Let’s get on with this countdown!!!!
I was researching something that would say Christmas and still fit with my book HOME set in fall 1967. My hero was a medic who’d been sent home early to a town that treated him with the crude stigmatism so many Vietnam veterans did then, and still do today, live with. I found this passage from a veteran during the war (1965- @ the time Sam Callahan enlisted)and thought how it fit my hero, Sam Callahan in so many ways. It is worth sharing here with the link in case anyone wants to read more.
X-MAS 1965, GETTING OUT OF “SYNC”
by N.A. DOC BLAND
Some of this is kinda fuzzy, but I am sure that I spent X-mas day of ’65 flying
TWA to RVN.
Dec. 21: Leave Evansville, In……. Dad, mom, & and girl I had met while home
on leave, and spent two days and a real unforgettable night with. She give me a real
nice letter to read right before I boarded plane, turned out to be a “Dear John” letter.
Only the second time I ever saw my dad with “tears” in his eyes, remember wondering
“why.” My dad had served in South Pacific during WW 2, with Marine Corps. After I
was in country about 3 mins I knew “why.”
Had stop and change of planes in St. Louis, Mo. Next stop San Francisco.
Checked in Oakland Repo-Depo, think I spent a day or two here. Don’t remember anything except they made sure we had on Class A’s summer uniform on and gave “strict instructions” that we keep them on until we arrived in RVN.
Think we left from Oakland in daytime. On TWA.
Stopped at Seattle, Washington…. had to get off plane while they refueled. A
few of us got together and went to Booze store for a larger group. Had to run about
a mile in cold and snow on ground in short sleeves to store, as I remember we had to
go there because the airport was not allowed to sell booze by the Bottle.
When we got there the line was real long standing outside. We started at back and
asked folks if we could get in front of them, telling them we were on our way to Viet-Nam
and had to be back on plane in about 30 min-utes or so. Everyone was so nice and let us
go ahead of them, one guy even pitched in a few bucks, had one ass-hole that didn’t want
to let us ahead of him about halfway through the line.
Some real big “logger” looking guy that was a few spots ahead, overheard this ass-hole,
come back and grabbed him by his shirt collar and took him off to the side for a little
“talk”, someone at the front said right away “you guys hurry up and get right up front of
me,” wonder what the “logger” said to the ass-hole?
Seems like it got dark real fast while here. Everyone got a arm load of booze,
think store manager even give us a few free bottles. So anyway we got back to
plane with 3 minutes to spare. Next stop Anchorage, Alaska, Dec 24th, bright sunlight but real cold, had to get off for some reason (fuel?). All I remember is everyone was making comments about the cold and having short sleeve shirts on. Don’t seem like hardly any time at all went by and it was dark again.
Do remember that the pilot announced that we would cross international
dateline soon and that X-Mas Day would only be 7 hours and some
minutes long. Can remember one of the stewardesses took our booze and
fixed everyone up to three drinks, started serving them when we crossed
that dateline, and it was X-Mas. Think most every one only had one or two drinks, and I remember it got real quite
and stayed that way until we got ready to land in Toyko, by then it was the 26th.
Remember looking at Cameras there.
Next Stop: “Viet-Nam.”
Hard to believe that I was under serious consideration for CMH while there, yet
found myself in Jail for “vagrancy” X-Mas of 67.
PS: Sitting here with tears in my eyes thinking and wondering about the “guys”
I shared that plane ride with, would I recognize any of them, doubt it. Never saw
any of them before or after that X-Mas ride. God it hurts to think about how
young and innocent we were, and knowing a bunch of them didn’t get to come
home sitting up in a seat, like I was lucky enough to do.
I sit here in this “lab” and see the kids, and think to my-self, “was I really that
young, how the hell did I survive it?” Will X-Mas ever be that “special” again for me, are the “best” of times over for this old medic?
One last personal note, if could share one thing with folks about X-Mas season
and giving I would say “Give of your self, the ‘stuff’ passes out of our lives for
the most part, Warm Memories Stay for a life-time.”
That stewardess warmed my heart so much that when I came back and was on a
flight headed to Kentucky to see my folks, I gave the “stewardess” one of two
“yard” bracelets that had been given to me by a couple of real “special” yards. If
you really want to do something special for X-Mas, if you see someone with that
scary, lost, pained where-am-I look in their eyes, try to just give them a warm
compassionate smile. You never know–that “smile” just might save their life. http://www.vietvet.org/xmastime.htm
Wow. I think this still holds true to this day for our soldiers serving today.
And now a little about my novella, HOME, from The Wild Rose Press.
TAG: What could a gypsy and a Vietnam veteran have in common?
“I’ll always want you, Poppy.”
Her head shook in automatic denial. “You’ll want a girl who fits your life. Not some gypsy with no family lineage to brag about. Your momma won’t accept that, either. She’ll make you choose someone like Connie, someone who fits into your world. Not the girl everyone avoids and whispers about behind her back. You’re gonna be the town’s doctor. You need an uppity wife who will make you proud.”
When Sam laughed, his chest shuddered against her back. Deep, husky, real. He turned her in his arms and looked down at her, smiling. “Poppy, do you honestly think I give a damn what people think? Look at me! I’m the town outcast, the survivor who should have died saving the others, not be here planning a future that includes a wife, a medical practice. “I shimmy under park benches, run from my mother’s lipstick, for God’s sake. I wake up screaming and crying over nothing in the middle of the night, crawl under my bed and hide, shaking,
until morning. Hell, I can’t even be a doctor because I haven’t finished school yet.”
“I didn’t know. It must be awful for you.” No matter how it hurt Poppy to know he used her, it felt much worse to know how he hurt alone. “The only time it isn’t awful is when I’m with you. When I think of you.”
Get your copy of HOME at The Wild Rose Press and on Amazon.
Small-town country girl Calisa Rhose lives in a semi-remote area of Oklahoma with her husband, five dogs and one horse. All of her three daughters and their families live within throwing distance. She’s a member of RWA and the local chapter OKRWA. She intends to nurture and continue to grow as an author with the help of her family and supporters.
Find Calisa at her website/blog http://calisarhose.wordpress.com
On twitter @Calisa_Rhose and Facebook @Calisa Rhose
She loves to hear from readers so drop her a line at firstname.lastname@example.org
The day following the New Years Day party on my blog (that’s TOMORROW!!!) I will be giving away the first copy of HOME to one lucky commenter! Don’t forget to leave your EMAIL ADDRESS in your comment! Be sure to come to my BIG SALE PARTY on my on January 1, 2012! The more you comment this week, the greater your chance to win! You can find the full tour schedule on my website at the link above, or you can go directly from here for the release week party schedule http://calisarhose.wordpress.com/2011/12/26/home-for-love/
Thank you for hosting me at Authors By Moonlight!