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April 24, 2010

One Insider's Vietnam Experience


He was a Marine. A grunt serving in Vietnam. In and out of leech infested muddy water and the strain of the constant noises were taking its toll. Hunched down in the bunker, he was calmed by memories of the hobby that had carried him through high school. There were rough pieces of wood splattered everywhere. He used his knife to whittle small animals. Then he needed more material to work with. It took work, but he pried a wooden post holding up his bunker without the whole thing caving. Back home he used whole telephone poles to carve tiki statues. It would take much work to transform corners into round and tiki god details. This eight foot beam would be his best tiki statue ever.

He was awarded a purple heart and shrapnel is still in his hand and neck. The award that meant more to him was a letter from the Smithsonian Institute. The tiki statue he carved and the story of how it came about was on display at the Institute.

This is a true story about my first husband. We had one baby at the time and he carried a picture of her inside his shirt every day he was in Vietnam. The tiki statue was on display throughout the Vietnam war and is now in storage at the Smithsonian Institute.

70 comments:

Bernie said...

A heart warming story, thank you for sharing......:-) Hugs

-Don said...

To be creative in the midst of such destruction must have been cathartic for him. Thank you for sharing this wonderful story. I'm glad his country has honored him for his service and for the work he created.

-Don

Ronda Laveen said...

What a beautiful story. And a legacy to leave behind for your children and their children. Wow!

LL Cool Joe said...

What a beautiful story and a reminder for all of us to never give up on our dreams. If we have a passion for something we should do it whatever it takes.

Ocean Girl said...

That was a touching story. How the war affected him, I guess, no one will ever really know, but I believe your daughter carry the story in her heart.

Brosreview said...

Very very, touching story! Thanks for sharing this!

Brian Miller said...

smiles. thanks for sharing that. what a neat little hobby, carving the figures. in the midst of the war much less.

tony said...

A Hero Inside & Outside.

Cinner said...

I am glad he was honored. I am glad he found something to take his mind off of the war even for a few moments.It saddens me when I hear of all the forgotten vets. thank you for sharing. hugs to you.

Sassy Pants Freckle Face said...

WOW,....
and,...
THANK YOU!

DJan said...

That is truly a heartwarming story. I feel unable to add anything original to the comments already received, so I'll just say... thank you for this treat.

anne h said...

Your beautiful story is a treat for sure.
And you are a treat.

Ms. Anthropy said...

A labor of love amidst a backdrop of war. Inspirational!

savannah said...

thank you, sugar. xoxox

Dave King said...

Fantastic story. I can't think of anything to say that would do it justice.

Jeanie said...

So much about that time evokes very despairing thoughts for me. This is a great story about a person's spirit triumphing over circumstance. Im glad he got recognition that was meaningful to him.

Kazzy said...

That was a great tribute to a hero. And I must say that the picture seriously choked me up. I just can't even imagine how hard that would have been...

Shadow said...

what a beautiful memory you have...

Kristina P. said...

Wow, what an amazing story.

Casey Freeland said...

Wow! Just Wow!

Pietro said...

Wonderful and moving story. Thanks for sharing!

terri said...

Wow!

heartinsanfrancisco said...

Oh, my, what an incredible story. To create art out of a bunker, yet, while surrounded by the devastation of war is surely as high as the human soul can reach.

The more I know of you, the more beautiful you become, too.

Unknown Mami said...

Wow! I love the stories you share.

lisleman said...

as the other readers said - thanks for sharing.

I'm curious about more of whole story but I know if you feel like sharing it you will.

Robert the Skeptic said...

Wonderful that he found comfort and strength in expressing his creativity.

Juli Ryan said...

I hope and pray my son never has to go to war like your first husband did. And I am grateful for your husband's service in those crazy times.

Stinkypaw said...

Nicely written and touching story.

Joanna Jenkins said...

Wow, that is really something Techno. Thanks for sharing.
jj

Lilly said...

A wonderful story. Brave and courageous like most of us could never imagine. And you were as well. It must have been very difficult for the families left waiting and worrying for their loved one. Lest we forget.

Eternally Distracted said...

What an amazing story...

I've missed you and your blog - but be warned. I'm BACK!

Joanna Cake said...

Such a small thing, but it must have been such an amazing comfort at such an awful time.

When I was younger, boys always used to whittle. These days our youngsters want penknives for a completely different purpose and it's very scary.

LadyFi said...

Fascinating... inspiring!

Ina in Alaska said...

That pictue is very haunting and beautiful. I looked at it for a while. I have visited the Vietnam Veteran's Wall in DC. There is quite a spirit there. Reading all the letters, seeing all the tributes left at the wall left me in tears. Very moving place. Glad your ex made it thru. My husband's brother made it but was damaged goods until the end of his days. xoxoxo

Enchanted Oak said...

Vietnam was so hard on the guys. I can't imagine. Thank you for this view into one man's experience.

Kathy M. said...

