What is war really like? It’s something I find myself wondering whenever I talk to a veteran who’s been through one. It was no different when I sat down with Army vet Bob McLaughlin. As he told me his story (he had to hold back tears at one point; I drove away from the American Legion after the interview sobbing), I couldn’t stop myself from trying to imagine things as he must have seen them…as a teenager fighting in the Vietnam War.
Thanks to Bob and many others, I’ll likely never have an answer to my question. They fought so that those at home would not have to know what war is like. I don’t want to take up too much more of this post with my words. When it comes to veterans, I get weepy and melodramatic. Anyway, this is Bob’s story. Not mine.
This is a veteran’s story.
Today, Bob is actively involved in the veteran’s community here in Fresno. At 68, he is vice commander of the Military Order of the Purple Heart, Chapter 102. He’s 2nd vice commander of Post 509 of the American Legion and a member of Veterans of Foreign Wars, Post 8900. Bob also serves on the board of the Veterans Home of California in Fresno.
Thank you, Bob, and all veterans and active military servicemen and women. And thank you to the vets in my life: My late grandfather, Art Gilbert, who served in the Army during World War II; my cousin James Gilman who fought in Iraq and is still overseas; family friend and Vietnam vet Paul Ratto; And all the guys from my alma mater, Buchanan, who fought, many of whom gave their lives.
If you have a veteran you’d like to thank, please leave a comment. Tell their story and yours. I’d love to hear them. Thank you vets!