A few days ago I sat down with Duane Otto to get his military story. We talked about his time growing up, friends/neighbors/schooling, and then took a detailed look into his military service.
Every Veteran I visit with always tells me new/different things I had never heard about before or realized and also all kinds of military memorabilia and pictures.
I used my digital audio recorder to capture the conversation and will spend the next few weeks transcribing it and then going through several draft versions with Duane, before it is finalized.

As I was scanning items from his binder I ran across several Christmas items and pictures.
Here are two that caught my eyes and perspective...
Today, people take pictures of just about everything, which from my perspective, most of it has very little if any meaningful or historical value...pretty much to satisfy our EGOs.
As I was touching up these pix, it is amazing at how Duane captured that moment in time.
Now without knowing some background behind the picture, it may just seem like many other Christmas dinners we all have had. But when you take note of the things in the picture, it will tell you a completely different story.
Notice the M-1 Rife back right.
Then there is a helmet used to prop up the little Christmas program.
To the back left you see a rucksack and other military gear.
Now let's add the most critical piece of information - the meal was eaten out in the field (out on point) in Vietnam. The Christmas meal had to be flown in by helicopter, quickly dropped off, and then a hasty retreat was made as to not give away the location to the North Vietnamese enemy - "Somewhere out there."

So the next time you take random pictures that you think are important to you - think about being in a combat zone and the next second you could be under fire...

Christmas dinner 1968 Vietnam - out in the front lines.

Duane Otto during a few minutes relaxing with his Christmas dinner.

While scanning Duane's military stuff, and thinking about the things we talked about, I also started thinking about how way too many people today have lost the ability to carry on a conversation.
I often hear people tell me that the Veteran in their family wouldn't talk about their service...while this is true with many of our Veterans there are others who would talk to someone, IF they could find someone who asked and would sit and listen.
I gained this perspective from Clarence Pfundheller, Iowa's last living survivor of Pearl Harbor.
During his interview he told me that NO one ever asked him about his service and it wasn't until a teacher in the school he was employed at found out he was at Pearl Harbor so they asked him if he would tell about it at a school assembly. This was in the early 1980s.

So the next time you see a Veteran, tell them you are interested in hearing about some of their stories but don't just blurt right into the military aspects - start by asking them about their days growing up and then gradually get into their service.

Then encourage them to contact me so I can record a detailed account about their life and military background.

Back to Dave Kusel's main page