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John Bender Before and After Tet

In the Summer of ’63
John was free.

Played the guitar,
Oh he’d be a star,
Drove a fast car…

Life was a whirl.
He got the girl,
He had his fun,
Sailed into the sun…

Now he’s just a name on The Wall,

Cut into stone,
Burned to the bone.

Took a fall.
That’s all.

{ 20 comments… add one }
  • Howard Nelson September 3, 2017, 1:03 PM

    Every name on that wall and marker on every one of our military graves signals a spirit freed from its burden of body. Each body well-born and in service well-worn.
    Hear the whispers, attend to their messages.

  • Howard Nelson September 3, 2017, 1:03 PM

    Every name on that wall and marker on every one of our military graves signals a spirit freed from its burden of body. Each body well-born and in service well-worn.
    Hear the whispers, attend to their messages.

  • Dave September 3, 2017, 2:31 PM

    The story of the artist of the picture at the top of the post is at
    https://www.vietnamreflections.com/contents/view/lee_teter

    I can’t see that art and keep a dry eye. I knew a few that would be in the reflection.

  • Howard Nelson September 3, 2017, 6:33 PM

    Gerard, thank you for the inspiration.
    Dave, thank you for the link.
    Alfred, thank you for your glorious word sketch of Lee Teter.

    Gerard, is there more of John Bender you will tell us?

    Condolences to all for your lost ones.

  • Nori September 3, 2017, 7:39 PM

    What Howard said.

  • Terry September 3, 2017, 10:58 PM

    Some I knew are now on The Wall. For a number of years I wished my name was on The Wall. Then for many more years I was happy my name was not on The Wall. Now at 70+ I wish my name was on The Wall. I miss my friends very, very much more now.

  • Snakepit Kansas September 4, 2017, 5:54 AM

    I read Run Between the Raindrops by Dale Dye, many years ago. It was about his efforts at the Imperial City during the Tet Offensive. I have read it again since, and probably due once more.

  • twolaneflash September 4, 2017, 8:29 AM

    I was drafted into the Army in 1969, and Walter Cronkite had already earned his spot in hell for his Fifth Column yellow journalism betrayal of American soldiers and his country. JFK and LBJ are several Circles of Hell lower, and hotter I hope.

  • indyjonesouthere September 4, 2017, 9:13 AM

    One year (leap year) and one day in the bush dealing with the most fucked up micromanaged mess the Democratic party had managed to create for the American soldier and then the total abandonment of the South Vietnamese that fought like hell to keep their country. I will show less mercy to the Democratic party than they showed to the Vietnamese or American soldiers.

  • Rob De Witt September 4, 2017, 2:07 PM

    Thanks to all of you, and God bless you for your service.

    I didn’t go, because my dad paid my debt in ’44 with Patton and I didn’t have to. I will say in my defense that I had the grace to keep my mouth shut about the war.

  • Eskyman September 4, 2017, 2:15 PM

    For a long time I felt lucky: my name isn’t on that wall.

    Once on TDY I shared a room, in Frankfurt, with a guy who’d just come from Nam. He woke up screaming almost every night. I was glad: I didn’t have to go to that terrible place.

    I had been chasing beer and girls in Germany while those whose names are on that wall were dying: I felt, and still feel, guilty.

    When I was discharged, I got spit on and scorned just like those coming back from Nam: I felt angry.

    Now I feel sad, and ashamed for my country. Those who died, died with honor; but they died for nothing but to have their names on the wall.

    May God damn those who sent men to die for nothing, in a war we weren’t allowed to win.

  • Bill Cox September 4, 2017, 6:16 PM

    I knew a few names on that wall, watched a few of them breathe their last. I went a few years ago and it wasn’t the catharsis I thought it would be . It’s too long ago and far away, a rock ‘n roll war I lived in another lifetime. The names are ghosts who sneak through my mind when I hear “Dr. Wu” and the ambiance is there. As Michael Herr said in “Dispatches” ” Instead of happy childhoods we had Viet Nam”. We were factory kids, lanky Southern blacks who walked like they didn’t have bones, guys from the barrio and the Rez, hillbillies who could shoot the wings off a fly and a couple guys who thought John Wayne was made of steel. It’s 50 years later and we’re still a couple klicks from home. It don’t mean nothing.

  • LadyBikki July 4, 2021, 7:34 AM

    My Dad did two tours.
    He came home, but I don’t think he ever considered himself one of the lucky ones.
    He’s gone now and I hope he’s found peace.

  • TrangBang68 July 4, 2021, 1:17 PM

    Robert Brown from Illinois postponed R & R with his wife in Hawaii to shepherd a group of replacements on a combat assault in an NVA staging area on the Oriental River ( Vam Co Dung) and lost his life. I was one of those new guys

  • Casey Klahn July 4, 2021, 8:07 PM

    Vietnam veterans are never far from my mind.

    I’m proud of them.

  • Ed in Upstate NY July 5, 2021, 5:06 AM

    Wow! That’s not an epic poem, but it is an Epic Poem.

  • PA Cat October 14, 2021, 1:32 PM

    I had a cousin on my dad’s side of the family who served a tour in Nam, was sent home following a head injury, and blew his brains out a few months later. His name should have been on The Wall, because JFK and the Dems killed him just as much as they killed the other 58,281 Americans.

  • Doesnt Matter October 14, 2021, 4:56 PM

    I still feel guilty with nothing to feel guilty about. Suppressed it over the decades but still there under the surface. Drafted near the end – low lottery number and 1A. I was prepared as one could be to go. Canada? Chickenshit way out. Then Nixon got his nuts in a wringer and lowered the “To Be Sacrificed” number to just below mine. Draft notice rescinded. Still not sure how I feel about that but I do know how I feel about Democrat party. I knew close friends came home as “survivors” … if that’s what it’s called. Gone now but not considered casualties of the war. Vietnam set the stage for all the “wars” since … and I believe the newer troops may be treated worse – they aren’t spit upon and called names; they are ignored. And people think we’re still the WWII nation.

  • Dave October 14, 2021, 9:18 PM

    USN 66-70. I know some of those on the Wall. Visited the Wall 15 years ago and my eyes are still not dry. Every time I see Lee Teter’s I can’t breathe for a while. Still after 50 years . . .

    https://gloryandhorrorofwar.weebly.com/analysis.html

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