As long as I live, I’ll suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Injury (PTSI) from my years in combat in Vietnam and the horrors I went through during the fall of Saigon. I still have occasional nightmares, and I can’t abide Fourth of July fireworks. But I’ve learned to cope. These days, on the whole, I’m rational.
On the positive side, for my work during the fall of Saigon, I was awarded the U.S. government’s Civilian Meritorious Medal. And a year or so after we were all safely back in the states, my guys invited me to a dinner in D.C. where they presented me with a plaque. Across the top are the words, “Last Man Out Award.” Below is a brass eagle and the following:
“The fall of Saigon will always remain a monumental tragedy in U.S. history. This is to finally recognize your exceptional leadership while safely evacuating all your employees and the closing down amid the danger and chaos of those final days.”
“[Signed] The Women and Men and Dependents of F46”
End of quote. “F46” was our unclassified designator.
That plaque now hangs in my dining room. I see it and remember every day. The love I bear those men—and the feeling is too strong to call it anything short of love—has never weakened.
More next time.