O'Fallon Progress

Letter to the editor: Thank you to selfless war veterans

Dear editor,

I really enjoyed reading Air Force vet Wayne Ault’s personal account of his year tour in Vietnam. He was a personnel specialist but he really brought home the point that you didn’t necessarily have to be a “grunt in the bush” to end up coming back early in the back of a C-141 aircraft, either on a stretcher or in a body bag.

As Ault described no place or time in country was really safe. This explains why many of our Vietnam vets had problems adjusting to civilian life once they got back home. They left Vietnam but Vietnam never left them.

I was impressed with the long list of O’Fallon residents that served in Vietnam as noted in your “Pages in history” insert. In addition to all those brave souls that left from O’Fallon and returned, there are numerous others who served in Vietnam and later chose to permanently settle in our fair city. All those patriots combine to make our city’s rich history of service to our nation.

I enlisted in the Air Force in 1968 but never was assigned to Vietnam. The closest I got was Clark Air Base in the Philippines. I arrived on a civilian contract flight which dropped me and others off and then headed on to Tan San Nhut Air Base, South Vietnam. It was bursting at the seams with soldiers already clad in jungle fatigues. I was never so happy to get off an airplane in my life.

What a difference 900 flying miles made. We used to joke that it wasn’t Vietnam but we could see it from there.

There could be a first person account like Ault’s printed in the Progress every week and not run out of absorbing stories for months.

The theater of operations might have changed but there are members of our military deployed around the globe that are still subject to the physical and psychological ravishes of war. We are surely blessed to have these loyal and selfless defenders of America’s values.

Bill Malec

O’Fallon, Ill.