These "empty chairs" sit at the table which is the life of Tom Dier


          I have been to The Wall twice. The first time was in 1992. When The Wall was first constructed, I decided that I would someday visit. Washington, DC is only about an 8 hour drive from my home in East Tennessee, but it was very hard to get away during those years.
          What I did was write the names of the men I knew - whose names would appear on The Wall- on to a sheet of paper and placed it in my billfold. During those nine or ten years I probably changed billfolds 2 or 3 times.
          I am a painting contractor so billfolds are always getting messed up. So, after ten years, one can imagine how tattered that same little piece of paper with the names became.
          Finally, I told my wife that we should go and we did. It is hard for me to explain the feeling and I don't know if I can put it into the proper words to be understood.
          The whole time I had been home from Vietnam, it had always seemed that it had been someone else besides me who had actually gone there. A different person. When I took out that paper and started the process of finding the names on The Wall - one by one - it made me realize that I had been really been there. It is very hard to put into words.
          Seeing those names has a powerful effect, of course - even for those who have no familiar names to find there on The Wall. I was very glad to have my wife there with me, as she has always been there for me. She is a registered nurse and has always had a knack for asking the right questions and has always known when to be silent.
          One name on the paper wasn't to be found on The Wall. LT Aeschliman suffered a very bad head wound. Whenever I see James Brady I am reminded of the LT. I always pray that he has led a life as productive as Bradys.
          As one who has had the good fortune to go on living, I wish to say to the ones who didn't make it home that you will always be heroes in my heart.

To Fallen Comrades

Chaplain Phillip Nichols

          I had the good fortune to serve with Chaplain Nichols in the Americal Division in 1970.
          There are stories of chaplains who performed hurried worship services in the field while a chopper circled overhead - waiting to whisk them back to the rear area. I witnessed this happen one time.
          Chaplain Nichols was not like this. In fact, he accompanied the different infantry companies of our battalion on operations in the field. He stayed for days at a time. He also made trips to LZ Stinson to perform memorial services. He attempted to cheer us up by bringing along his guitar.
          Chaplain Nichols was an unlikely looking soldier. For lack of a better description, he looked like a chaplain! Fair skinned with soft hands. He probably had the "greenest" uniform and the newest looking boots.
          It was during an operation with one of our sister companies (either Alpha or Bravo) that he was killed, along with several others, by a land mine.
          A story I heard was that prior to his last trip to the field, he tried to call his wife from the Mars Station in Chu Lai, but couldn't get through.
          I often think of how special it would have been if his wife had known.
          Phillip Nichols gave his life in service to his fellow man.

'Empty Chairs' Homepage