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Aug 10, 2018 - 5:26:37 AM
520 posts since 12/2/2012

This morning at 9:00 am eastern time my friend Lloyd A. King will be laid to rest at the Arlington National Cemetery. https://www.arlingtoncemetery.mil/Funerals/Funeral-Schedule/Daily-Funeral-Schedule

He was an interesting and remarkable and special man who genuinely did not think himself special, remarkable or interesting. Compassionate, generous, I could list many qualities and still not capture the full essence of the man.

I met him in a barbershop in March 2017. I struck up a conversation and learned the outline of his story: He was a combat veteran of Vietnam. A native of New York, his family moved to west Texas where he graduated from high school. He aspired to be professional golfer and was very good. But life happens. In Vietnam he was awarded two purple hearts and several other medals and citations. After that he worked as a safety manager in the petroleum business and traveled the world.

After his wife of 25 years died he began organizing unit reunions and each succeeding year was larger and more elaborate. He held them in Branson, MO because it is a central location for the US, it easily accommodates large groups, there are plenty of activities, and it is easily one of the most veteran-friendly places in the country. In March of 2016 he sold his home and moved to the area with the intent to buy a little land, build a cabin, buy a bass boat, and plan a reunion each year.

But then he was suddenly hospitalized in August of that year. The diagnosis - cancer, likely caused by a fluke that had laid dormant in his system for many years. https://www.livescience.com/61057-liver-flukes-vietnam-veterans.html

His family all lived in other states. He had made only a few friends here because he hadn't been here very long. He was essentially on his own. Not a bad thing usually, and he was a very independent and self reliant sort, but when really sick someone else needs to take you to the doctor.

And so for a year I was his driver and his friend. I cherish the time we had together - one brief year. I won't and can't go into all the times and discussions we had together; there's no time, and it's personal.

He wanted to make it to his birthday; he did, and then died the next morning with his youngest brother at his side. He was out in his bass boat once, and never did get his land or cabin - perhaps he has that now...

Through me, my pastor and church also came to know Lloyd and care for him. He spoke to our church on Veteran's Day Sunday. He secretly provided financial help for several families.

My pastor is currently in Washington D.C. as I write this. Lloyd's company commander became a chaplain after the war and is conducting the service.

In September there will be another unit reunion and though I am not a veteran I have been invited to join the group. They are wonderful group of men. We will remember Lloyd at a special memorial service.




Aug 10, 2018 - 9:15:32 AM
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KE

Malta

22671 posts since 6/30/2006

Rest in peace, Mr. King. Thanks for sharing his story with us.

Aug 10, 2018 - 9:24:02 AM
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293 posts since 10/2/2009

Thank you for this story. It is amazing how someone can change our life, and become such a part of it, just by chance like that. I love these type of stories, because it just shows how one small act of kindness, just a simple "hello", can be life changing.

I am glad you two met, and you could be there for him. I had a similar situation with a now passed friend. Just a chance thing, that builds a beautiful friendship.

Rest in Peace, sir.

Aug 10, 2018 - 9:53:16 AM
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18444 posts since 8/17/2008

You are richer for having had him as a friend. May he rest in peace.

Aug 10, 2018 - 9:59:52 AM
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RV6 Players Union Member

USA

1006 posts since 2/3/2012

I'm sorry for your loss, Mike.  

I enjoyed your post about his life and your friendship with him. 

I'm glad you met him and glad he met you.  

Aug 10, 2018 - 11:09:02 AM
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1441 posts since 2/16/2017

I’m sorry you lost your friend. It sounds like he had an impact on many lives and he will be missed.

You showed a lot of kindness to him, and he surely appreciated it very much.

I’ve never heard of liver flukes before. Scary stuff.

Aug 10, 2018 - 12:17:57 PM
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slammer

USA

2573 posts since 12/30/2008

Yeah, what everyone else said!!!
Sorry to hear about your friend Michael, but glad you got to know him and share!!!
Slammer!!!

Aug 10, 2018 - 12:41:35 PM

KE

Malta

22671 posts since 6/30/2006

I noticed the book of poetry "From 'Nam With Love" -- could you perhaps share some snippet with us?

