By Marsha M. Brown
Several days ago, a friend of mine (Sharon) and I went to Kill Devil Hills for errands and on one of the stops in the parking lot, I saw a gentleman who was wearing a black Vietnam Veteran hat and his wife exiting the store. As usual I asked them enroute to their car if he lived or owned property in Dare County. I always do that so I can tell them about our free Dare County Veteran Discount Card and all the things Dare Countians do for our vets. I can only imagine that his first thought might have been, “Who in the dickens is she”? why I’d be nosey enough to ask him that or what I might be selling.
They walked over to my truck door and told me no, that they lived in western North Carolina and usually came to the Outer Banks every year to visit. They were a genuinely nice couple and he commented referencing my husband, Billy’s Vietnam Veteran stickers and license plate attached to the front bumper of my Billy’s Toyota Tundra. Fortunately, we exchanged conversation for a short while and it was a treasure talking with them.
I told him, “Thank you for your service, sir, God bless you” and shared that my Billy had served in Vietnam during TET; was discharged in 1968; that we had gotten married when I was seventeen and that we were together until he passed due to his exposure to Agent Orange…the result being Glioblastoma Multiforme IV – a deadly brain cancer in 2016. He responded saying he was sorry…I could see on his face, he meant that too…though he didn’t know Billy, he felt his ‘brother’s loss.
He then went on to tell me he was with the 101st as a Medic on a (Huey) Dust Off and he recalled one of the trips where five injured soldiers were on board with him when he held one of the men close to his chest. He said the soldier had been shot into one side of his upper quadrant that exited through the other side and how the suffering soldier cried out to his Mama and asked her to help him in fear he was dying. He added that he assured the soldier he was there and that he would help him – whether he believed he could at that point, I don’t know but no doubt, his offer of reassurance let him know he was or would be doing all he could to save him. Then…he said he felt a hand on his right shoulder and when he turned to see who it was, the only person behind him was the Door Gunner firing his machine gun out the door and obviously not the one who had grasped his shoulder. He paused for a minute…then said, he “knew who it was” …and he pointed up to Heaven.
They told me they had been married 29 years…so, I teased that they were still on their honeymoon, and they agreed! His other half seemed to be a sweet woman who was proud of this veteran and in her face, I could see her love for him and her empathy for what he had been through in Vietnam.
Complete strangers but I felt like I had known them a long time and while we spent that brief but valuable time together, I wished we could have talked for hours. I would so much have liked to have heard other memories about his service…his stories…he had clearly been a brave, brave man who had witnessed things none of us would want to…and obviously he had seen it all.
I reached for one of my Dare County Veteran Advisory Council (Secretary) business cards to give them and after writing ‘GIG LINE’ on the back (so he could follow up online with my columns), I shared with him that our Council had been in the process of an applying & hoping to be approved to host ‘The Wall That Heals’ at some point in 2023. I told them we were still waiting to hear but that I wished they could be here with us if we are selected, and I asked him if they had seen the original ‘Wall’ in D.C. He responded, “Yes, once.” It was at that point that he told me he had authored a poem that he would send to me, so I gave him my address and expressed how much I would look forward to receiving it.
Brief encounters like that always touch my heart…they are memorable and important to me to hear from every veteran who is willing to share their experiences. I thanked him for his service to our country and I told he and his wife I loved them both. I reached out of the truck window and shook his hand and told him again how proud I was of him, and he smiled.
He had not declared at the end of our conversation if the seriously wounded soldier had survived or not…and I didn’t ask. But…I felt thankfulness to that wounded hero for putting his life on the line (like all of them) for me and you and all of us back home; I appreciated the Door Gunner behind him fending off the enemy and to that dear Medic I had just met…not just because he was a Medic trying to save them all…but because he offered the soldier he held in his arms the most immediate help, he could…HOPE.
By the time this edition of the Coastland Times is on the newsstands or in your mailbox, it will be just prior to VOTING DAY, TUESDAY, November 8th…the day to cast your VOTE if you haven’t already! Please, please, please take the time to do just that. Take the time in remembrance of all the men and women who have died because of their injuries at war (and since coming home) to keep us safe and protected sacrificing their very life. If they served on the battlefield; in a jungle; on a dessert; in the mountains; on or under the deep blue sea or in the vast skies between us and Heaven representing our country, VOTE IN THEIR HONOR! VOTE FOR GOOD, SOLID CANDIDATES WHO STAND FOR FREEDOM, JUSTICE AND WHAT ALWAYS USED TO BE THE ‘AMERICAN WAY’; VOTE FOR THOSE WHO ARE FAITHFUL TO OUR MILITARY, OUR LAW ENFORCEMENT AND OUR TINY LITTLE BABIES WHO ARE SUBJECT TO DEATH AFTER A FULL TERM PREGNANCY…DELIVERY OR BOTCHED ABORTION; STAND UP FOR THOSE WHO STAND FOR RELIGIOUS FREEDOM REGARDLESS OF DENOMINATION; AGAINST PERPATRATORS OF HATE, ACTS OF VIOLENCE AND BLANTANT DESTRUCTION OF LIFE JUST FOR THE FUN OF IT; EXPECT THAT WHEN A PERSON WILLINGLY HURTS OR KILLS SOMEONE, THEY SHOULD BE HELD ACCOUNTABLE AND PUNISHED ACCORDINGLY!
IMAGINE FOR A SECOND THAT OUR ROADS, BRIDGES HAD NO LINE SEPERATING WHICH LANE TO DRIVE IN…THAT OUR TRAINS HAD NO LIGHTS OR SIGNALS AT THE CROSSINGS…THAT OUR AIRWAYS HAD NO FLIGHT PLANS OR DIRECTION FROM THE TOWERS…DEAR LORD…IMAGINE THE CHAOS! RIGHT SIDE OR WRONG SIDE COUNTS TREMENDOUSLY.
Consider that not only our truckers that bring critical supplies and food that sustain us but our hard-working watermen on the whole East Coast are subject to an increasing threat due to diesel shortage and that some of the proposed changes could shut down their ability to function altogether…there is SO much to consider. Actions have consequences folks. Please exercise your right to vote!
Am I telling you how to vote? No…I’m not. I am asking you to decide for yourself if you think that just voting either party solely because you always have…or you feel it’s how people you love want you to vote or…if voting for the ideals, principals and foundation America has stood for, fought for and a country where the masses have flocked to where they could live, raise a family, work hard to achieve their dreams is of greater value…then decide what you can live with, be accountable for and then mark your ballot accordingly.
Your (our) one little vote is MAJORLY important. Please research where each candidates stand…and if you’re a prayerful person…pray about it. Remember what they say, “Be careful what you wish for.” Results can have a positive effect on our nation and our lives as well as our children, grandchildren and further or a negative effect that will haunt us for years to come.
Until next time, be healthy, safe, and happy. Love those who love you with all your heart; if you’re disappointed in someone, remember nobody’s perfect and we all make mistakes. Call me if you want: cell: (252) 202-2058, email: firstname.lastname@example.org or website: www.giglineheroes.com Thank you for taking the time to read GIG LINE! Our good Lord loves you and so do I! Stay tuned!