A Lifetime Commitment
I now know why men who have been to war yearn to reunite. Not to tell stories or look at old pictures. Not to laugh or weep. Comrades gather because they long to be with the men who once acted their best, men who suffered and sacrificed, who were stripped raw, right down to their humanity.
I did not pick these men. They were delivered to me by fate and the U.S. marine corps. But I know them in a way I know no other men. I have never given anyone such trust. They were willing to guard something more precious than my life. They would have carried my reputation, the memory of me. It was part of the bargain we all made, the reason we were so willing to die for one another.
I cannot say where we are headed. Ours are not perfect friendships; those are the province of legend and myth. A few of my comrades drift far from me now, sending back only occasional word. I know that one day even these men could fall to silence.
Some of the men will stay close, a couple, perhaps, always at hand. As long as I have memory, I will think of them all, every day. I am sure that when I leave this world, my last thoughts will be of my family and my comrades ... such good men.
John provided the quotation prior to our chat about his Reunion this September in St Louis, MO. The gathering reunited USMC Helicopter Team Members from all the War Zones, including Viet Nam, where John served with USMC Flying Tigers/Tweed's Tigers, as a Machine Gunner.
As John explained, during times of war, you are too busy surviving each day to know each other in depth. These Reunions give you the chance to get to know each other. Even, to stay in touch through the Internet. The lifelong bond of US Marine Corps service holds them together.
John credits his lovely wife, Cynthia, and her father, who lived with them for a time, to his interest in Marine Corps Reunions. It was his Father-In-Law who told him that his one regret was not keeping in touch with his fellow Navy men. John has learned personally what a difference it can make.
John's Rank at Discharge from USMC - Sergeant E-5
Years of Service - Active Duty 1964-1968 - full obligation 1964-1970
John served in Vietnam for 22 months - roughly two tours. Aug. '65 to Sept. 66; Jan 67 to Sept. '67.
Thank you, John and Cynthia, for sharing this personal story and for your service.