Remembering the dead on Memorial Day
Today, with Memorial Day coming up, I hopped on my computer thingy, typed in some of the names of men from my unit listed as KIA. I wanted to see what information there was, if any, after all these years. The last time I did this was some time ago when computers were still a new technology. I found their names but that was about it.
Now there seems to be much more information out there and it is easier to find. I found a web page that had a list of KIAs and all I had to do was type in their names, starting with CPT Barry Mercer Straw. CPT Straw and his entire crew died in a midair collision with a Korean fixed wing aircraft somewhere near LZ English where I think the Headquarters of the 173rd Airborne was located. I’m not sure about that last part because my memory fails me.
Anyway, my computer thingy tells me that CPT Straw hailed from Panorama City, California. So I say to myself, “I should go on Google Earth and see where CPT Straw grew up.” I proceeded to do just that.
Panorama City is a mish-mash of houses all jammed together, each with a pool in the back yard. It’s located just north of Santa Monica, so I imagined that CPT Straw was a surfer dude. At least that’s what all of us kids who went to high school in East Peoria, Illinois, thought about anyone from California. I imagined that CPT Straw knew all of the Beach Boys. He probably swam and partied at the beach with his friends.
Next, I typed in CW2 Ronald Norman Jasinski. He was from Roselle, Illinois, which is located just west of Chicago. I remember Jasinski was a party animal. One day he came in with a huge plastic water blatter that he cut in half, stuck it in a big hole he and his friends had dug and made a swimming pool. It was just like Beverly Hills but located in Vietnam.
Again I went to Google Earth and found that Roselle, Illinois, looked just like Panorama City, California, but with different types of trees. I’ll bet my friend, Streamkeeper Rich Marovich, could tell me exactly which trees are native to each of these cities. He’s good at that kind of stuff.
Anyway, Jasinski and his whole crew died when their sling load hit a tree which in turn dragged the CH47 helicopter down to the ground in the middle of the Central Highlands jungle. They were called on an Emergency Tac-E in the middle of the night. Sometime later I saw a paper with a list of their cargo, none of which would make up an emergency in my eyes. 700 pounds of garbage cans and bundles of tent pegs! Kiss my ass! What a waste!
I imagined he swam and partied with his friends in Lake Michigan because it was only a stone’s throw away from his home town.
Moving on, I looked up CW2 James Robert Meade who grew up in Topeka, Kansas. Topeka is just west of Kansas City where all the cowboys come from. I happened to witness the end of CW2 Meade’s life and it was horrible. He was at the helm of his CH47 when it suffered a blade strike against a revetment. The helicopter went straight up, nose first, and then inverted and blew up on impact. His crew chief survived.
Crew chief Mott (I think that was his name) survived but he was burn to a crisp over 80 percent of his body. A while later I went to see him in the hospital and he was still lying naked on his bunk with hoses up his nose and groin. His lips and nose were burned off along with his ears.
I asked him how he survived and he told me he saw a hole in the flames and ran and dove through it. He said he wished that he had died because he couldn’t even kill himself now until he healed a little. A year or so later I saw a picture of him in the Army Times eating watermelon.
Anyway, back to CW2 Meade. I looked up Topeka on Google Earth and it looked just like the other places except there was no big body of water nearby. So, I imagined that CW2 Meade never partied with his friends in Topeka because there was no place to party except maybe in your basement. Houses back east have full basements, not like California.
I can’t do this anymore, it’s time for my nap.