DOC PARDUE'S
RICE PADDY STEW & SAIGON TEA
THE WALL
  

In 1986 I decided to visit the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. It was a visit that so completely overpowered
me with deep emotions that even today I can clearly remember the feelings I had standing there that
day. The sheer magnitude of seeing the tens of thousands of names on that stark, black wall and all
that I associated with the Vietnam War, from my own involvement as medic with the 755th Medical
Detachment in Plieku, 8th Medical Detachment in Bam Me Thouc, and the Scouts, 2/47th Infantry, 9th
Infantry Division in Bien Phouc from 1968-1969, to the tragedy it represented for us as a nation,
reduced me to uncontrollable tears. My first visit to the WALL was viewed from a distance as my body,
my mind and my heart would not let me walk up to touch the names.  I sat there in the middle of the
lawn just starring, crying, and praying for those guys I knew and others I was with over there....

Then my second visit came three years later. This time I went to say good-bye to those brave souls.  As
I searched the names I had a range of emotions. There was happiness of not finding the names of
wartime friends that I had lost contact with when my tour was completed in March 1969 or those that I
had heard had been killed in Vietnam. I had wonderful thoughts of "How fantastic, they must be alive."
At the same time I was overwhelmed by sadness from the flood of memories of seeing the names of
men I had treated as a medic and those that had died in my presence. Their situations, the extent of
their wounds, and in some cases their last moments came rushing through my brain in an emotional
torrent. I searched for other names with the hope that they would spark a faded memory.  These are
the names I walked up to and touched for the first time.  For the first time since the war I finally felt a
sence of peace as I said my good-byes to the guys who I have grown to love and cherish their memories
over and over again. The first name was Benny Dale Cash, he was the first person I treated in the field,
he died some 30 days after getting hit.  His is the first name I always touch on the WALL.  After his
death, I left Plieku and went to Ban Me Thout.  There James Budahazy II was shot and killed by his
friend playing cops and robbers with a 45 cal.  After his death I transfered to the 9th Infantry Division
and was assigned to the Recon Platoon. These are the ones who died while that unit was in Vietnam.

Franklin Hite 3/13/67
Marco Serrano, Jr. 3/13/67
Paul Daley 8/24/67 - Medic
Mike Velasco 1/17/68
Charles Kronberg 1/31/68
Robert Schultz 1/31/68
James Vielbaum 1/31/68
Arthur Enquist 6/10/68 - Medic
Thomas Davino 7/3/68
Charles Young 11/13/68
Wayne Wilcox 2/15/69
Alvin Hinson 5/12/69
Thomas Latham  5/12/69
Herman Huebner 7/5/69

Arthur Enquist - Medic killed by multiple fragmentation wounds his last week in the field.  Thomas
Davino was killed when the helicopter he was in got shot down the next month.  Charles Young dies a  
four months later from small arms fire. Then there was...my best friend Wayne Wilcox he was killed
when our basecamp got partially overrun one night...I miss him most of all. Even people you didn't
know but came to know them and their friends and family like Sharon Lane, she was the first nurse
killed in combat during a motar attack.  I gained so much respect for who they were and she became
one of my heroes.  I can't remember the names of all the ones wounded seriously.

The problem with Vietnam we all called eachother by these nick-names...I knew very little full names,
just nicknames, we all called eachother affectionately, one guy we named Bulldog, lost an arm, did he
make it?, and if he did what is he doing today?  Then there were those who died after you leave Nam.  
People like Thomas Latham and  Alvin Hinson who died a month and a half after I left by small arms
fire.  Herman Huebner died three months after I went home by small arms fire.  I have so many
questions that haunt my dreams and my sleep, why them and not me?  What happened to those who got
to come home?  Did they make it?  Do they share the same guilt I felt when I came home?  Wherever
the survivors are today...... I trust that you are well, my friends. It is mostly during the nights that they
come and visit and check on me.

How I see the hearts, souls, voices, of boys becoming men in a wrong place at the wrong time, yet, they
made their mark on me.  How can I forget...if I ever forget...it would have been for nothing...I refuse to
believe in nothingness!!!  There are times when they scare me by their appearrance but at times their
visits are friendly, caring,  touching me, trying to encourage me to move on, I hesitate not wanting to
leave them alone with each other in the place of death...I want to bring them back into the world of the
living...they don't respond when I call their names...I wake up screaming their names...then I know
they on the other side of life...a place they can't cross physically any longer and  I can't cross into their
world...but our spirits unite and we talk about the good old days....we remember the songs...the talk of
going home...to getting back with our families and friends...to be back on the block...then we realize it
can never be there again...I am thankful of their presence in my life...come back soon my
brothers...come back soon.....

Then the letter arrives...."you have been selected by the VFW to attend the 20th Anniversity of the
WALL...one of 50 wounded Vets to attend the ceremony from around the USA".  You board a flight
from Phoenix, Arizona with your wife and your grandson to sit in the place of honor for the
remembrance of the WALL and the 58,000 men and women who gave their all.  Some of them are your
friends that you served with...and even my wife, Stephanie, gets to touch the name, once again, of her
first husband, Roger Jones, USMC killed May 16, 1968. She too, has come to honor these fallen heroes.

This trip is different however, in that, some of the survivors you served with will be there - seen for the
first time in 33 years...it is time to remember the living as well as, the dead.  A time to be hugged and
be thankful that they made it HOME.  To leave a rememberance of each one I knew at the WALL, to
say what is in my heart, and a desire to put a face to the names. There will be a time to sing the old
songs, to dance,  to remember the talks of going home, and to say thanks for being my friends my
brothers and sister.... and to tell you.....I HAVE COME FULL CIRCLE AND FINALLY MAKING IT
ALL THE WAY HOME -- I LOVE YOU ALL......THANKS FOR MY HOMECOMING.......

Kerry "Doc" Pardue
Harold Peterson
Alan Rosenbaum
Emily Strange