Two Heroes

Discussion in 'Patriot Guard Missions' started by R_W_B, Apr 15, 2011.

  1. R_W_B

    R_W_B Senior Member

    If I may I would like to post two guys that I grew up with in my 2 block wide neighborhood. The links after each show their data on the Viet Nam Wall.

    The first one Johnnie, I was especially close with his entire family. Johnnie and I were part of a group of about 10 guys that hung out together. We were in the same Boy Scout troop, went to the same schools, boxed with those same cheap sears boxing gloves, went camping together and went to see the movie Swiss Family Robinson, together. I can still remember his smile. Johnnie was a bit of a wild teenager, he got into some trouble at the very beginning of our senior year of high school and the way I understood it, they let him off with a lesser record if he would join the service, which he did.
    It wasn't long after his stateside training that he was killed in action in Vietnam. We took off from school to go to his funeral. I used to see his brother Billy (who also served in Nam) around town, but it has been over 15 yrs now since I've seen him since he moved to neighboring town. So here's to you Johnnie, a Marine that gave all in every facet of life, I will always remember you buddy.
    Johnnie Harold Beasley, Private First Class, United States Marine Corps
    MOS: 0311: RIFLEMAN
    Home of Record: Lakeland, FL, Date of birth: 01/19/1950
    Start Tour: 03/16/1968, Incident Date: 05/05/1968, Casualty Date: 05/05/1968
    Age at Loss: 18, Location: South Vietnam, Casualty Type: Hostile, died outright
    Casualty Reason: Ground casualty, Casualty Detail: Gun or small arms fire

    URL: PFC Johnnie Harold Beasley, Lakeland, FL | The Virtual Wall Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall , ON THE WALL Panel 55E Line 002
    The next one I also had known since I was quite young was Eli. Eli did finish high school before joining the service. I remember Eli bought a Honda shortly before he moved away after graduation. I did not hear from him again. I did talk to his sister once and she said he was killed in some sort of equipment accident. Both of these brave fellers gave their lives before I every was called to go into the Army. Rest easy Eli, your efforts were honored years later after you left us.

    Eli Whitney Knighton Jr, E-4, United States Army
    MOS: 36K20: Tactical Wire Operations Specialist
    Home of Record: Minneola, FL (he moved from Lakeland shortly before joining service)
    Date of birth: 09/27/1950
    Start Tour: 12/21/1968, Incident Date: 07/24/1969, Casualty Date: 07/24/1969
    Age at Loss: 18, Location: South Vietnam, Casualty Type: Non-hostile, died of other causes
    Casualty Reason: Ground casualty, Casualty Detail: Other Causes

    URL: SGT Eli Whitney Knighton, Jr, Minneola, FL | The Virtual Wall Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall , ON THE WALL Panel 20W Line 040
  2. lorne

    lorne Senior Member


    i am Glad that your friends are posted on a place where they can be remembered and honored, indefinably. my prayers for your friends

    i worked in Georgia (FSU not the state) a few years ago. and in one of the larger towns they had a wall with places on of the young men who were lost during WWII. it was unkept and visited by very few, i asked one of the locals why. they said that they did what they could but did not have any money for repairs. volunteers would cut the grass (more like weeds) maybe a couple times a year, if it snowed no one cleaned it off (they were to busy trying to keep warm). most of the families still lived in that town
  3. Rubyred

    Rubyred Senior Member

    Dave, Thanks for remembering these two brave patriots. We all need to reflect sometimes to help ourselves. You will be remembered also.
  4. R_W_B

    R_W_B Senior Member

    Well I received a nice forwarded email this morning from a someone, so just thought I would share it. In trying to decide where I should post it, I decided to post it here in the thread dedicated to my two childhood friends who lived during a different time. A time when it was considered .... ' doing something with your life ' .... if you went to college, which thereby made you exempt from the draft into military service during your enrollment. My memory is failing in other areas but it seems there was some kind of deferment for being married with kids also, but can't remember for sure about that one.

    Needless to say in an unpopular war most who could afford it (and made good enough grades) were in college. The rest of us ' misguided no account ' types were eligible for being drafted. Yea I guess I'm being a bit dramatic, but none the less it is truthfully the way it was then as far as facts go. True some did volunteer then. Actually I volunteered because I knew I was soon up on the list anyhow (they would actually let you look at it down at the draft board).

    I can remember feeling like football players etc were the heros, soldiers ...... well we were just dorking looking guys that always wore our civilian clothes off base. Anyhow now days things are different and the soldiers volunteer and they sign up for it. And I guess a lot of folk prolly feel like, heck that's what they signed up for, so what all the repetitive going on about it.

    And admittedly it is a bit overwhelming sometimes now days to see just how much people go on and on about soldiers and Vets. But really if you are like me, you have this feeling in your heart, actually it's kinda like also in your gut, where you just can't help but love these soldiers. I don't really know how to explain it, it's just there. And no matter how much hooplah I see about people swooning over a group of soldiers returning home at the airport, to me it makes a heck of lot more sense than if I watch them swooning over some athelete making 5 to 20 million a year, trying to get an autograph from them.

    Just a lot of feelings with all this stuff, especially for an old man. Anyhow here is yet another story about a someone showing their feelings for Soldiers. And it's going to be my bag lunch to Johnnie and Eli.

    -------forwarded email ->

    "If you don't stand for something, you will fall for anything."

    Sack Lunches:
    I put my carry-on in the luggage compartment and sat down in my assigned seat. It was going to be a long flight. ' I'm glad I have a good book to read. Perhaps I will get a short nap,' I thought.

