But this one is different It isn't an introductory chapter, a conclusion or even a story about one class member. Yes, there is one story that dominates this chapter, but this is about more than just Jon Rumble.
This chapter is about what Vietnam meant to us. It's only half-written, because I still need more participation from you folks. Mostly I need people who knew Mike Sullivan, but that isn't all.
I want to hear from some of you -- even those who never went -- what Vietnam meant in your life.
So here is nothing more than the introduction to our chapter on Vietnam.
Here is "Forever Young."
"... be courageous and be brave, and in my heart you’ll always stay forever young."
Mike Scott thought he was aware of what was going on in the world.
His father took the first load of the Bell helicopters known as Hueys to Vietnam on his ship, the Iwo Jima. His brother walked ashore in Da Nang with the 9th Marine Expeditionary Force in 1965 and his neighbor, Bob Downing, came home severely wounded from a Claymore mine.
Mike himself was beginning to write and perform folk music, mostly about the civil rights movement. He figured he was a pretty talented artist and that he would someday work for General Motors designing cars.
He was 17, so of course "I knew the score about everything. I knew we were not sheltered at Woodson. We were so on top of everything. We could sit in the bars in Georgetown and look so cool drinking beer."
Then he went to Vietnam.
"And I knew," he said. "I had never known anything."
There are no complete records of how many members of the Woodson Class of 1967 went to Vietnam between 1967 and 1973. Some, like Mike Scott and Mike Willis, served and returned at the end of their tours to go on with their lives.
Two never made it back.
Jon Rumble was nearly at the end of his tour when he was killed on December 26, 1968, by small arms fire in Quang Nam. Mike Sullivan didn’t even arrive in Vietnam until almost a year later, and he had only been in country for four months when an explosive device on the ground killed him on March 11, 1970, in Quang Ngai.
Jon was 19 when he died, Mike 20.
They didn’t even live long enough to vote for or against the people who made the decisions that kept our country in Vietnam for so many years and cost us so many lives. As the rest of us moved on to middle age and past, as we lived through the final 30 years of the 20th century, they remain in our memories as they were in high school.