Passage of Time
by Bill Hall
I have a slow Sunday today. The weather here is nice, it is 5:18 PM the windows are open and I am looking at my trees and vegetable plants. Last night my Semi adopted Russian kid (now an official resident alien, after almost 5 years and thousands in legal fees) had a blow out on a freeway at 1am which I had to take care of at 0dark30 in the AM. I was supposed to have one of my grand sons for the weekend, but he got sick and his mom decided that he was more important than their plans (both of my sons married above themselves 🙂 so I had a free evening until the tire blow out. I am sittin’ in my home office listening to 60s music drinking a little wine and rearranging my books. Earlier the wife and I went to Costco and stocked up on stuff and bought new tires for Nellie’s car. My step son called and said he needed to borrow some money, so the saving account is now low (he is a good kid and I don’t mind helping him out) and we are cutting back a little…………… Life, that is where I am.
But it all seems incongruous when I think of what I was, we were, doing more than 40 years ago. How did I get here????? How could I have ever possibly imagined that life would take me here. Trip flares, Claymores, water runs, resupply day, medivacs and DEROS. High streamer artillery rounds at night and F-YOU lizards. Huey’s C130s and C123s. Passing the watch at night. Having first watch or last watch and the most uninterrupted sleep. Stopping on a trail, leaning over and boosting your ruck on your back while leaning on your rifle. The adrenaline rush of the first rounds fired in a contact. The chill when hearing the call “medic.” Reminding everyone to let the jungle penetrator hit the ground before you touched it so it would ground out. The coolness of the gunship pilots when you were scared &^%$less. During my second and 3rd tours, I called and adjusted all of my own fire support, both indirect fires, naval gunfire and army helicopters and fast movers. My 22nd birthday was 3 months and 4 days after my last tour which ended on November 30th 1970. I ended up staying in the Army for a total of 23 years turning 40 while on terminal leave when I retired. Nothing I have done in my life has equaled my experience in Vietnam.
Sooo weird. Here I am now, Mr. basic middle class suburban guy worrying about which internet provider to use and feeling real lazy about having someone mow my lawn for me……………
If I did not have a couple of beers, well maybe more than a couple, with Dale Hansen (Hannibal) and Dennis Sheridan, I would have no personal contact with anyone who would have any idea at all about what I am talking about now.
I guess that the weirdest thing for me is the contrast. My life then and my life now. I turned 60 on March 3rd, so maybe that has got me thinking.
As always when I reflect on all of this, I remember all of those guys that did not make it to enjoy life, have families experience cassette tapes, CDs and Ipods, have children, wives and grandchildren, divorces and remarriage……. My Squad leaders Jon Grimmett (KIA 1/24/68) and Johnny Wheeler (KIA 8/23/1967) both fine young men who died while ignoring enemy fire trying to do their jobs are foremost in my mind. Elaine’s brother Reuben, my friend John Gertsch MOH, (I knew him before Viet Nam), we all know these guys, guys that should have made it.
Where did the years go? I look in the mirror and think….. Man how did I get here.
OK I guess that is enough from me on this Sunday. Thanks for reading.