I was at Dong Ha, South Vietnam when it was rocketed one morning in July 1969 by the North Vietnamese Army.
The attack occurred on the day before I was to depart Dong Ha and report to El Toro, California, for discharge from the Marine Corps after four years active duty.
I ‘d just exited my hooch, when I heard the nearby Dong Ha airstrip being hit in quick succession by three rockets.
Then I saw a fourth rocket to my front, about 50 feet above and beyond me, moving from port to starboard and decelerating.
I dropped to the deck, it exploded – and I was ready to leave Vietnam.
At El Toro, I observed Marines fresh from Vietnam, like myself, about to be discharged with stress-related impairments.
A few walked around in a daze.
One pounded his head on his pillow while others moaned at night.
Some were jumpy, and I was pretty uptight, myself.
However, it was good to meet Cpl Jimmie Courtney, who I’d gone through boot camp with at Parris Island, SC four years earlier.
Following my discharge, and in uniform, I went to the LA Airport and booked a flight to Honolulu.
You know, Vietnam was a very unpopular war, and Vietnam veterans were sometimes treated poorly upon their return to the United States.
But, no one disrespected me at the airport.
In Honolulu, I boarded an Aloha Airlines flight to Kaua‘i to return to my wife, Ginger (Beralas) Soboleski, born and raised on Kauai, and our daughter, Michelle, at home in Lihue.
Then on August 1, 1969, Ginger greeted me in the carport of 3221 Jerves Street and we’ve been together ever since.
It took a while to adjust to civilian life, but I’ve no complaints.
To the contrary — the VA has assisted me with health care, a home loan, educational benefits, and compensation for being a disabled Vietnam veteran.
And, best of all, if 17-year-old Hank Soboleski from Naugatuck, Connecticut had not joined the Marines, he would not have had the good fortune of marrying Ginger in faraway Hawai‘i.
Source: The Garden Island