I wasn’t there but..

In 1972 I was given my lottery number for the draft. My number was 9.

I had decided I’d join the Air Force but the war in Vietnam was winding down, troops were coming home and there was a rumor the draft was ending. Turned out in 1973 the government did not draft anyone and I was able to make other choices.

I am forever grateful for the sacrifices made on my behalf. Some of my class mates joined up and served after Vietnam, some I know were drafted earlier and served in Vietnam and most of the folks I know who served in and after Vietnam had joined. I got to meet several of them at the 3 Rolling Thunder rides I participated in over the years.

More compelling to me was the few I met at The Wall. I ride with Christian Motorcyclist Association and served as Chaplain for 5 years in my local chapter. One year in particular I was invited to ride with the Nam Knights to DC for the event. As I remember, 6 of us (CMA) went on that trip. We got to stay in the same hotel (they gave us the password so we could get rooms), we ate and hung out with them, we spent time talking about their friends who didn’t make it back and I was personally introduced to some of the men during a time at the Wall by their friends who did make it home.

It’s a touching time to stand there, looking at the name etched in the wall and to hear the stories about them from someone who knew them and could tell the stories well because they were there. It’s a humbling experience. I am forever grateful for the time spent, telling me about them. It makes them live on and I hope to meet them in person when we get to heaven. I want to say thank you to them personally.

Now it’s my turn to introduce you to a hero to me.

He made it back and his name is not on The Wall but he recently passed. My Uncle Terry Tinder. He died earlier this month from complications related to the war and Agent Orange in particular. I am blessed to know him. He was in The Marines from 1962 til 1966 and served two tours in Vietnam.

I was 8 years old when he came back from boot camp to marry my Aunt Patty before going off to war. He was bigger than life to me in his uniform and a hero to an 8 year old boy. He still is.

One story I can tell is I remember seeing his knuckles all skinned up when he got back from boot camp. I mean really scarred and I hopefully asked “Did you get in a fight?!” He smiled and quietly said “No”. I asked him what happened he said

“I asked my drill instructor ‘why?’ and he made me do push ups on asphalt on my knuckles until the drill instructor was tired”.

Honestly that was the only story I have about his time in The Marines. He didn’t talk about it after with me. I remember he was funny, compassionate and kind. He was always willing to help and I will miss him. We laughed a lot at family gatherings and there was always a joke to be told. Loved spending time with him.

I was looking forward to talking with him when I went out there but he passed before we got a chance to talk. It was unexpected and I know he was anxious to get to his high school reunion but he didn’t make it.

He got interrupted.

So, that’s it for today. I hope I stirred a memory for you about someone long gone. Someone who gave part of or all of their lives to protect us and our freedoms. We remember Memorial Day for those who are not with us. For those who left for war and never made it home. For those who made it back but in the end were not the same.

We mourn but not without hope. We will see them again by the grace of Christ and I am looking forward to talking with my Uncle again.