Wow. What an amazing story. I wonder what happened to him.

secret agent woman said...

That is truly a lovely story.

Mama Zen said...

What an amazing story!

Life with Kaishon said...

Wow. I love this story. And I Love that image. Amazing. I am so thankful for the men and women who fought for our country. What a honorable job.

Maggie said...

I bet that really helped him out while he was there.

Thank for sharing this story with us.

Hilary said...

What a beautiful and inspiring story. And what a wonderful way to keep himself sane through such an ugly experience. Thank you so much for sharing this.

Sniffles and Smiles said...

That is so amazing! What an inspiring story! And all the more poignant because of its connection to you! I'm so glad that his art found its way into the Smithsonian. It is truly wonderful to hear of honor bestowed on our veterans! You are a wonderful story-teller! This was truly inspiring! ~Janine XO

Shrinky said...

My goodness, what a moving tale. I can't imagine the horrors he must have seen. Seems that statue needs to be in the place it is, doesn't it?

Shadowthorne @ Ramzu Zahini said...

:) I would like to see the tiki-statues if you don't mind :)

jill said...

What a wonderful story that shows how our passions can get us through difficult times.

Stacy (the Random Cool Chick) said...

Wow, Techno! More layers of the onion... ;)

Jen said...

Too bad it's in storage. That would be nice to see still on display.

deb said...

Seriously !!

I don't even know what to say. I am honoured that you shared him with us. What a truly remarkable soul.

wow.

onlyoublog said...

What a powerful story and you wrote it so beautifully. I love that it is a story of creation and beauty during such an ugly time of destruction and hatred. I am so glad he was honored. Thank you for sharing this!

Jeni said...

Beautiful post! If you can imagine this after reading my blog, getting to "know" me a bit over the past 3 years or so, it leaves me darned near speechless! My initial reaction was just to sit back and all I could think of then was just "WOW!" Incredible story, that it is!

otin said...

That is an amazing story! I am really glad that you shared this!

blueviolet said...

Wow, what an amazing story. I'm so glad you shared it. *chills*

Owen said...

What a time... was just growing up while all that was going on. Such a waste. Names carved on marble. VA hospitals still not done taking care of the living. The walking wounded. With memories like time bombs.

"Come on all of you big strong men,
Uncle Sam needs your help again..."

Where next ? Iran ?

MikeWJ at Too Many Mornings said...

I am always amazed at what people do to get by in wartime, and your first husband's story is especially amazing. I'd like to see his Tiki someday.

Far Side of Fifty said...

A really hard war, it left many walking wounded..great that his tiki is in the Smithsonian:)

Andrey Dorokhov said...

Thank you for the picture and the story!

Zuzana said...

What a touching, poignant story. Beautiful writing about life when it is real and painful.
Congratulations on the POTW, well deserved.
xo

slommler said...

What a wonderful story. And I too am glad he was so honored.
Hugs
SueAnn

deb said...

congrats on the POTW.

and I meant to add before, that while I don't know the whole story about your first husband, I can't help but imagining that this deeply affected him afterwards as well?

that really in a sense is what makes it all the more gripping and poignant.

Syd said...

Thanks for sharing this story. It was a terrible time. What an honor to have his work displayed as part of history. I am sure that doing something familiar calmed him.

järnebrand said...

Beautiful and touching. Having his hobby and his good memories from back home made him get through those hard times. War - I can´t even imagine... Thank you for sharing this wonderful story with us.
Love/ Jo.

Daryl said...

That wall is an amazing piece of history and art ... and this story is as well .. Congrats on the POTW from Hilary

ellen abbott said...

Wonderful story.

So many didn't survive. so many that survived didn't survive for long.

Dianne said...

I remember the first time I went to the wall - the emotion is so powerful

The next time I go I will certainly remember this story and remember that there is always hope and beauty, even in the midst of war.

Thank you

Congrats on POTW

Moannie said...

I am honoured to be reading this beautiful story of a creative soul surviving the hell of war.
Thank you for telling it and thank you to Hilary at Smitten Image for finding it for us.

blunoz said...

Thanks for sharing this story, and congrats on POTW!

Merisi said...

Thank you for sharing this powerful story of war and the will to hold on to life through the creative spirit!
I have stood many times at the Vietnam memorial in DC, your picture is one, if not the best I have seen.

Thank you and thank you, Hilary, for bestowing the POTD award, congratulations!

Suldog said...

Truly way cool, T-Babe.

Congratulations on your POTW. Very well deserved.

CherylK said...

Oh my goodness, that's such a wonderful story. It had to be hard to share but I'm so glad you did. Hilary was right on the mark when she chose this post as POTW. Congratulations.

Julie said...

What an amazing story. It literally made chills go down my spine. I am in awe. I am so thankful for the people who have served and are serving. I was too young to remember much about Vietnam, but I've read about how badly the veterans were treated when they came home. I know people who were there, and I can't even imagine what they went through. I'm so glad he was honored by the Smithsonian.