I wish I had the courage to ask my dad about Vietnam

first_imgI’d never seen him do that before. He stood stock-still, as though he were defending something.Dad has never broadcast his military service, but around that time he confessed – in a long conversation on Interstate 20 toward New Orleans – that he felt people like him were “under-appreciated,” that they were being “pushed out,” their service to the nation taken for granted.We were on the way to meet up with my brother for a father-son fishing trip. Dad was driving a black Hyundai with peach-colored Georgia plates mounted in a frame that read “Vietnam Veteran.” That was new. My dad has never asked to be thought of as a hero, but somewhere in that burgeoning period of conspicuous militarism, he found the room to do something he’d never done before: publicly identify himself as a veteran, and bear on his license plate and on his person the sometimes wordless emblems of military service.When I was a boy, Dad’s Army service uniform hung in a closet in my brother’s room, along with his combat boots and black felt cavalry hat with the captain’s bars pinned on the front. Categories: Editorial, OpinionWhen I attended my first college football game in Athens, Georgia, in 1981, it was a relatively spartan affair by today’s standards.As I remember it, there were few or none of the militaristic flourishes that accompany sporting events nowadays.We sang the national anthem to ordinary fanfare, palm to left breast, but there were no F-15 flyovers, no surprise halftime reunions between returning soldiers and their gobsmacked children, no public-service announcements reminding us to support our troops. A few years ago, I returned to Athens with two of my boys and my father.When the national anthem began playing over the PA, my father turned toward the gigantic high-definition flag on the enormous new video display and stood at full attention, his right hand up to his eyebrow, saluting in the way he’d been taught. I never touched the dress uniform, but I used the hat for dress-up and possibly for one of the “Son of Rambo” home videos my brother and I shot on the VHS handheld.Dad seemed indifferent to the existence of the mementos of his Army service.If he wasn’t, he never said anything.But we didn’t bother to find out, either, because the subject of Vietnam was a no-fly zone.Dad simply didn’t talk about it, and he must have had his reasons. My father volunteered for a controversial war; he served a one-year tour because he chose to.Whenever I meet an Army solider or veteran, I tell them that my dad was a Huey helicopter pilot in the 1st Air Cavalry Division in Vietnam in 1966 and 1967. I watch as their jaws slacken and their eyebrows pinch slightly. They often say the same thing. “Whoa.” I had heard from my brother rumors that Dad had walked out of “Apocalypse Now,” but I have never heard why or if it’s even true.Maybe he saw in Robert Duvall’s character – like my father, an officer in the First Cav, in the same felt hat that sat in my brother’s closet – too much of himself, or too little.We saw “Platoon” together when it played in Atlanta, but we didn’t talk about it after it was over. Once, at a dinner with my wife, my parents, and my brother and sister-in-law, Dad volunteered a story about a training flight on a Huey while he was an instructor at flight school at Fort Rucker in Alabama.The engine blew a hole in the side of the combustion chamber, and Dad managed to land the Huey in a peanut field.While I don’t recall the details with the precision I wish I did, I remember it for one reason: My brother gently hushed the conversation at our end of the table. Dad was telling a story from his Army days, and that never happened.Dad volunteered for Vietnam, but he has never once volunteered to talk about it. The Fort Rucker story is as close as I think I’ve ever come to hearing one. The whole experience is like a blacked-out, redacted portion of my father’s personal history as it has been handed down to us.My father didn’t take a single hit during his year in Vietnam, but on either side are tales of wreckage: the damaged Huey in Alabama, and the story about how his helicopter, piloted by someone else, was shot down while Dad was on  R&R not long before he returned to the United States to marry Mom. When Mom texted me a couple of months ago to tell me about the new Ken Burns documentary on the Vietnam War, I was attempting, unsuccessfully, to put one of my children to sleep. “It’s on now,” she said. Watching it then was out of the question, a casualty of multiple-child-induced bedtime fatigue. “Worth a watch,” she followed up. “Makes you realize what your Dad went through.”I told her that I would watch it as soon as I had the chance. But what I meant was, I wish he would tell me about it himself.And when the boys were finally asleep, the dust of my mind blown away like the circle of ground beneath a landing Huey, I realized what I actually meant but did not have the guts to say: I wish I had the courage to ask. More from The Daily Gazette:EDITORIAL: Thruway tax unfair to working motoristsFoss: Should main downtown branch of the Schenectady County Public Library reopen?EDITORIAL: Beware of voter intimidationEDITORIAL: Find a way to get family members into nursing homesEDITORIAL: Urgent: Today is the last day to complete the census It makes me proud that my dad is considered a badass by active-duty soldiers who have seen hells of their own – maybe even a slightly crazy kind of badass, who put his life in the line of fire flying into hot zones in Southeast Asia.It’s a vicarious pride, and I take it with some measure of guilt:It’s not my own, and at 46 I know that I will never have to fight in a war the way my dad chose to do.Maybe I tell that to soldiers to establish a tenuous connection with people who have given their lives over to demands that will never be made of me.Maybe I tell it to make myself seem more courageous than I really am, as if somehow some of my father’s courage passed down to me.But at times I feel as if I have as much business telling that story as I did putting on Dad’s flight jacket for a home movie, bearing the accoutrements of courage and military service that I did not earn.It may also be an attempt to solicit from strangers some iota of information on a subject about which my father has chosen to remain mostly silent.last_img read more

