Written By: Gary Wonning
Like many my age, the Vietnam war came about during my late teenage years and I was faced with a difficult decision.
The conflict was, to say the least, controversial. I assume all wars are controversial, but this one seemed more so because many couldn’t justify a reason for going to war in a foreign distant land. Many didn’t even know where Vietnam was or had even heard of it.
The biggest case for engagement was to prevent the spread of communism. We were in the middle of the cold war and the threat of nuclear war was ever present with Russia continuously threatening our way of life and our very existence continuously.
The year before, it was discovered Russia had placed missile silos in Cuba, only ninety miles from our shores. The conflict ended one October evening after we stood up to them saying the missiles had to be removed. many of us went to bed that evening, not sure if we would wake up in the morning.
The ultimatum had been given, the warships put in place, and we waited.
Many of us went to bed that evening, not sure if we would wake up in the morning.
Someone once told me that if we were dead and pinched oursleves we wouldn’t feel it, upon waking , I pinched myself, it hurt so I got up and went to work.
The crisis had been averted.
I was at the legal draft age and a prime target for the draft, not wanting to go to college or get married, I would soon be bound for the military.
Many questions entered my mind, did I want to serve , and if I did which branch did I want to serve in.
I didn’t really want to kill anyone, even in defence of my freedoms and my coutry. I decided that if it came down to that , I would, but I had done that so many times in past lifetimes, I really didn’t want to do it any more. But I knew that if push came to shove and it was necessary to defend my way of life, my country and my family, there was no question I would do it.
Many went to Canada to escape the draft, that was totally out of the question and the thought only entered my mind as an after thought. There wasn’t any way that would be an option.
I finally decided that I wanted to serve my country and the Air Froce seemed to be the best option for me.
Hence I joined the Air Force on Reserve status and began fulfilling my obligation.
As time went by, the Vietnam War heated up and it seemed more likely I would be called to active duty.
And then it happened, in the spring of 1968, during the Tet offensive, we were called to active duty. There probably never is a good time to be called to fight in a foreign land, but I was getting married and we had bought a hosue, with only a year and a half to serve I was looking forward to getting discharged.
More contemplation, I , like most never wanted to go to war, but I decided to let it up to God, if he wanted me to serve, I would go, and began mentally preparing to serve.
I began comtemplating the reasons to defend one’s country. In the United States, we don’t fight for a King or Queen, we don’t fight to gain foreign lands for the homeland, we fight for an idea, the ideas of what America was founded on, freedom and the right of the idividual to choose the life they desire, without interference from a government.
Even if we don’t approve of our president, or what our government is doing, we fight for the sublime ideas our country was founded on.
My bags were packed and I was ready to go, when word came down three days before my departure.
I had been deactivated, God didn’t want me to serve in that manner.
It’s best to think things through, decide what you would do in the most extreme situation, and let God make the final decision.
The author has been a writer/photographer for over thirty years. Specializing in nature and landscape photography, as well as studying native cultures.
His travels have taken him to most of the United States, as well as Australia, Belize, Egypt and the Canary Islands.
He has studied the Mayan culture of Central America as well as the aborigines of Australia. Photography has given him the opportunity to observe life in various parts of the world.
He has published several books about his adventures.
For more information, please consult his website,www.journeysthrulife.com.
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