Hero LCpl Clyde Joy
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.