In the spring of 1969 I started thinking about the draft. Many of my schoolmates from Buchser High School were getting a “Greetings” notice, which meant that they were to report for Military services. The Vietnam War had started five years earlier. Many lives were being lost; the list of classmates not returning had grown to a dozen. Boys that I grew up and played sports with were not coming back alive. One particular boy was named Bobby Bevard. We had been in school together for seven years. He was your All-American youngster, well liked by many. He excelled in sports and the girls loved his innocent charm. He was fun to be associated with. News of his death during the summer of 1969 travelled quickly through our small community in Santa Clara. It was now the end of September 1969 and I was going into the Army. Soon, I received my orders for Vietnam and knew that I would be walking in the footsteps of family and friends who did not make it home. My plane arrived in April 1970 and I was to be in Vietnam for one year with the 1st Calvary.
At the beginning of 1971, we were on patrol in an area called the Tay Ninh Province. I was well aware that this was the area where Bobby lost his life. Our company of 125 men had come out of the thick jungle and had cautiously approached a small village about five miles from our main base camp where there were about fifteen small straw hamlets. We took our time going through each one. Any of the huts could be hiding an enemy or have a booby trap. After the search, it was determined the village was quiet and deserted. At the end of the row of hamlets was a small wooden building with a cross on top — it was their chapel.
I was the first to come through the doors; two more soldiers followed. We entered with extreme caution. However the inside was clean and well taken care of. The pews were four seats wide with a narrow aisle separating the six or seven rows. The front had a small altar with a small wooden cross on the table. I, for one, felt a sudden sense of calm. I felt secure in this new area. I then noticed three plaques on the wall fifty feet across the room hanging proudly for all entering the small chapel to see. I couldn’t read the front of the plaques but something made me take a closer look. As I drew near I could see that they had printed the names of three soldiers they were honoring. On one plaque I could read the familiar name of my old classmate, Bobby Bevard. I was saddened, but yet smiled as I read his plaque. Bobby was so far away from home, yet remembered by a small village. I wanted to take that plaque home with me, but something told me that it was home. Bless you, my Brother.
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