For several years now Ive been looking for material on the web about the unit I was in while in Vietnam, the 2nd Battalion 34th Armor Division, attached to the 4th Infantry Division.
My tour of duty there still feels like unfinished business, though Im not sure why. Perhaps its because I pulled a short tour of duty in Vietnam having served my required two years of active duty before I finished my year in Vietnam. Now, going home certainly wasnt a bad thing, and I certainly had no love for the Vietnam War.
Unfortunately, I did love my platoon. I had trained most of those guys from the day they entered the Army six months before we left the states, knowing that we were headed for Vietnam as a unit. That kind of knowledge binds you together in a way nothing else ever can. My major concern in Vietnam was making sure that none of my men died, and none did while I was there. The problem was that they were all staying another six months, while I was going home.
Although I never told my mother and father who were having a tough time back at home, I volunteered to extend my tour of duty in Vietnam for six months. When I was told that I wouldnt be able to stay with my platoon, though, I told my CO that I was out of there. I didnt give a damn about the war, I only cared about the men in the 34th Armor Division, particularly those in the Mortar Platoon.
So, I left Vietnam with very mixed feelings. I tried to stay in touch after I came home, but that only lasted as long as the 1st sergeant was with the unit. As a result, I never really knew what had happened to the guys in my platoon. That uncertainty, more than anything, has haunted me over the years. It kind of reminds me of a line from Huck Finn when he says, But that’s always the way; it don’t make no difference whether you do right or wrong, a person’s conscience ain’t got no sense, and just goes for him anyway.
Until a couple of nights ago I had found nothing on the web, but Tuesday night I found several sources on the net. I was so fascinated that I forgot to go to bed. There was page after page of material from the old unit.
Symbolically, there at the bottom of the page called MOST WANTED 2/34th Armor MEN is my old name Loren A. Webster 1LT ? ?
Even the question marks somehow seem appropriate. No unit, no date. Just a question mark, the appropriate symbol for all those lost years. As if someone else knew that after all these years theres still something missing.