Songs and Flashbacks!



John Hacker, Magnolia Greens-Vietnam Veteran

That song…” See the tree how big it’s grown,” what is that, I thought.

“But friends, it wasn’t very long ago, it was just a twig.”

I woke up in a panic, I reached for my rifle, my rifle always by my left arm.

It wasn’t there,

“She was kinda dumb and kinda smart….”

I opened my eyes wide, and propped myself on my elbows, again trying to find my rifle, but it wasn’t there.

“And honey I miss you”

What the F**K, where am I?

“And I love to be with you if only I could” …

I looked around, I was in a bunk bed. I looked down at my body, naked albeit my green boxer shorts and dog tags, with my Saint Christopher medal.

The song was on the radio a few bunks from me. Other men were walking around, getting dressed after their shower.

“My life is an empty stage where Honey lived and honey played”.

I saw I had no rifle, no dirty uniform, no helmet, I was clean, fresh, I was Safe.

SAFE? I realized I was no longer in Vietnam; I was in a clean bunk in Barracks in Fort Lewis Washington.

It was August 12th, 1968, I had survived “the Nam”.

“And see how big the tree has grown…”

We always talked about the world, but made no plans while in Vietnam. Never shared dreams about the world, afraid of jinxing our chances of survival, but here I was, safe, clean and listening to Bobby Goldsboro.

How did I get here?

Let’s go back 705 days

That’s when my world changed.

Draft day is a time for celebration and a time to see if your sports team will get a star and make the home team better. Like I said, a time for celebration, hopes and a few beers.

But draft day for me came in 1968, and it was not a time for celebration and joy.

My draft came in a letter from the president of the United States.

My mother had placed the very impressive letter on the kitchen table, like she had always done when I received any mail. I usually got home after 9pm each day since I went to school in the mornings and then worked at Woolworth’s store in San Jose till closing time at 8pm each night.

Now because the envelop was posted from the President of the United States, my dear mother knew what it was all about. So, she waited patiently for my arrival that night.

When I did get in, I went straight to the phone to make my evening call to my girlfriend Jean, as I had done every night.

But tonight, was different, she came from the bedroom, and quickly motioned me to put the phone down and come to the kitchen table.

At first, I started to think what had I done wrong? Could find a fault, so came to the kitchen table.

She picked up the Envelop and handed it to me.

“Open it” is all she said.

With that well known tone of hers, you did not ask why, you just did what she wanted you to do.

I looked at the envelope, I was impressed, I admit. I had never seen such a grand envelope for me and from the PRESIDENT of the United States.

Mother was getting impatient.

So, I quickly opened the envelope and slid the neatly folder letter out, I unfolded it and started to read it to myself.


“What does it say Johnny?” she demanded.

The only time my mother called me Johnny was when she was upset with me.

I read the first line out loud, “Greetings from the President of the United States”.

Game over, mom blurted, “Not my Boy, God”

Now I thought it was pretty cool.

Dad strolled in from the bedroom, smiling at me.

“Congratulations son, you have been drafted.”