|Dale Pulliam was a friend of mine when
we were growing up south of Wichita, Kansas. We did the usual things as kids, but I think
our favorite things were fishing and camping. We were the same age and went to school
together for about seven years before he transferred to another school district for his
Senior year so he could play varsity basketball. I lost track of Dale after graduation in
1964. He joined the Marines and I went to college. He was twenty years old when he died in
Vietnam on May 14, 1967. He was scheduled to return home in September of that
year. I didn't find out that he had been killed in action until just before I went
to Vietnam in 1970.
In 1986, I visited "The Wall" in Washington, D.C. late one rainy November evening. It was an experience that only a Viet Nam veteran could relate to. After some searching, I found his name (see above, near the center of the panel, six rows from the bottom). Dale is just one of more than 58,178 American dead from the Vietnam War, but he was one of only a few that I knew personally. Hopefully, we will never forget them or their sacrifice.
Mike Everhart, 1st LT., U.S. Army, 1st Air Cavalry Division, Vietnam, 1970
STORY IN THE WICHITA EAGLE - FEBRUARY 8, 2004
THE VIRTUAL WALL
THE THINGS THEY CARRIED:
They carried P-38 can openers and heat tabs, watches and dog tags, insect repellent, gum, cigarettes, Zippo lighters, salt tablets, compress bandages, ponchos, Kool-Aid, two or three canteens of water, iodine tablets, sterno, LRRP- rations, and C-rations stuffed in socks. The carried standard fatigues, jungle boots, bush hats, flak jackets, and steel pots. They carried the M-16 assault rifle. They carried trip flares and Claymore mines, M-60 machine guns, the M-70 grenade launcher, M-14's, CAR-15's, Stoners, Swedish K's, 66mm LAWs, shotguns, .45 caliber pistols, silencers, the sound of bullets, rockets, and choppers, and sometimes the sound of silence. They carried C-4 plastic explosives, an assortment of hand grenades, PRC-25 radios, knives and machetes.
Some carried napalm, CBU's, and large bombs; some risked their lives to rescue others. Some escaped the fear, but dealt with the death and damage. Some made very hard decisions, and some just tried to survive.
They carried malaria, dysentery, ringworms, and leaches. They carried the land itself as it hardened on their boots. They carried stationery, pencils, and pictures of their loved ones - real and imagined. They carried love for people in the real world, and love for one another. And sometimes they disguised that love: "Don't mean nothin'!"
They carried memories!
For the most part, they carried themselves with poise and a kind of dignity. Now and then, there were times when panic set in, and people screamed, or wanted to, but couldn't; when they twitched and made moaning sounds and covered their heads and said "Dear God", and hugged the earth and fired their weapons blindly, and cringed and begged for the noise to stop, and went wild and made stupid promises to themselves and God and their parents, hoping not to die. They carried the traditions of the United States military, and memories and images of those who served before them. They carried grief, terror, longing, and their reputations.
They carried the soldier's greatest fear: the embarrassment of dishonor. They crawled into tunnels, walked point, and advanced under fire, so as not to die of embarrassment. They were afraid of dying, but too afraid to show it. They carried the emotional baggage of men and women who might die at any moment. They carried the weight of the world, and the weight of every free citizen of America.
THEY CARRIED EACH OTHER