Preface: Title blatantly stolen from Steve Waterman’s book “Just A Sailor”. We met once and I have a signed copy. Kinda happy to give him a nod here.
This post may seem a bit of a whine, perhaps, but it is primarily just a sort of journal entry. It was suggested I post some Navy stuff and that process has been ‘interesting,’ and perhaps a bit painful at times.
I consider myself a Vietnam vet. Says so on my DD-214 as well. Still, the only VN mud I got on me was during a single trip to a bar in Da Nang. I can document being shot at by shore batteries and firing back. I can document helping to pick up downed aircrew in the Gulf of Tonkin. There is more similar, but I did my job well enough. Thing is… I was Just A sailor.
Of course there were sailors in the thick of things, from Corpsmen to SEALS, and others like Steve Waterman. I wasn’t one of them. I was Just A Sailor.
Came back to CONUS in May 1969. Arrived via SFO, in uniform, and was spit at and called a “Baby Killer.” But I was Just A Sailor.
Certain veterans groups said I didn’t qualify for membership back then. I was Just A Sailor.
Those last two items serve to highlight the one common area each and every Vet with a Vietnam Service Medal in their records share, the way we were dealt with when we came back and how we coped with that. I was painted with THAT brush as broadly as any other. Even tho’ I was Just A Sailor.
No two human beings standing side-by-side will experience even the simplest of things identically. That one saving grace, at least, makes me feel okay to call myself a ‘Nam Vet… even if I was Just A Sailor.