|The following is a list names
that were former members of A Company during 1970 compiled by John
Raubar and Phil Ferrazano.
CO Greg R. Barker
Lt. John Raubar, WIA - email@example.com
SSG Robert Washington, KIA
Sgt. Vick Lynch
The following pictures are from Phil Ferrazano '70
Phil Ferrazno gave the following speach to his 1968 high school class 30th reunion.
I know the subject of the Vietnam War is not easy to talk about, but it was part of our history, and there are over 58,000 reasons why we should never forget. I'm proud that our Class of 1968 thought it was time we recognize those who served our country. I feel honored to have the opportunity to speak a few words for myself and my comrades, and for those who's lives were touched in anyway by the Vietnam War.
By 1968 I think most opposed the war. We know some volunteered and some served against their wills. No matter. Once called, all served with honor and all, in some way, became emotionally attached to the war.Vietnam for us, played hell on the mind. You were pulled between an obligation to your country - American Tradition - and what you believed was morally right. Vietnam was a difficult time for all of us.
On Valentines Day 1970, there were four of us from Clearwater that landed in Vietnam. We hung together like lost puppies away from home. We were sent to the Headquarters Co. for the 9th Infantry Division for orientation, and to be told some of us wouldn't make it home.
After a few days we were separated and sent to different units. My last night at the HQ Co., I walked guard duty around a building. On one side of the building there were aluminum caskets lined up ready to be sent home. Every time I got to the side of the building with the caskets, I couldn't help but look. I couldn't stop thinking of what may lie ahead of me in my one year tour of duty. Would I even make one year?
I glanced to the stars that night with tears rolling down my face. That night, I truly realized the party was over. My youth would now be something in my past. I thought of my wife of only two months, my fami1y, my friends and I thought of myself. What kind of person was I? Did I have it in me to be a soldier? How would I react when called upon? What would I do when faced against the enemy? Would I be wounded or killed? Sadly, these fears were becoming reality, each event building to the ultimate climax, when- I almost died.
You'd think dying was my greatest fear. - I felt close to God-so, I didn't fear it. You get religion real fast in a foxhole. I can remember at that time being very tired and worn out, both physically and mentally. It was confusing at home. My family received word I was wounded to the head without knowing if I was all right. This, one week before my younger brother graduated from the class of 1970. Prayers echoed the halls of CHS for me. It was confusing for us, too, in Vietnam. We didn't want to be there. We didnt even know if we were doing the right thing.
We first figured we were there to win a war. It turned out it was a battle to fight for you and your buddies to survive. We felt alone in our struggles and depended on each other. We were sick of all the politicians back home that wouldn't do a thing to stop the war. The same ones who turned down bills for veteran's benefits, the same ones who found ways for their sons to avoid the draft.
I hated the war. The endless miserable rainy nights, the feelings of worthlessness and loneliness, the wondering if your next step would be your last, and the empty feeling you got as you watched a buddy die. Please don't tell me about government policy and betrayal. Don't tell me what it was really like in Vietnam. My comrades and I can tell you.
I was wounded on May 26th, 1970, during the Cambodian Invasion. We, as Infantry soldiers, feared and had doubts about going into Cambodia. Many times we stood and refused certain orders we knew were unsafe. We had a saying, "What could they do to us. draft us , put us in the infantry and send us to Vietnam?" Back home, all were celebrating a Memorial Day Weekend, while I was experiencing the true meaning of it first hand.
It was around four in the morning when we were attacked by a large, well trained, NVA force. Mortars landed on my position and altered the way I would live -- forever. I lay wounded, fighting for my life, while the NVA started an aggressive ground assault. Two friends next to me dead. One I had just changed places with; a father who had four kids. He told me that night he decided not to stay in the service, as others in his family did. A few years ago, one of his daughters phoned me. She wanted to know something about the Dad she never knew. She always believed he died in a plane crash. I said no, he died on the ground, next to me, a hero, believing he was doing the right thing.
