Phil “Country” Crowley
TRIBUTE TO A SOLDIER
Ron “Dollar” Kocher, and wife, “Stitch”: July 9, 2006
Ron “Dollar” Kocher
November 5, 1948 – September 17, 2006Some thirty-odd years ago, a young boy steps off a plane in a place called Vietnam. Fresh out of high school, he knew nothing of war and death, other than what was shown on the nightly news. Prior to this journey he spent his days fishing and hunting, never realizing that one day he would become the hunted. Like all boys his age, his mind was focused on fast cars, girls, and hanging out with his buddies. In a short time he had traded his hunting rifle for an M-16… he had now entered a world that will change his life forever. He had become a man, just old enough to vote, not old enough to drink, yet old enough to kill. He was a soldier… tall and proud and only God knows what is waiting outside the door of the plane that has brought him to this place.
This young man never questioned his obligation to God or his country and whatever frightful thoughts may have entered his mind, there was no doubt… this is the right thing to do.
When this soldier came home, his family did not recognize him. He had seen his buddies killed, and he has killed. This young man has aged beyond his years and has built a wall around him self that cannot be penetrated. He came home to a country that spat on him and called him a “Baby Killer”; the very government that had sent him into combat shunned him and cast him aside. He will endure countless years of nightmares of the things that he has seen and you will want to help, but you cannot, you will try to understand, but you cannot. Unless you have walked in his boots, you will never know or understand: just take him as he is and love him.
Now, thirty-odd years later this soldier again is in a fight for his life. Having survived a year in hell fighting against his enemy, he now fights another battle for life. Exposed to “Agent Orange” as so many were, this soldier did not know that this enemy would come back some thirty-odd years later to claim his life.
This new enemy is not unlike the one this brave soldier faced in battle. This enemy has waited in silence for the chance to ambush and kill this soldier. Unlike bullets that will bring a swift death, this enemy will bring pain and suffering to this soldier and to those who love him. Death will be slow in coming, but those who love him the most will be there when death comes and though he may have lost this battle, he has left behind many wonderful memories that will be shared for years to come.
As we pay tribute to our Brother, let us remember what he has done for God and his country. He has stood tall and proud in the face of ridicule and insult. He has fought so that we may enjoy the many freedoms that we have. He has brought happiness into the lives of so many and it has been a privilege to have traveled down some of life’s roads with him. Death may have been the victor in this battle, and we have lost another brave soldier, but he will always be in our hearts as a good husband, a good father, a good son, and above all a wonderful friend.
It has been an honor to know you “Dollar” and you will never be forgotten.
©Copyright September 17, 2006 by Phil “Country” Crowley
Dollar's bike in the Funeral Home Chapel
Author’s Note: This soldier was part of my riding group and a wonderful friend. He served in Vietnam with the 199th Infantry and as a result of being exposed to “Agent Orange” became ill with leukemia two years ago and as a result passed away. His death has been extremely difficult on his family and friends and I wrote and read this tribute at his memorial service.