Sunday, October 14, 2007

In Memory Of Grandpa

I was going through and cleaning out some of the old documents saved in our hard drive from my college days and ran across a class where I had to write a journal. One of the journals I opened described my conversation via email with my Grandpa Ladnier ( my mom's dad, who passed away a year ago March). This took place in February 2000. I thought most of you would appreciate what my grandpa had to say regarding his experiences with war. The following is an account from my journal:

I wrote my grandpa and told him I was taking this class. I asked him a few questions and he responded with delight that I am interested and said that he had always wondered why I had never taken interest before. I thought about that and came to the conclusion that I was not confronted and was not aware of war or the effects of it. I never thought to ask. He mentioned how when his uncles returned from wars he “as a youngster, ‘hung onto’ every word they said”. He went on to say that what you learn about in history books is just not all the facts. Here is what he wrote to me:

Thinking of Vietnam I can't help but recall a statement that
General S.L.A. Marshall made during a luncheon. General Marshall, of
W.W.II fame; I introduced him as a guest speaker and afterwards we had
lunch - he was 86 years old then! He said, "...we will lose our next
war because we have become too civilized". I learned from my tours in
Vietnam what he meant - - the Vietcong beat us because "we were too
civilized". They didn't play by our rules - - i.e., they routinely used
children and women as weapons against up. Try to imagine seeing a young
girl, like Marie, walking toward a dozen of your friends and you KNOW that she
has a bomb and if she reaches your friends they are all dead - - but, if you
shoot her, you save your friends! We as Americans, could not handle
this! We would go into villages and rebuild them - - set up schools
and give them everything so they could have the advantage and freedom that we
all knew. When we left, the Vietcong would come in and select the mayor of
the village, hang him by his feet, slit his stomach and force his family,
children, wife and all the villagers to watch as the pigs eat his hanging
intestines - - we could not compete with this cruelty! Yet, we saw more
and more of the American public, the News Media, Hollywood stars, like Jane
Fonda, supporting the Vietcong. We became the enemies and not the
Vietcong! It was more painful for me to travel to and from Vietnam in the
US than actually being in Vietnam. I clearly remember my uncles returning
from W.W.II and their reception. The people understood the sacrifices they made
to insure that they and their families forever would enjoy the freedom that we
enjoy in this nation. When Vietnam veterans returned they were only met
with hatred! Waiting in a California airport, in Green Beret uniform, I
was approached by this nice looking young lady. She said, "I just want to
show you how much I appreciate what you are doing for our country by treating
you to the best breakfast you have ever had". Since I had time
before my flight home I agreed and we went into the nicest restaurants there and
she ordered for both a dream breakfast - - steak, eggs with all the trimmings.
She finished eating before I did and grabbing the bill said she had to rush
for her flight. When I finished and starting walking out the cashier
stopped me said that the young lady had not only not paid the bill, but had got
a considerable amount of gum/candy saying to add it to the bill and I would pay
on my way out! That was her way of expressing how she felt about
Vietnam Veterans!
I was in RVN twice as a Special Forces,
Green Beret, operator. The first time in the mid 50s, in civilian clothes,
after the French had been defeated. I suspect history will
show that our mistake was not supporting them against the Vietcong (Vietnamese
Communist). Their last stand was heroic and deserves to be
remembered. I met, worked with and partied with many of the French
Legionnaires who were there and survived. My home base was Saigon and I
lived in an upscale hotel -- then a beautiful city.

Returning in the 70s, this time in Green Beret uniform, we were involved in
establishing and operating intelligence networks and in recruiting locals,
training, equipping and leading them in battle against the Vietcong. It
was an economy of force operation - - a 12 man A detachment would recruit and
lead a local Army of up to 5,000 soldiers. We were convinced that it was
our duty to help the Vietnam people know and enjoy the freedom that we had known
all our lives. I was following a long family tradition of going to War and
believe that one has never lived until they have almost died - - the comradeship
and trust that you develop for your fellow soldier is close to
love.
There is a community of Vietnamese here in Gulfport
that was forced to leave their country when we left. They are good
citizens and becoming productive members of our nations. The
irony is that they were provided more US government help, money, training, etc.,
to get resettled that Vietnam Veterans were given!

The real heroes of Vietnam were the wives that stayed home and took care of the
children. Alice did wonders. Even our children made sacrifices - -
your Mom did - - but when I came home and Karen would put her arms around me and
say, "I love you Dad!" that made it all worth while.

Our nation will continue to be challenged by
aggressors throughout the world and there will always be a need for someone to
sacrifice to insure that we all can keep this great freedom we
have.

1 comment:

Kelsi, John, & Jake said...

thanks for sharing that! your grandpa had quite the experience and I am sure we will never truly understand all that military families have to sacrifice so we can enjoy what we have.