I went to school with a number of Viet Nam vets (I was 4F). We had one guy who was full of "bravado" and always shooting his mouth off. Finally, the others put him in his place by asking what unit he had been in - long story short, he was nowhere near any danger. Our classes were small - may 15 in a class and it wasn't uncommon that there were 10 or so VN vets - many of them just back and on the GI Bill.
One of the fellows, who was small and wiry, got to talking one day when he and I were having coffee between classes and he told me that he had done the tunnel rat thing a number of times since he ws the smallest. He said that the first time he went in, he had a 1911, his flashlight and a Kabar that his father had given him before he had gone over. On his first trip in, he said he came pretty much face to face with a VC and he was so scared, he just stuck his 45 out and shot. He said that after that time, he carried the 45 but kept the knife in his had as when he shot the 45, it was so enclosed he couldn't hear anything for several days.
I had a lot of respect for these guys - the fellow that I am talking about had been wounded but served his tour out, another guy, a very quiet and gently fellow had been wounded twice and also had a silver star, another one had been a chopper pilot - he had survived three crashes. One of the fellows was a air force vet 0 his job had been to fill the tanks with agent orange - of course they had been told it wasn't harmful. He died of cancer in his mid thirties. I have another friend that has had porstate cancer that they think is associated with being on the ground and exposure to AO, another friend who developed diabetes and who has all sorts of problems - they figure tht is related to AO.
To those of you that are VN vets - my sincere thanks to each and every one of you. It was a different time and unfortunately, the lessons that should have been learned weren't in regards to the consideration for those who served as well as their families. What yuou fellows did was important and I would like to think that the friends that I had that didn't come back from VN gave their lives for something.
If a pair of '51 Navies were good enough for Billy Hickok, then a single Navy on my right hip is good enough for me . . . besides . . . I'm probably only half as good as he was anyways. Hiram's Rangers Badge #63