Saturday, May 26, 2007

Memorial Day

My father was platoon leader in the Vietnam War. One of the older one's there, he was prior enlisted, and since many lieutenants were getting killed over their, they opened up US Army Officer Candidate School (OCS) to those who did not have a college degree. My Dad applied and was accepted. After duty as a training officer at OCS, they shipped him off to Vietnam. Long boat ride. As they were taking the slow boat ride up the coast of Vietnam, they could witness the constant battles on the shore. Another recent graduate of OCS in the boat with my Dad slowly went crazy, as night after night they could see the battle raging on. When my Dad arrived at the fort, the first day there was an enemy attack. He and several other "new guys" took cover in a bunker. A crusty SNCO asked them what they thought they were doing, and told them to get out there and fight, that's what they were there for.

Some time later, my Dad got wounded in the arm. So much shrapnel was embedded in his arm that it would have done more damage to get it out than to simply leave it in. That was his first Purple Heart. He was shipped to Japan for recovery, and was told that he could go to Korea or back to Vietnam. He chose Vietnam. I would later ask him why. He said that his Vietnam tour would have been better for his record, since he didn't have a college degree. I said,wouldn't it have been easier to get a college degree. He said, at that time in my

Dad went back to his old company and was sent out on a mission to secure a bridge before the enemy arrived. Unfortunately, when his platoon got there, the enemy had already crossed the bridge and were waiting in ambush in the trees. His platoon took heavy fire and my Dad's radio man was shot up, caught out in the open with no cover. My Dad went to go get him and bring him back behind cover. In attempting to do so, he was shot in side, where the bullet hit his ribs and followed the rib to exit from the middle of his chest. He was also shot in the thigh, where about an inch of his thigh bone above the knee was blown out of his leg. He fell into the rice field barely conscious when helicopter support came and took out the enemy, and medivac'd both he and his radio man. While in the helicopter, my Dad, bleeding from mid-chest and leg saw that nobody was attending to him, but were working solely on the radio man. His radio man didn't make it home. My Dad lived, and was medically retired from the Army, crippled but alive. On of my earliest memories in 1968 is of my Dad in traction in the hospital at Ft. Ord CA. He was awarded a Silver Star and his second Purple Heart.

I probably got the details all goofed up, but this is how I remember hearing it from my conversations with my Dad. I wanted to honor him by sharing it with you. My Dad is a man who takes duty and honor seriously, and I thank him for teaching me to do the same.

Pray for my Dad. He's still "undecided" about what to believe about Jesus Christ, but is reading the Bible and asking questions. I love him and thank him and all Veterans who have placed the needs of others before their own safety.

God bless,

David Jensen, Major
United States Air Force