Remember Teenage Soldiers This Weekend

Posted May 27th, 2016 by Iron Mike

Nothing turns a boy into a man faster than the rattle of gunfire!
Vietnam PZ
Add the din of incoming helicopters they age even more quickly…

Even today the sound of a distant helicopter thrashing it’s way through the sky turns my head instantly,  – makes my heart race,  – brings all of my senses to full alert.  It was the sound of my war,  – and it brings back a flood of memories each and very time.

Now as an old man – one who watched generations of kids saddle up and go into bad places since then,….my memories are of those long ago teenage soldiers.

I was truly privileged to serve in some extraordinary units as a young soldier. 

101st Normandy

The sergeants and officers who trained and molded me were mostly WWII and Korean War veterans,  – rough dudes with wicked scars,  – who could be gentle on rare occasions.

But they always cared,  – were always training us to be ready to take their place and do their job.  If a bullet was finally going to take them across the river,  – they damned sure weren’t leaving untrained kids behind.

And then it was my turn….

CH-47 Vietnam

And to my amazement even then – as I saddled up and flew on my first mission my greatest fear wasn’t the NVA;  – it was of failing to remember everything I needed to do,  – and being afraid of looking fearful to my team.  Leadership involves a lot of acting…

Days, weeks, and months passed,…and slowly I morphed into a ‘seasoned vet’,  – doing many tasks by muscle memory and instinct,  – and every day seeing more of the bigger picture….

Humor helped, – sometimes it was the only relief.  The reward for doing a good job of filling sandbags and rebuilding a decrepit bunker – was getting to rebuild another one tomorrow.  We rebuilt seven of them…..

Trust me, – not every soldier who goes off to war is noble or a hero.  There were cowards and scumbags, – slackards and liars,  glory hounds,  drunks , and drug addicts everywhere.  And they always failed us when we needed them most.

The ~ most ~ charitable thing I can say about them is that at least they went over,  – unlike the draft dodgers who fled to Canada – or like Bill Clinton who fled to England.

But when they were supposed to be leaders,  – when they were sergeants and officers – more obsessed with staying safe or earning medals,  – when they failed to mentor, to check, and to actually lead, – – I curse them to this day – and will to my final hour.

Their failures as men and as leaders cost kids their lives, – and I still find it unforgivable.

In Vietnam we fought both a relatively conventional enemy – the NVA/PAVN,  and the Viet Cong.  By the time I got there ~ most ~ of the VC had been killed off.  Later we’d see how we’d done Ho Chi Minh a great favor by eliminating an armed challenge to his ruthless rule,  – something today’s anti-gun liberals should study and understand.

Our soldiers died in many ways.  Some in combat, – others in accidents,  drug overdoses,  and some were murdered.  A few were suicides, – many driven by drugs, booze, and ‘Dear John’ letters….or just the overwhelming fear of being maimed in combat.

The lucky ones never knew what hit them – killed instantly by an accurate rifle bullet or mortar shell, – or blown out of the air instantly in a massive explosion.  The unlucky ones died slowly,  of burns or bleeding to death,  – or spiraling slowly out of the sky in a doomed and burning bird.

I watched incredible,  – almost indescribable bravery in our teenage soldiers,  – and in our friends the teenage ARVN troops.  Ever since I’ve tried to teach our young leaders that teenage soldiers will die for you – even fight for the chance to go into terrible places with you,  – if they’ve come to trust your heart and your brain.

They don’t risk death for their country, – or for the generals….or even in the end for the ideals of Freedom…

…they risk death for each other, – for their sergeants and their lieutenants and captains. Anybody higher than major is too high for them to relate to, – they have more attachment to the pet dogs they seem to accumulate….

So this weekend, please don’t waste time thanking us lucky ones who passed through the filter of combat and managed to come home.  We’re the lucky ones, – and we know each breath is a gift – each hour is borrowed time….

USS Franklin

Think about the teenage soldiers – and their young leaders – of all our wars,…

Gettysburg

….who didn’t make it – who died suddenly or slowly – on land, in the air, and at sea….

Omaha Beach

.most were too young to have started families,  and left only empty holes in the families who raised them….

B-17

…many are just faded photos,…relegated to dusty family scrapbooks….

WW One

The bravest and smartest knew full well the risks they were taking, – and did so willingly….

Korean War  frozen dead

…but many were drafted,…and thought going over was better than running away.

Tarawa

Today, as you watch the 2016 election process play out, – remember all the teenage soldiers – from the Lexington Green, to Fort McHenry, to Gettysburg, – to the Belleau Woods, to Guadalcanal, – to the Chosen – to Khe Sanh, – to Ramadi and Tora Bora…

If you want to honor their memories,  do a couple of things….

Fly our Flag – proudly and defiantly!

Teach your kids and grandkids American and World History!

Kick those God-Damned Socialists off your school boards, and out of your local school systems. They’ve been dumbing down our kids for far too long!

No American Soldier ever went into battle risking death for socialism!  EVER!

Vietnam veterans

You can thank those of us who were lucky enough to come home on another occasion,  – it’s called Veterans Day….

6 Responses to “Remember Teenage Soldiers This Weekend”

  1. John Pagel

    Mike,
    WELCOME HOME BROTHER, Thank you for your service
    John

  2. William Beebee

    I have a friend who lied about his age to enlist and fight in the Army in Korea. He was from a farm in Texas and he did not worry about his safety. He just wanted to be part of the greatest cause he could think of.

    – Bill of Acton

  3. Varvara

    Audie Murphy lied about his age to get into the Army in WWII. He was also small. He got in and was the most decorated man in service until a few years ago.

  4. GreenBeretLTC

    I turned 21 years old shortly after arriving in Vietnam…..the second time. A young enlisted guy. A radio operator. Man how I hated that antenna…..!

    Our tours were separated by a couple of years, Iron Mike, but I’m honored to have been there with you, Brother.

  5. John O'Mara

    Iron Mike, you have no idea how your important your messages/insights are to your fellow Patriots. You are an inspiration to those of us who have proudly served in the US military. Your continuing insights are especially critical as we
    approach the most important election in the history of our Republic
    Thanks.

  6. Walter Gensemer

    I was 18 when I went to Viet Nam and felt that I had served with some of the bravest men of our time. We must NEVER EVER forget, not just our fallen brothers from Viet Nam but all the wars past and present.

    Welcome home to all the men and women who served this great country of ours.

    ================================

    And welcome home to you Black Horse!