Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Thanks Vet Mike!

Thanksgiving (the anniversary of Dad's death) was just made better by Vet Mike! Sent via gmail Nov 23 2010.

Dear Stacy,
I just read your wonderful tribute to your father on the Viet Nam Veterans Memorial Fund website. Any father would be proud to read such a wonderful understanding by his child of the role he played. I pray that as another anniversary of his death comes around, your sisters will be able to open their minds, as you have, and understand the great role their father played not only in their own lives, but in trying to improve the lives of a nation of people so far away, so long ago. Your tribute brought tears to my eyes. I can only imagine the pain you and your family have endured. As you said, your mother deserves a medal of her own. I would add, so do you and your sisters. No child should have to endure such a loss. You, as well as your father, have given much for this country. I will give thanks this Thanksgiving for your father's life and for his family for their gift to us.
I sincerely hope that the peace you have found from studying about your father, may also be found by your sisters. My own tour in Viet Nam ended just before your father was killed. While the war was supposedly "winding down," many men were still being lost, far too many. Cherish your father's trunk and your memories of him. He was a fine man!

Mike Nawrath
Chu Lai, RVN, Americal Division
October, 1970 - October, 1971

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Terry Curry's Shadowbox

Terry Curry sent all three sisters a fantastic Shadow Box, created with care and love of a fellow vet. Words can't do justice to his care for us. Photos soon.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

SDIT Reunion with Bob Hall

The SDIT reunion was intense, and not just because of the DC summer heat! SDIT member GEN Casey spoke at the ceremony in front of the Wall. Bob Hall, Dad's gunner, was there and sat with my niece Samantha and me in the shade. I teared up, and Bob let me take his picture. What a guy! I shook GEN Casey's hand and introduced him to Sam. It was a time to remember.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Highest Decorated Soldier

Terry Curry sent me this news clip of a soldier who just fought his last fight. Sir, We Salute You!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

How I Found My Father (and Myself) through SDIT

I first heard about SDIT in 1999 from my mother; she heard about it at a Gold Star Wives meeting. I signed up for the newsletter. One afternoon I sat down with the latest installment and began reading an article written by a Daughter about her MIA dad’s chopper wreck. Halfway through the article I realized that the pilot of that chopper had been my father. My father had died in the same wreck that she was describing in great detail. It was the most information I had ever heard about my father’s death; my family never knew very much about the wreck and we certainly had avoided the subject for the past 30 years. I was reading details of my father’s death, written by a woman I did not know.
I immediately contacted the Southern California chapter of SDIT to find out the woman’s name and address. After many attempts, finally someone helped me get in touch with her, and we soon had an emotional phone conversation sharing our common experience. It was the first time I had ever spoken to another person who had lost a father in Vietnam.
After that phone call, I began to look online for any information about my father’s two tours in Vietnam. I posted my query on several veterans’ websites, seeking anyone who had known my dad during that time. The vets answered, tentatively at first. I discovered that my father had been a Special Operations pilot for the Air Force/CIA MAC SOG. His work was so secret that even my mother knew nothing about his mission. He had earned 13 medals, including the Silver Star. Six months later, my mother and I attended a reunion of his unit in Kokomo, Indiana where I met several men who shared stories about my dad. Through these wonderful men, I have come to learn so much about my father that I could never have known otherwise.
Then came Sept. 11, 2001. I was filled with desire to help the military kids who I knew would soon learn first-hand the saddest part of war. I began to investigate how to help. I searched for organizations where I could volunteer. With my sister, I attended a SDIT campout where we were welcomed with a “sharing circle.” It was the first time we had ever met anyone else who had also lost a father to war. Through SDIT, I was able to participate in Snowball Express, a charitable event for the newly bereaved military families from the Iraq/Afghanistan Wars. I entered the university so I could research more about war’s impact on the bereaved military family. What I found was next to nothing; no real research was available on American war orphans. So for my master’s thesis I wrote a short book on the subject. I started a blog (http://soldiersfirstdaughter.blogspot.com/) and had an article printed in the Louisville Courier-Journal (my dad’s hometown). I still receive messages from vets who find my articles online – just two months ago I was contacted by a man who told me that my father had saved his life in battle. After two emotional phone calls, my sister and I met with Mr. Terry Curry who told us vivid stories that made us see what kind of a man our dad was.
Because of that little article in the SDIT newsletter, I have embarked on a journey that has led me and my family to tremendous healing. I have found a part of me I didn’t even know was missing. I hold this organization in my heart with fondness, and I hope I can somehow return the favor by helping others find something they might not even know they are searching for.