It was a year ago in April when I first saw the name Tom Demunnick. I was visiting another Wolfhound in Florida, Mike Moschkin. for the Annual Vietnam/All Veterans Reunion in Melbourne.
Mike told me he had an email from this guy Tom something and didn't know what to do about it. I asked if I could look at it and I not only looked at it but after reading it I replied because he was there the same time I was in Nam.
As our communications grew, it was not only realized the we had been in the same platoon but that we called off the same names of men that not only we knew, but that both of us had been close.
Only problem was that we didn't remember each other. And for me that was ok. It was in the knowing that I was in touch with another that I shared foxholes with that was important.
Eventually, Tom sent me some photos and I recognized him right away along with others in the photos he sent.
One thing that stood out for me and that was that I needed to see him face to face. And I believe that no matter how we planned it, God was really in charge. I would plan trips in my head to make sure that if I could pull it off I would have to pass through his hometown in Illinois.
But, all the planning could not have topped the phone call I got from him on Friday July 23, 2004 telling me that he was in California and would be at my house in a day or two. Prior to the phone calls he had emailed me and phoned me that he was coming my way. And I was a nervous wreck from the start.
I felt I had time to get myself in a calm state since he was coming in a couple of days. And I drove the wife crazy because I couldn't sleep and I couldn't keep still . But, he foolded me. He called Saturday informing me that he was in Sacramento .
We made arrangements to have breakfast Sunday morning at 9:30. Once again, I don't sleep as much as I should as it is but I was up all night. I set the alarm clock, but, it was not necessary. I was up and dressed and outside pacing and as each car turned the corner my heart skipped several beats. I even got excited when a bicycle turned the corner.
From my house you could see the street and I tried to guess what kind of car he was driving. Then I saw this little grey car and was certain it was him and it was. He turned the corner yelling " Where can I park?" I motioned to where he could park and that's when my emotions took over.
He got out of the car and with a Wolfhound Welcome Home! and many, many hugs we looked into each other's eyes for the first time since 1967. We weren't being macho but, we held our tears. It wasn't about being strong. I know now we both reserved that moment .
We talked for a few minutes and were off to breakfast. We went to Lyons and it must have taken us about half-hour to forty-five minutes before we were able to order. We had so much catching up to do. As we ate and talked the waitress came over and told us that this couple had paid for our breakfast. We thanked them but, they were really thaking us.
Tom was only in town for the day and I was going to get as much in as I could and I believe he felt the same way. We left Lyons and went to Capitol Park to visit the Sacramento All Wars Memorial, The Firefighters' Memorial and the Sacramento Vietnam Veterans Memorial.
On our way to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial we ran into another Wolfhound here in Sacramento, Merrill Sellers and I was grateful for that in that Tom got to meet one of my best friends here in Sacramento. At the Memorial he also met Ken Nelson, a Marine and one of the last of the Memorial Watch who gave Tom a guided tour.
We went back in time over as many names, faces, places an situations as time would allow. We spent some time talking about June 3, 1967 when we lost many from our outfit including my best friend at the time, George D. Wallace. It is a date that has been with many of us who were there and has resurfaced as we try to face our war demons and find pieces to the puzzle.
We left the Memorial and returned to my house where we looked at pictures and videos and naturally we talked and talked and talked until it was time for him to leave. And once again we held back the tears and hugged and hugged and hugged. This time we verbalized the fact that we weren't going to cry.
As Tom drove off into the sunset my heart was sad and at he same time there was joy in knowing I was able to put my hands on only the second Wolfhound from my platoon since leaving Vietnam.
The tears finally came Monday night.
Wednesday August 4, 2004