    Just before take-off, a line of soldiers came down the aisle and filled all the vacant seats, totally surrounding me. I decided to start a conversation.
    'Where are you headed?' I asked the soldier seated nearest to me.
    'Petawawa. We'll be there for two weeks for special training, and then we're being deployed to Afghanistan.

    After flying for about an hour, an announcement was made that sack lunches were available for five dollars. It would be several hours before we reached the east, and I quickly decided a lunch would help pass the time...

    As I reached for my wallet, I overheard a soldier ask his buddy if he planned to buy lunch. 'No, that seems like a lot of money for just a sack lunch. Probably wouldn't be worth five bucks. I'll wait till we get to base.' His friend agreed.

    I looked around at the other soldiers. None were buying lunch. I walked to the back of the plane and handed the flight attendant a fifty dollar bill. 'Take a lunch to all those soldiers.' She grabbed my arms and squeezed tightly. Her eyes wet with tears, she thanked me. 'My son was a soldier in Iraq ; it's almost like you are doing it for him.'

    Picking up ten sacks, she headed up the aisle to where the soldiers were seated. After we finished eating, I went again to the back of the plane, heading for the rest room. A man stopped me. 'I saw what you did. I want to be part of it. Here, take this.' He handed me twenty-five dollars.

    Soon after I returned to my seat, I saw the Flight Captain coming down the aisle, looking at the aisle numbers as he walked, I hoped he was not looking for me, but noticed he was looking at the numbers only on my side of the plane. When he got to my row he stopped, smiled, held out his hand and said, 'I want to shake your hand.' Quickly unfastening my seatbelt I stood and took the Captain's hand. With a booming voice he said, 'I was a soldier and I was a military pilot. Once, someone bought me a lunch. It was an act of kindness I never forgot.' I was embarrassed when applause was heard from all of the passengers.

    Later I walked to the front of the plane so I could stretch my legs. A man who was seated about six rows in front of me reached out his hand, wanting to shake mine. He left another twenty-five dollars in my palm.

    Upon entering the terminal, I saw the soldiers gathering for their trip to the base. I walked over to them and handed them the money. 'It will take you some time to reach the base. You might need another sandwich. God Bless You.'

    Ten young men left that flight feeling the love and respect of their fellow travelers. As I walked briskly to my car, I whispered a prayer for their safe return. These soldiers were giving their all for our country. I could only give them a couple of meals. It seemed so little...

    A veteran is someone who, at one point in his life, wrote a blank check made payable to 'The...United States of America.....' for an amount of 'up to and including my life.'

    That is Honor, and there are way too many people in this country who no longer understand honor period, much less in it's most elite form.'
    1 person likes this.
  5. sharpscuba

    sharpscuba Banned

    Dave, It has been an honor just to know that you and I share so many memories of our youth. Although we never served together I will always feel that you are one of my brothers that I shared each and every day good or bad. I like you feel the same about how back in that era I was just some poor kid from the projects that got caught up in the times admittedly, much of my own doing. I was never one for sports as I was just some scrawny little kid. When I put on that uniform I changed. No longer would I feel like I was trash. I became what the army was all about. The course of my destiny changed forever. Many have asked me throughout the years if I could do it over would I change it all. Even with all the health issues I have today I would undeniably say "NO"!
    The brotherhood of the American Soldier is worth all what we sacrificed. Yes it has been an Honor, it will always be an Honor to have served my Country. Today I stand proud as my Son does the same. He like us puts his life on the line each and every day not for money or the recognition of fame but for the Honor of being a soldier serving his Country.
    Without this tradition of Honor this Country will fall. God Bless the American soldier past and present!
  6. R_W_B

    R_W_B Senior Member

    Well we are brothers of Nam. Sorry if I don't make much sense sometimes, my mind is to some extent, stuck in the past and I seem to have trouble compartmentalizing somethings. It is funny (for lack of a more appropriate word) though how times and peoples attitudes change.

    I guess this stuff kinda sits on my mind due to my involvment in the PGR and also because currently our soldiers have been continually in Combat now for so many years it's starting to remind me of the Nam years when a similar time span scenario was playing. It's disturbing to me for them to be deployed for so many years now on seemingly the same mission, with no real solution in sight. Only thing more positive now is that there are much fewer KIAs than back then.

    Also the war in Afganistan is much more similar to the Nam scenario than Irag was. Irag was more urban. Afganistan is more small camps of men scattered throughout the areas, living in tents, connexes, bunkers etc, just like Nam.

    Another thing that weighs on me is the fact that I read much information on the current Afganistan conflict from all sources. And even though our soldiers (and our cash give aways) are helping the people of Irag and Afganistan. I just don't feel like those said people really appreciate it. I mean they will stick their hand out for sure, but do they really appreciate the blood being spilt to help them. And I don't agree with the total SOP either but then what soldier did or does huh.

    At least in Nam the south Vietnamese people were very appreciative of us. In fact I have often felt so bad for the Degar people (or Montagnards as they were many times called). These folks are not the Hmong people of Laos etc, but they are the Original Vietnamese that look more like the Aborigines of neighboring Australia. I know you remember them, since we found units of them to be of the best ARVNs in country. They were heavily intertwined with the early advisors and Special Op training units there. The US Army promised them for their alliance we would stand with them. I am sure most of them were executed (or worse) after we left.

    But in Afganistan (or Irag) I just don't have a real positive feeling about the continuing effort and blood being given. And I wonder where or how it is going to end. I still support the soldiers though, they are doing their jobs as always. And what the heck do I know anyhow, I didn't understand it all back then and I still don't understand it all now. Later..... brother.