From The Publisher's Desk (11/13/2014)
It is with great admiration that we, the staff of SEMO TIMES, put forth this issue devoted to the Veterans of the United States of America.
In June of 2007, Toni and I traveled to the Coronado Naval Base in San Diego for the retirement ceremony of family friend, Commodore Dennis Schulz. The ceremony was on the deck of the USS Midway. Toni sang the song we wrote, “Duty Calls,” and I sang the “Star Spangled Banner.” What an honor. What an awe-inspiring ceremony.
After the ceremony, the first of several parties was held on the carrier lift (basically a huge elevator to bring the aircraft to/from the deck). I was listening to all the stories told of the men and women who had interacted with this great ship.
One story captivated me. An Army Ranger shared how he was stationed at the border of North Vietnam. His small team would routinely enter the North to extract a U.S. asset. Their rules of engagement were clear and strict. During one extraction, he was pinned down by enemy fire. His call for help and his coordinates were relayed from the Army to the Air Force high above him to the deck of the USS Midway. He said, “If it weren’t for that gunnery sergeant firing into North Vietnam that day, I would have never made it home.”
I rushed over to the table of our now retired friend, grabbed his father and hurried him back to the ranger’s table and asked him to retell his story. As the story wound down I introduced the ranger to the USS Midway gunnery sergeant, Russell Schulz. They discussed the timeframe, it was a match. There were tears and silence and joy and toasts as a “Thank You” – over forty years in the making – found its worthy recipient.
In September of 1991, the Vietnam Memorial Moving Wall came to Sikeston. Toni and I were guests of my best friend Scott Brickell and the entire Brickell family (see Jay’s story). There were many somber moments, but one haunts me still to this day. Surrounded by people etching their loved ones names, Scott reached up and touched a blank space between two names; the exact space where, alphabetically, his last name could have appeared. Scott looked at me with tears welling in his eyes, “I wouldn’t have been born if my dad’s name was here.” I embraced him with gratefulness and choked out the words, “I love you buddy!”
The SEMO TIMES salutes the heroes of our fine military.