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Letter: Remember those we lost

Today is a sad day for me remembering all of my Buddies I left in Vietnam. You always hear that “It gets better with time.” Well as I am living proof, that it is not the case.

Forty-nine years ago, in the jungles of Cambodia, myself and five other of my buddies were assigned to the 1st Cav and attached to the 9th Infantry division. We were on a LZ about three clicks inside the border of Cambodia. There were about 35 of us that would go out and patrol and be gone about 10 days, only to return to regroup for a day, and then return to the field. Usually, out of the 35, about eight of us didn’t make it back. Every time we went out, I knew I was next.

The six of us would talk about when we would get back to “The world.” We would get together and reminisce about our time in that “Hell-hole” Well, one by one they paid the ultimate price.

We were all 18 and 19 years old and I knew most of us would not make it home for that 10-year reunion.

Forty-nine years ago, the last one died in my arms. He was hit in the chest.

He was telling me, laying there in the mud, that there was a lot of pain he was feeling. Five minutes later, he told me that the pain was none. Then he said that his eyesight started to fail. Then a warmth went through his body. Then he just said, “See you on the other side.”

I think of all five of them every day, especially Lacy being the last one. I’m not writing this for people to feel sorry for them or myself. I am writing this to remind everybody that they should not judge people on the outside. They have no idea what is going on in the inside.

I know I have survivor’s guilt. I should have been the sixth one. “Why not me?” is a question that I ask myself every day. However, there must of been a reason that I was spared.

If you see a Veteran, walk up to them and let them know how much you appreciate them and make them feel like you really do care.

Anyway, I have rambled on for way too long. I hope that my five buddies look down on me today and say, “We will wait for you on this side when you finish up with your work with the Veterans.” I think I will always be a member of the Madera VFW Post 1981. I love sitting and swapping war stories.

Anyway, Lacy and my other Brothers, save me a spot up there. Until we meet again.

— Royal D. Goodman,

Rifle squad Commander VFW Post 1981 Madera

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