Days Best Forgotten is a glimpse at several days of war I experienced 40-years ago during three combat tours while flying missions over Vietnam. In war, there are few Hollywood heroes, only scared men and women on both sides of the conflict, trying to do their job to the best of their ability under extremely difficult circumstances. Each combatant feels they are in the right and fighting for their family, their country and perhaps their God. Each participant in a war, any war, views his or her experience from a highly personal perspective. This perspective is influenced not only by the specific event(s) he or she experienced, but also by where and how they each fought. The rifleman on the ground sees his/her experience in a completely different context from that of the sailor or flier. Ground, sea and air each present their own unique challenges, weapon systems and experiences. Some fight and die bearded and dirty, while others face death shaven and clean.Those on the ‘tip of the spear’ see conflict in more graphic terms than the 90% who support the conflict. Military textbooks refer to this as the ‘tooth-to-tail’ ratio; tooth being the ones who do the actual fighting, while tail refers to those who support the conflict. If an aging “old salt” or “grunt” proudly wears the trappings of a veteran, you may ask yourself, was he/she the tooth or the tail of that ‘war dog’. Please don’t get me wrong, ALL veterans deserve respect and gratitude for their contribution. However, it is usually only a small group who carry physical and emotional scars of conflict through life to their grave. To the tens, and perhaps hundreds of thousands of those I have just described, I salute and dedicate this brief moment in time. Only those of you who have been “in harm’s way”, will truly understanding the fear, and at times despair, felt losing comrades while facing the enemy and your own fragile mortality.Time has dulled my memory of some aspects of the following days, so I have improvised slightly, especially with dialog. I am sure everyone has one or two days in their life that they would like to forget; mortal combat presents many such days. The following is a snap shot of two such days in my life. Except for a few first names and one or two I have substituted; the events are a reasonably accurate reflection of my Days Best Forgotten.
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