from Neighborhood to 'Nam......and back.

Growing up in a close knit neighborhood during the ‘50s and ‘60s was not unusual, it was the norm. Friendships were long and the bonds were tight. Friends walked to school together; joined scouts together; played sports together; grew up together. They dated and married girls from the neighborhood. . .And, most of them went to war together, not as a group, but as single individuals….and those same friends parted ways for a time. Each moving on to a new phase of their life.

The neighborhood was ‘Kaisertown’, a Polish-American community on the far east side of Buffalo New York. . .the war was Vietnam.

This blog is a collaboration of stories and experiences from this group of men, childhood buddies, all now in their sixties, whose friendships have lasted a lifetime.

These are also recollections from those young men who stayed behind. . ’caretakers’, as you will, of the old neighborhood that was a part of them . . .keeping the memories alive until all returned.


Ralph: the Lighter

I’ll tell the story only once. . .

It was March or April of 1967, I was on an ambush outside of Phu Bai when we got in a firefight deep in the jungle, luckily we had no wounded. 

Later that day, I noticed that I had lost my lighter.

In June, I was in Kha Shan when I ran into a guy named Ledbedder, whom I hadn’t seen since boot camp.  He said that he remembered me and the first thing he asked was if I had lost a lighter. . .I told him that I did.  Next thing you know, he hands me my lighter.  “Where the hell did you find it?”, I asked.  He said that he was out on patrol when they ran into a North Vietnamese squadron, and after a firefight in the bush, he pulled it out of the pocket of one of the dead Viet Cong. 

That's it. . . nothing more to say, you don’t want to know the rest of the STORY.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I first heard this story at work when I was telling Lommer about my losing a lighter that I had engraved in Vietnam.

I lost my lighter about 30 or more years ago, not ever thinking that I'd see it again, but a few years back, my nephew, Kevin, came up to me at a family function and told me that he had something that belonged to me, that he had found on the inside of Grandma Kancar's couch when they were moving it. . . it was my lighter!!

Of course this story doesn't make the hairs on your arms stand up like Lommer's did to mine, but pretty remarkable all in all.