Press "Enter" to skip to content

Just a heartfelt tribute to Namvets

Kay S. Pedrotti

This topic springs from a recent anecdote I told to a friend that described the “most interesting newspaper story I’ve written” in my career – at least in my opinion. It’s about two Southside veterans of the war in Viet Nam and the incredible crossing of their paths.

Their names were Ron and Doug. While I was working for the Fayette Citizen, I got a call from Ron. He said, “I have a real good story for you.” I asked him details, and he told me that he met Doug on the parking lot at the post office in Peachtree City as both were walking in at the same time.

Ron spoke to Doug: “Man, I love to see that Air Cav insignia on your car. You guys saved my life in Nam.” The two stood there, Ron said, swapping information about which year and month, what days, where they were serving – and discovered that Doug was indeed the very pilot who had Ron on his chopper as he ferried the wounded for medical treatment. I arranged to meet them together; we spent three hours talking at a restaurant.  

Their conversation with me included anecdotes from each, some of them definitely “cleaned up” for ears like mine – untrained in combat. Besides both mentioning the recurring nightmares after they came back to “the world,” Doug said that when he got home, and ever since (this was more than 10 years after Nam), he wakes up at 4 a.m. every day – and can’t remember why. Whatever horrifying incident happened at 4 in the morning in Nam, he had completely blocked it out. 

It wasn’t all gruesome – they had some laughs about their fellow combat friends who would do goofy things “to make sure nothing happens.” I will remember these two guys for the rest of my life, and the dozens more Namvets whom I met while unmarried and living in Savannah – the “club hub” for service members from the local Army Air Base, Beaufort and Parris Island Marines, and a number of men and women on special assignments as intelligence personnel for various branches. 

Ron and Doug remain standouts in my memory every time Viet Nam is mentioned. They were just two examples of the luckier ones who made it out alive and in their right minds. I’ve met guys who were drug addicts because of that war, grown men who could not endure a fireworks display because of sounds like mortar fire, and others who insist they are “perfectly all right.” Some may actually achieve that, and I hope so. So I want to thank them, and all the other men and women who served in that ridiculously unnecessary and devastating military engagement on the other side of the world. You are, and all your fallen comrades are, in my prayers and thoughts forever.

Kay S. Pedrotti has spent some 50 years writing for newspapers. She is a past president of Lamar Arts Inc. and now serves on the board of directors. She lives in Milner with her husband Bob Pedrotti.

Be First to Comment

    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published.

    Website by - Copyright 2021