Unsung Hero LCpl Clyde Joy
KIA 9/17/1969
NH
Was married

 

1960's I was very young and living in the rural town of Winchester,NH
often watching black and white television with a snowy picture due to 
an antenna. A NH station had a local program on the weekends which I 
believe was The Clyde and Willie May Joy Show. Only a couple of channels 
were possible at this time so this was the kind of programming one could expect.
I remember watching the program many times and it must have had some 
impact on me as it came to memory in 1969 in the I-Corp Region of Vietnam 
while I was attached to a grunt unit in the bush. I was fortunate to meet a 
young man from New Hampshire while we were digging in for the night on some 
dirty hilltop. He was about my height and same age and we hit it off instantly
as we talked about our common homeland of NH. He was permanently attached 
to this grunt unit as a Rifleman and I was attached with them as a Combat
Engineer. I don't recall the reason his unit requested an engineer for the patrol
and I guess it doesn't matter. The most significant thing of the situations was my 
meeting this young man who in so many ways was a mirror of myself. So close 
to my age so disorientated and being in Vietnam so few months after leaving the
security of New Hampshire. Oh, true we both had received state of the art training 
in the Marines for this adventure but the state-of-mind may well have been more 
of an issue for both of us. Our last names caused us to chuckle, mine Roy and 
his Joy. As we became familiar with each other I learned that my new friend
was a son to Clyde and Willie May Joy. I was quite taken by this discovery 
and it gave me some sense that he and I were now even closer in spirit than
just having grown up in the same state. He didn't know mine but I felt I knew 
his dad and mom and I wondered what they might be thinking about their 
son stuck with me in the bush of Vietnam. I thought of how upset they might
be if they could look in upon him at this location and understand how close 
their boy might be to death at any moment. We discussed our situation at 
the moment and what might be in store for us. A few hours before we 
had pushed through the bush to this mountaintop and found a Vietcong
corpse tied into a tree with a sign around his neck. My new friends grunt 
unit had left a message for other Vietcong as to just who to blame for this
death and by returning to this spot we were now confronted with the thought
that his unit was just spoiling for real trouble. The sign wordage was something
to the effect of "when you are tired and weak and wish you were at home  
Remember us" followed by the unit numbers and letters. This was an open 
invitation for the Vietcong or NVA to come and get it. We were both very 
uncomfortable with the situation we found ourselves in and shared those 
feelings and fears. It seems we had both been in country only a short time 
and hadn't acquired the salty attitude required to put fear away from the 
conscious mind. I only spent one day and night with my new friend on that 
outpost but I formed a friendship that I miss to this day. LCpl William Clyde Joy 
died in Quang Tri Province, Vietnam 17 September 1969. His passing was a 
couple months after we had met. By that time I was stationed in Okinawa as 
my unit was withdrawn from Vietnam by Richard Nixon meeting his last 
campaign promise. Nixon pulled out the troops all right but the northern 
reaches of Vietnam fell so quickly from then on that those left behind like 
my friends unit, were at a great disadvantage to protect themselves. My 
greatest hope is that my new friend had acquire the salty attitude to have
removed fear from his mind and heart and that he experienced no pain in 
death. His memory is always in my mind and on The Wall (18W-103) for me
to visit. I suspect my friend was no more a hero than I or most of us stuck 
in Vietnam. I began my tour with the worst fears I had ever known but like
those around me I hardened my heart and carried on with a new found state 
of mind that got me through it. In the 1990s in Keene, NH I saw an advertisement 
for a country music event where those attending would be celebrating a birthday
for my friends dad Clyde Joy and, it was open to the public. I could not keep 
myself from attending but I didn't have any idea what I would do if I got to meet 
Clyde. I just went and followed my heart. When the chance came I walked up 
to Clyde and introduced myself as a friend of his son from Vietnam. I was 
scared of what this large man might have for a reaction but he was like an 
old friend to me and introduced me to another of his sons that was with him. 
This son of Clyde's had been in Vietnam during the same period but in the 
Army. Clyde and his son moved me to their head table and it was another 
event I will never forget. Clyde had his one living son on his left and he placed
me at his right. The warmth I felt from these  two men was unbelievable and 
indescribable. After a couple hours I said my goodbyes and left. I remember 
the swelling in my heart and throat once I was outside the building and I was
so happy with myself that I had made this effort to meet my lost friends Dad 
and tell him of our friendship in Vietnam. It's now 2006 and I believe I needed
to put this story into print. I have carried some guilt all these years just 
because I was able to avoid death and Clyde couldn't.
                                                                                                     Det-Cord

 

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