Thurman P. Woodfork


So, off I went to Vietnam, full of purpose and proud;
I thought that I should do my part, though I never said it aloud.
I wore the uniform, you see – I figured it was my duty to go
And show the Flag, to protect my land; I did believe, you know,

In the decency of my countrymen, I felt they’d be true and fair.
We were engaged in this noble cause, this ultimate event men share.
But, sadly, it was not to be, for there are always those sorry few
Who do not care how hard you work, it doesn’t matter what you do.

They only see through bitter eyes that are clouded by lifelong hate,
So, they scheme and plot, wink and smirk and snidely denigrate.
In the end, it turned out to be just another day in the life,
Filled with tedium, terror, smiles and fears, happiness and strife;

Except that each day now had an added twist. I also had to contend
With the new enemies outside the walls as well as the old ones within.
Really, though, who lost the most: was it I who lived and let live
Or those who closed their minds up tight and simply could not give

Credit when and where it was due but just had to gibe and sneer?
One can only wonder what could cause such deep, elemental fear.

Author’s Note: I wrote this poem during Tet in May of ‘68. I had returned to Trang Sup TDY to remove the radar after Penthouse (Detachment 7, 619th Tactical Control Squadron) was deactivated.

The original poem was lost with my hold baggage when I rotated back to the States from the Philippines. This is what I remember, the original was much longer. If I remember more, I’ll add it. A recent discussion on a Vietnam Veterans’ discussion group brought the poem back to mind.