Ronald James Dexter, SMAJ ...
By: Patrick Camunes
and Don Poss
© 1996

The National Vietnam Veterans Memorial, Constitutional Park, Washington, D.C.
Panel 21E - Line 043
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Dexter, Ronald James SGM E9 Army 19330723 19670603 Abilene, TX BNR 21E-043

SMAJ/E9 - Army - Regular, MOS: 11F4S
34 year old Married, Caucasian, Male
Born on 07/23/33
His tour of duty began on 06/03/67
Casualty was on 07/29/67
in LAOS,
Hostile, died while captured,
Reason, Unknown/Not Reported GROUND CASUALTY
Body was not recovered
Religion - BAPTIST
Panel 21E-Line 43

Subject: MIA - MSgt Ronald Dexter
From : Patrick Camunes

Don, I've written several things that had bothered me since my return from Vietnam from pleasant to bad memories but this is probably one of the hardest things that I've had to confront.
      Approximately, ten years ago in 1987 I purchased a stainless steel POW/MIA bracelet that caught my attention because of the date on the bracelet, 06/03/67. I associated with this date because I was there at this time with the 196th Lt. Inf. as a grunt. Since this time, I've only removed it twice, once because of security reasons and another for a medical reason.
      Thirty years have passed and I wonder if maybe I hold on to an impossible hope. I haven't had any contact with MSgt Ronald Dexter's family and I constantly wonder of their thoughts. I don't know if I should join in their hope or if I should share in their sorrow. One thing that the bracelet with Ronalds's name on it has been through is the "Welcome Home" parades and the pride that we, as Vietnam veterans have shown.
      It's also shared in many of the surgeries I've gone through for service connected disabilities and sat through many of the "group" therapies for combat PTSD. Sometimes I feel that if Ronald had been able to be here with me, we would had shared in all of the above.
      I'm caught between admitting to the loss of MSgt Ronald Dexter or keeping the faith and sharing in the feeling of us being Proud Vietnam Veterans.
      Thank you, Don, for this site and the opportunity to offer our feelings as Vietnam veterans.
      Pat(Beanie)Camunes, D/4/31 196th Lt Inf Bde, Tam Ky 1967

Response: Pat, it is your choice, for whatever reasons, as to how long to keep the faith. I have a friend at work who's child was kidnapped some years ago from a neighborhood park and never seen again. Her family refused to move or change phone numbers for years--all the while struggling with the what-ifs. Finally, they moved and came to a closing peace on their own. Were they right? I have to say Yes, and keep my heart open to what they have endured.
      Are there any MIAs alive in Vietnam today? I don't know. There is evidence to suggest there are. I do know the North Vietnamese government released the last French POW 25 years after defeating the French. True, it has been nearly that long since our troops withdrew from South Vietnam. Every now-and-then Vietnam releases a few more bodies to America.
      I can't help but believe that of the hundreds and thousands of U.S. MIAs, one--perhaps MSgt Ronald Dexter--is somewhere in Southeast Asia, alive and waiting for the sound of a chopper. Does he ask himself if we have given up? or have forsaken hope of his return? Surely, somewhere in Southeast Asia there is a wharehouse, or cavern, stacked with coffins of our MIAs and executed POWs. Like the pervert that kidnapped the child, Vietnam refuses to return the child alive ... or the body.
      So. The MIAs are our ages. We are alive--they could be. And if every single one of them are dead, then the simple fact is they are NOT here at resting-peace in the heartland of America ... and we Vietnam Veterans and families still want them home. To despair and give up on even a single POW MIA being alive is a personal choice. To despair and give up on ever having the bodies of our MIAs returned, is to lose the faith.
      MSgt Ronald Dexter's POW/MIA bracelet is just a bracelet. Take it off ... wear it ... put it on a shelf. Without guilt. Without losing faith. And without judgment by fellow Vietvets. But remember that Ronald Dexter, dead or alive, is still in Laos, or Vietnam. The government declared him dead, and I don't know if his family agreed with that. The question remains, have we done all that we can to bring him home, to keep his memory in our hearts? The bottom line is this, Pat: If you feel it is time that you must let go, then pass MSgt Ronald Dexter's name to me. If you feel it is too much, but want to go on, then let me help. As long as there is a War Stories, MSgt Ronald James Dexter's name will be remembered--along with one who carried the banner for so long. That, my friend, are what Vietvet brothers are for.

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