Tuesday, April 23, 2013

A Soldier's Story.....

As A Contractor, I Am Able To Meet People From Different Walks Of Life, From Different Ethnic Backgrounds And Cultures, And Some People Often Stand Out Among The Thousands Of Clients You Meet Over The Years. They Share Stories With You About Their Life Experiences, And Trust Becomes A Bond That You Share With So Many Different People. I Remember One GentleMan In Particular Back In 2008, He Was One Of My First Customers As A licensed Contractor And His Name Was Mr. Williams.  Mr. Williams Was A Retired Soldier Who Lived In Rosedale, A Vietnam Veteran And Army Sergeant Whose Daughter Called Me To Make Their Bathroom Handicap Accessible. He Was A Nice Man With A Sturdy Build For His Age, Very Friendly And Jovial And Always Greeted Me With A Smile And Handshake When I Showed Up For Work. Unfortunately, He Also Suffered From Post-Traumatic Stress And He Was Confined To A Wheelchair From Injuries He Received During The War. He Often Shared Stories With Me About His War Experiences In Vietnam, As He Told Me The Stories His Eyes Would Widen And He Would Gesture With His Arms, As If He Was Actually Reliving Them. And There Is One Story He Told Me I Would Never Forget :

He Was Drafted In 1971 When He Was 22 Years Old, After Boot Camp He Was Assigned To A Combat Unit Near Saigon, One Of His Duties Was To Engage In FireFights With The Vietcong. One Night, About 3  Months After He Arrived In Vietnam, His Unit Was Patrolling Near A Village Looking For Vietcong Fighters. It Was A Dark, Moonless Night, And You Could Not See Your Hand In Front Of Your Face.  Mr. Williams Told Me You Could Actually Smell The Fear In The Air, Not Knowing Exactly Where You Are, Not Knowing If You Are Going To Walk Into Boobytraps. Suddenly, There Was A Loud Explosion, As One Of His Fellow Soldiers Had Triggered A Tripwire, And You Could Actually See The Soldier's Body Being Blown Apart In The Darkness. They Were Ambushed By Guerrillas Who Surrounded Them, And Opened Heavy Weapons Fire On His Unit, Killing Some Of The Soldiers In The Fight. In The Darkness, He Told Me, Is One Of The Worst Conditions For Combat Because You Cannot See Who You Are Fighting. Finally, About 8 Members Of His Unit Was Captured, Along With Himself, And Made To Lie Face Down In A Rice Paddy With Their Hands Bound With Wire Behind Their Backs. They Heard Talking In Vietnamese, And All Of A Sudden They Saw A Lantern And The Sound Of A Gunshot. Then Again. He Looked Up, And Realized That The Vietcong Soldiers Were Executing The Surviving Members Of His Unit.

His Friend Next To Him, Named Tim, Was A Caucasian Guy From New Jersey About 19 Years Old. He Started Crying, And Mr. Williams Thought To Himself That This Was The Night He Was Going To Die. He Thought Of His GirlFriend, His Family, His Little Daughter, And He Would Never See Them Again..... The Vietcong Were Making Their Way Towards Him, Shooting The Soldiers In The Back Of The Head. With Each Gunshot Mr. WIlliams Heart Beat Faster, And He Began To Pray. When They Reached Tim, They Grabbed Him By The Hair And Put The Lantern To His Face. His Last Words Were "No, God, Please ! "As They Shot Him In The Back Of The Head, His Blood And Brains Splattering Everywhere.  Mr. Williams Knew He Was Next, They Grabbed Him By The Hair And Shoved The Light In His Face. They Said Some Words To Each Other In Vietnamese, And Then One Of Them Said To Mr. Williams, " Black Man, Go Home. This Not Your War." They Cut The Wire Loose, And Made Him Run Through The Rice Paddy, Firing Shots In The Air....Only 3 Guys From Mr. William's Unit Made It Through That Night, And He Told Me It Was The Most Terrifying Experience He Has Ever Had. Then He Smiled, And Leaned Toward Me And Said," That Was The Only Time, That Being Black Has Actually Saved My Life ! " And We Laughed.........

I Have Recently Learned That Mr. Williams Passed Away In March, 2013 At The Ripe Old Age Of 64... I Could Not Help But To Feel Sorrow For Him, No Human Being Should Have To Endure The Horrible Experience Of War...He Sacrificed His Youth, His Physical And Emotional Well Being, To Fight For His Country As Well As Many Other Brave Soldiers Who Gave Their Lives For Our Nation, From The Revolutionary War To The Wars In Iraq And Afghanistan.... Mr. Williams, This Is For You !