The following is an excerpt from the memoir: Those Who Remain: Remembrance and Reunion After War.


There is no glory in battle worth the blood it costs.

   Dwight David Eisenhower


It’s late April 2011, and already broiling hot at the entrance to the National Infantry Museum and Soldier Center in Columbus, Georgia. This outing is part of the planned program of events during my fourth reunion with the guys of Alpha Company. Once again, we’re part of a motley crew of former GIs who served in the 22nd US Army Infantry Division in various wars, a few spouses, and me, the only Vietnam War widow in the group. In spite of the fact that we are here among about two hundred veterans of all ages, our section of the bus – those connected in some way to Dave’s Company back in 1969 – behaves like a merry band of war buddies, joking and teasing, ribbing each other about things that happened long ago in the region of Tay Ninh.  Now they include me in their repartee, as if I had been there, too.

Our bus driver, Ike, a thin, talkative man, lightens the atmosphere further when he chimes in over the loud speaker in his melodious Georgia drawl throughout the two-hour bus ride from Atlanta with quips like: “Whatever you folks do back there behind me, don’t wake me up while I’m drivin’ “

How amazing to be on a road trip with these guys who were with Dave forty-two years ago in the jungles of Vietnam.

Each time I’m with these men at a reunion I’m flooded with the feeling that Dave is present among us, that he is smiling at me from somewhere in the room.



Joe, who carried the secret code book on the heels of Dave back in ’69, sits next to me. Quiet moments are rare in this group and when they occur I know that a memory has been retrieved, wrapped in words like a gift and is about to be presented to me. I’m like a visiting dignitary in these gatherings, beloved and honored, and served morsels of their long ago experience as if they know that I need to be nourished on these trips. This time it’s a mouthful.

“I want you to know that I would have died for him. We all loved Captain Crocker,” said Joe, staring straight ahead at the back of Ike’s driver seat in front of us.

Such strong, spontaneous utterances are normal among these men, but it’s hard to know what to say back except, thank you.

 I’m ambivalent about this particular journey – not about the pleasure of being along with this special group and being almost one of the guys – but, once again, dubious about visiting military tributes and war memorials even though I survived the trip to the Vietnam Memorial very well in their company.

I try to participate in activities like this by keeping a look out for inconsistencies, irregularities, the little flaws in the whole cloth of the dramatic, cinematic re-telling of war such as we are about to experience at the Infantry Museum. My vigilance is evidence of the compromise I always feel at these reunions; I want to be with these people and hear their stories but I can’t condone military proliferation. I manage these experiences by interviewing my younger self and reflecting on my early brush with military life. What did you enjoy back then? Were you proud? Were you afraid?

(excerpted from: Those Who Remain: Remembrance and Reunion After War)