Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Welcoming Returning Vets at Port of Entry

Tommy, Et Al

Kevin Baker always has topical, interesting thigs to say. That's why I check his blogspot frequently.

Tonite (well maybe a little bit earlier), he quoted Rudyard Kiplings "TOMMMY" and followed it up with a short video of newly minted Vets returning from ... presumably ... The Sandbox.

I loved it, and I'm pretty sure you will too.

But three is a point to be made: when we returned from RVN, we never walked into an airport to receive this kind of ..l.. I don't know; let's call it ADULATION.

Because my flight on 20 September, 1969 landed at Oakland, CA. around 5pm, by the time we got into a civilian airport to catch a (civilian) ride home, it was after 11pm. Nobody watched us walk through the door, and frankly I'm just as happy; we had all HEARD about people harassing returning veterans, but we were spared this.

Instead, we were greeted with stolid indifference.

By the time I got to SF International Airport (I didn't understand the geography, nor did I know how to see when the next flight 'home' ..... to Oregon .... was scheduled, I arrived to discover that:
The next flight was at least 12 hours away
There were no provisions suitable to find a room for returning vets over night
There WAS a USO shelter ... but it was completely filled
All of these situations were endurable; I found a couch and made it mine for the next 12 hours. When the morning 'commute' flight to Oregon was available, I was among the first in line.

I know I've told this story before, but I was impressed that the Stews upgraded my seat to First Class, and asked what they could do to make my flight more memorable.

As it was a "Red Eye Special", early morning version, they couldn't offer me a drink.

MY Second choice: Chocolate cake, which they COULD (and did) provide. That was the sweetest thing I had swallowed after a year of accepting unworkable orders from .

clue-less brass. I wasn't really in the mood for Chocalte Cake, but they had it and I choked it all down

.... after we arrived at PDS, the stews were lined up to say goodby, and thank me for my service. I had no clue that anyone noticed up to this point, so it was with gratitude that I thanked them

This is not a "Baby Burner" story, only a moment to explain that air crews understood what we had gone through.

And if the video is to believed, many other people feel this way too; that we should have immediate short-term recognition of what American Soldiers do for their country, after a tour "overseas".

I loved the video. I hope you do, to..

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