I love it that people read my blog. I love it even more that my family and friends come read it and sometimes even come back. My aunt sent me an e-mail recently to correct some of the details of my Memorial Day post. While she was at it, she shared another story about my grandfather and his service in Vietnam and how that unexpectedly tied into her life several years later. With her blessings, here is her story:
Papa was in the Naval Reserve as a Seabee (they were called that but it was a play on CB which stood for Construction Battalion) and he served in Viet Nam, not Korea. He was too young to fight in Korea, but he was not too young to join the Naval Reserve! None the less, he was so proud of this country, and was glad to serve when his Naval Reserve unit (the Lone Star Battalion) was called up as a result of President Lyndon Johnson deciding to escalate the Viet Nam War. Congress said fine, but if you are going to start calling up Reserve units, the first one to go will be from your area. Thus, the Lone Star Battalion was the first Reserve Unit to go to Viet Nam. Papa was 41 at the time, and anyone over 35 was given an automatic dispensation if they did not want to go. Papa, and all of the other men who were in the Reserve Unit with him, said no, they would go because that is what they had trained for and received pay for for the last 20 or more years. The oldest man in their unit was in his late fifties - he went and was their postman. Ironically, when Uncle David [my aunt's husband] went to work at FESCO in 1975, they had a big anniversary celebration because FESCO had been in existence for 25 years. Papa and Grannie came to see us that weekend, and got there during the FESCO celebration. All of a sudden someone yelled "Chief Dahlstrom". His name was Jim Denim and he had been 19 when he was sent to Viet Nam. He came up and saluted Papa. He had served with Papa - and told me stories that I could believe so well because I knew what a good and kind man Papa was. He said that when they had all been over there, so scared and lonely, that Papa pretty well adopted them all and took care of all the young men. He said that Papa would read his mail from home out loud to all of them, and tell him about his family that he loved so very much. Jim Denim said that Papa had made a very hard time bearable for lots of men over there. He loved Papa and after that always asked me how he was. Jim was a welder for the Alice office, so after we moved to Victoria, I did not see him very often. However, when Papa died, it was in the FESCO newsletter, and Jim sent me a really sweet and kind sympathy card.
Papa lived the motto "Be kind to strangers, lest they be angels in disguise"
With much love and fond remembrance, I salute my Papa, too.