A veteran speaks

Dear Bartcop,

It is Memorial Day today and I always think of my experience as a combat
veteran of the Viet Nam war on this day. I lost four childhood friends in
the Viet Nam war and many more men that I served with.

My experience began as a draftee on 16 Aug 1967, I took basic training at
Ft. Bliss TX. We were told repeatedly that if we went AWOL for over 30 days
it would be interpreted as desertion in time of war. As would missing a
troop movement. The UCMJ was not a stranger to us. There were servicemen
with us that were National Guardsmen and Reservists, they were always
singled out for ridicule by the cadre which everyone went along with.

After the Basic Training I was sent to Fort Polk LA where I was trained in
the "fine art" of an Infantryman for duty in Viet Nam. I was subsequently sent
to Viet Nam on 6 Feb 1968 as a replacement in an Infantry Company with the
196th Light Infantry Brigade that had been decimated in an NVA ambush that
had killed 24 of it's members and wounded another 30 or so. I still maintain
contact with many of the soldiers that I served with including my CO who is now
a retired Colonel that resides in Germany. We attend reunions on occasion.

There are three POW's that attend these functions, one was a colleague of the
famous U.S. Marine, Bobby Garwood that betrayed his fellow prisoners and
carried a weapon of the captors and functioned  as a guard for them. Garwood
was later investigated by Congress for desertion and treason. Remember, these
men were all prepared to risk their lives in combat to preserve freedom.

The election year of 1968 was an election year I will never forget because
as a 20 year old buck Sergeant E-5 I had earned 2 Purple Hearts, Two Army
Commendation medals and other decorations. During one of our resupplies
(every 4 days) the mail had about 4 absentee ballots for the only people
with us that were eligible to or willing to vote in the Primary Election of 1968.

There were about a hundred people in this group, a table of operations
and equipment Infantry Company in the field. I was not eligible to vote
because the legal voting age was 21. I had resolved not to ever miss an
opportunity to cast a ballot in any election I could participate in since
and I never have. I have always voted Democrat, even twice for President
Clinton, you know the one, the one that stood by his convictions.

The military did bless me with a very well developed bullshit detector that
has been on full alert ever since.

I cannot suppress my revulsion at having a known deserter who has done
nothing to distinguish himself in his life appointed as the Commander in
Chief and protector of our Constitution who will ultimately be a threat to
the document we swore to protect and defend with our blood.

As a sidebar, I would like to make Julie Hiatt Steele aware that I see her fight
as one that is of the highest order and that she has earned my crisp military salute.
Right On Julie!

Steve Bingen

Steve, great stuff...

...a salute and a shot of Chinaco to you!


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