while he was gone.
He was a hero and still is, he did his job and supported his country to the best of his ability.
When my son, Jason came home from his first tour of Afghanistan, he came home to a country who called him a hero. His experience was so different from those retuning from Viet Nam but it was still difficult. He didn’t know how to handle being called a hero. He wasn’t on the front line, he simply did his job.
Mr. Robert helped me understand, there is a guilt the survivors bring home. When so many are lost and left behind.
As we celebrate Veteran’s Day, I am reminded of the men and women who do not call themselves heroes. Who like my son and my friend, just feel they are doing their job. Being in the military is the ultimate team program. It works because everyone does their job. Each job is important because one cannot win a battle alone.
To all the men and women who are serving or have served their country, Thank you. You are true heroes and I appreciate your sacrifices.
God Bless America!