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War Hits Home in 1965--Bringing Brother Home. Charles Owen J
Sun Jun 18, 2017 05:20

Charles Owen Jenkins Jr. Killed in Vietnam, June 10, 1965
War Hits Home in 1965--Bringing Brother Home.
Published on June 10, 2017

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Ronnie Ray Jenkins
FollowRonnie Ray Jenkins
Author--The Flowers of Reminiscence, The Flynn City Egg Man Series, The Flynn City Egg Man, A Flynn City Christmas.

Today, I sadly recall June 10th, 1965. Fifty-two years and it isn't one bit easier. I will not let it go, I will always remind humanity and anyone listening, "War...what is it good for?" I'll tell you what it is good for, "Absolutely, nothing."

I was eight-years-old when my brother, Charles Owen Jenkins Jr lost his life in Dong Xoai, Vietnam. It is and will remain one of my childhood's most clearest and brutal of memories. Now, we can look back, hopefully with more wisdom, and say it did not have to be that way.

One day, I hope the world will come to realize, that when we do leave memories for each other, they should be of joy, not sadness, loss, and heartbreak.

We make our own heroes, we define heroic on the battlefield, many times the hero isn't around to celebrate that title for he or she has died. War has taken talent, it has taken brilliance, and it has snatched genius. It is costly in many respects. Its scars remain to remind us of our own created cruelty.

Blessed be the peacemakers.

Bringing Brother Home by Ronnie Ray Jenkins

He left in February, and by early June-- he was dead. June 10, 1965, to be exact. Sometime after midnight Vietnam time, but it was the next day near Clear Creek when a knock came to the front door.

It wasn’t the Army; it was his pregnant wife who I saw from my hiding place behind my Mother’s yellow sundress. I never saw my brother’s wife cry before, but as she stood framed in the doorway with the bright light of summer behind her, she sobbed.

It was all so confusing for an eight-year-old to witness such a thing. Scary too. It was the first time I ever heard such mournful wailing, and when she passed a telegram to my mother it increased two-fold. The telegram stated my brother; a Green Beret was missing in action.

What’s that mean, Mom? Is he lost? He was just here a few months ago.

He came upstairs Mom, and sat on the edge of each of our beds taking turns telling us to be good kids and to listen to you and Dad. Where’s Vietnam, Mom? I thought he was in North Carolina, Mom.

Remember for my class project, I chose North Carolina to write to their tourism bureau to find out about their state? Mom? I only thought those words; there was too much commotion now for anyone to listen to the animated machine-gun delivered ramblings of an eight-year-old.

That night we had a lot of visitors. I climbed up on a chair and watched the television. My Dad watched it too, I liked Chiller Theater, but Dad kept trying to find the news.

Two stations were the only choices, and I never saw my Dad change the channels back and forth so much. I got to stay up late, and even when I was getting fidgety, they didn’t yell at me.

My Mom’s eyes sure look red. Dad’s face looks blank, and empty. There are six other kids in the house, but I don't know where they are, they are unusually quiet. Things were never quiet around here.

When the last visitor left, and the television signed off to nothing but white specks on blackness, I went upstairs to bed.

I could hear my parents in muffled serious voices, but could make out very little. They rarely talked in such quiet tones.

So, I lay on my back with my hands folded behind my head and stared up toward the black ceiling. Missing. Action. Vietnam. What did it all mean anyway?

My brother knew these woods like nobody did, I thought. He probably was camping, or hiding from the other guys. He did that a lot of times with us kids.

He was good at it. I wished I could walk as quiet as he did. You couldn’t hear his boots in the leaves. He’d jump out and scare his buddies for sure.

That’s what he did to us, and we’d all let out a startled squeal, and take off running back to the safety of the big yard, or house. But, none of us could come close to outrunning him. I doubt anyone could catch him over there.

He’d just run and run, and if he had too, he’d climb right up in a tree too. He wasn’t afraid of being in any tall trees; he’d go right to the top. He even jumped out of planes. I don’t like being up high.

The covers feel soft, and I pull them over my eyes to make my darkness even darker. I fell asleep wondering if it was as black there in that place called Vietnam, and if they had katydids.

I knew they had monkeys, because awhile back he sent home a picture of him with two of them clutching onto him. He even wrote on the back that they looked like the twins when we were little.

Mom laughed, see, I have a twin sister. Good night.

When I awake, I notice the morning light through the window and it sure can make a blanket hot.

I kick them off, and notice all four beds in the room are empty. I walk on my knees on the soft bed and position myself at the window.

There are cars parked along the road outside the house and people milling around in the yard with their heads down.

A dark green car with a star on the side of it turns around in the middle of the road and I squint from my perch watching it with curiosity as it leaves.

We rarely have this much company. That looks like Uncle Paul down there. Hey, there’s my older sister and her husband, they live far away, and we don’t get to see them much at all. Why are all these people hugging Mom like that?

I know—I know. I bet the Army guys are bringing my brother home.

In memory of my brother, Charles Owen Jenkins Jr, killed in Dong Xoai, Vietnam on June 10th 1965. Feel free to share this, it just might help stop this disease we call war.


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Ronnie Ray Jenkins
Author--The Flowers of Reminiscence, The Flynn City Egg Man Series, The Flynn City Egg Man, A Flynn City Christmas.
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Ronee Henson
Volunteer at Hospice of the Comforter at Hospice of the Comforter
Oh my.......
War, under any circumstances is bad.
I know. I lived through WWII in Germany.

I am so sorry for your loss......

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