My daily routine, and now that my military service is endin' ( time is short ) as we would say, while we check off another day on the calender routinely to indicate how soon that day will arrive - my ETS Day! The day I can say my service is completed. You may think this story is about my last days in the armed forces, only you would be wrong, this story is about a special day and by complete surprise!
I remember one day as more special than any other cause while markin' my calender a messenger appears in our barracks with a memo an to announce that all soldiers in the entire Bregide are ordered to be present at such an such hour, an in full dress uniform so ordered by our full bird Colonel our base commander! There weren't much time to prepare as that announcement came near noon an the assembly of all troops were to take place at twelve o'clock! This would upset my routine cause I'd have too polish my shoes an my brass belt buckle, these things I did only for special events and for inspections. The word got out that this special event was mandated by our camander whom will be present, too present a speech an award a soldier among us metals for bravery, someone that served in Viet Nam with no mention of whom this soldier's name had been givin' thus talk that sparked curiosity an name guessing we all involved ourselves, whom among ourselves? I'm thinkin' it had to be James or Don, cause they had served in Nam an always talked about the war, unlike myself, as I never did speak about it, the only people that knew I'd been there wer the commander and the file clerk as I wer transfered to this unit a short while an I really hadn't been personal with anyone there, so much so I can not remember a single name but one captain whom I didn't like.
The assembly of my entire Battalion was a sight to see indeed, with bussel an hussel to get into place we wer laughin' at the new GI Joe's handelin' their weapon as if it were a broom-stick. Now our base commander steps forward to the podium to make his speech! We all stood at-ease position as he explained why he wanted the entire Brigade ( Five Battalions) to be present as he went on for ten minutes, an continued his speech while suffelin' papers fer another thirty, still not a word of the soldier, the name, we all were there to hear! I looked around, an as far as my eye could see their wer heads in hats, dress uniforms with shiny brass, as long and as deep into the rows, like a parade had been put on hold, a moment in time when the clock stopped, all troops frozen stiff! I chuckled at that sight: "We all listened an more intense as to all of the unbelievable stories the commander read" with emotion an gestures to drive home his points about this no-name action soldier he had forgot to mention all of this time, we heard three incredible acts of bravery about this soldier an everyone there wanted to see this solider as I could hear the whispers throughout the ranks ( Who is this guy? ) (Is he here somewhere?) wer' some of what was in the air so to speak.
Then the order came ~ A-ten-tion ~ as everyone snapped to it! He went on; May I have the pleasure to introduce you all to one Specialist ~ Perry Campanella; Please come forward, up here to me, so that I may present you with your medals, en solute you Sir. I had been taken totally by surprise with his announcement of my name bein' called an my unit wer too! Movein' through the ranks as men wer wantin' to shake my hand an pat me on the back, a most humblin' experience to say the least, as I hussled to that platform to salute an shake the Colonel's large strong hand!... Again! He ordered all the troops present, too salute. After which he pined all three bronze star medals with 'V'devise on my uniform as I stood at atention an again our base commander did shake my hand, another order at-ease an the band played as the troops moved out in parade fashion for his review, while each group did salute when passin' the stage and we saluted back. I would then have a brief personal chat an I'd been invited to a private dinner party, one I did accept, this awesome event serves my memory well.
I think back to this time in my life and can honestly say: "I really felt I came home" "I'd like for others that come home to be honored in this manner as a home coming tradition, at their own home towns, they should indeed". I salute all whom have served our country and made it home, I welcome home all those War Vets, as you should also do for your home town soldiers. Shouldn't your Mayor provide such a ceremony? I take a moment to remember others whom served, that will not be with us for their bravery has kept us free.