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Valentines to Veterans

January 30, 2024

Why send valentines to veterans? We want to thank them for their service. We want to thank all of the veterans, but we can’t. So we send valentines to those in veterans facilities. Veterans are special people. They purposely put themselves in a situation where they could be put in harm’s way in order to protect the rest of us. The motto, ‘All gave some, some gave all’, pretty much sums it up.

The veterans I know are mainly from the Viet Nam police action and Korean War era.  Here is some of what they have shared with me.

One veteran from the Korean War was captured and spent time in a POW camp. He doesn’t say much about it. I don’t think he needs to, unless he wants to.

My Brother–In-Law spent time in the Navy during peacetime. His participation in the Navy ROTC program while he was in college earned him an officer’s rank. He was a bookkeeper. He was in supply and procurement. He also made sure the sailors were paid. When people thanked him for his service he answered that he was never shot at. But he was aboard a ship that could have been shot at. You don’t need to be shot at to serve.

Medal of Honor Recipient: Lt. Col. Leo Thorsness (former Washington State Senator)

A friend of mine, serving in Viet Nam got into a bar fight, and broke his leg. He spent his last months in Viet Nam as a bartender in a PX.  

I had a cousin who served in Viet Nam on a mobile Howitzer. In a letter home he told how the percussion from the gun was loosening the fillings in his teeth. My mom sent him homemade cookies.  He said everyone in his unit enjoyed them.

Another friend of mine was driving a bulldozer in the jungle in Viet Nam when a round got through the slit in his armored cab. It bounced around inside the cab severely injuring him. When he was rescued and returned to his base, he was triaged to be treated last, because he was deemed too far gone. When he got off the plane back in the US he saw a nurse who had tried to treat him. She fainted because she thought he was dead.

Another cousin served in Viet Nam as a postmaster. He was sent to Khe Sanh, an outpost in the Western part of Viet Nam. The outpost was under attack for many months. There was no mail coming or going, so he helped the guy preparing the bodies for transport back to the US.

One of my neighbors was a Lutheran Pastor. He spent the Viet Nam police action in the Pentagon. He was the General in command of the chaplains serving in Viet Nam.  

Rubbing of Thomas Piper at the Vietnam Memorial in Washington, DC

This story is from official records: Another one of my neighbors was a Navy Pilot. He was called a ‘Wild Weasel’. The wild weasels would fly over the jungle hoping that a hidden gun emplacement would shoot at his plane. Then he would go through all kinds of crazy motions to avoid being shot down. Another aircraft coming behind the weasel would then take out the hidden gun emplacement. On one mission his wingman was shot down. He circled the area until the other pilot was rescued. Then he was attacked by several Migs. He shot some of them down until the rest of them fled. He was low on fuel. He could have refueled in mid-air but another plane needed the fuel and he let that plane refuel. He flew to the nearest base. His plane ran out of fuel as he coasted onto the runway. He was shot down about 10 days later and spent the next 6 years in the Hanoi Hilton POW camp.

The Rest of his story is from my sister: His wife and children lived next door to my sister in Sioux Falls, SD.  His wife was worried Nixon and Kissinger would leave him over there in order to hasten a peace treaty. His wife contacted Senator George McGovern to see if he could do anything. McGovern shamed Nixon into negotiating his release. My neighbor was awarded the Medal Of Honor by President Nixon for his actions the day he shot down the Migs. When he returned home he called McGovern a traitor for being against the war, and ran against him for his Senate seat. McGovern won. The people of South Dakota understood what McGovern had done for him, even if he didn’t. He spent his remaining years trying to get POWs and MIAs or their remains back from Viet Nam.

Major General Norris L. Einertson

One of my neighbors was Killed in Action in Viet Nam. About a decade later, I was talking to his brother at a bar. His brother was very upset because he had a good experience in the military and he had encouraged his younger brother to join.  About a month after our conversation, he took his own life.

The loss of a soldier, is also his/her family’s loss. It is important that we care for and recognize a veteran’s loved ones too. We live safely because of our strong military. All of us owe so much to those who put themselves in harm’s way so we don’t have to. A simple valentine is not enough recognition, but it is something we can do. A simple, ‘Thank you for your service’, is not enough thanks.  But it is something that we can do.

If I am elected to the Assembly, I will listen to the veterans.  I hope to do my part to make their service worth the effort.   - Richard Pulcher

Richard Pulcher

Richard Pulcher, a longtime resident of Lublin, WI since 1990, is an Augustana College alumnus with a B.A. in Economics. He is deeply involved in his local church and community, driven by a steadfast passion for fostering positive change and development in his local area. Richard's insights reflect his commitment to community enhancement and his rich experiences in Lublin.