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Veterans Day Revisited

November 13, 2011

Somehow Veterans Day slips by me every year with little note or reflection, other than the note from the ever-faithful Dave Mates who always sends personal greetings to myself and our comrades from First CAv ASTA.  “Cap’m John; a pleasure to serve with yah.”  This always moves me to get off my duff and pass on the remembrances to the vets  with whom I still maintain contact and these are fairly many.

Only recently did I re-new my contact with those in the Otter-Caribou Association after a time when I felt the group had become too politicized.  Also, most of those members were quite a bit older than the group of brash young lieutenants and warrant officers who were suddenly thrown into the position of aircraft commanders of heavy and relatively complex, at least for the Army, transport aircraft for the air mobility tests in preparation for the Viet Nam buildup.

Just last year I attended my first reunion in a decade with that group, partly because John Spencer, one of my closest friends from that era was the chairman for that event and because it was to be held at Ft. Benning, site of our first unit assignment as officer-aviators.   It was also because Bob Stack, another of our closest comrades had died the previous summer.  In the year since, I have become aware of the fact that many of these old timers are dying off.

I was a bit older than the the ASTA boys I flew with during my second Viet Nam tour, most of whom I outranked.  I am humbled by the fact that they still treat me with respect and genuine friendly affection.  I tried to be a good  leader for them and to inspire confidence in my piloting skills as we shared the excitement and hazards of combat surveillance flying.

As usual, I missed the big Veterans Day parade, this time because the city of Colorado Springs decided to hold it a full week before the regular day of observance.  While the Veterans For Peace chapters in Denver and Pueblo marched in their city’s parades, our Springs group just don’t have the numbers and I was not ready for a last-minute solo act.  As it was, it made time for an even better event for me personally as well as for promoting Veterans For Peace by interfacing with other peace groups.

Joe “JJ” Barrera is a member of national VFP and his local organization is Veterans Remember. A graduate of Colorado College, he was a Combat Infantryman with the First Cav in Viet Nam and later served on the faculty of that university.  Joe maintains that sharing heir combat experiences with fellow veterans is the key for long term healing from physical and psychological wounds.

Joe and Veterans Remember, in conjunction with Colorado College presented a three day series of events centered on bringing together military war veterans, their families, and the  local and academic communities to provide the opportunity to listen, to be heard and to reflect upon the lasting effects our veterans bring home with them and how they can be helped.  These events included a series of films on current conflicts, panel discussions regarding treatment and recovery from combat related afflictions  and discussions where combat veterans were invited to share their experiences and how they affected their lives.

This was a most worthy event and I sincerely hope it will continue as an annual event in a similar form.   I look forward to the Colorado Springs Veterans For Peace group making a significant contribution to this effort.

John U

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2 Comments
  1. Cpl. Inhoffer USMCR permalink

    I marched proudly as I have done in previous years with my Marine Corps comrades. I am overwhelmed by the continued outpouring of support for all the military services by the people of Colorado Springs! Semper Fi

  2. Good for you, Dick!
    JU

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