Vietnam War Veteran Series
A jrd Stat on 1/9/10.
Thanks To All Veterans Of The Vietnam War!
RETURN OF GRANDDAD
By Don Ray
(Circa 1967 – Viet Nam)
Chaos fills the burdened mind,
Tranquility seems unattainable,
Strolling along a desolate beach,
After awakening from delirious slumber.
A figure appears before the eyes,
Clothed in robe and sandals,
Who is this stranger of the night?
Continuing to walk in my direction.
With hair and beard of silver grey,
Reflecting a shadow in the moon light,
Recognition would seemed absurd,
Without extrasensory perception.
With an astonished gaze of expression,
I grope for words to no avail,
My mind is haunted with nostalgia,
Thus I kneel in childish penance.
He spoke with the crisp clear voice,
I reflected as tears fill my eyes,
The words he read to me from Bambi,
Ten thousand miles and twenty years ago.
“Many years have passed, my son,
Since our last conversation,
When you were a mere adolescent,
And I, long past maturity.”
“Prices I would have paid,
Burning my soul as sacrificial incense,
That you might live in childhood serenity,
Never faced with life’s turmoil.”
“Time goes by incessantly,
Life knows not repetition,
You encounter many experiences,
From each, I watched you grow.”
“I longed to direct your path,
To see only delightful pleasure,
Until I observed your growth,
From devastation, you obtain knowledge.”
“Not so many days ago,
I felt that you might falter,
You seemed to lose your sprit,
Life seemed so useless.”
“How you longed for assistance,
The problem seemed insurmountable,
All your friends were distant,
People shared not your existence.”
“In this state of loneliness,
You incurred an inspiration,
Wash away your elusive past,
Happiness is the future.”
“From these words you understand,
Why I could not console you.
You were not meant for protection,
Exhilaration is only in victory.”
With those words he walked away,
Disappearing in the moonlight;
Along the secluded beach,
Tracks vanishing in the surf.
My voice was returning,
How I wished to follow;
Someday Granddad, I’ll be with you;
Tomorrow there’s a world to conquer.
Thanks for looking.
Donald Ray Hobbs
The "Draft" for the needed soldier power of the military is a necessary evil. It
can never be fair, as mere mortals are on the selection board. In times of peace,
the number of the draftees is less than in times of war. Regardless, being told
that a young man must interrupt his career and report to training camp to become a
soldier is an eye-opening experience. Most of the new draftees just pick up and
report, others are more than happy to report, while a few refuse to serve. I am
so proud of those that report for duty after being drafted. Most of the area
soldiers were drafted and most, if not all, served honorably.
Donald Ray Hobbs was just one, of the several Rockport/Echols young men, that was
drafted and became a hero for serving his country in time of need and in time
of a war. Those that honorably served and in true sense, American Heroes, were
presented a grave injustice when they returned home. Some of the American people
and most of the news media unfairly blamed these young men and women for the
events that were occurring in the war zone. The returning heroes, in some
cases, were just ignored, while in other cases they were treated unfairly and
unjustly. In that time frame and I can remember it well, I was not very proud
of some of the American protestors nor of the news media. Thanks goodness, most
of the American people, since those days in the sixties and seventies, are now
treating all soldiers with the respect and honor that they deserve. I can not
be that positive with the news media.
Donald Ray Hobbs was born and raised in the small town of Rockport, Kentucky.
He was a 1959 High School graduate of Beaver Dam, KY and a Vietnam Veteran.
He started the first grade at Rockport and completed all eight years of
elementary education. By then, Rockport High School was no more, and he was
bussed to Beaver Dam to complete his high school education.
The following paragraphs were written by Donald Ray and I will leave them intact.
The poem on the left was written by Donald Ray when he was serving in Vietnam. The
idea and most of the formation of the poem "Came" to him one night when he was
on guard duty. Lead on Mr. Donald Ray Hobbs and thanks for your service to our
MILITARY SERVICE OF DONALD RAY HOBBS –
Having my Critical Skills Deferment declined by the Ohio County, KY, draft board
and neither the KY or MO state boards being able to decide my status, I received
classification notification (1 A Accepted) signed by President Lyndon B. Johnson.
During the induction process in Louisville, KY in March, 1966, along with 83 other
draftees, a Marine Recruiting Sgt made a passionate pitch for four “proud” men to
fill his allotment and become Marines. No one volunteered so he picked four. I was
number one, so off I went to Paris Island, SC for Marine boot camp.
After boot camp and infantry training at Camp Lejeune, NC, I was off to
ANTI-AIRCRAFT WARFARE ELECTRONICS OPERATOR Training in San Diego, CA. I and
another Engineer graduate draftee were at the top of our class and we both
received orders to serve the rest of our duty teaching the class. Unfortunately
for us, over-riding orders came from the Commandant of the Marine Corps that
our entire class of 25 would report to Viet Nam as Christmas replacements.
I was in Chu Lai, Viet Nam (roughly 80 miles south of Da Nang) with a Hawk
Missile Battery from December 66 for thirteen long months. Our missiles were
located on a sand hill between our air strip and the South China Sea. The
mission was to protect the air base from attack by enemy jets and/or bombers.
Metaphorically, like shark control in Green River.
Even though the war was going on all around us, our unit was not a priority to
enemy. A reason could well be that while I was there, not once did we pick-up
an enemy jet in S. Vietnam airspace. That didn’t mean the enemy wasn’t near.
As I recall around October, 1967, the Army set up a base camp about 1000 yard
south of our base perimeter. On the first night the troops arrived, they were
hit by mortars. I was on guard duty that night and stationed in a bunker
overlooking their camp. There were a lot of fireworks because they hit a couple
of helicopters but it didn’t last long. The sad awakening came the next morning
when they reported 17 dead and over 30 more hospitalized.
I left Vietnam in January 1968; I held the rank of Corporal and declined a
promotion to Sgt so I could get out early when I returned to CONUS.
Even though I didn’t want to be a Marine, having survived the experience gave
me a different perspective on life and helped me in my business career. Where
college provided a level of technical competence, the Marine experience was an
intensive course in street smarts and survival tactics.
I spent 20 years with Emerson Electric (Saint Louis, MO) after college, and 20
years with Franklin Electric (FELE) Bluffton, IN – 20 miles south of Fort Wayne).
After my retirement from FE in 1996, my wife, Kathy and I continue to live in
Fort Wayne to be close to our daughter, son-in-law, and three grandchildren.
Our son, a lawyer, recently took a job in Orlando, FL.
In closing, life has been good to me. I can honestly say that I was able to retire
from a job and company that I loved. In retirement, I play a lot of golf and
provide advice to all those that will listen.
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