Years ago my wife and I attended her high school reunion (Princess Anne High School in Virginia Beach, VA). It was fun, but nothing we placed onto our periodic calendars. I do not know if the University of South Carolina Class of ’74 meets for reunions and my Brown family reunion is a hit and miss for us. But shortly after 9/11 we attended the first reunion of the 6924th Security Squadron. Since that therapeutic and wonderful occasion, my wife and I have been faithful attendees of this annual event. I now trade in my SwaimBrown logo for a week each year and proudly wear my Air Force logo from years ago. This week as I wrapped up the SCACPA PIU presentations, I traded hats and will be attending the reunion in Nashville, Tennessee.
Our unit was organized in Da Nang in the Peoples Republic of South Viet Nam. In less than a 10 year period many young men were assigned to this top secret Air Force unit. All of our activity has long been declassified and we speak openly each year of the challenges we encountered as young men serving in a difficult period of the history of our country. I was a North Vietnamese radio intercept operator and crypt analyst. We listened to the enemy and supplied live and timely translations of their communications. I have often said that in lieu of an M-16, I had a radio as my weapon and translation abilities as my ammunition.
We were just young men at the time. Our homes were dotted all across America. Most of us had only recently graduated from high school. I was 19 upon my first combat mission and 21 on my last. Most of us came home after our one year tour. Some did not. We played a lot of pinochle and drank a lot of beer. We wrote letters home and shared gift baskets mailed from our mothers and wives. We had no air conditioning, e-mail or CNN. News (snail mail) from home was about two weeks old. We were basically unaware of the protests back in the “real world”. We took malaria tablets and from time to time ate from C-Ration cans. Each of us counted the DTG’s (days to go) as our one year tours wound down. We played volleyball. We only got a new movie at the local outdoor theater about once a week. The town was off limits, which did not allow us to meet the local citizens. We had a housekeeper for our barracks, which was our only contact with those we were protecting. We were given a one week R&R (Rest and Recuperation) with free air travel to and from about 5 locations of our choice – mine was Hawaii. We also got one day off every three weeks, but who needed time off in an environment like this? And of course, like all who served, we encountered deadly rocket attacks.
So this week, I will be spending time with some dear friends. We will reflect on times past. We will share a few special private moments, as we reflect on those who did not come home alive. But mostly we will share wonderful memories and simply extend and mature our sense of patriotism. Our numbers dwindle each year. Our history has been recorded, and a little slice of our past that profoundly molded and defined our future will once again dwell deep within our souls.
While I am away, I ask my fellow CPAs to keep the debits on the left and credits on the right. And please remember as you see young men and women in uniform, to tell them “thank you”.
Blogger: Charles ‘Eddie’ Brown, CPA