258 A Tale of Two Cousins

Vietnam simmered at first. We entered only as advisors but were soon caught up in the rhetoric of, “Communism”, if we don’t stop it here it will soon be on our shores.” (Some how that sounds all too familiar today with only the change of one word, Communists became Terrorists.)

At any rate, at age 25 I received notice to report to the Draft Board. By that time, 1964, the war was raging and thousands were being called up to serve. My experience is different from many. I was re-classified from 3A to 4A, married with children. I was not going. I used to say, “I fought the GREAT WAR instead, I got married.”

Lonnie and Boyce Jr. were about 8 years younger. Escallation during the next few years had both at the Draft Board. Lonnie objected in fact became a conscientious objector and decided to move to Canada rather than be sent to a war he didn’t believe in. Boyce Jr. signed on, spent two tours in Vietnam and was wounded twice. He seemed to thrive on the action and wanted to stay but was sent home.

Lonnie was castigated by some in our family. His father, Uncle Stan was a Navy man and remained in the US Navy Reserves until they made him leave due to age. I don’t know how he felt about Lonnie’s decision.

Boyce Jr. tried to establish a normal life but seemed to live with demons. Married, 2 babies, then failure. He used alcohol and drugs to blot out the memories. He told me stories of some of the terrible things that he saw. At one low point he and others robbed a store to pay for thier drugs.  Boyce Jr. died at age 49, crashed his truck into a tree.

Lonnie was finally able to move back to the US but found it hard to get work. He floundered quite a lot. Married a gal with two kids but that didn’t work our. Today he drives cross country for a large trucking firm. As far as I know he is very happy, on the road, alone. He does have a telephone and stays in touch with family.

I use these two examples to show that like so many families, The Vietnam War had an affect on ours, too.