Just as we were finding our place in Los Angeles and
heaving a sigh of relief to be out of the Bible Belt with its
restrictions and conservatism, the Vietnam War broke
out, and Frank was getting drafted.
To avoid the rice paddies, he joined the Navy in 1966 and
was sent to the USS Ticonderoga, a World War II aircraft
carrier that had been refitted during the Korean War, and
earned three Navy Unit Commendations, one Meritorious
Unit commendation and 12 battle stars.
It was the first time we'd been apart since we married,
and it was very difficult for both of us.
When the ship returned to San Diego in 1967 we moved
to Coronado, but we had just been there a month when
there was a dockworkers' strike and the ship was moved
to Bremerton, Washington. Captain Ward Miller,
concerned about the dependents, let them travel up the
coast on the ship, with the wives taking the berths
vacated by the air wing. Kissing each other goodnight in
front of a Marine guard recalled the dorm in college.
In a talent show to pass the time onboard, Frank and I
sang "The Cruel War."
Later that year the ship went back to Vietnam and I returned
Frank performed well, as he always had done, and I kept
working, this time writing publicity for Pepperdine to be able
to get my degree.
Frank got off the ship in 1969, and we moved across country
to Washington, D.C. He finished his Navy hitch as a writer for
the all-Navy magazine All Hands. Returning to Los Angeles,
Frank graduated from UCLA in 1972. The war didn't end until
This year, Kathy shared a book with me called The
Sympathizer, a novel by Viet Thanh Nguyen, which presents
the war from the Vietnamese perspective.
It also gives a fictionalized account of the making of Francis
Ford Coppola's movie, Apocalypse Now, starring Marlon
Brando and Martin Sheen. As soon as I finished reading the
book, I watched the movie again.
It presents the war with Americans in the leads and
Vietnamese only in nameless roles.
|The October issue of my website is the sixth chapter of my memoirs, which I’m publishing between now and the end of
the year. The fifth chapter was the story of our move to South Los Angeles in 1965 and what we learned in the city.
This month's installment tells about the Vietnam War that took Frank away while I stayed in Los Angeles to graduate from
Pepperdine College (Frank graduated from UCLA after he left the Navy), the arrival of our children Kathy and Robert, and
my work as a writer and editor at 20th Century Christian Magazine.
Your thoughts, reactions and reminiscences are always welcome. Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Frank's ship USS Ticonderoga (left) and his promotion to
Journalist 2nd Class (right).
The book, The Sympathizer (far left),
by Viet Thanh Nguyen (center left) and
poster for movie Apocalypse Now