Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Memorial Day - One Soldier's Story

I posted this on Face Book lastnight and thought I would share it here as well:

Memorial Day has had me thinking of the man whose POW/MIA bracelet I wore for many years, during and after the Vietnam War. I received the bracelet in 1970 and wore it until 1979, when it started to fall apart and was damaging my arm. Still..., I kept it close to me, in a drawer of every bedside table I've owned since. The name of the soldier was CW2 Martin Vanden Eykel II. He was a pilot in the Army and was from Wheatland, IL, born 4 October 1943. It has been reported that he and three crew members were on a recon mission when he made a radio transmission that he had to swerve to avoid hitting a mountain. That was the last anyone heard from him. It was 2 December 1969 when his helicopter went down. It has been reported that a Vietnamese woman stated she'd seen the crash and that the 4 soldiers had been taken prisoner. As this was unconfirmed, the Government listed them as Missing, No Body Found. Each night I prayed for his safe return. Whenever a report that soldiers or their remains were being released by the Vietnamese and shipped back to the United States, I'd scan the report for his name, but never saw it. Through correspondence with his mother, I discovered that he had two young sons. I often wondered how they were doing and prayed that they were well. When it was completed, I visited the Vietnam Memorial in Washington, DC, to locate Martin's name. I ran my fingers across the letters and, to my surprise, wept openly. I had never known this man personally, but had held him in my heart for so many years that it was incredibly emotional to see his name immortalized. Today, I had the idea of Googling him and found out that in March of 1990, his identified remains were returned to the US and that he was laid to rest at Arlington Cemetary, along with his three crew members. I will go to his grave in the future and leave flowers for him, thanking him once again for his brave and dedicated service.
To all who have or are currently serving, I thank you and ask that God bless you and keep you safe. Words alone cannot adeqately express my gratitude.
 

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