A Life in a Year: The American Infantryman in Vietnam, 1965-1972 by James R. Ebert

Wisconsin high school teacher James R. Ebert does a masterful job as he combines interviews and printed primary sources in this remarkable telling of the infantryman’s experience during the Vietnam War. Ebert tells the story of the US Army and a few US Marine infantrymen during the Vietnam War. He takes their story from induction into the service through basic and advanced individual training, arrival in Vietnam, their first combat experiences, the first killed in action they experience, in some cases the soldier’s death, and the freedom birds that take them back to the world. Ebert points out while infantryman accounted for less than 10% of the American troops in Vietnam, the infantry suffered more than 80% of the losses.

Ebert uses an interesting technique starting every chapter with a letter by Leonard Dutcher to his parents. Dutcher just wanted to do his part for God and country and go home at the end of his 12-month tour (13 for Marines). In the last chapter, we find out that Dutcher was killed. It caught me off guard and really added to the impact of the book. Ebert takes many of the soldiers and Marines experiences word for word from the individual himself through interviews or letters. It is a collective look at similarities of the many infantry soldiers and Marines in the war. It is a very personal account from many points of view.

This is an important book in Vietnam War literature. This is what the grunts really went through. I was left with somewhat of feeling of guilt from reading the book. Why? I graduated high school in 1971. Some of my high classmates went to Vietnam and fought. Everett Maxwell was killed in action. I went to college and was ultimately commissioned a second lieutenant in the infantry, went through airborne school and served three years active duty. My becoming an officer deferred my entry on active duty from 1971 to 1975. This is the reason for my reflective thoughts. Read by Jimmie A. Kepler in August 2004.

Starting High School

Grace Slick today at 75.
Grace Slick of Jefferson Airplane 1967
Grace Slick of Jefferson Airplane 1967

Starting High School

In San Francisco, it’s the summer of love,
Long haired hippies, peace signs and doves.
In Viet-Nam the soldiers are dying,
Back home their families are crying,
And Sergeant Pepper taught the band to play.

Jim wants to “Light My Fire,”
While Grace’s rabbit only flies higher.
The evening news shows the war isn’t cool,
This week I started high school,
And “All You Need Is Love” is what The Beatles say.

Written by Jimmie A. Kepler
Schertz, Texas, August 1967

The photos are of Grace Slick. She is an alumna of Finch College where she majored in art. She is an accomplished artist. The artwork is hers.

Note: This is the oldest poem I have written by me. It was in notebooks and papers my mother gave me a few months before she passed away in 2014. Aren’t parents good about keeping things and then later in life returning them?

I wrote this poem as a freshman at Samuel Clemens High School in Schertz, Texas. It was just outside the main gate at Randolph Air Force Base, San Antonio, Texas.

Impressing my English teacher was challenging. The assignment was to write a paper on “What I did on my summer vacation.” Instead, I wrote about what was happening in popular culture. Instead of prose, I wrote a poem.

She called me a “beatnik poet weirdo.” I viewed her insult as a compliment! I gave in writing five pages of drivel avoiding a grade of “F” on the assignment.

The poem is included in the book “Gone Electric: A Poetry Collection” available on Kindle from Amazon.

Changing Schools – A Recurring Great Adventure for the Military Brat

Portsmouth Junior High School (now Portsmouth Middle School), New Hampshire

How many schools did you attend growing up as a military brat? Do you remember this as a great adventure or gut-wrenching trauma?

I attended ten public schools for my twelve grades of schooling. Eight of the school changes were during my very formidable years of grades five through nine. Yes, I changed school eight times during the time all the changes of adolescence were happening. For me, it became gut-wrenching after my father retired from the military, and we transitioned to the civilian world. Only by the grace of God can anyone survive such trauma.

I had an unusually difficult period from August 1964 to August 1967. If you are a military brat, I know you can relate.

In August 1964, my father returned from his first tour in South Vietnam. I had just completed the fifth grade at Jefferson Avenue Elementary School in Seguin, Texas. I remember my mixed feelings of excitement and fear as dad returned home from his tour of duty. Would I recognize him? Would he know me? Would he even want to be involved in my life anymore?

