Noel B. Kessler
Noel graduated from high school in 1968 at the age of 17. When his draft notice arrived in 1969, he really was not looking forward to being sent to Vietnam, particularly after watching the news of the War in Vietnam through part of 1969, and how the United States citizens were treating returning veterans. He was sworn into the US Navy the night before having to report for the draft.
In the end, Noel ended up in Vietnam anyway. Ironic isn’t it? Be that as it may, Noel was not in the danger the foot soldiers lived every day. The Naval operations were mostly on the coast, some time in harbors. The longest time in one place was at Quinhon, 26 days but most operations were around one to two weeks – lots of no-name places. The furthest north he served was Tan My; the furthest south was Quinhon.
Noel has the ultimate respect for grunts and considers they did the impossible. He says that naval action was limited, but it doesn’t take very long to understand fear. In retrospect, he believes one of the worst problems returning veterans had to endure was the attitude of our own people. Couple that with the nightmares these guys lived with, it’s a wonder any foot soldiers are still with us: speaks multitudes for their fortitude.
When in their latter school days
The world was on their string
No problem was to great to solve
For joy their life would bring
But some would never know this joy,
The smiles on young men’s faces
Would be replaced by fear and pain
In distant savage places.
The battles fought with other boys
To gain a young girls favor
Were soon replaced by other fights
That filled their lives with terror.
Where flesh is torn in battle
Some young men meet their fate,
While others, scarred and suffering
Must keep the battles date.
Tho’ stars of bronze and silver
Adorn these men of might,
None seems to speak the testament
Of men wounded in the fight
A few apart have earned the right
Through sacrifice and pain
To wear the symbols of a world
That seemed to be insane.
And if there is a tribute
For young men torn apart,
They wear it on their chest with pride…
The award called Purple Heart.
©Copyright August 1988 by Noel B Kessler