As a disabled, decorated Vietnam veteran and admirer of the work that Steve Banko has done on behalf of all veterans, I offer you my thoughts and experiences from 30 years ago today.
Like Steve Banko, I served in Vietnam in 1968.
Like Steve, I received multiple machine-gun wounds and was also blown up with a grenade.
Like Steve, I woke up in an evac hospital awaiting word on which one or both of my legs was going to be removed, as I watched the doctors wheel whole soldiers into the operating room and amputees out.
Like Steve, I remember several officers and a nurse standing over me deciding my fate. Those officers and nurse were the most important people in my life that day. That nurse convinced one major not to schedule me for amputation that day, but to give her another day to bring the infection down before making the decision. She irrigated my wound all that night and the following day that major decided to wait, to see if my progress continued.
Like Steve, I would like to remember their names. I have tried to remember their names in order to thank them but, like Steve, I cannot. I would give anything to thank that nurse personally for doing her job in the line of duty and beyond.
Unlike Steve, I did not come home and champion the cause of fallen comrades and their families.
Unlike Steve, I did not work tirelessly to erect the Vietnam memorial and countless other veterans' programs. Steve has worked with every organization known to serve veteran's causes and worked to bring dignity and assistance to any and all who would ask for or need it.
Many of us have stood in the shadows of Vietnam not willing to pay the price of remembering those days of our youth. Steve has done it faithfully for us. So we have been able to move on.
Let's set the record straight and give him his formal general orders for his distinguished service to his country. God knows Steve has earned it -- both in battle and as a dedicated civilian veteran's advocate.
Michael R. Militello Snyder