Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Vietnam remembered

I first met Luis Martinez when he was nominated for the Cleveland International Hall of Fame.

I didn't know he was a two-time Purple Heart Vietnam Veteran - I just knew about his great work in the Cleveland Hispanic community.

He wrote a tribute article about a young friend who died in his arms in Vietnam. He sent it to the Chicago Tribune in hopes of having it published on Memorial Day. The article did not make the paper but we thought it should be published.

It begins:

I tried to keep your son alive that night in 1970. Our Corpsman, "Doc" Coonfield, pronounced him dead but he was a MARINE. I just couldn`t accept the fact that one of us, a good guy, had been killed.

Oblivious to the growl of weapons blindly seeking revenge against an invisible enemy, I kept pumping his heart and blowing air into his mouth trying in desperation to bring him back to life. Our unit, CAP 2-7-10, operated in an isolated area, perhaps a 30 minute flight South of DaNang. We agonized what seemed an eternity for the arrival of the med-evac chopper.

In the meantime another Marine, the dog handler, snapped; he shook uncontrollably the way a person can when overcome by horror. By the time the thunderous apparition found its way to us through the hostile night air I had been overcome with rage.

As we loaded the helicopter and it lifted off, I unleashed my contempt at the perceived delay with pitched profanity and a gesture of disrespect as it disappeared into the black of night.

Read the rest of this gripping tribute from Luis Martinez

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