The Hancock-Henderson Quill, Inc.
Greetings to ever one in Western Illinois and to all who read the Quill.
I'm a hope'n Sunday's rain, snow, and sudden drop in temperature didn't spoil Veterans Day fer you'ns.
The Mrs. and I spent the Veterans Sunday, in a veterans hospital in the Hospice Unit.
It is heart wrench'n to see once proud and vibrant military personnel in the last stages of their lives. One would hope more could be done fer these fellers than a visit, however the visit seemed to be very much appreciated.
A Master Sergeant, in full dress uniform, showed up the middle of the afternoon and visited each and every veteran there. He did a good job of expressin' the appreciation of our country fer the service those vets provided. It was a beautiful and courteous deed on his part.
Four soldiers are brought to mind as I write this column: Harry, Larry, Gary, and Charles. Two have now passed on and one is quickly on his way out.
Harry, the first soldier that comes to mind, and shortly before his death, shared some of his military experiences in WWII. Before that he never spoke specifically of his war years.
Harry was an officer and landed on Normandy and experienced fierce fight'n. Made it all the way to the “Battle of the Bulge” before a German got him with a percussion grenade, and shot him with an injury he never fully recovered from.
Harry, reluctantly and with great remorse, whispered, “all of his men under me, from Normandy to the “Battle of the Bulge” were lost three (3) times over.” Lost and replaced, one by one, lost and replaced, lost and replaced. Each battle took its toll on America's finest.
Once Harry got it off his chest, he never mentioned it again. It weighed heavy on his heart. Wounded, he came back to this area of western Illinois and farmed.
Larry was a First Lt. in the Marines, have'n graduated from ROTC at Iowa State. He was an enthusiastic christian and hoped to help the Vietnamese civilians somehow in the military. His first day in Vietnam he was engaged in a fierce battle. All were killed but he and one other feller.
That night he made a voiced tape recording of his first day in Vietnam. He sang a song on that recording and assured his parents and family not to worry, he knew the Lord as never before!
Larry's body beat the tape back to the U.S. Him along with all his hopes and dreams of personally providin' Christian help to a people in need. Shot in the head by a snipers bullet.
Gary was on a boat in a Vietnamese waterway patrol'n for the enemy and man'n a machine gun. Their boat came across a mamason and papason with the whole family, children, hogs, chickens, ever thing they owned was on the junker.
When asked fer their proper papers, they couldn't produce ‘em. They knew nothin' of papers and had been on that water their life time. The command'n officer ordered Gary to waste ‘em. Gary worriedly paused fer a split second, realize'n the consequences of not follow'n orders in a combat zone. Pull'n the trigger on that machine gun, chickens flew, hogs squealed, and soon ever thing was quiet-wasted as ordered.
Charles, he's on his last day or two die'n a tough cancer death. In the Marines for two stints in Vietnam, he engaged in some hard fight'n. Fought in Cambodia when our government was a lie'n back home about the U.S. not be'n there.
He visited a leper colony where the Viet Cong hung out. When asked what kind of help the military provided those lepers he calmly, but with a sad heart, said they loaded ‘em all up in Hueys, took ‘em out over the water and dumped ‘em. Thus, one less hidin' place fer the enemy.
Dur'n a night attack, they fended off the Viet Cong at the barbed wire parameters. Come day light, he discovered the base's daytime barber, lay'n shot dead in the wire. The barber spied dur'n the day and fought for the Cong dur'n the night.
Come'n back to the U.S., one final time, he never seemed to adjust accord'n to civilization's expectations. Smelled of jungle rot fer a long time. Woke up, when startled, from a deep sleep, prepare'n to fight, right in the midst of his own family.
Worked on and off the farm fer day jobs and had fer a short time, a dependency on drugs, developed while in Vietnam. Lost his license not long ago, but kept drive'n. Figured he had that right from his military service. Besides, the government lied so much on Vietnam about Cambodia and such, why should he have to foller rules that didn't make sense?
Arrested after a repeat offense of drive'n without a license, he was sentenced to jail for a misdemeanor. Before be'n jailed he asked the judge for a treatment of a lump recently developed on his leg. Maybe from Agent Orange, he didn't know. The judge smugly refused.
The lump was cancerous, developed, quickly, and metastasized beyond help whilest in jail. Now he waits in the V.A. hospital fer his final call fer duty.
GHOST OF MEMORIES
There ya has it then, only a fragment of the whole story of Harry, Larry, Gary, and Charles and some of them terrible ghosts of memories, and ghosts carried fer a lifetime.
They ‘em all good fellers, some of America's finest. Take some time out and visit a V. A. Hospital and give them your sincere appreciation for the service they provided in help'n maintain our freedoms.
Short of that, there's plenty of vets in our community ya can thank and give sincere appreciation fer ‘em. Leave us not to forget to express our gratitude to ‘em, not only on Veterans Day, special set aside, but throughout the year.
Amongst those many freedoms we have the opportunity to enjoy Stronghurst's Annual Old Fashioned Holiday this Friday, November 16 from 5-8 p.m. Free musical entertainment, refreshments, and much more. Buy a ticket for the raffle and support the “Water Spray Park.” Enjoy our communities and we'll keep ‘em and others like ‘em fer a good long time.
Where ever ya is, what ever ya be a do'n, BE A GOOD ONE!
Hope to see you'ns on the Stronghurst streets and shops come this Friday, and in church on Sunday.
Keep on Smile'n
Catch ya Later