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The Tremendous Grit and Sacrifice of Brave Men

The tragedy of American veterans returning from Vietnam.

May 26, 2023  0


Obviously, here in the United States, this is Memorial Day weekend, where we honor those who gave the last measure in defense of freedom.

One war in the history of wars involving U.S. fighting men, the Vietnam War, comes with a black stain, and it is beyond time to talk about it. It was unpopular because the news media took advantage of turbulent times and began pushing the "America sucks" narrative, even going so far as to lambast our soldiers as "killers of children."

It was in those days that the Democrat politicians of today, like John Kerry, started cutting their teeth on the anti-American messaging. It was the first time that they aligned with media on a large scale and began pushing what has now, 50 years later, become their foundational message: America is bad.

But what about the experience of those young men who came home to scorn and ridicule because the media had labeled them as reprehensible (lies, of course)? If I sound like I have a dog in this fight, it's because I do. As many of you might know, I grew up in a U.S. military family.

Those ungrateful politicians climbed over the bodies of our returning servicemen.

My dad was in the Air Force and stationed in the Philippines during the last years of the war. The American POWs were flown from captivity to freedom and processed at Clark Airbase before being put on flights that eventually landed at Travis Air Base in northern California, where we were stationed stateside.

For quite a few weeks, servicemen were flown into Travis and processed out of the military. I saw quite a few of those planes landing. The young men — who had seen their brothers blown up and shot — were not monsters. They were young, brave guys who got caught in the crossfire of the beginning of the tearing down of America.

And, having achieved veteran status, were then dumped on by the still-forming communist contingent known as the Democratic Party. Those ungrateful, scheming politicians climbed over the bodies of our returning servicemen, as well as the "KIAs," to advance themselves and their emerging communist agenda.

But what about the soldiers' time in the jungles of southeast Asia, when the reality of war hit them smack in the face — modern warfare. Many turned to the Faith, not shocking given their location and oftentimes fragile grip on life.

The Faith was brought to them by brave clergymen like Fr. Vincent Capodanno, a Maryknoll missionary and Navy chaplain killed in action in a Marine Corps infantry unit on Sept. 4, 1967. His nickname from the admiring troops was "the Grunt Padre."

The native New Yorker (Staten Island) volunteered to go into hellish battle where many Marines had already been killed but many more were severely wounded following a sneak attack by a very large force of North Vietnamese communists.

He moved about the fallen, unarmed, blessing the bodies of the dead and giving last rites to those who needed them. He was shot and wounded in the hands, arm and leg, but refused medical evacuation, instead being patched up and going back into the slaughter that evening.

He was ministering to two wounded Marines and a Navy corpsman only yards from a machine gun nest when he was cut down and killed. He was later awarded the Medal of Honor posthumously, but more importantly, his cause of sainthood was opened in 2002.

On Memorial Day 2006, his designation as "servant of God" was formally announced in Washington, D.C. In 2019, Fr. Capodanno was officially credited with the healing of a Florida woman with M.S.

Last year, the Vatican halted the proceedings, concerned that his actions showed more military bravery than religious fervor. Why are those necessarily at odds? King St. Louis died fighting the Muslims during the Crusades.

Anyway, the postulator of the cause is fighting vigorously to overcome those concerns. In the meantime, we'd like to show you something. It was provided to us by long-time supporter, good friend and Vietnam chopper pilot vet Paul Nick.

Its an AP photograph of what is strongly believed to be Fr. Capodanno offering Mass in the midst of battle. We can't be 100% certain, but all indications seem to be that this is him. In the absence of modern technology, this is a unique "no do-overs" picture of God in the midst of war, with his priest bringing him to the fighting men.

Notice that Mass is being offered on top of ammo and rations boxes, with the Marines on their knees. That CH-53 is bringing in more ammo and taking out the dead and wounded, and right there in the midst of the carnage and confusion and killing, God is present.

Is this what they died to protect?

Without getting into too much detail, one reason it's believed that it is Father is the dating of the picture — the CH-53s were in service during a narrow window of time and locale, and that corresponds to Father's time and location in the war.

In addition, it greatly resembles him, so what are the odds that it could be another priest that looks like him in that time and place in the middle of a war zone, offering Mass?

But even if, by some slim chance, it isn't, the picture still represents the dedication of our Catholic clergymen and the brave warriors willing to lay down their lives.

This Memorial Day weekend, let this image sear into your minds, and offer prayer for not only Father and the dozens of young Marines cut to ribbons in that battle, but all of our fallen, who gave everything they had to defend this nation.

And then ponder on the madness the nation has descended into at the hands of commies, and ask yourselves, "Is this what they died to protect?"

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