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Thursday, November 12, 2009

A little un-sung hero by the name of Charlie...

A Veteran's Day tribute to my husband and his puppy, Charlie...

Steve's first rescue puppy! And never even realized Charlie was a rescue puppy until I pointed it out to him. In his mind, he was saving a puppy's life. Well, that's what rescue is!

We've shared this story countless times to once a Marine always a Marine Marines, meaning buddies Steve served with in Viet Nam, his Platoon members of Charlie Company, 1st Battilion, 26th Marine Division aka C-Company. As well as to family, loved ones, friends, dog lovers, etc. Today I decided to share an abbreviated version on FaceBook. In essence, there are really two stories. Charlie's story, and my rescue Terrier, Maggie's story. The two overlap in a unique way, and it's so incredibly unique that only God could have pulled the strings to make it happen. Now, Maggie's story, I'm still not ready to share. I've wanted to from the time I started this blog, but lost her almost simultaneously. It still hurts even though, I have my three Springers, Chance aka Mr. Puppy, and Sydney, my baby girl, Sydney and now Miss Summer. Maggie and I spent a lot of time together after I became home bound and she watched after me even though age was catching up to her. I hope one day I'll be able to share more about her without a pang in my heart. So, for now... it's Charlie's story to be told. And of course, there's more to his story, but there's no need for me to write a book about him tonight. :)

While on patrol in a village south of Da Nang, Steve caught sight of beautiful tiny black puppy all by himself. As he shares the story, he says he had a split decision as to whether to pass him by or pick him up. His heart won over and was put in his right side pocket of his utlities. He was so small that when Steve climbed into the helicopter to fly out of there, Charlie rode in his helmet. He spent a good deal of time in that helmet until he grew out of it!

Charlie was with Steve for three months and touched the lives of many Marines in his platoon. There are men Steve served with that are sometimes foggy on Steve's name... but every single one of them remembers Charlie. We've discovered posts on forums and bulletin board about him!

At that time in Steve's tour of duty he was the Platoon Radio Operator. So, many knew Steve, but more guys knew Charlie.

Charlie made a huge difference in Steve's life during that time, as well as the men in his platoon. He boosted morale and had many daddies when Steve was on patrol or night ambushes.

Charlie's grandparents back home in Albemarle, NC were very taken with him. In order for photos to be developed Steve had to send the film home, so they fell in love with Charlie at their first glance of him in Steve's arms. They sent him a flea collar and leash of his very own, so he knew he belonged. He also had care packages with plenty of chewies, dog biscuits, treats, and rubber toys. He received his vaccinations from Corpsman. And, he dined upon C-Rations.

It broke Steve's heart to leave him behind when he rotated out in January of 1969. And he never knew what happened to him. For over for over 30 years he always wondered what happened to his little Charlie. I did, too from the moment I heard about him and saw his pictures. A few years ago we finally reconnected with the Marine Steve left him with, sadly to find out that a month after he left, Charlie got tangled up in some trip wire and sadly was killed by friendly fire. That was not the ending we wanted to hear, however, it's the beginning of my Maggie's story... all I'll share now is that she found me and was covered in red clay. Red clay just like the clay Steve dug into in Viet Nam.

The only photo I've ever shared with friends on the net is the first shot; the album cover. In tribute to Steve and Charlie, I've added the others. They're aging, so I finally scanned them into one of my external hard drives for a back up and safe keeping. Please note, my husband was only 20 when he was Viet Nam.

Photos were taken both north and south of Da Nang, HiVon Pass and Namo Bridge, and parts in between.

1 comment:

Gigi said...

Those were hard brother was 1st Cav Army. He volunteered to serve his country, this boy who wasn't even born here - but became a citizen in the 50s. He left innocent and after 4 consecutive tours returned home almost unrecognizable. Maybe if he'd had a "Charlie" in his life while in 'Nam he wouldn't have lost "him." I'm thankful that at least one dog there knew the joy of love and kind hands. God bless your hubby and all the men who loved and remember Charlie. What a reunion at the Rainbow Bridge that will be!!