GOODBYE CHARLIE RAINS
Charlie RainsCommand Sergeant Major Charlie Rains passed yesterday from cancer, so common a tale in Nam vets.
I didn’t know Charlie very well, but had a few occasions of social intercourse with him. Charlie was one of the founders and shakers and movers of VHCMA (Vietnam Helicopter Crewmen’s Assoc). I only met Charlie at the reunions of the VHCMA, held all over the USA once each year. He was always very busy, helping folks and keeping things running smoothly. The last reunion, held in Phoenix AZ, had over 500 crew members attend, with assorted wives and kids. This year in Florida, it’s going to be the biggest yet, with over a 1000 crew members attending. But I digress.
One kindness sticks in my mind, done on behalf of my misses. At the San Antonio Texas reunion, Susan, the sparkle of my eye, was having a difficult time. She was undergoing Chemo for breast cancer. Drug reactions left her with damaged nerves in her feet. She couldn’t stand for long, nor could she walk without extreme pain.
Hairless, fresh from being cut open, scared, and perhaps facing death, she wanted to attend more than anything. I agreed, if for nothing more than just to get her away from the deep, deep rut she was
in. Susan was either stuck in her room, the 129th AHC room, or outside, sitting on a bench. It was time to go visit the Alamo, and she just couldn’t do it. (Remember, she is an Aussie shelia). Everyone wants to see the Alamo and perhaps go on the “river walk”.
1500 miles from home, at a strange hotel, all courtesy chairs taken. BSing with Charlie, the topic was spoken of.” I will be damned!” he said. 5 minutes later Charlie had a wheel chair; seems a wounded vet who wasn’t going, “donated” it. Susan, and thus I, had a great time.
Now this doesn’t sound like much, but that how Charlie was. There were no ‘little guys” in his outfit. Many deeds he did, known to just a few, and mattered to just a few, at the time. I suppose, Charlie could be described as one of those “unsung” heroes.
Half way down the trail to hell in a shady meadow green
Are the souls of all dead of troopers camped near a good old-time canteen.
And this eternal resting place is known as Fiddlers Green.
Marching past, straight through to hell the infantry are seen,
Accompanied by the Engineers, Artillery and Marines,
But none but the shades of cavalrymen dismount at Fiddlers Green.
Though some go curving down the trail to seek a warmer scene
No trooper ever gets to hell, ere he’s emptied his canteen
And so rides back to drink again with friends at Fiddlers Green.
And so when man and horse go down beneath a saber keen,
or in a roaring charge of fierce melee you stop a bullet clean
and the hostiles come to get your scalp, empty your canteen,
and put the pistol to your head, and go to Fiddlers Green.
Thanks Charlie, see you at fiddlers green, buddy.
©Copyright June 11, 2007 by Fred Alvis