By Sharyn Earl
I grew up in a military family. Dad was an EOD (explosives ordnance disposal) officer who was sent to Vietnam in 1965-66 when I was 15. I was terrified that something would happen to him. Imagine watching the news every night, hearing about casualties, watching explosions and knowing your dad’s job is to dispose of bombs before they harm our troops.
My mom had to cope with living in a strange town with four kids while dad was deployed. Luckily, he came home uninjured. He was awarded an Oak Leaf Cluster to his Army Commendation medal for meritorious achievement in Vietnam.
As time went on, resistance to the war grew, and I listened to what they were saying. Guys in my generation were getting drafted and dying in Vietnam. That seemed wrong to me. I grew up thinking that serving your country was a duty, but I also believed in freedom of choice. The draft curtailed freedom and seemed weighted towards taking those who couldn’t afford student deferments.
Not all men are cut out to be soldiers, and some men will only be soldiers when they feel they have to be. I knew that if I’d been a boy, I would be facing the decision of whether to join the military or not. I was torn.
Dad and I had a lot of arguments about the War in Vietnam. Dad retired from the Army as a Major in 1967, and I’m glad he retired, when he did. He surely would have been sent on another tour of Vietnam. He had already earned two Purple Hearts from fighting in the Korean War. That was enough. I am proud of my dad and his service. I’m glad he is still with us.