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On the flight line in formation young soldiers stand four abreast
Preparing to board an aircraft which would carry them west.
To California, Japan and with a final destination of Vietnam,
Many of these young soldiers only a year ago were at their high school prom.

Young warriors now sent to fight a war in this far away Asian land,
Soon they would witness death and destruction first hand.
Some volunteered while others were drafted to serve.
They were told the mission was for freedom to preserve.

The conditions they encountered were like nothing they had ever seen;
The heat, the rain, the elements were nothing short of mean.
If all went well in eighteen months their tour of duty would end
Then the military would select another group of young replacements to send.

In this war, like those before so many young lives were taken.
Others came home, but for many their lives were forever shaken.
What was it for; this battle some refused to call a war?
Whatever it was it was not worth the cost in lives we bore.

Now senior citizens are these brave Vietnam era souls.
More recent wars have taken soldiers and rendered their own tolls.
What is different now than it was back then?
Those returning from the battle are not treated as if they had committed a sin.

Kent Fletcher
June 2013

This poem is specifically dedicated to those brave men and women who honorably, gallantly and bravely served their country during the Vietnam era. Thank you for your service and may God Bless you.


Kent Fletcher retired as Deputy Chief of the Durham NC Police Dept.  He served with that department for 301/2 years.  He is a graduate of the 162nd session of the FBI National Academy and has an AA and BS degree in Justice Administration from Guilford College.  He served with the US Army, 1970 -1976 as a medic.  Writing short stories and poetry has become a part-time hobby.  He can  be reached at

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