Vietnam, Episode 4 – Mogie, a 19 year old who died in the fields of Vietnam in the summer of 1966 when I was entering my senior year of high school, is now an American story.
He insisted on going, and then entered into hell.
The summer he died I was working in ditches in the terrible heat and humidity of Virginia Beach laying water pipe for a construction company. I could hardly breath down in the ditches and my 130 pound frame took a pounding day after day after day. But it would soon be my senior year in high school. My worries were few and my future open with possibilities.
Very different from the ditches in Vietnam, where Mogie was emotionally falling apart, as he wrote, from the strains of war. Just staying alive and getting off the front line was his world. Courtesy of LBJ and “the best and the brightest” who served him.
The next summer I would be working in a dairy processing plant where it was always cold and sterile. That summer it wasn’t Mogie. He had been dead a year. This time it was the son of a man I worked with. He got the news at the plant. I remember the day. I can see the scene as clear as I see the room in which I now sit. The man went home and was gone for a time. When he came back, hardly a word was spoken about it all. He looked and acted broken, hollow.
I came back the next summer to earn next year’s tuition, and he wasn’t there. Don’t know what happened, where he went, how he was. It was like he was never there. I often wonder about him – often.