"For those who have fought for it,

freedom has a flavor the protected will never know."

I heard Stevie say that one time. He believed it, as I do.

Stephen Simpson, holder of the Naval Combat Action Ribbon and the

Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry, fought for freedom a long time ago,

for someone else's freedom, not his,

and in doing so became a prisoner of his own past.

Stevie didn't grow up to be hard, though that's how he could have ended up.

Life wasn't all peaches and cream for him as a kid and it certainly wasn't

summer camp being a gunner on a patrol boat riverine, one of the

"river rats" of the brown water Navy in Vietnam.

That time he spent fighting for you, it hurt him, hurt him badly,

but it didn't turn him mean, did it?

Still, he didn't find freedom from that war upon his return.

Those who knew him will tell you how the memories that were burned

into him at eighteen moved him until the end,

making him yet another casualty of that war.

He's free now though, free of the memory he carried,

too silently for too many years,

free of the curse of the alcohol he used

to try to keep humping that rucksack of pain.

I'm sure Stevie has found a better place, a place

where that war can no longer find him, a place of peace at last.

Rest easy there, Brother; we'll look out for your Ethel.


Your Friend, Dave Connolly

11th Armored Cavalry, Rvn

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