Fred Alvis

MEMORIES OF A KIA

Tommy Joe Becker: 1953-1972
Tommy Joe Becker: 1953 - 1972
KIA Vietnam April 18, 1972
Today was strange. It started off with me in a near, as best as I can describe, sort of panic attack. It was one of those times that I had to go in and touch a place inside me that holds nothing but smiles or pain, no in between… mostly pain. For some reason the wound has never healed, never scared over. It’s simply a scab that can bleed freely when touched. I seldom touch it with others, never with ones I do not trust with views of my inner self – inside the shell. Almost no one gets in there, period.

You see, 35 years ago my two roomies crashed and burned. For 35 years I have searched for contacts with their families. I have written about finding David Stover’s mom, and my search for the family of Tom Becker, who was closer still, has been without solution. For many reasons, the search has always been low key, perhaps because of the raw emotions I faced and was afraid of. I am no hero. I was the last to see these guys alive.

A good friend of Tom’s, before service, contacted me today by email. I must remember that their memories are vastly different from the circumstances that I knew and remember. They knew the pre-military/pre-Vietnam person; a person at the end of their childhood. I knew that person for only a short time. I saw and knew the man and the warrior that emerged from the person they remember.

I have finally found out where Tom is buried. I shall visit there soon, before life’s toll upon my body takes its revenge. Anyway, it’s been a very strange day for me. I am somewhat disappointed in the exchange of emails. Perhaps my expectations were too high – it has been 35 years.

It seems that my “KIA” has been passed by. I must remember that, after all, Vietnam vets are “has-beens”. Here is the “meat” of the email today… the info I received after 35 years…

“Thanks for the pictures. Think I will look for that patch at some meets so I can hang it and the picture of Tom on his bunk over my desk. The last picture I have is so badly worn you can’t tell who it is.

Tom’s parents used to live in Traverse city I don’t think they are around any longer they were not in the best of health back then but I really have no idea.

Tom’s son Tommy Jr. looked just like Tom the last time I seen him, it has been a few years. He used to ask about his dad and we told him all we could about the type of man Tom was and many of the good times we all had.

I ran into Jeanie (Tom’s wife) about a year and a half ago. I stopped at a little party store in Madison Heights and she was working there but I haven’t seen her there since. She was talking about moving.

Tom is in Roselawn cemetery on 12 mile and Woodward in Royal Oak. Anything else I can do, don’t hesitate to ask you can call or write.”