“We were Soldiers once. This picture was taken in the Tien Sha Peninsula, Vietnam December 1966.

Being the son of a WWII Vet and the descendent of Veterans of every war in which the US, the Confederacy and the original colonies had been combatants, in early 1965, I was concerned that the war in Southeast Asia might be over before I had an opportunity to be engaged.

Mind you, I had been too young to be involved in the Cuban Missile Crisis operation, the Dominican Republic incursion, or any of the other Cold War initiatives of the 1960’s. Therefore, despite being in college, and thus, draft deferred, I dropped out, knowing full well what was going to happen, but still being in a position to truthfully say to my parents that I hadn’t volunteered. My Dad, of course, saw through this thin facade immediately, but I couldn’t tell whether he was proud or disturbed . . . I just knew he was sad, scared and far more aware of the implications of what I had done than I was at the time.

Looking back, I think I would do it all over again, except for one thing. I wish I had had the courage to face my Dad, tell him how proud I was of his service with NCB-74 (Seabees) on Tarawa and Kwajalein in 1943, and why that motivated me to volunteer (after receiving my draft notice) for duty with the US Navy Seabees in 1966.

We never talked about it, even after I got out, before he died in 1990, despite the fact that I served two combat tours in Vietnam.
Maybe we didn’t have to . . . but I will go to my grave wishing we had.”
~ Bill Dennison, Vietnam Veteran

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