I’ve mentioned in passing in this blog my membership in the American Legion. I am proud of that membership. I qualify because I am a veteran, but I had finished my military service (army) before I went to Vietnam the first time as a civilian undercover signals intelligence operative providing support to army and Marine units in combat. During my thirteen years on and off in Vietnam, my cover was most often as a member of the unit I was supporting, so I passed myself off as an army soldier or Marine. My respect for the men fighting at my side grew over the years. So these days, when I attend an American Legion function, that respect and my feeling of brotherhood with other veterans is stronger than ever. I’m honored that these fine men and women accept me as one of them.
This year, for the second time, I’ll be participating in the American Legion Flea Market Extravaganza. I’ll be selling my books at a table surrounded by other legionnaires and vendors who support the Legion. My brothers-in-arms will be on all sides of me.
One ironic twist of fate is that the commander of my American Legion post, Ed Hall, crossed paths with me during the aftermath of the fall of Saigon. Ed, at the time a brand-new Marine second lieutenant, was with the Marines aboard the U.S.S. Oklahoma City, the flag ship of the 7th Fleet. I escaped under fire by helicopter to that ship on the night of 29 April 1975 after the North Vietnamese were already in the streets of Saigon. The story is recounted in Last of the Annamese.