Rushville Republican

September 12, 2012

Columnist brought back memories


Rushville Republican

RUSHVILLE — Dear Editor:

Paul Barada's column titled, "The Vietnam War and the liberal media" brought back many personal memories.

My brother, Bill Oster, joined the U.S. Marines after we graduated from RCHS in 1967. While some were doing whatever it took to avoid the draft and military service (liberal media?), Bill enlisted before high school graduation. There was no doubt where he was going after boot camp, and he looked forward to the challenge.

When he came home on leave before shipping out, Bill put on his dress blues to show us how magnificent he looked. In fact, he probably made sure most of the population of Rushville saw him, too!

Our town was something of a warm, fuzzy cocoon during the Vietnam War.

Citizens were proud of the boys serving in the military, and there were articles almost daily in the local paper with information about who was where with what branch of the military and for how long. There was no protesting. Families supported each other and kept spirits high.

Bill was a prolific letter writer to many back home; my folks got a letter nearly every week during his two tours in Vietnam. Care packages went out to him regularly as well, and not just from our house. People called my folks to see how Bill was doing. They cared.

While Bill was literally fighting for his life in Operation Allen Brook with the 3/27, I was a student at Purdue. It was here that I came face-to-face with the way much of the outside world viewed the war. I was conditioned not to watch the evening news because of the graphic footage from Vietnam; Mom and Dad always turned it off. We knew that Bill was usually in the worst of the fighting, and we couldn't bear a chance sighting of him hurt, captured, or dead. So, I was somewhat buffered from the sights and sounds of the war, yet I still had the gnawing ache of worry one has when a loved one is in harm's way. But, I believed my job right then was to be a productive student. Some didn't feel that way at all. To them, college was an excuse to avoid the draft for as long as possible and to keep things stirred up for everyone else.

The protesters I was exposed to were not loud and violent like the ones who received lots of air time on the major networks; they would sit in circles on grassy areas of campus under the influence of whatever. Their form of protest was to cut class, and their favorite diversion was to call out to students on their way to class begging them to join their happy band to protest the war.

I was absolutely enraged the first time this happened to me, and the protesters knew exactly how I felt when I stomped away! Not only was my older brother away fighting, but my parents were making financial sacrifices for me to be in school.

After two tours of duty, Bill returned home in the spring of 1970. There was no parade, no big party. I think our biggest celebration was that he came back alive. Bill went about the business of living a normal life againÉhe traveled in his new car all over the place, got a job, found his dream girl, and even went to college for a while. He was saving to buy some land to farm. Bill never talked about his experiences in Vietnam except with a small group of friends who were also Vietnam vets. I had hoped that he would eventually talk to us about what happened over there.

We never had that opportunity. After Bill was diagnosed with cancer (probably as a result of Agent Orange), he died on Good Friday in 1973.

And, he undoubtedly lived more in his short years than most of us do in a

long life time.

Always be proud of our military men and women. Honor them and keep their

memory alive when they are gone. One way you can do this is to VOTE.

Vote your conscience and not what the media feeds you!

Sincerely,

Marty Oster Connerly

Rushville