I was invited on a hunt through Combat Marine Outdoors in South Texas.
Here I am a grandfather and buckles (never having shot a buck) . That is right I have never shot a buck. It has not bothered me; you can’t eat the horns. And just last year I shot my second deer ever,
Both Tony and Master Guns of Combat Marine Outdoors said next hunting season I will get a chance. It doesn’t matter to me; I was just glad to have had the opportunity to get what I got. I have meat in the freezer and I now enjoy it in place of beef and sausage.
My neighbor, Tony shared the fact that I had never shot a buck with one of the ranchers who has a managed deer game ranch. He often donates his time and resources to host both Veterans and youth to hunt on his ranch.
Although it was getting towards the end of the managed deer season so Mr. G, the rancher, told Tony he could bring me out and I would have the opportunity to shoot an 8-point buck.
OK, now I am excited. Tony had told me what a nice ranch this was and when he had been there he had seen more bucks than just about any other ranch he had been on. On the first day we saw a beautiful 10-point buck come with in about 60 yards. I had come to shoot an 8 point; it was like this 10 point knew he was safe. Tony videoed him with his phone as he stood there for about 5 minutes scratching his back with his beautiful rack. Then he came about 30 yards closer and sat down in the grass in front of our blind. Watching this beautiful buck, so close for about 15 minutes was worth the trip.
I did not go home with an empty ice chest as I shot a nice doe who now resides in our freezer.
The last night we were treated to great ribeye dinner on Mr G’s outdoor kitchen and dining room. A nice ending to a trip that was such a blessing. Wonderful visit with new friends and my neighbor Tony who is always keeping me involved.
Towards the end of the evening Mr. G said he had something for me. He gave me a very nice gun case similar to the King Ranch camo print. His ranch name was embroidered on the side, along with a bible verse.
He then said he had done some research to see what knifes were popular for guys going to Vietnam. He found that Randall Knifes were highly sought after. As it turned out he has a longtime friend who was an excellent knife maker. He had taken him a picture and asked him if he could make one as he want to have one to give to a Vietnam vet
Mr G gave me this knife
In 1968 I had gone to Oshmans in downtown Houston looking for a Randall
They did not have any so I bought a Gerber combat knife which I later traded in Vietnam for a Buck knife that was about the size of the Randall I was looking for.
Below is an image of a Vietnam era Randall
So...was it about a buck? I am beginning to wonder. You run across someone who gives his time and resources to give you a nice weekend. Someone who doesn't even know you, takes the time to research something to give you. Then his friend who makes really nice knives makes something from scratch that he has not made before. Just so he will have something to give someone. You talk about a highlight of a hunting trip!
We sometimes hear, "Walk in His ways, "Walk in His path. ". It is always good to see an example to make me question how I am doing. This time it was a knife, but it could have been food to to a hungry man.
A story not about me, but again about a first class warrior. I had the honor of attending a Combat Marine Outdoors event hosted by a group of fantastic folks in the small ocean town of Bayou Vista, Texas. Combat Marine Outdoors is a non-profit organization doing some very powerful works honoring wounded warriors from the Marines, Army, Navy and Air Force.
This was a weekend of fishing and being treated royally by a group of people who go overboard to honor you. I was excited to be invited to go fishing. But early on I found out it was not about the fish, but so much more. I met awesome people who year round are giving of their time and resources to support these warriors. Additionally I immediately felt accepted by fellow warriors of a generation later.
One of the main highlights for me was at the end of the day when we would meet in Rusty's room and wind down. Rusty Hicks is co-founder and Executive Director of Combat Marine Outdoors. This was an opportunity to catch up, laugh, bitch about the VA and hear of the goals and plans of those who shared. Rusty's ability of listening and knowing when to give advice was right on.
The ladies who work with the Vista every year make a quilt to give one of the warriors by putting numbers in cup for a draw. I did not want to draw a number as I thought it was more appropriate for the other guys to be in the draw. They insisted so I decided I could not accept it if by chance I won. They drew Matt Pundyk's name so this was not an issue, everyone clapped and cheered for Matt.
The following day one of the couples wanted all of us to meet at a local restaurant as they wanted to treat us to breakfast as we left to drive back to San Antonio. Matt, myself and two other guys would be riding back in the van.
I may not get this word for word, but it will be close. This was an emotional moment for me. While we were arranging our bags and all the goodies they gave us, Matt handed me the quilt and said "I want you to have this". I was surprised by his offer, but there was no way I was going to accept it. I said," Matt you won this in the draw and the ladies made it for one of you guys". He said "I already have one that I got when I was in the hospital when I lost my leg". After thanking him, I again refused it. He then said, "When you guys came back no one did anything for you so I want you to have this". "The guy on the quilt is saluting. That is me saluting you". All I could say was, "When you give me this you are honoring every Viet Nam veteran".
I have received medals pinned on me in the battlefield by a general, but nothing, I repeat NOTHING has honored me as much as Matt Pundyk did that day. This is a First Class Warrior.
I went deer hunting for the first time when I was 14. Over the years I had been asked several times to go, but never had an interest. I always politely refused the invitations by saying something like…”I shot enough overseas, that was enough shooting for me”. Don’t really know why I never wanted to go, but that seemed to satisfy the person doing the invite.
About a year ago we had a new neighbor move in. Tony was retired from the Army being a veteran of wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. He was a lifelong hunter and fisherman. He asked me to to go hunting with him. I knew my favorite answer to his question would not fly with him so. After thanking him, I told him I would think about it and I would let him know the following day. He had told me it would not cost anything, he had a rifle for me to use and that he would be in the blind with me and help me with anything.
We went to Mason to a hunt sponsored by some of the local ranchers. We had a great host, who took us to his ranch to hunt for the weekend. I left with two doe and my friend Tony did even better. I don’t know who had the biggest smile, me or Tony , as he was so happy that I had shot a deer after all of these years.