That early morning, half of my company was wiped out. That's when every ounce of youth and innocence, I was trying to savor, was finally gone. I even felt somewhat peaceful for a moment, but the horror continued when our choppers were loaded full with men crying, "Oh God, "and for their Mothers. The faces I saw in the MASH unit will always be branded in my mind. I refused to die because I was loved by my wife, family, friends, and God. God played a big part, and there are reasons why He spared me. I see one reason every time I look at my daughter. Also I had to give this speech at my 30th class reunion.
Yes, I know the meaning of guilt, the feeling of what it was like to say, "Why him not me?" There's never an answer, and there's never an answer why some go to war and some don't. For this I say, if you didn't go, please don't feel guilt. You can be proud of what you stood for at that very difficult period in your young lives. Many still hurt over the way most were treated when in Vietnam. Especially for the wounded, who today, still endure continued health problems. I still resent those who turn a cheek and say --'Oh well, forget about it, that was a long time ago." I guess that's easy to say, if you or your family weren't affected by the Vietnam war.
Our war was like no other. Most went over alone and returned alone. We slipped back into society and tried to forget the war. We also had no one to talk to about it, so we hid our emotions and went on listening to others who knew all about Vietnam, who had never been there. We, as returning veterans, heard all the comments-"How many people did you shoot," "You didn't have to go you know,"- "Ya'll fought for nothing," comments that proved to me those my age were still very naive about what Vietnam was really like. I've encountered many thoughtful people who showed me sincere respect for what me and my comrades sacrificed and endured. And we, by some, were labeled as losers of a very unpopular war. We, in battle, didn't lose the war. It was lost here by the politicians and those who knew they wouldn't have to send their sons into the hell hole we called, "The Nam."
Does Vietnam ever cross my mind? Yes, I can honestly say- it does, a lot of times. It's only natural-a young man right out of high school can't be thrown into a horrifying situation such as war, and not be affected.
But- it's because of Vietnam, Im able to stand before you tonight, confident. Most Vietnam Veterans have been able to face all their challenges in life head on. The Vietnam experience taught us well how to survive and taught us we could accomplish anything we really wanted to.
Most Vietnam Vets have become successful in business and in life. Contrary to many beliefs, the Vietnarn Vet is a caring emotional person, who loves his family, country, and life. A person who enjoys the simple treasures in life most take for granted.
Sometimes I think back on who I once was, and I think of those who died and wonder what they could have been. Yes they cross my mind. I get sad, and at times I smile. You see, men in battle get very close to each other. William Shakespeare wrote almost 400 years ago, "We few, we happy few, we band of brothers, for he today who sheds his blood with me, shall be my bother." Words of so long ago still hold true today.
When it was brought up at a reunion committee meeting that someone suggested we honor those out of our class who served in the military, I quickly felt a connection and a desire to be the one to say something. I felt it important to myself and my comrades to express real, emotional feelings, about a difficult period in our young lives.
I speak these words, not for any recognition to myself, but so all in here, can understand some feelings from those who served. Though some didn't serve in battle, they too were ready, and they gave a big part of themselves in a very unselfish way. Some made the military a career, for this we say, "Thank you for your service."
In 1968, we all had opinions on what was right or wrong about the war. That doesn't matter now. We all lived with this fear in our teen years that one would go to Vietnam if one didn't stay in school. We learned early on we were entering a cruel world. Martin Luther King was assassinated, then days before we graduated, it was Bobby Kennedy. In 1968 we were being told we had a handle on the war. That changed with the attacks during Tet. When Viet Cong infiltrated Saigon and launched attacks all through cities and towns, we thought were safe. In 1968 we lost our beloved Frank Russell to cancer. And in 1968, a fun loving kid, quit cruising Steak & Shake with his friend Wally, in Wallys big brown '55 Caddy-because he met his future wife on a warm summers night down on Clearwater Beach. And it was that year, for many of us, Vietnam hit home... One of Clearwaters own, Jimmy Lewis, was killed in Vietnam. Jimmy was killed after not even two months in country. I can still remember joking with him in Mr. Sacketts music class. A few days ago, he would have turned 50. I know he'd be proud I'm talking about him. Guess you could say he's one of our-"Forever Young Heroes." I touched his name on The Wall, in DC last November. Panel 37W, line 57. I touched many names that day, all heroes.