Fast reaction: 3 takeaways from Syracuse’s 66-52 loss to Pittsburgh

first_imgSyracuse (18-10, 8-7 Atlantic Coast) dropped its second game of the season to Pittsburgh, in similar fashion as the first. The Panthers (19-7, 8-6) used a late run to defeat the Orange, 66-52, and keep SU on the proverbial bubble.Three MusketeersTyler Roberson, Malachi Richardson and Trevor Cooney combined to score just nine points and were non-factors almost the entire game. With 13 minutes to play, a Cooney 3 and a Richardson free throw had accounted for all of their scoring. Michael Gbinije chipped in only 10 points in the loss.The trio shot a combined 2-of-20 from the field, and were spelled by the strong play of Tyler Lydon. Richardson started the second half by throwing a pass attempt into the hands of two Pitt defenders. He looked like he had turned the corner by scoring an isolation layup with 12 minutes to play, but proceeded to have another turnover and miss another 3.After the Panthers grabbed a seven-point lead, Gbinije missed a point-blank jumper. Then Richardson missed a 3. And it never got any better than that.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textBroken GlassIn the first half, Syracuse shot 48 percent from the field while Pittsburgh hit shots at a 39-percent clip. But the Panthers still controlled the lead going into halftime because of a 10-3 offensive rebounding edge. On the afternoon, Pittsburgh outrebounded Syracuse on the offensive end, 14-6. Pittsburgh took 10 more shots before the break.After going scoreless for the first two minutes of the game, Pittsburgh’s Chris Jones got an offensive rebound that allowed Jamel Artis to attack the basket, score and get fouled on an SU defense that looked less than ready to handle it.Syracuse allowed 14 offensive rebounds and 12 second-chance points, which kept the ball out of SU’s hands and gave the Orange fewer opportunities to score.Career DayAfters scoring a career-high 20 points against Boston College just six days before, Lydon feasted on a much stronger Pittsburgh team on Saturday. He scored 21 points and had two steals.He found success from the left wing, hitting three wide-open 3-pointers there in the first half, including one just seconds before the buzzer to end the first half. With the rest of the starting contingent struggling, Lydon put the team on his back. After a Coleman block on one end in the second half, he raced back and positioned himself in the paint before connecting on an and-one. He gave the Orange the first lead of the second half by hitting a slightly-contested jumper from his favorite spot on the wing to make it 43-42.But that shot was his last, and he could only carry the Orange for so long. Comments Facebook Twitter Google+ Published on February 20, 2016 at 4:15 pmlast_img read more

All set for classy 2019 AFCON draw in Cairo

first_imgHeads of various Federations have already arrived in Cairo with the coaches and Team Managers having come earlier for yesterday’s workshops.This will be the first time ever that the Cup of Nations is held in the middle of the year after being moved from the traditional January/February dates while it will also be the first time involving 24 teams after the expansion from 16.Coaches are looking forward to Friday’s draw with each eager to know who they will land in the first expanded edition of the tournament.-Interesting tournament“We are looking forward to the draw and it will be an interesting tournament because if you win, you have to work hard compared to the other editions. But we are ready for anyone, a draw is a draw. Every team is tough and you can’t select who you want to face,” Ghana’s Kwesi Appiah who led the Black Stars to a top spot finish in qualification ahead of Kenya told Capital Sport.Neighbors Uganda will be led by Sebastien Desabre for the tournament with the tactician being in the tournament for his first time ever.The Frenchman is eagerly awaiting to know who Uganda faces as they seek to perform better than 2017 when they failed to make past the group stages.“For us we are not the favorites but we are here to make our presence felt. We are ready for anyone and we won’t choose who we will face,” Desabre, a close friend to Kenya’s Sebastien Migne said.-Madagascar debut 0Shares0000The set up for the 2019 African Cup of Nations in Giza, where the world famous pyramids are locatedCAIRO, Egypt, Apr 11 – Preparations are almost complete for the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations draw set to be conducted in Cairo, Egypt on Friday evening in Giza, in front of the famous Egyptian Pyramids.On Thursday evening, workers at the venue were putting up the final touches on a beautiful venue ahead of the draw to pool the 24 participating teams. Madagascar will be making their first ever appearance at the tournament. Also coached  by a Frenchman, Nicolas Dupuis who has formed close acquaintance with Desabre and Migne, the debutants are looking to perform well in their first appearance.“First we are excited to be here and our aim is to do well. This is our first time and we can’t wait to get started,” the Frenchman stated.Cameroon who are under the tutelage of Dutch legend Clarence Seerdoff will be looking to successfully defend the crown after the tournament was taken away from them due to ill preparedness while Egypt who are the home side are looking to clinch it after losing the final last season.Morocco under the tutelage of Herve Renard are also looking to make their World Cup experience count by battling for the crown they last won in 1976.-Timothy Olobulu is reporting from Cairo, Egypt- 0Shares0000(Visited 1 times, 1 visits today)last_img read more