I had a great time. It took someone like Tony to "ask" me to go hunting. I owe him.
Several coincidences from my trip back to Vietnam.
San Antonio Connection:
We had flown from San Antonio to Ho Chi Minn City (Saigon). We had arranged to have a driver and guide/interpreter pick us up at the airport and take us to our hotel. They were to be with us for several weeks to be our transportation and guide as we had a planned trip itinerary.
Before we got to the hotel the guide handed me a binder showing me pictures and certificates of his pilot training in San Antonio in the late 60’s. Hmmm…I live less than 20 miles from San Antonio. Out of 89.8 million people in Vietnam I got one who trained in San Antonio.
Night before going to AO 2008…Night before going to AO 1967:
Two days later we were taken to a town in the Mekong Delta, Ben Tre, as I had requested to visit the Viet Cong Veterans Association from the area I had operated in the late 60’s.
I had set this up through the tour company when I first laid out my plans. I had a few questions; I always wondered about several things and thought I would try to fill in some gaps.
So here it is the night before I was going to go into my former AO (area of operations).
We were staying in the only hotel (1 star) for foreigners. Bathroom was in a separate room outside. We had leaking water from our window unit, but we had a 19” black and white TV with a coat hanger for an antenna. We waited till 9pm to turn on the TV because there was going to be English language movie. We watched about 20 minutes of “The Sound of Music” before falling asleep.
I thought about the night before, when I first arrived in my AO, in 1967. I had gone to Bear Cat, the original division camp for in country training for three days and in the morning I would be going to a barracks barge to start operations with my assigned unit. That night they had a movie that they showed on outdoors on a screen made from a bed sheet. The movie was “Sound of Music.”
Met with veterans at Viet Cong Veterans Associations
Got up the following morning and the driver and guide/interpreter took my wife and I to the Viet Cong Veterans Associations in Ben Tre. My guide was very nervous and kept asking me why I wanted to go to meet with them. I think he was thinking I would go for their throat. I kept reassuring him It had been 40 years, just curious if their government was doing anything for them. I told him I also wandered about a few things and was going to see if they could answer any questions I might have.
Want to meet General Daddy?
Our driver Jun waited outside in the car while we were inside the veteran’s office. We came outside my guide ask me if I wanted to meet Jun’s father. I asked who Jun’s father is. “He is General Schoud retired head of Viet Cong security. At the time you were in the area he was a Major and battalion Commander of the 231st Viet Cong Battalion.
The 231st was who we had contact with in that part of Viet
Too many coincidences. I now look at this as going back and "connect ing the dots" . I don't know what this means, but I will keep an open mind.
Finally a “boots-on-the-ground”, former enlisted, with combat experience heads The Department of Defense. He served with the 9th Division in Vietnam at the same time I did. I saw what he saw.
We can debate all day what he has said in the past, but having someone who has experience war as he did knows what happens when our men and women are sent to war. That is why many who know, will always want war to be the last option.
Thank you NBC National News.
Tonight they aired the first part of a two part story of Col Jack Jacobs who went back to the Mekong Delta after 43 years.
U.S. Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs
Richard Burr Ranking Member
825A Hart Senate Office
Building • Washington, D.C. 20510
(202) 224-2074 • FAX
Sen. Burr Honors Vietnam Veterans Today
Burr resolution designates March 30 as “Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day”
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, March 30, 2011
Washington D.C –Senator Richard Burr (R-N.C.), Ranking Member of
the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, today honored “Welcome
Home Vietnam Veterans Day” today with the following remarks:
“While we cannot right the wrong done to the men and women returning from Vietnam, today we have an opportunity to recognize their service and thank them for entering harm’s way. While we remember the sacrifices these veterans made to preserve our freedom, we also honor the ultimate sacrifice made by their fallen comrades. Thank you to all of those who served in Vietnam, and belated welcome home.
“American servicemen and women in Vietnam took a strong stand against very powerful and very real threat of communism. What they accomplished has made an enormous impact on the world today – a world where people are fighting to secure and protect democracy in their own countries.”
“I encourage Americans across the country to take time today to honor the Vietnam veterans among our friends, family, and communities. What happened during the Vietnam War is a powerful reminder that we must continue to respect and welcome home American troops returning from
war today. Never again should the nation disregard and denigrate a generation of veterans.”
Senator Burr introduced the resolution to designate March 30th as “Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day” for the second consecutive year.
Veterans, veterans’ advocacy groups, local and state governments across the country are participating in this day by adopting similar resolutions and
hosting events in their communities. American forces officially withdrew from Vietnam on March 30th 1973, according to the terms of the Treaty of
Paris. American troops returned to a country divided in its opinions
about the war. In total, more than 58,000 members of the United States
Armed Forces lost their lives and more than 300,000 were wounded in
In America We Thank Our Troops Past and Present
' A country worth defending is a country worth preserving '
Major General Michael Lehnert USMC Retired
In God We Trust.
Today I got an email from Birddog with a link to a site that has a trailer of a documentary about Michigan Vietnam vets. In his email he said this could be any of the state's VN vets.
When I left VN I arrived at U of Texas to major in television/film. In my heart and mind I wanted to share something about this time in my life as it was really about all of my brothers who went there.
After two years I switch to being a business major, as I had a family and I needed to get a real job when I graduated.
The link to this series http://www.ourvietnamgeneration.com/ is great work by multiple Emmy winning Visionalist Entertainment Productions.
I will add some of their trailers on a different page.
Click on the tab "Vietnam vet must read". We need to get this in front of as many VN vets as possible. It is a little long, but very powerful.
I left the fields of Vietnam the summer of 1969 and landed at The University of Texas at Austin later that summer.