A Son's Remembrance

*  To the men who served with the Panthers of  2/47-9th  Inf. Div. Vietnam. 
After reading much of what is on  SGT. FATS websight , especially after “One 
Day In Nam, for Chuck” . I felt I had to share this with you.  Damn, I was 
choked up reading it and I wasn’t there. I read it several times. 35 years 
down the road and during his last days my father held grief, honor  and 
sanctity for  your sacrifices in Vietnam .

*for Andy and all his brothers.

* Only a fathers love………
   As my father lay there in a world of morphine induced relief and torment, 
in his own private world of memories, I watched, I listened, I held his hand 
. I studied it. I don’t want to ever forget those once in a lifetime 
father-son experiences / lessons. The end of the road for this man was 
close, an hour  away, a week  away, I couldn’t say.  I saw resolve in his 
eyes. I prayed for  a  peaceful, smooth transition. His cancer would not 
allow it.
  At some point he motioned to the tv he had in his bedroom. I took the hint 
and turned it on. Fumbling through the channels I found a ballgame on, he 
said “there” and motioned to stop. He never really watched baseball. Then I 
began to see his interest perk-up. His rattled and strained voice asked,” 
what day is it ?”  after looking over at the clock I replied….”it’s the 4th 
pops, the world series is on”…. His eyes looked up and out, towards the 
farthest ceiling corner of the room,  looking much farther back in his 
memory. His eyes closed slightly , sending a tear down the side of his face. 
  I could hear his breathing  falter. …..
   As I looked at him , my ears filled with the sounds of big league ball I 
started to remember a talk we had about a year ago, when his illness took 
him down , big-time. He talked with me about the war, friends and classmates 
killed, the army and his tours in Vietnam.  I asked him what his very worst 
day was during his 68 tour. He told me of a  patrol that was out of contact, 
not responding……
  For various reasons this incident , those young men and their fate stood 
out to him. As we talked it became evident that as a father of three young 
men , two of them coming of age in the late 60s , his thoughts were of the 
many young men who have been killed in Vietnam…. but  also his own sons. I 
thought to myself what  irony , the scenario unfolding in front of me. He 
was beginning to show signs of full comprehension. What showed on his face , 
moistened by the tear that was running down one cheek, was his memory of 
that very day , October 4 th 1968….when a patrol from B-2/47 was ambushed, 
in some little hamlet ……somewhere in the Mekong delta. His voice shuddered 
and his eyes closed , he wispered “I should have protected them , we should 
have……”. He talked. I listened. I turned off the tv and settled down with 
him, he just lay there starring at that ceiling corner. That was the last 
coherent dialogue he had with me…….

   My father,  James L.Scovel died Oct. 13th 2003 and was buried at West 
Point, with full military honors. A moment before the honor guard’s salute 
of 21 announced that an Army Soldier & Vietnam Veteran was laid to rests, 
the all-familiar sight & sound of a Vietnam era Huey making  a low pass over 
the burial site , broke the silence and defined the moment .  During his 
last tour of service he was Bn. CO. 2/47 (68-69), he had a huge footlocker 
of “nam-memories” and an even bigger heart for you all. When he did, he 
always spoke of the infantry-man, the medic…the slick pilots & dust-off,  
the sgt , the man on point, immersion-foot, the “tracks”, the delta mud,  
huey gun-ships , the sound of the 50 cal.

My pops lost three very close family friends in Vietnam , Sgt. Rebel L. 
Holcomb (173rd Airborne ,kia 10/8/65-Hill#65), Capt. Don J. York (MACV, kia 
7/14/62-Mekong delta) and Lt.Col. Andre C. Lucas.(101st Airborne, kia 
7/23/70-FSB Ripcord ) . together with the young men he commanded you were 
never forgotten.

My father loved & respected you guys!
….i know this, I have always known this, because I am his son.

with respect and gratitude
       Johnny Scovel

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