Remembering an Old Friend

by DakotaRed 23 Replies latest jw friends

  • DakotaRed

    As most all of you know, I am a Vietnam veteran, serving with C Troop 7/17th Air Cavalry from July of 1969 to January 1, 1971. I have heard before that the bond formed by combat veterans is forever. I can now say that is a true statement. When first assigned to C Troop, I met a man by the name of Ron Strickland and we hit it off as buddies, becoming best friends, in my estimation. We worked on the same helicopter and did nearly everything together.

    Towards the end of his own tour, in July of 1970, he was sent out on one last mission, it would be his last for his tour. His helicopter was shot down and crashed in two separate balls of flame. The guy sitting in the backseat was killed instantly, but Ron and the pilot survived, although burned pretty badly. Only recently, did I learn that after Ron pushed the pilot out of the burning wreckage, the pilot ran, leaving Ron for dead. He managed to get out and was airlifted to the hospital. Before I could get over to see him, he was medevaced out to Japan. We lost touch, not having time to exchange addresses and all. We never heard form each other again. Not until just last year when I signed up for a website composed of the men and surviving family of those who served in the troops of the 7/17th.

    All these years, I considered Ron to be the best friend I ever had and have expressed that to many, adding that I would love to know he was alright. Last night, unexpectedly, I received the following email from Ron. To read that I made such an impact on his life leaves me nearly speechless.

    I got a phone call yesterday from a friend and fellow soldier from when i was stationed at Redstone Arsenal Ala. Time has passed but, remembered him,he told me of all the people he had had the oppertunity to serve with..he remembered me the most.and that i had made a great impact on this life.That was a great thing to hear. durring his conversation of it ..My dear friend Lew, you came to mind, as you have in all my years.And i want to say to you of my 22 1/2 years of military The one friend i remember the most and if i must say my favor to remember is " you ".Meaning ! you were a great friend , Who left a great impact on my life . My dear friend thank you for being there..

    I never heard such words of appreciation the entire time I was a JW.

    Lew and Ron, An Son, 1969

    Lew W

    Edited by - DakotaRed on 4 February 2003 0:8:32

  • cruzanheart

    What a wonderful story! Thanks for passing it on! Did you ever go to Singapore for R&R during your tour? My parents and I lived in Australia (Northern Territory) from 1970-73, and we took several trips to Singapore. I always enjoyed talking to the soldiers (I was ages 15-18 - they liked talking to me too!) and hearing where everyone was from.


  • Beck_Melbourne

    That photo is just precious...thanks for sharing that Lew...congratulations on finding your friend again.


  • DakotaRed

    Cruzan, I missed Singapore, but heard it was really a great R&R center. I took mine in Syndey Australia, always wanting to see Australia. No, I didn't want to leave and go back.

    Beck, thanks. I was amazed to find out he served 22 years in the Army as we always talked agbout how much we hated it and couldn't wait to get out. He was surprised to see I stayed in 8 before I called it quits.

    Lew W

  • Ravyn

    thank you Lew--for everything. And I don't know how many times you may have heard this thru the years--but welcome home.

    on the last page of my webpage( ) are pictures of my father in law and his best friend Danny. Danny died in Dec of 1967. I found his cousin online last year and have corresponded with him and he has spoken with my father in law by telephone a couple of times. My father in law has still not been able to visit the Wall, but we know where Danny is on it.

    I don't really know why but I have some kind of connection to the whole viet nam experience, I was just a little JW kid, but I feel so much pride when I think of men who went there. I can't really explain it.


  • bikerchic

    That is a great photo Lew, it brings back memories for me of my brother. I've told you about him before, when we get together remind me to bring the pics of him that I have while he was in Nam.

    BTW a couple of weeks ago I recieved the tracing from my friend he took at the Wall in DC of my brothers name.

    Even though you never may have recieved any words of apprication while in the B'org I'm sure there were those who appricated you very much. Stiffled people have a hard time revealing themselves, don't be too hard on them or yourself.



  • WildHorses

    Thanks for sharing Lew. Have you two spoke over the phone since the email? I will be happy to hear when you two have your first face to face reunion.

    That's wondeful! I'm happy for you.

  • Country Girl
    Country Girl

    Lew .. that story of your deep and steadfast friendship made me cry. I was only a little girl.. but I can NOT possibly imagine what you boys went through in Nam.. and to comtemplate it now just only makes me awed. I am *so* glad that you found your friend again.. IN fact, I am SO ELATED! Friends like that are hard to find.. and when you do find them you sould treat them like brothers. Thank you so much for serving your country.. and doing your part to assure that we are free.. Long after the fact, thank you lew.. always

    Country Girl

  • DakotaRed

    Ravyn, that is a truly awesome testimonial you put together for your Father-in-laws friend. Thank you for sharing that. Like your FiL, I have visited the wall yet either. We have a mini wall here in Washington State and few years ago, I went there, but couldn't stay. The feelings I got were just too strong for me to stand there and keep looking at it.

    Wildhorses, no, we haven't spoken on the phone yet, he is clear across the country. But, we are planning on meeting up soon as we can, maybe at one of the yearly reunions the unit holds.

    CountryGirl, you don't how welcome your words are. With the anti-war sentiment in the air today, hearing words of appreciation, even all these years later, makes it worth it.

    Katie, my good friend. Please, when we get together for that diner, do bring your photos. I have a smnall album put together too and many on my hard drive I have received from the guys. Believe it or not, I do have fond memories of it all too, especially the comradere' we had and seeing that it is still there.

    Lew W

  • LyinEyes

    Lew that was a very touching story, wow, it must have been bitter sweet to remember it all again.

    I watch the many movies about war and the effects it has on the soliders as they fight side by side. I have talked to some veterans who will say a few things about their experiences ,,,,, usually they get to a point and don't want to go any further.

    I saw a documentary on HBO or some kind of special,,,,,,, about veterans meeting back up after years of returning from the wars, getting on with their lives, and learning to live with the fact that they made it home and their best friends , brothers they called them , did not.

    It was one of the most moving pieces of journalism I had ever seen. These men didnt even have to say many words , and they all understood what the other couldnt get out to say because of being choaked up .

    I can't imagine what it must have been like for you Lew, and other vets,,,,, but your stories always touch my heart, and I thank you for them. Again what a great story. hugssssssss dede

Share this