Editor’s note: Teresa Bungard writes, “I can only imagine how my grandmother felt with all of her boys gone at the same time, if this was the case. … My mother was from England (where she met my father during World War II). She had three brothers who were in England’s military. Two returned home. Her brother, Bazille, was missing in action and was never heard from again. It is very difficult for me to discuss the men in my life who ere all involved in wars. I feel a lot of pain, but I also feel very proud that so many of my uncles, my father and my husband represented their countries so faithfully and with so much patriotism.”
My husband has always been my “behind the scenes hero.” He is not a boastful person and doesn’t often discuss his experiences during his tour of duty in Vietnam. Harry has an enormous amount of strength that others could easily miss.
Harry was a propeller and jet engine mechanic serving in the Air Force during the Vietnam era. He worked on planes making certain that they were safe. He was not out in the fields fighting, but frequently had to take cover and dodge incoming rounds of fire. To this day, he still gets a little edgy if a balloon pops unexpectedly or a sudden severe noise occurs. His thrashing around and yelling in bed at night disappears once he is awakened.
One thing I admire about my husband is his strong faith, his devotion to his family, and his love and patriotism to his country. It saddens us to learn of U.S. citizens who not only refuse to pledge allegiance to our flag, but show disrespect by burning it, and refuse to sing our National Anthem, even though we hesitatingly recognize their right to do so. (It is interesting to note that when hundreds of thousand of our citizens are gathered at sports stadiums for games being broadcast nationally, only a few are showing such disrespect. I wonder what would happen if the TV cameras only focused on the patriotic observers and ignored those few who are only making themselves look bad?) In some countries, those disrespectful citizens would be sentenced for treason and put to death. That won’t happen in this country because of people like my husband and the hundreds of thousands of others like him.
In over 100 years, the Vietnam War was the only war in which there were no welcome home parades, no parties, no bands, no drum rolls, and no, “Thank you for your service” statements made. Harry returned home between noon and 2 in the afternoon with family members only waiting no bands, no drum rolls playing. Thousand of others arrived home in the middle of the night without media coverage or celebrations of any kind. After the war, it was back to life, as usual for most; except for the thousands who arrived home broken hearted, broken emotionally and mentally, physically and drug addicted. (Drugs were plentiful in Vietnam.) Many remained in the armed forces or went in to the reserves. Harry was in the reserves.
There was a lot of unrest in America during the Vietnam War. Much was about politics, many thousands were involved in peaceful demonstrations against the war, many were conscientious objectors, and many went across the border to Canada to avoid going to Vietnam and to avoid being drafted into the armed forces.
After the devastation of 9/11, our country started pulling together again and becoming more unified. And for those who wanted prayer taken out of schools and anything denoting religion off our government buildings, etc., what was the first thing that President Bush did? He prayed and we prayed with him.
After Desert Storm and the Persian Gulf wars, our country started welcoming our military back home. Bands were playing and drums were rolling once again. Since those events, my husband started getting, “Thank you for your service” as well as hand shakes. Americans are not going to allow another Vietnam post-war mentality.
My husband is now age 79 years. He continues to love his country, right or wrong, still loves his family and his God. He prefers to live in peace but would go back to fight and die for us all. His strength is more than most of us could ever imagine. He will always remain my “behind the scenes hero.”