Mother was all of thirty-one years old when he returned home. I was a grown-up ten years old. Mom was wise. She talked to me and my brother before dad’s arrival. She made sure we understood it would take some adjustment. She wanted us to know not to get under his skin or pester him too much.

I still clearly remember the day we went to the San Antonio International Airport to pick up dad. His flight arrived on time from California. He was wearing his khaki United States Air Force uniform with the stripes of a technical sergeant on the upper sleeves. He was tan, standing military erect and outstretched his arms as he and mother quickly moved to each other, embraced and kissed on the lips for several minutes. He whispered in her ear, and I remember the big smiles. I lip read “I love you” as he held her tight.

After their embrace, he hugged my brother and me separately. It was beautiful to hear him say, “I love you, Jimmie Aaron. I sure missed you.” He said he wanted me to tell him all about what was happening in baseball. He set an appointment with me for Saturday afternoon after lunch. One whole hour with me. He kept his word. I had him for an hour.

We quickly shut down the household at 803 Jefferson Avenue in Seguin, Texas. We took a brief vacation to Jamestown, Ohio to visit dad’s family before returning to relocate to El Paso, Texas where I started another school, my third I three years.

I attended the sixth and the first semester of the seventh grade in El Paso, Texas at Ben Milam School at Biggs Air Force Base. Biggs AFB was home to the 95th Bomb Wing of the USAF. It was a B-52 bomber and KC-135 tanker base. From the school grounds, I would watch US Army draftees march down the long dirt road into the desert as they went through basic training in preparation for going to Vietnam. I could be scary giving there. Sometimes we watched aircraft doing an emergency landing knowing one of our parents could be on the plane. We lived there from August 1964 to February 1966. Biggs Air Force Base was shut down and turned over to the US Army.

The second junior high school I attend was Portsmouth Junior High School in historic Portsmouth, New Hampshire. My father’s assignment was at Pease AFB, home of the 509th Bomb Wing. The 509th is the unit that dropped the atomic bombs on Japan. It was a B-52 and KC-135 base. Frequently parts of the unit were on temporary duty on Guam, which they used as a base to bomb North Vietnam.

The school was a couple of blocks south of downtown Portsmouth, NH on Parrot Ave. Only two blocks away was the historic John Paul Jones Home and three blocks another direction the historic Strawberry Bank. Across Parrot Avenue was the South Mill Pond. From the second and third floor, you could see the Piscataqua River and out into the Atlantic Ocean. The St Patrick’s Catholic School that went through 8th grade was on Austin Street two and one-half blocks to the west. The nuns would chase us away from the school if we got off the bus early to look at the Catholic school girls in their cute uniforms of a white blouse, plaid skirt, and knee socks.

My father retired from the USAF the end of April 1967. We moved back to Texas and lived with my mother’s parents for the month of May 1967. Have you ever lived with the extended family? I did while waiting furniture to arrive from the previous posting of my father. It is fun and different.

The fun was having aunts, uncles, and cousins as well as grandparents. The minus was not knowing or being involved in the lives of these close relatives for years. I wondered who are they? Here I had my introduction to country music and living.

I attended Nixon Junior High School (now Nixon-Smiley) for a month. I went from a military influenced school with nearly 300 in the eighth grade to a rural school with 14 in the 8th grade. They just didn’t have new kids transfer in during the school year. Related to over half the class, it was the one place that I felt I did not fit in. A dairy queen across Texas state Highway 80 was my view. I had a 15-mile bus ride to and from school.

When the school year ended, we moved about 50 miles away to Schertz, Texas. There I started the ninth grade at Samuel Clemens High School. It was the year they changed the name from Schertz-Cibilo High School to Samuel Clemens. It was adjacent to Randolph AFB, so I was back in a comfortable military community. By mid-semester, we sold the house and moved two-hundred and fifty miles north to the Dallas area to DeSoto, Texas.

