The Green Beret

As I have already shared my thoughts regarding the events that occured in America nine years ago today, I wanted to focus my thoughts this day on someone dear to me who is still among the living.  While he is still living his life, I still grieve for him in other ways that I am not prepared to discuss at this time.  Not yet, anyway. But soon I will have to speak of it all if my goal of examining my soul is to be honest, open, and complete. 
Richard Arnold White, Jr. was born on January 31, 1945, the first born of three sons to my parents, Dick & Corinne White.  He is my oldest brother, four years and two months my senior.  As the first born son, Dick, Jr. inherited not only our father's name, he inherited our father's passion for flying and all things involving aviation.  As a boy, Dickie would build his model airplanes with painstaking patience, quite uncommon in such a young boy.  His airplanes were always well constructed and when he was old enough, he would build the kind that he could put a motor on, and he would fly them in the fields near our house.  He worshipped our father and always did his best to make him proud.  And he succeeded more often than he failed.
Dick was always slow of speech, carefully selecting his words and delivering them very slowly, a trait that has followed him to this day.  But he was not slow to think.  He was always intelligent and well spoken, although he did not excell in school.  Graduating from high school in 1962, he enrolled at the College of San Mateo, in Northern California. 
After a year of aimlessly attending classes at the junior college, a relatively unknown military skirmish was unfolding in a far away place we called Viet Nam.  I remember sitting at the table early one spring evening when Dick walked in through the garage door and informed my mother and father that he had decided to enlist in the United States Army.  He did this without seeking the counsel or the approval of either of his parents, but they were supportive of his decision, proud of their son, and no doubt scared to death for his safety in the face of the brewing war.
Dick, Jr. completed his basic training at Fort Ord, California, and then was accepted for training at Fort Benning, Georgia, with the goal of becoming a member of the Army Special Forces Unit that we know as the "Green Berets".  I cannot begin to tell you how very proud I was of him when he graduated, put the "Beret" on his head, the "Silver Wings" upon his chest, and became a proud member of the 173rd Airborne Brigade, a paratrooper.  He soon deployed to combat duty in South Viet Nam and participated in "Operation Hump" just north of Bien Hoa on the outskirts of Saigon.  His unit was ambushed by the Viet Cong and 48 brave heros gave the "full measure of their devotion" on that day.  Thank God he was not among them.
Dick rarely speaks of his service in Viet Nam, although I know in my heart that he carries scars deep inside of him that he has never been able to erase.  I know that he experienced and saw things that no man should ever have to see.  I am so proud of my big brother, and I have always admired the grace that he demonstrated over the years, even though he was spat upon and called vicious, vile names when he returned from "Nam" to us after serving his country.  And this, by the very people he had put his life on the line for.  I do not have the literary skills to describe the look on our Mother's face when he walked, unannounced, through the same garage door that he had entered four years earlier to announce his enlistment; this time to return to us from hell.   My Mother's son, my big brother, had returned home to us safe, if not sound.  My father just stood in surprise, pride written all over his face.
Through the years, Dick married my sister in law, Shellie, and together they have raised my neice and my nephew to be solid, contributing citizens of our great country. 
Combining their love of flight, and their skills in mechanics, my father and Dick worked together to build two airplanes that they flew together, and as members of the Experimental Aircraft Association, they participated often at air shows and events around the country.  I am uploading a photo of the two aircraft in flight.  The plane in the background is a "Glass Air", and is being flown by my father, and is the same plane that he was flying, with my Mother as his passenger when it crashed near Rawlins, Wyoming on August 9, 19885, claiming both of their lives.  The bi-plane is an "Acro Sport" being flown by Dick, Jr.
In the years since the crash in 1985, my brother and I have not been close.  He and Barbara did not get along well from the beginning, and the relationship only got worse as the years rolled by.  As I indicated earlier, I will delve into the reasons why this is so, but I am just not able to address the issues in this forum at the present time.
Regardless of the issues that have crippled our sibling relationship, I love my big brother.  And I am proud of him to this day.  So Dick, this one' for you, Brother:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PX4Flhw0HSA

Replies

deleted_user
deleted_user

God bless you my friend.We may see the scars, but we cannot know the pain that\'s still felt within.Someone here wrote...\".Do not let the past steal your present\"......Let\'s go outside tonight... and reach UP... and try to touch the stars?
Joely
Joely

Joe,
A lovely tribute to your big brother. I\'ve always liked that song, but, it means even more after your story. Thank you for the link. It was beautiful!
Hugs, Joely