I want to believe those on the Wall died for a purpose and the lessons learned by Vietnam are the reasons we didn't let them die in vain. The way we go into battle now has changed because of Vietnam. Never again will our young-our children fight with their hands tied, never again will our young fight and die without a clear objective by our government, and never again will we, as a nation and as a people, let a war divide us. Never again will our young go to war without full support. Those are reasons why some of my friends grace that infamous long, black wall, in Washington DC.
Classmates, I've just taken you on an emotional roller coaster ride. That is what, Vietnam was all about. It tugged at your deepest emotions and hit on all your senses, many times over until you became numb. Sadly for some, that numbness has never left them.
Yes we've all faced difficult times, for some, it was Vietnam.. Today, I can't say, I regret serving there. The reason, because of the ones I served with. I feel privileged to have served with fine, brave young men, from all parts of the country, who sacrificed it all, for their beliefs and their country. Some died believing we would only win the war. As youths, we had our beliefs, and we all never stopped believing and dreaming. We all can be proud of what this class of '68 has accomplished. Those who went to college should be proud they followed their dreams.. I am proud of what I had endured and accomplished in my life. And, I hold no grudge to ones who didn't serve. That has to be understood, and is important to me. Many over the years have told me they felt guilt. Those who ever experienced battle would never wish war on anyone. So, no one should ever feel guilt for not serving. What would be nice is for all to show respect to those who did, and I feel this class, like always, has decided to be the leader among other classes and honor those who served.
We've come a long way in these 30 years. We've dedicated ourselves to raising our families, working hard, and serving our communities. Be proud, we've done what was expected of us, and more. We've made our mark, we are America. To live as Americans, as we do, we have to thank those who gave for our country and those who ever wore a uniform in peace time or not, any branch of the service.
The Vietnam Veteran, was probably the last warrior of his kind. Your generations warrior, the so called, "Hippy generation warrior." Well, let me say, I saw how that Hippy generation fought and died. You can be proud; they were as brave and courageous as any before them.
Freedom is not free, it comes with a price. I appreciate that my class wanted to stand and say thanks to those who served. I hope my words did speak for all here tonight. I would like all Vets, right now, who served this country, to stand. It's been a long time, but now I can finally say, "We were welcomed home."
Good bless you all. Im a Proud Vietnam Veteran, holder of the Purple Heart Medal -- and proud to be your fellow 1968 classmate. Thank you.
You may contact Phil at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Those Forever Young Heroes
He was a
soldier once, young brave, and free---I remember him, my buddy, it was his life he gave,
for his country, you and me.
Forever he'll be young, as I now grow old, but there will always be a memory of him, in my heart to hold.
Our lives are better, because of those who had to fall---honor those from all wars, and I'll think of my buddies, those forever young heroes, who's names grace a long black wall.
Salute to the parents, who lost a daughter or son---while those admit now, it could have never been won.
Their hearts still ache, and some share the pain---it's hard to point the finger, there were too many to blame.
But, we can be proud, of those, that we honor today---those forever young heroes, who I know, never died in vain.
Vietnam veteran and holder of the Purple Heart Medal, Philip Ferrazano, Jr.
appears in a book titled, "Into the Unknown," and published by the National
Library of Poetry. Copyright 1996
The following is from John Raubar, former
1st Lt 3rd platoon Co
A, 2/60th, 9th Division from January to May 25 1970
"The Long Black Wall"
We summon now by radio, phone and faxes.
Our pace by foot was hastened by the wheel,
John Raubar Oct. 1996
The following pictures are from Gary Musick:
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