These "empty chairs" sit at the table which is the
life of Tom Dier
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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
had the good fortune to serve with Chaplain Nichols in the Americal
Division in 1970.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
often think of how special it would have been if his wife had
Nichols gave his life in service to his fellow man.
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