Dad had taken an engineering job with Ling Temco Vought (LTV Aerospace). I started another school. This time it was in a non-military high school. The change was traumatic. I had always been the class president, the student government leader, on the honor roll, and star baseball player. All those roles were filled. No outsider was going to replace someone in their role.

Close friendships formed quickly on military bases and military influenced schools. That did not happen in this Dallas, Texas suburb. It was also the first time I was in a school that wasn’t totally integrated. It was my first non-integrated neighborhood. I had transitioned to the real world wasn’t happy with what I found.

Maybe your experience was similar. I would love to hear your story.


Jimmie Aaron Kepler

Jimmie Aaron Kepler’s work has appeared in six different Lifeway Christian publications as well as The Baptist Program, Thinking About Suicide.com, Poetry & Prose Magazine, vox poetica, The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature, Bewildering Stories, Beyond Imagination Literary Magazine and more. His short stories The Cup, Invasion of the Prairie Dogs, Miracle at the Gibson Farm: A Christmas Story, and The Paintings as well as Gone Electric: A Poetry Collection are available on Amazon.com. He is also the author of The Liberator Series. The Rebuilder – Book 1 is available for pre-order on Amazon. It will be released October 1, 2015. The Mission – Book Two will be available Spring 2016, The Traveller – Book 3 will be available Summer 2016, and The Seer – Book 4 will be available Fall 2016.

Baseball on KBAT, 680, AM, San Antonio, Texas in 1963-64

1963 Houston Colt .45s
1963 Houston Colt .45s

In June of 1963 my family moved from Luke Air Force Base near Phoenix, Arizona to Seguin, Texas. Seguin was thirty miles east of San Antonio and near my mother’s family. The reason we moved was my dad’s orders to go to South Vietnam for a one-year tour of duty. He would be there from August 1963 to August 1964.

If anything good came out of a year’s family separation, it was my getting my very own electric AM radio. Dad also got me a one-year subscription to The Sporting News Magazine and well as Baseball Magazine’s 1964 season preview magazine. It contained all the official records for the then twenty Major League Baseball teams.

When we moved to Sequin, Texas dad made sure I knew the Houston Colt .45s baseball team’s games were easily found on my radio. He found the game on KBAT, 680, AM, San Antonio, Texas. He put a spot on the radio dial using red fingernail polish in case I lost the station. That way I could dial it back in. It would be years before digital dials would be available on radios. He also gave me a copy of the Houston team’s schedule for 1964. I lived my life with the ball games being the focal point.

Gene Elston and Loel Passe were the radio announcers. I spent almost every night with them talking on my radio in August and September of 1963 and then again in April through September 1964.

Today baseball gets a bad rap for being slow in the age of video games and Sportscenter highlights. Baseball is not boring. I like to call baseball a talking sport. I love the stories the announcers tell between the ebb and flow of the game. The stories start during the pre-game broadcast. Many times they would begin with a story from baseball’s past, sharing the history of the game. Yes, they would do a preview of the day’s game before moving to the action. I would get excited as Loel and Gene would comment on Houston Manager Harry Craft taking out the line-up card and meeting to opposing manager. I always like it best when the Colts played the Los Angeles Dodgers. They would mention Walter Alston taking out the line-up card. They had Sandy Koufax and Don Drysdale.

The pregame broadcast would be especially fun when the Colts played the Milwaukee Braves with Hank Aaron and Eddi Matthews. The Braves manager was Bobby Bragan. He was a southerner who later was president of the Texas League. Bobby Bragan could spin a yarn as good as anyone. His stories are still legendary.

Back in 1964 baseball games were only on television on Saturdays, so the radio was the window to the world. Gene and Loel could paint a picture with words. The grass was greener when they described it. The humidity in old Colt Stadium in Houston had me sweating 150 miles away.

