On one of her child-care volunteer trips to Asia, my wife sat next to a Vietnam vet, who had business out east.
He told her that a bunch of vets had a network, to send goods to Vietnam. The leader, he said, was John McCain.
As it happened, I had an interview with Sen. McCain during a hearing into some Olympic scandals in 1999. The first thing I asked him, in a long break in his office, was about his involvement with Vietnam after years of captivity.
McCain’s reply was a shrug, more eloquent than words. I think the shrug meant, it was the right thing to do.
I think of those vets who saw horrors out there. One baseball player from Hofstra, John Minutoli, flew one mission too many out of Da Nang. I’ve visited his name on the Wall in DC. Walter Rudolph, a fraternity brother by proxy, died in 1969. I’ve visited his grave at Pinelawn.
Others who came back from combat are still dealing. One good friend of mine is starting to write about being an officer, seeing how things really worked out there in Vietnam. John Fernandez, the West Point lacrosse player, who lost the lower part of both legs on “a bad day at the office” in Iraq, worked many years for Wounded Warriors, still plays on prosthetic feet.
Friends of mine, who were in the worst of it in Vietnam, only allude to the combat but prefer to talk about the politics that prolonged the war.
The older I get, the more I appreciate anybody who served. * * *
(Here are the links for John McDermott's friends, in the Comments below.)
"The day after my 80th birthday, which overflowed with good wishes, surprises and Covid-safe celebrations, I awoke feeling fulfilled and thinking that whatever happens going forward, I’m OK with it. My life has been rewarding, my bucket list is empty, my family is thriving, and if everything ends tomorrow, so be it.
"Not that I expect to do anything to hasten my demise. I will continue to exercise regularly, eat healthfully and strive to minimize stress. But I’m also now taking stock of the many common hallmarks of aging and deciding what I need to reconsider."
--Jane E. Brody, my pal in the NYT newsroom, oh, a few years back, in the Personal Health column, Sept. 13, 2021.
"People have said to me, ‘You’re fully vaccinated. Why are you being so careful?’” said Dr. Robert M. Wachter, professor and chair of the department of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco. “I’m still in the camp of I don’t want to get Covid. I don’t want to get a breakthrough infection.”
---Tara Parker-Pope, The New York Times, Aug. 16, 2021.