Veteran’s Day 1968

Veteran’s Day, 1968. An excerpt from Those Who Remain: Remembrance and Reunion after War. He spoke of his time in Vietnam as unavoidable, a river to cross, an obstacle to remove. Once the orders are issued, he said he would face court martial if he didn’t go. “There’s no other choice,” he said. “I have to go even if Dad says the war is a mess right now.” What his father had said was that there was a disconnect between what was happening on the ground, in the jungles, and what politicians and the Pentagon perceived the war to be and expected it to be, a reality which would not be unraveled from the fundamental untruths and hyperbole of the war until years later. But, I understood nothing about what he was about to step into. “We’ll survive – I’ll be home by Christmas next year,” he said. “Then I have only one year before I can get out of the army completely.” I promised to write every day and prayed for the rash to go away. “Letters – that’s all we’ll have over there,” he said. “Where I’ll be, there won’t be any other communication except mail.” The anticipation of verbal silence, physical distance, had its own power. It began slowly with long silences and idle activities, constant unspoken preparation. We could drive for an hour together without a word between us. We unpacked and repacked, organized cleaned, straightened, made lists. On our last night together on November 10, 1968 we barely spoke. We expressed our love for each other only with our bodies. The poison ivy scourge had […]

A Veteran’s Day Remembrance

My husband, Capt. David R. Crocker, Jr., left for Vietnam on November 11, 1968. Veteran’s Day always brings back the memory of his early morning departure from a small local airport. This year, on the anniversary of his death in Vietnam, May 17, I published a memoir about that time in my life and the aftermath. I’m happy to say that the experience of writing this book and reconnecting with the men who served with him in Vietnam has been transformative. I have reconnected with a neglected past. The following is an excerpt from the first chapter: Those Who Remain: Remembrance and Reunion After War     Truly nothing is to be expected but the unexpected! Alice James (1891)   On May 17, 1969, when I was twenty-three, my husband, Captain David Rockwell Crocker, Jr., was killed in the Vietnam War. We had married on the day after his graduation from West Point in June 1966. Three years later, after six months in Vietnam, he was mortally wounded while inspecting a deserted Viet Cong bunker. He had entered the small dark enclosure with his first sergeant along with a Vietnamese translator, and another soldier, who was a conscientious objector, carrying a bulky radio. There are speculations about what happened next in the bunker. Possibly an unseen wire like fishing twine, strung overhead, connected to the trigger on a booby trap; probably the antenna, projecting up from the radio, pressed against the wire. The explosion sent earth, human flesh, glass, bamboo and shrapnel in all directions. Dave survived for a few hours with fatal wounds to his […]