Here is my post titled Memorial Day 2008. In addition to remembering a fallen soldier from my hometown, who I did not know, I wrote the following.
Another fallen veteran I “remembered” today is Samuel Evans Ottenbacher. He was an Aviation Radionman Third Class, USNR, and died in November 1942. He lived at 120 S. Emerson, Indianapolis; my grandmother lived at 120 S. Bancroft. He was a dear friend of hers, and my dad, and therefore me, and therefore my son, have the middle name Evans in honor of him. Dad was born in 1948. My grandmother … died this year.
What is striking is that Dad died five days after I wrote the post. I came across it because I wasn’t sure if I had over posted about him on Memorial Day, since he died as a direct result of his service in Vietnam. It seems like there is more to say.
Dad had no “good” stories from Vietnam. He told about the woman, who he called the mama-san, that cleaned their living quarters would shell the base at night. He talked about a “hot shot” from the recently disbanded blue berets refusing to respond to a mortar attack, and Dad had to force him to respond. He reported that he drank a bottle of Crown Royale a day. He described the horrific image of children begging and child prostitution.
I recall his flashback when we went to Nogales once. It was intense. He was not treated well when he returned how, but he also really hated the over-the-top, overcompensation starting in the 1980’s.
So, it’s a tough background. It’s made more tough by the fact while there he was exposed to Agent Orange–after it’s use was allegedly discontinued. So when he died a couple months shy of his 60th birthday I did recognize that his service was something worthy of honor. But of course, this makes me all the more angry to think that his sacrifice was squandered; that it was in support of ego and image than truly for the sake of liberty.