The team wasn’t very good in 1964. It was a bunch of young kids and older players.  I didn’t care how bad they were. They were my team. Before the season ended manager Harry Craft was replaced by Luman Harris as manager. I still remember the players. Jerry Grote and John Bateman split the duties at catcher. Walt Bond played first base. He was the best offensive player on the team. At second base was an old Nellie Fox. The hall of fame would be in his future. It would be for his paly with the Chicago White Sox in the 1950s, not Houston. Eddie Kasko was at shortstop. I remembered him from his days with Cincinnati, third base was Bob Aspermonte, the outfield was Al Spangler, Jimmy Wynn and Joe Gaines. The pitchers were Bob Bruce, Turk Farrell, Ken Johnson, Don Nottebart and closer Hal Woodeshick.

Most games started at 7 PM and ended by 9 to 9:15 PM back then. I would sit on my bed reading the Baseball Magazine and The Sporting News while Gene and Loel told their never ending stories. That was the year I grew to love baseball. As a ten-year-old boy, there was nothing better. Television, playing with friends and everything else took a back seat to listening to the game on KBAT, 680, AM in San Antonio, Texas.

Listening to baseball on the radio was fun. It still is. I am listening to the New York Mets playing the Texas Rangers in the next to last exhibition game of the 2015 exhibition season as I type this story. No, I don’t have the game on the television. I am listening to it on the radio.

Baseball on KBAT, 680, AM, San Antonio, Texas in 1963-64

1963 Houston Colt .45s
1963 Houston Colt .45s

In June of 1963 my family moved from Luke Air Force Base near Phoenix, Arizona to Seguin, Texas. Seguin was thirty miles east of San Antonio and near my mother’s family. The reason we moved was my dad’s orders to go to South Vietnam for a one-year tour of duty. He would be there from August 1963 to August 1964.

If anything good came out of a year’s family separation, it was my getting my very own electric AM radio. Dad also got me a one-year subscription to The Sporting News Magazine and well as Baseball Magazine’s 1964 season preview magazine. It contained all the official records for the then twenty Major League Baseball teams.

When we moved to Sequin, Texas dad made sure I knew the Houston Colt .45s baseball team’s games were easily found on my radio. He found the game on KBAT, 680, AM, San Antonio, Texas. He put a spot on the radio dial using red fingernail polish in case I lost the station. That way I could dial it back in. It would be years before digital dials would be available on radios. He also gave me a copy of the Houston team’s schedule for 1964. I lived my life with the ball games being the focal point.

Gene Elston and Loel Passe were the radio announcers. I spent almost every night with them talking on my radio in August and September of 1963 and then again in April through September 1964.

Today baseball gets a bad rap for being slow in the age of video games and Sportscenter highlights. Baseball is not boring. I like to call baseball a talking sport. I love the stories the announcers tell between the ebb and flow of the game. The stories start during the pre-game broadcast. Many times they would begin with a story from baseball’s past, sharing the history of the game. Yes, they would do a preview of the day’s game before moving to the action. I would get excited as Loel and Gene would comment on Houston Manager Harry Craft taking out the line-up card and meeting to opposing manager. I always like it best when the Colts played the Los Angeles Dodgers. They would mention Walter Alston taking out the line-up card. They had Sandy Koufax and Don Drysdale.

The pregame broadcast would be especially fun when the Colts played the Milwaukee Braves with Hank Aaron and Eddi Matthews. The Braves manager was Bobby Bragan. He was a southerner who later was president of the Texas League. Bobby Bragan could spin a yarn as good as anyone. His stories are still legendary.

Back in 1964 baseball games were only on television on Saturdays, so the radio was the window to the world. Gene and Loel could paint a picture with words. The grass was greener when they described it. The humidity in old Colt Stadium in Houston had me sweating 150 miles away.

The team wasn’t very good in 1964. It was a bunch of young kids and older players.  I didn’t care how bad they were. They were my team. Before the season ended manager Harry Craft was replaced by Luman Harris as manager. I still remember the players. Jerry Grote and John Bateman split the duties at catcher. Walt Bond played first base. He was the best offensive player on the team. At second base was an old Nellie Fox. The hall of fame would be in his future. It would be for his paly with the Chicago White Sox in the 1950s, not Houston. Eddie Kasko was at shortstop. I remembered him from his days with Cincinnati, third base was Bob Aspermonte, the outfield was Al Spangler, Jimmy Wynn and Joe Gaines. The pitchers were Bob Bruce, Turk Farrell, Ken Johnson, Don Nottebart and closer Hal Woodeshick.

