Monday, June 20, 2005

An American Hero

I went to Branson Friday. Since I was going to the Grand Palace I made the BIG mistake of going in on 76 rather than taking the back roads. As Jim Stafford says, Branson is an old indian word for bumper-to-bumper --- forever. If the fundies want to talk about eternity -- we got it, just south of town.

I went down to see old pal Jim Bohannon do his radio show. Typically, I avoid these vets thingys like the plague. Too many old men lying to each other, getting all weepy, and just downright obnoxious drunk. (Why wern't there any truck drivers or cooks in Vietnam anyway? Why did all these guys spend all their time out in the swamps and bayous, getting shot at by an unseen gook, or Charlie or slope -- oops, sorry, wrong war -- that was Korea.)

But two special things did happen. I met a Medal of Honor winner. I had met two before (and there are only about 350 living), but this is the first time I had actually ever seen the Medal. It was very impressive, even to me, who isn't impressed by much of anything anymore. But even more impressive was the story of the guy who was wearing it.

He was a medic, treating some wounded during a fight. A North Vietnamese grenade landed next to him and he threw himself on it. In most cases, that would be the end of the story. No vet to attend events in Branson and soak up the joys of the Baldnobbers comedy. But it didn't go off. So he picked it up and threw it away. Yep, you guessed it. It went off then.

I will put up a photo on my picture page here as soon as the film lab ruins what is undoubtedly a great shot.

The second was a guy who was in a R4-D reconnaissance fighter. His only armament was a .38 chief special with five rounds. He spent six years in the Hanoi Hilton. There were two really dangerous jobs for airplane drivers. Flying recon missions, and flying the Wild Weasels. My hat is off to both types.

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