“After Vietnam, I left the army. I went to my best friend (redacted) home in Georgia (he was KIA) to meet his family. His father was going to offer me a job at his car dealership. At least that was the deal when his son was still alive. We were both going to work there.
I met with his family at their home and had dinner. We didn’t talk about their son during the meal. I met his momma, his dad, and his two younger sisters. After dinner his dad took me out to the garage, opened a few beers and we sat on the tailgate of his Ford.
After a few beers, he asked a question I hoped wasn’t coming. ‘Tell me, boy. How did my son die? Did he die well? Was it quick?’ I didn’t know what to say at first. I had rehearsed it in my head before, but words couldn’t come out. I just started crying. His son has died violently and painfully. He was shot twice in the stomach and had taken 3 hours to die.
I cried and he held me. I choked out the words, ‘Your son was my best friend and my brother.’ I just couldn’t bare to tell him the whole truth. How can you tell a father his son died crying in the jungle begging for his momma? How can you look a father in the eyes and tell him that?
I knew he understood after he saw my tears. He cried too. He was a veteran of WW2, and knew that men rarely got it quick and easy. He told me, ‘My wife can’t take knowing he died painful. We won’t say a word.’
After our meeting, he still offered me that job. I worked at his dealership for two decades. I feel like in a way, he adopted me as a surrogate son.”
– Anonymous US Army Veteran. 25th ID Vietnam War. 1970
This story was documented by Battles and Beers(TM) Every soldier has a story, and every story deserves to be told.