Most games started at 7 PM and ended by 9 to 9:15 PM back then. I would sit on my bed reading the Baseball Magazine and The Sporting News while Gene and Loel told their never ending stories. That was the year I grew to love baseball. As a ten-year-old boy, there was nothing better. Television, playing with friends and everything else took a back seat to listening to the game on KBAT, 680, AM in San Antonio, Texas.

Listening to baseball on the radio was fun. It still is. I am listening to the New York Mets playing the Texas Rangers in the next to last exhibition game of the 2015 exhibition season as I type this story. No, I don’t have the game on the television. I am listening to it on the radio.

Changing Schools – A Recurring Great Adventure for the Military Brat

Portsmouth Junior High School (now Portsmouth Middle School), New Hampshire

How many schools did you attend growing up as a military brat? Do you remember this as a great adventure or gut-wrenching trauma?

I attended ten public schools for my twelve grades of schooling. Eight of the school changes were during my very formidable years of grades five through nine. Yes, I changed school eight times during the time all the changes of adolescence were happening. For me, it became gut-wrenching after my father retired from the military, and we transitioned to the civilian world. Only by the grace of God can anyone survive such trauma.

I had an unusually difficult period from August 1964 to August 1967. If you are a military brat, I know you can relate.

In August 1964, my father returned from his first tour in South Vietnam. I had just completed the fifth grade at Jefferson Avenue Elementary School in Seguin, Texas. I remember my mixed feelings of excitement and fear as dad returned home from his tour of duty. Would I recognize him? Would he know me? Would he even want to be involved in my life anymore?

Mother was all of thirty-one years old when he returned home. I was a grown-up ten years old. Mom was wise. She talked to me and my brother before dad’s arrival. She made sure we understood it would take some adjustment. She wanted us to know not to get under his skin or pester him too much.

I still clearly remember the day we went to the San Antonio International Airport to pick up dad. His flight arrived on time from California. He was wearing his khaki United States Air Force uniform with the stripes of a technical sergeant on the upper sleeves. He was tan, standing military erect and outstretched his arms as he and mother quickly moved to each other, embraced and kissed on the lips for several minutes. He whispered in her ear, and I remember the big smiles. I lip read “I love you” as he held her tight.

After their embrace, he hugged my brother and me separately. It was beautiful to hear him say, “I love you, Jimmie Aaron. I sure missed you.” He said he wanted me to tell him all about what was happening in baseball. He set an appointment with me for Saturday afternoon after lunch. One whole hour with me. He kept his word. I had him for an hour.

We quickly shut down the household at 803 Jefferson Avenue in Seguin, Texas. We took a brief vacation to Jamestown, Ohio to visit dad’s family before returning to relocate to El Paso, Texas where I started another school, my third I three years.

I attended the sixth and the first semester of the seventh grade in El Paso, Texas at Ben Milam School at Biggs Air Force Base. Biggs AFB was home to the 95th Bomb Wing of the USAF. It was a B-52 bomber and KC-135 tanker base. From the school grounds, I would watch US Army draftees march down the long dirt road into the desert as they went through basic training in preparation for going to Vietnam. I could be scary giving there. Sometimes we watched aircraft doing an emergency landing knowing one of our parents could be on the plane. We lived there from August 1964 to February 1966. Biggs Air Force Base was shut down and turned over to the US Army.

The second junior high school I attend was Portsmouth Junior High School in historic Portsmouth, New Hampshire. My father’s assignment was at Pease AFB, home of the 509th Bomb Wing. The 509th is the unit that dropped the atomic bombs on Japan. It was a B-52 and KC-135 base. Frequently parts of the unit were on temporary duty on Guam, which they used as a base to bomb North Vietnam.

