Fate or destiny, are words I think about often today, some forty-three years after my older brother and I, had left the Vietnam War behind. My brother and I are exactly four years apart because we were born on the same day, four years apart. He lives in Illinois and I in Oklahoma. One thing I can say for sure, is that destiny sure kicked us around a lot.
My older brother was born in San Antonio Texas, and I in Waupun Wisconsin. Our parents also hailed from San Antonio. But when my brother and I were ages six and two, we ended up on the south side of Chicago. There we would live our lives until the Vietnam War Broke out.
In our early years my brother and I being four years apart, had nothing in common. Growing up he had his likes and friends, and I was the pesky little brother who was told to take a hike more than once. We would go our separate ways, until fate stepped in and changed our lives forever. We had no Idea that the Vietnam War would last long enough to see us both join the Marines, and be pulled into the war. It would be a war that would have a significant impact on American history. It would be a war that split a nation, as did the Civil War. Of course the Vietnam War split us only in ideology.
The war would bring my brother and me together in more ways than we could imagine. My older brother was on his second tour of duty, when I landed in Vietnam in July of 1970 for my tour. Again, fate stepped in, and my brother and I ran into each other at Da Nang Air Base, just before I was trucked out to my unit with Seventh Marines. I was an infantry Marine, and my brother a Crew Chief in CH-46 helicopters.
I would see my brother twice with my unit in the field, as both those times it was his chopper that was re-supplying us. Both times I signaled the chopper into the Landing zone, as my brother looked out the gunner’s door and spotted me. As I ran onto the bird to unload supplies, we had a few minutes for a quick hug and a thumb’s up. As the chopper lifted off, my brother stuck his head out the gunner’s door again and saluted, as I stood in the rotor wash in the LZ and returned his salute. Both times I was asked, “Who was that”, and both times I replied with great pride, “That was my brother!”
My brother and I would make it out of Vietnam. He after being shot down multiple times, and I, after being wounded in action twice. We both ended up In Okinawa for a few months together before he rotated back to the States. Our relationship from that point on again, had changed forever. We were now not only brothers, but fellow Marines, and fellow combat veterans of the Vietnam War. We would go our separate ways after the war, and not discuss the war with each other for over forty years. But our respect towards each other was that of two fellow Marines, who had fought in a war that American history would rather bury than speak of. It was a long and arduous road, and yet fate had seen us through.
Roger A. Sanchez Sr. @ Gunny’s Mail Call.Com