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