The school was a couple of blocks south of downtown Portsmouth, NH on Parrot Ave. Only two blocks away was the historic John Paul Jones Home and three blocks another direction the historic Strawberry Bank. Across Parrot Avenue was the South Mill Pond. From the second and third floor, you could see the Piscataqua River and out into the Atlantic Ocean. The St Patrick’s Catholic School that went through 8th grade was on Austin Street two and one-half blocks to the west. The nuns would chase us away from the school if we got off the bus early to look at the Catholic school girls in their cute uniforms of a white blouse, plaid skirt, and knee socks.

My father retired from the USAF the end of April 1967. We moved back to Texas and lived with my mother’s parents for the month of May 1967. Have you ever lived with the extended family? I did while waiting furniture to arrive from the previous posting of my father. It is fun and different.

The fun was having aunts, uncles, and cousins as well as grandparents. The minus was not knowing or being involved in the lives of these close relatives for years. I wondered who are they? Here I had my introduction to country music and living.

I attended Nixon Junior High School (now Nixon-Smiley) for a month. I went from a military influenced school with nearly 300 in the eighth grade to a rural school with 14 in the 8th grade. They just didn’t have new kids transfer in during the school year. Related to over half the class, it was the one place that I felt I did not fit in. A dairy queen across Texas state Highway 80 was my view. I had a 15-mile bus ride to and from school.

When the school year ended, we moved about 50 miles away to Schertz, Texas. There I started the ninth grade at Samuel Clemens High School. It was the year they changed the name from Schertz-Cibilo High School to Samuel Clemens. It was adjacent to Randolph AFB, so I was back in a comfortable military community. By mid-semester, we sold the house and moved two-hundred and fifty miles north to the Dallas area to DeSoto, Texas.

Dad had taken an engineering job with Ling Temco Vought (LTV Aerospace). I started another school. This time it was in a non-military high school. The change was traumatic. I had always been the class president, the student government leader, on the honor roll, and star baseball player. All those roles were filled. No outsider was going to replace someone in their role.

Close friendships formed quickly on military bases and military influenced schools. That did not happen in this Dallas, Texas suburb. It was also the first time I was in a school that wasn’t totally integrated. It was my first non-integrated neighborhood. I had transitioned to the real world wasn’t happy with what I found.

Maybe your experience was similar. I would love to hear your story.


Jimmie Aaron Kepler

Jimmie Aaron Kepler’s work has appeared in six different Lifeway Christian publications as well as The Baptist Program, Thinking About Suicide.com, Poetry & Prose Magazine, vox poetica, The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature, Bewildering Stories, Beyond Imagination Literary Magazine and more. His short stories The Cup, Invasion of the Prairie Dogs, Miracle at the Gibson Farm: A Christmas Story, and The Paintings as well as Gone Electric: A Poetry Collection are available on Amazon.com. He is also the author of The Liberator Series. The Rebuilder – Book 1 is available for pre-order on Amazon. It will be released October 1, 2015. The Mission – Book Two will be available Spring 2016, The Traveller – Book 3 will be available Summer 2016, and The Seer – Book 4 will be available Fall 2016.

The Battle of An Loc by James Wilbanks

Here is a review I wrote on the book “The Battle of An Loc” by James Wilbanks for the Military History Book Club. A must have book for anyone with an interest in Viet-Nam. This is a very good read. The Battle of An Loc was a major battle of the Vietnam War that lasted from April 13 to July 20, 1972. It culminated in a decisive victory for South Vietnam’s Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN). The struggle for An Loc was one of the most important battles of the war. It saw the introduction of conventional warfare and tanks by the North Vietnamese Army (NVA). The ARVN forces halted the NVA advance towards Saigon. It delayed the war’s end by three years.

The author, James Wilbanks, was present and wounded at An Loc. This is not only his account, but gives insights from the North Vietnamese and US Advisor’s after action reports plus other communist documents. The role of the unending US air support, the bravery of the US air crews, and the orchestration by the Forward Air Controllers to the battle’s victory for the ARVN and US Advisor’s is covered in warranted great detail. The inability of the NVA to have armor and infantry work together in more conventional warfare is clearly brought to light and documented. Wilbanks gives insights into Richard Nixon’s Vietnamization’s perceived success by the politicians and its ultimate failures. This is a must have read and must have addition to the library for anyone with interest in the war in Viet-Nam.

