Saturday, April 24, 2010

After 40 years, not forgotten ...

Marilyn and I spent some time on Friday unlocking and assessing the contents of four deep storage drawers under tall lighted cases that display some of the museum’s artifacts related to Lucas County veterans of conflicts ranging from the Civil War to the current wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

We’ll need to inventory those drawers, match artifacts to accession records and find a place to display more of them --- newly-cleared space on a library wall may offer a home to the large group photos of World War I soldiers that are among items now in storage, for example.

An estimated 98 percent of Lucas County Historical Society artifacts are on display, but we can do a little better here I think --- although finding appropriate display space even in a large museum complex always is a challenge.

I thought a little bit at the time about the lives each of those artifacts represent and how the military service and sometimes war-related death of every soldier, Marine or sailor represented altered the course of history, not most likely the course of a war, but most certainly history on an intensely personal and local level. And how effects of that service or those deaths continue to be experienced, even when nearly 150 years have passed.

Overnight, a new comment was added to an earlier post in this blog --- one related to Albert B. Crouch, a graduate of Seymour High School killed in Vietnam on May 18, 1970. By reading that post, which is here, and especially the comments added to it by family members and friends you can get an idea of what I’m talking about.

Here is the comment added overnight to that April 4, 2008, post:

My name is Dave Foster. I was the crewchief on the helicopter Albert was killed in. It will be 40 years since Albert was killed next month. Not a day goes by that I don't relive that day. I can still see as if it happened yesterday. B Troop 7/1 Air cav lost people on the 10th, 25th and Albert on the 18th of May.

That day started as a typical day, troop insertions into an enemy stronghold. We teamed up that day with the 135th AHC Emu's, this was a combined unit made up of Australian Navy and U.S. Army aviators. The landing zone we were going to was near an area known as Go Cong. The NVA/VC had over run a fire support base and were heavily armed from the weapons they had captured. My helicopter was number three in the flight. I can still see the LZ as we came in across the Mekong River, it was so green and beautiful.

Then we started to recieve heavy automatic weapons fire from the treelines. Our Cobra gunships provided us cover as we went in and we returned fire at the muzzle flashes in the trees. There were red and green tracers everywhere. We went in and kicked out our load of troops and then turned 180 degrees and departed the LZ to go and get another load. We went into the LZ three times under very heavy autmic weapons fire. As we were turning around I was standing in the door and returning fire as we lifted off. I turned forward and saw Albert bent over forward in his seat. After we were safely clear, I went forward to help Albert. He was bleeding heavily and it was evident he felt no pain. We headed for the aid station at a place called Tan An. I lifted Albert out of his seat and laid him on the stretcher and they took him away. It was the last time I saw him.

We returned to our base in Vinh Long and cleaned my ship and myself. The airframe shop came and put a patch over the hole in the windshield. I saw that patch every day for the next 5 months until I left Vietnam.

I have had Albert with me everyday since then. I didn't even know him and I miss him so much. I hope his wife and family have found peace. He is not forgotten.

Dave Foster

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