How do you ever adequately thank the veterans for the service they have provided this nation? Some gave the ultimate sacrifice, some suffered with wounds but all suffered the absence of being with loved ones.
Over the years I have met many men/women who served in WWII, Korea, Vietnam as well as the more recent wars of the middle east and I admire each. However, recently I found out that a friend had once served as a Marine. Due to his age, I ask him if he had been in Vietnam. His response was that he had only been on one base outside the USA mainland. When I ask him which base, his response was Guantanamo.
Doing some quick math in my head, "What year?" I asked.
"1961 through 1963" was his quick response.
"We're talking Bay of Pigs and the Cuban missile crisis!" I stated rather emphatically.
"Yep" was his only response, offering no further explanation but rather lead off into another direction of conversation. My attempts to learn more brought only "yes" or "no" answers. Over the next few weeks I tried to no avail to learn more of his service during that time.
Then one day he handed me an article from a major newspaper, "You wanted to know what I did in Cuba? Read this." I quickly scanned the article which had been written after the release of material from the archives. Things that had been locked away for years in files marked "top secret". The cold war era of espionage, covert operations and CIA operatives.
The article was bringing more questions to my mind than it was answering. "This is CIA stuff, not Marine."
"I and 32 other sharp shooters were recruited, trained, dropped into the bay to swim ashore on Cuba. We spent 63 days there with orders to disrupt" was his response.
"So when Kennedy said there would be no American servicemen on Cuba, he wasn't exactly telling the truth?" It was more of a statement than a question, but I needed clarification.
"We had no identification or dog tags. Had we been caught, there would have been no trial." Having said that he headed out the door and to this day I have never yet got any more of this mystery answered.
But I do wonder how many have served in such a manner and never said a word.
Thanks to ALL veterans.