Read and reviewed by Jimmie Aaron Kepler.

We Were Soldiers Once and Young by General Harold G. Moore and Joseph L. Galloway

There is a movie based on this book. I read the book first and was surprised when I saw the movie. They had left out the second battle. It was a battle that was just as bloody as the first, but without LTC Moore commanding. General Moore and Joseph Galloway have written a fine book. It should be must reading for every military officer and politician. I found this book to be consuming my attention. It was very hard to put down. The narrative of the training, deployment, battle, wives back at Fort Benning, battle, deaths and death notifications by cab drivers, and the stupidity of the leadership that lead to the second battles terrible losses.

We Were Soldiers Once and Young is terrific book! I was in junior high school when the battle of Ia-Drang took place. I remember it vividly. My dad had returned months earlier from his first duty in Viet-Nam. I was living in a military family. I watched soldiers march to and from training daily from my school’s playground. I can still vividly recall the CBS evening news story with Walter Cronkite discussing the impact of all the deaths on Fort Benning and Columbus, Georgia. I wish I had read this before I served as a US Army Infantry platoon leader. Buy it, read it, and keep it in your library.

Read and reviewed by Jimmie Aaron Kepler.

Poem: Born during the Korean War

640px-Aldrin_Apollo_11_originalBorn during the Korean War

Born during the Korean War,
Raised in the 1950s and 1960s
Stay at home mom and hard working dad
They gave us a better chance than they ever had.
And were glad they did, but never told them.

Eisenhower was president when we started school,
Boys wore flat-tops, tee-shirts, and Levi’s jeans.
Girls in dresses, saddle oxfords and knee sox,
Kennedy debated Nixon,
And we got a black and white TV.

Mantle and Maris chased Babe Ruth,
In Cuba we faced off the Soviet Missiles,
In Dallas President Kennedy was shot,
It was different before the British invasion,
And then the world started to rock.

Our hair grew longer, our skirts got shorter,
We had loud music our parents couldn’t stand,
We watched Viet-Nam each night over supper,
Hey, hey LBJ how many kids did you kill today?
We wanted muscle cars and drove old Chevys.

Saturday night with our favorite girl,
Sheiks and Trojans would go with us to the drive-in.
And we’d be in luck each month if nature struck
And if not you said I do – and did
Beatles, Stones, CCR, Johnny Cash, and Glen Campbell

We crossed the Trinity River for a beer,
Boones Farm and Everclear… and Nixon was back
And we buried Everett who was killed in ‘Nam
With dozens from high school somehow surviving the big trip
And we went to the moon.

Jimmie Aaron Kepler
January 1974

Photo Source:
Aldrin Apollo 11 original” by NASA – http://www.hq.nasa.gov/alsj/a11/AS11-40-5903HR.jpghttp://www.archive.org/details/AS11-40-5903 (TIFF image). Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.

A Soldier Reports by William Westmoreland

The book is the memoir of one of America’s most controversial military leaders. I found it refreshing to read of his background and upbringing. He briefly covers his days as a cadet at West Point where he graduated in 1936, the horse dawn artillery days, and his role in World War II where he fought with distinction in North Africa and Europe with the Ninth Division. We see his fast rise to a Brigadier General before thirty years of age and later (1952–53) in role in the Korean War. He served as superintendent of West Point (1960–64), attained (1964) the rank of general and commanded (1964–68) U.S. military forces in Vietnam. He then assumed the position of army chief of staff, which he held until his retirement in 1972.
I was saddened as I read Westmoreland’s comments on one of the early killed in action lists that crossed his desk. It included 2LT John J. Pershing III, grandson of World War I supreme commanding general “Blackjack” Pershing. The book looks at the Viet-Nam war from Westmoreland’s point of view. It explains his decision making process. It is more than an after action report. It is worth reading if you are a political or military history junkie. His relationship with Lyndon Johnson and Robert McNamara are not covered in the detail I would have liked. This is the story of a decent man, giving his best to his country in difficult times.
Read and reviewed by Jimmie Aaron Kepler.