Saturday, March 24, 2018

Coming home from Vietnam

Dad and I have been sharing Throwback Thursday photos on Facebook.1 Last week, I posted this old photo of his parents, John and Olive Otto (my Pappy and Bambi), standing next to a yard sign that was welcoming an Easton, Pennsylvania, resident home from U.S. service in the Vietnam War.

What's neat is that, when I posted this on Dad's Facebook page, we ended up hearing from the "Bob" who is being welcomed home by this sign. Mark Zuckerberg's invention is taking a lot of well-deserved flak and criticism these days, but it's an amazing way to connect with friends and family and our shared pasts and presents.

So, this is part of the exchange that ended up on Facebook:

  • John Otto: I believe this sign was for Bob Wasser. Easton PA. I’m guessing 1971.
  • Robert Wasser: Yes you are right. I came home from Nam in July of 1970.
  • John Otto: July 1970 I was at Camp Pendleton. My son Chris born 12/14/70 at Camp Pendleton hospital. I came home Nov. 1971. No sign for me.
  • Robert Wasser: There were so many guys returning home ... we gave this one to another family ... they just changed the name.

Of course, there were nearly 60,000 Americans who died in the Vietnam War and did not get to return home to signs such as this one. Overall, the most-accepted figure is that 1.3 million people (combatants and non-combatants) were killed during the 20 years of the conflict. Other estimates, however, place the death toll as high as 4 million.

Here's a closer look at Pappy and Bambi, much younger than my earliest memories of them.

1. OMG, I cannot believe that Throwback Thursday has its own Wikipedia page, which includes a subsection titled "How to use Throwback Thursday." It also includes this numbingly obvious section: "Similar to Throwback Thursday, Flashback Friday was a popular hashtag several months before Throwback Thursday was. Although both hashtags are similar, what makes them different is the days in which one can post a nostalgic picture. Flashback Friday is a second chance for social media lovers to upload a photo if they have forgotten on Thursday, or even for people to upload more vintage photos that allows them to share their content as many times as they want."

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