I was drafted into the United States Amy in 1968. In five months I was in Vietnam as a light weapons infantryman with the 101st Airborne. I was 18 and never really understood why we had to sneak back into the country after our tour. After Vietnam I mustered out and floundered around with family and education for about four years. I then joined the United States Navy in 1974 as an administrative specialist. I served in the Mediterranean Sea, South Carolina, Texas, and California onboard USS RANGER (CV 61) an aircraft carrier that was part of four carrier flotilla that policed the Arabian Sea during Desert Storm in 1991. My father passed away in a VA hospital the second day of Desert Storm. My son’s met me in Hawaii upon our return and rode the ship home to San Diego with me. I retired in 1992. Over the past few decades I have been self-sufficient and simply dealt with many devils I was carrying from the past.
Both my sons have engaged themselves in military careers now. One in the Navy and the other in the Army. In 2000 my second son was ordered to service in Iraq. To honor and support his sacrifice I bought the beanie bear in the picture. That’s me holding the bear today! And the other character in the pictures is my new pal, shipmate and friend, Mya, a rescue dog I took in as a companion and reminder of the care and love we all have within us and the need for unconditional love and understanding; both giving it and receiving it.
I don’t see my kids as much as I’d like to these days… But Mya is there by my side through every crisis and crescendo in my life now. She has changed my life and restored some of the humanity Vietnam, Desert Storm, growing old and living alone had stripped away.
Companions for Heroes has truly blessed me with another reason to live well and prosper. Though many of us don’t see ourselves as heroes, I guess our family, friends and pets do.