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Writings of Ben Weihrich, Jr.
YeahI Knew Him and The Healing by Author
For My Brothers and Sisters who stood the watch in the “RICE PADDIES”
YEAH- I KNEW HIM
The “DUKE”(John Wayne) in “THE FLYING LEATHERNECKS” said it best when he found out that one of his buddies had “brought the farm” (KIA- killed in action),”Yeah- I knew him”.
Yeah–I knew him. I knew of his dreams, his loves, his wish to be in the arms of his family. To be working on his hot rod, instead of beng a “tunnel rat”. To be at the ballpark cheering on the Dodgers or whoever, instead of doing a “body count” in some jungle.
Yeah–I knew him. To be on the beach enjoying the sun, surf, the girls and having a few cold ones, not waiting in a damn rice paddy on an ambush. To be home at Christmas time singing carols in the snow, instead on a LRRP or on a search and destory mission.
Yeah–I knew him. Holding his newborn child in his arms and looking at his wife in love and wonderment. Not screaming out in terror in the middle of the night because of some nightmare that happened today or a dozen years ago.
Yeah–I knew him. Late at night, in the bunker drinking hot beer, talking about things and girls. Maybe the women we loved, going steady with, married to or just got a “Dear John” from. Remembering her pretty eyes, the way she made love, the way she kisses, maybe how she could make us feel to beside her or away from her.
Yeah–I knew him. knocking the grand slam at the softball game, selling that new car to the newlywed couple, planting the last seed on the north 40, instead of holding on to his closest buddy, making his last moments in this hellhole the best, sharing his last smoke because’s no way to save him.
Yeah–I knew him. Everytime I light a square, because he left his “Zippo” to me, the one he brought at the PX and engraved “Joe Ragman- Nam, II Corps, War Zone C”. My mind flashes back to those days.
Yeah–I knew him. As I knock on his parent’s, wife’s or girl- friend’s door, to pay my last respects. Telling how we were friends, how he felt about the war, how much he wanted to be back home. As I gave them his last letter, which he had not mailed. I saw their eyes fill with anger, hurt, tears and then the questions. Damn ?’s
Yeah–I knew him. As I stared into his face that’s lost forever in the never-never land of the V.A. Hospital and drugs. He never came home as Joe Ragman, but as a zombie. Lost forever somewhere in that last firefight, dancing the “Thorazine shuffle”.
Yeah–I knew him. As the friend who lives under the bridge or deep in the woods. Scraping an existence off Mother Nature or out of the dumpster of Burger King or grocery stores. Hiding out to escape the stares, the haterd, and the ugliness of the war. Staying loaded to kill the pain, the loneliness, the desperation of life.
Yeah–I knew him. As I walked among the rows of white headstones in the “Garden of Stones” looking at all of the names, dates and places. I look at “The Wall” finding and touching your name. I remember the good and bad times, the hopes, the dreams. I cry, not in sadness, but in hope that “This Wall” shall be the last memorial to those who fought in a war. In a war where all sides, the Victor and the Vanquish, lost. There are no winners in a war.
Yeah–I knew him. Here’s to you, Buddy, to your memory, to honor you, to remember you and love you. “Sleep in peace, comrade dear, God is nigh”*
Ben E. Weihrich, Jr.
Proud Grad of “Saigon U”
* From Col. Butterfield’s “TAPS”
It took years to write this hear little diddy, but in ’92 it was placed in the “VETERAN’S VOICE” , a mag for hospitilizied veterans(almost 2yrs in and out of nuts wards, but things are strait now). Then in ’94 it was placed with the following for the program at the PERMIAN BASIN VIETNAM VETERANS MEMORIAL 11/11/94.
Long ago, in the Age of Aquarius, there was a war. A war which divided father against son, brother against brother, friend against friend. A war which left mothers, wives, sweethearts in tears and questions in their hearts. Some of those brothers, friends fathers and sons came home whole, others missing limbs, and those who came home in a gray coffin, and still others who are still missing.
Time has passed, as time does, and the wounds from that war has slowly healed not completely though. The people still remember the hurt, the anger, the grief, and the terror of that war. The nation had tried to forget the war because that war was never won and the nation was disgraced by that war. The warriors who came home faced and felted empathy, ridicule, hopelessness, nightmares, fear and terror.
These dishearten warriors tried to distanced themselves from that war, but they could not. The war drew them like a moth to a flame. So with courage and faith these grunts, flyers, radiomen, medic’s, docs, nurses, cap’t’s, swabjocks, jarheads, doggies, chopper jocks, all kinds of rank and file, hippies, dissenters, draftdodgers, went to the people of that nation seeking to heal those wounds caused by the war.
Without the capital of the capitol, but with clout of the powers to be behind the seats of government, these warriors made their dream and the nation’s come true in the fall of ’82. Together with courage and compromise, the “WALL” is a reality today.
The fathers, mothers, sweethearts, brothers, sisters, friends, foes, strangers came to see, touch, cry, rejoice when they saw or did not see a name on the the “WALL”. Friends were made and reunited wounds healed, goodbyes were said, unspoken words were spoken, and things of love were left.
The hippies and hawks became one, the glorifiers and the demeanors are silenced by the “Blackness Of The Wall”.
No Shame No Glory
Just a celebration of heroes
Ben Weihrich, Jr.
Proud Grad of “Saigon U”
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