I'll Meet You at
by: Joan Cox,
Dad ... I'll Meet You At The Wall:
It took me 30 years to start
searching for the answers, that I needed to fill in the gap in my mind
and heart. I went to the Port Hueneme Museum, and went through the
archives of records from the Vietnam War ... I found their names on a
news release. I had never thought about other men being there. That
meant that I could find one of them.they had lived.they knew about
that day. Six men had been injured. We didn't know that other men
had been injured in the same incident that killed our Dad. I started
searching for them on the Internet. I found 3 of them. Each man that I
found remembered different things about that night. Each man was so
surprised when I called. Each man wanted to help me in any way they
Peter Poillon and his wife and daughter came
down and spent an afternoon with us and showed a lot of pictures of
Landing Zone Nancy and Vietnam. He did not remember a lot about my dad,
cause normally they had different jobs and slept in separate hooches.
There was a special closeness knowing he had volunteered to help my
father and was hurt in the same ammo explosion. He brought pictures of
LZ Nancy, and Camp Haines. I got to see the kind of equipment that my
father worked on. I sat at his feet as he told me stories about Vietnam
It was like I was 12 again and I imagined that my Dad had come home and
was telling me stories about Vietnam.
Peter Poillon and his wife and daughter came down and spent an afternoon with us and showed a lot of pictures of Landing Zone Nancy and Vietnam. He did not remember a lot about my dad, cause normally they had different jobs and slept in separate hooches. There was a special closeness knowing he had volunteered to help my father and was hurt in the same ammo explosion. He brought pictures of LZ Nancy, and Camp Haines. I got to see the kind of equipment that my father worked on. I sat at his feet as he told me stories about Vietnam It was like I was 12 again and I imagined that my Dad had come home and was telling me stories about Vietnam.
Dutch Van tassel was not home so I left a message on his machine. When he called I was amazed at what he told me. I felt guilty for bringing up the pain the past had caused him. He sounded so nice ... I could tell he felt helpless cause he didn't know what to do, and finally he opened his heart and his mind and told me the story of my father's death. He told of the dark, and the ammo smoldering on the ground, the explosion, the screaming, and the chaos. We were both crying when he finished. Then he said, "It should have been me ... It should have been me. It was my third tour . . . your Dad had only been there for a few weeks." I tried to comfort him the best that I could. We cried together and I knew that this was the missing link. He had kept the memorial from Vietnam and sent it to me with a Vietnam Era Seabee Newsletter that showed that he had paid my fathers dues. He told me that he goes to The Wall on Memorial Day and Veterans Day, and he had a rubbing of my Dad's name. I don't know why, but I had never even thought of anyone but our family mourning our Father. I made reservations for Memorial Weekend that day. My mother and brother decided to go. I was very nervous waiting for that day to arrive. I wasn't sure what I expected and started having doubts about what I had arranged. Was this too hard for him ... ? What would we say to each other? Finally the day arrived and I started my trip to ....
The Wall was more than
I ever could have imagined. It touched my soul ... it broke my
heart ... it overwhelmed my mind ... it started to heal the
wound that Vietnam did to me when I was 12, thirty years ago. I was
amazed at how big it was. I tried twice to walk down shortly after I
arrived in D.C. It was about 6:30 in the morning and there were very few
people there. I stopped about 30 feet from the beginning, and I felt a
hand on my elbow
We walked together and
each step brought up feelings as I looked at mementos, and stories left
at The Wall. When I finally came to panel 20W and found my Dad's name
I sobbed uncontrollably and felt emotion that I thought you only felt at
funerals. The Vietnam Vets were at my side ... never leaving me
alone. I will never forget them. When I turned around tears were
streaming down their faces.
We met Dutch and his family on Memorial Day. We hugged and talked and made a trip to The Wall where he signed my Dad's Cruise Book. There were many signatures in it from many Vets, but the only one that knew my Dad was Dutch. I watched my Mother ask the only man that could tell her the answer to a question that has been haunting her for 30 years.. "Was he in any pain when he died?" My heart ached watching them walk together in front of me. It ached because I could see my mother's pain, and knew that she also was getting some closure that she never had.
I watched my brother talk to the man that was with my Dad when he died.watching
them laugh, and knowing that my brother could hear the story first hand
about what happened.I knew that these moments had been waiting for so
long to happen. and I felt emotion that swelled my chest until I felt
overwhelmed with it, and then peace filled me.
The weekend opened my eyes to the pain and hurt that the men felt whose brother's names are on The Wall. I saw many men with tears rolling down their faces and emotions causing such pain that it changed their stature. Many people had tears in their eyes, but it was the Veterans that I will never forget. Their faces will stay with me for the rest of my life. I felt such a bond and knew that I shared something with them. It was good to know that I was not alone . . . .
The Wall is
a good thing .
The Wall shows Respect.
The Wall Heals .
Proud Daughter of one who
gave all ...