Recondo Reunion

(Written May 2, 2004) I’ve not paid much attention to veteran’s stuff. In fact I had never even read a Viet Nam book until a guy in grad school called me a “boonie rat” - a term I hadn’t heard for a long time. I learned he had gotten it from a book he was reading, which became the first of many that I eventually read. I finally got around to joining a vet group for my unit maybe 15 years ago, mainly to get the newsletter and membership list, and have very sporadically made contact with a couple of guys over the years. But mostly I figured I had “moved on”. Vet groups were fine for those who had not been able to move on and needed the support - but what did that have to do with me.

Scanning my old photos and wanting to share them became part of what got me to more actively looking up some of the guys. When I got the announcement, last fall, for the reunion of my Recondo platoon - it got my attention. That was probably the best chance I would ever have for seeing some of the guys I had been with. Even so I almost blew it off. But, because of the photos, I had been in recent contact, and I knew at least two or three of the guys would be there. And Jean really encouraged me to check it out. I’ve got so many things I want to do with my time - but OK, it’s only a weekend - it might even be fun.

I knew for sure the guy I wrote about earlier (he helped me do some remodeling this past fall) - Tom “Beetle” Bailey - was going.

I had recently (a few years ago) made contact with another guy in my squad, Terry “Dirtball” Stanosheck. In retrospect, I have no idea how he was any more of a “dirtball” than the rest of us - we were all filthy. And I’m sure he stood in the rain and took Bayonet Baths (scraping off the dirt with the edge on a bayonet) as often as the rest of us. But somehow, at that age, you get a name and it sticks. He carried the machine gun, although on days when he was not in the field, or not able, I would carry it (I didn’t care for the extra weight, but I liked its reliability - something the M16 didn’t have). The guy I “found” a few years ago impressed me from our first conversation on the phone. His wife was in the terminal stages of a fatal disease, and he was caring for her at home. There was no self-pity on his part, nor would he accept any from anyone else, although it was clear that what he was doing was extremely difficult. He faced it with a sort of matter-of-fact calm serenity that I’m sure was tested anew every day. One conversation we were having ended abruptly when he heard her calling him and he had to go help her. She died within the last year or so, and he was starting to find his own life again. He said he was definitely coming and I was really looking forward to meeting who this guy had become.
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The Beatles (Looking back 40 years)

(Written January 23, 2004) I was in high school when the Beatles hit the US. On January first I was listening to the countdown of the hits of the previous year - on AM radio. I guess a few FM stations were broadcasting, but it was sort of like satellite radio is now - not many people had access to it. New cars only came with AM radios in them. In fact, it was not that long before (less than 10 years) that transistor radios had come out. Now this was a big deal - it didn’t have vacuum tubes, so you could actually carry it around with you and run it off of batteries! The really hot models had more than one actual transistor in them, but even those were not something you could fit into a shirt pocket. I begged and pleaded until my parents finally bought me one of those expensive things - and I went about everywhere carrying it next to my ear.
Beatles1964.jpg
Anyhow, here it was the first day of the New Year (1964), and the DJ comes on and says that they predict the next song will be the number one hit for the year coming. I had never heard the song before, so I thought that was a pretty bold statement, but as it turned out I’m pretty sure they were right. It was “I want to hold your hand”.

About a month later the Beatles appeared on Ed Sullivan and “Beatlemania” hit the US. There was a lot of attention paid to their “long hair” back then - and indeed, at the time, it did seem very long. Standards for a haircut back then were if a single hair was even close to touching an ear - you were in bad need of a haircut. I bought a Beatles wig as a gag to wear to high school, and I don’t believe there was any hair on it more than 2 inches long…

There was a lot more of a common culture back then, which I’m not sure is a good thing or a bad thing - probably some of both. No internet, 3 TV broadcast channels (if you were lucky enough to live somewhere that you could pick up all 3 of them) and only AM radio, which only had a few choices for music: Top 40 or Country & Western. In the big cities you could probably find a station that played Classical music or maybe even jazz, but not many choices. But it meant nearly everyone was aware of the same things and had the same reference points. Like, if you were watching late night TV on Saturday night - well it was almost certainly “Saturday Night Live”. And most everyone knew the same music.

And if you saw a wild animal outside of the cave, it was almost surely a dinosaur…
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(Image above from http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:The_Beatles,_Kennedy_Airport,_February_1964.jpg )

 

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