I have been honored this Veterans Day through a recorded interview about my book on the Vietnam War for a program called “Good Morning Conshy” where I share the broadcast with two companion pet managers for what is known as PACT. Many of the animals had assisted veterans who could no longer care for their pets and needed help for animals they viewed as their children.
We all had contacts with Conshohocken, a small borough just outside of Philadelphia, and learned that the interview would be recorded and made available on U-Tube. Watching it, I noticed how white-faced I look after recovering from a stomach illness. I am glad I wore my “boonie hat” that I had saved from the Vietnam War. It shows one silver bar that was subdued to prevent the enemy from spotting an officer. I wore it only once before and that was at Omega Institute at a five-day meditation retreat for veterans with PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.)
One of my favorite jobs was serving as an intern for the Defender Association of Philadelphia. I went to the jails, the courtrooms, and the training rooms to learn how to properly defend persons charged with various crimes. The prison was tough. You never knew if the defendant was telling the truth or not. You simply interviewed him for the basic information and wrote up his story for a trial lawyer to review before speaking to the suspect and going to trial. You never saw the person again and you had no idea how he may have faired.
The military may call something like this “collateral damage.” A lawyer may refer to what happened to me as “incidental consequences.”
Whichever way you look at it, I could not have foreseen what would happen with the book I wrote on Vietnam ending up where it is ending up today.
While walking in Conshohocken, I met a fellow by the name of Tom, a veteran who served in the military and was discharged in 1961.
We had spoken when I saw his camouflage “boonie hat” and exchanged courtesies. He then surprised me by purchasing a cup of coffee for me at a restaurant he frequented. When I found out about the gesture, I decided to give him a gift in return. I marched to the place and spoke to the owner and requested she give Tom an autographed copy of my book, “Vietnam war Recall, the best and worst days of my life.“