Aug 10, 2018 - 12:48:47 PM
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Wyozark

USA

520 posts since 12/2/2012

Thank you all for your kind words.

Here are a couple of photos from today:




Aug 10, 2018 - 1:22:20 PM
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Wyozark

USA

520 posts since 12/2/2012

KE,

The poems were written by him contemporaneously to his time in Vietnam. Some were written even as he was in the field. Only a great many years later did he dig them out, edited them, and had them published. Some are tough to read, but they give an interesting and harrowing point of view of a young man given responsibility (he was a squad leader) and thrust into a war.

I'll try to type one out:

The Unthinkable

16 June 1968

Incessant, eerie sounds of static

Like heavy monsoon showers

Rushed through hammer and anvil

For endless minutes into hours

While I logged notes diligently

Tracking a unit's whereabouts

On search and destroy Ops

By LRRP's and Hawk Scouts.

 

On radio duty for a long night

When the cries pierced my ears

Breaking the constant drone

Raising my hair and worst fears

As screams echoed certain trouble

While approaching their NDP

Surprised by a deadly ambush,

Triggered to the second at 1733.

 

The firefight raged fiercely

For days in my mind it seemed

Men were hit and bleeding

I heard a few as they screamed

Trying to fight and help on another

Not knowing where they were

Forced to listen on the radio

My mind was a complete blur.

 

Moments later I learned

My squad was caught in a trap

Walking point and exhausted

Probably thinking about taking a nap

And a hot meal before nightfall

To ease their aches and pains

From fighting heat and terrain

And the chill of the monsoon rains.

 

At sunrise I left the commo bunker

Starring blankly into the haze

Trying to understand the night

Wondering why I was in a daze

Not knowing the final outcome

Whether they were alive or dead

Feeling guilty about being here

Wanting to be with them instead

Only to learn that nine had died

The unthinkable ... my heart bled.

Four members of my squad and five members of our platoon and company were killed on 16 June 1968. My best friend, Ned T. Dybvig, was among the dead.

There is another poem dated August 12, 1968. It is the account for which he was nearly killed and received his first Purple Heart. I'll wait until Sunday to post it in commemoration of the 50th anniversary of that event.

I was given a few books after Lloyd's passing. KE, if you would like to have one I'll send one to you. Just pm me. Also, if there are other Viet vets interested in having this book please let me know and I think I can get one to you. And as Lloyd said to you VN vets, "Welcome Home."
 

Aug 10, 2018 - 1:48:58 PM
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dawgdoc

USA

8845 posts since 8/25/2004

Michael,

That's pretty powerful, both the note and the poem.  My deepest, kindest thoughts. 

Aug 10, 2018 - 3:20:47 PM

KE

Malta

22671 posts since 6/30/2006

Unimaginable strength and self-awareness to have written so expressively of events that were so close in time and still emotionally raw. Your friend was a remarkable human being.

And thank you for typing that out. Probably wasn't easy.

Edited by - KE on 08/10/2018 15:22:40

Aug 10, 2018 - 5:39:44 PM
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oly

USA

1191 posts since 5/27/2006

Michael, I can't express how sorry your loss is to me, and how much that poem touched me. I was in the generation that protested the war (I was in high school in 1973-1976). I never protested the war, my wife's brother Dale, served in the navy on the Constellation, (69-70 ?) died in 2012 from complications from agent orange,(our SIL is still fighting this). I thank all the vets, that fought, and welcome back home.

Aug 12, 2018 - 5:28:44 AM
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Wyozark

USA

520 posts since 12/2/2012

Hill 903

12 August 1968

At dawn, we started picking up from our ambush site

The precarious position we held during the foggy night

While my squad was busy, I guarded the well-worm path

And thought about home and my needing a good bath.

 

I was standing well concealed behind an enormous tree

Barely exposed, but just enough so I could clearly see

Snake, my M-79'er, was off to my right on an incline

And was having trouble locating my claymore mine.

 

I told Snake to look to his front next to the biggest tree

Located at the base of the third tree between him and me

Snake crawled and found it while I pointed to the spot

When a VC sniper fired although I never heard the shot.

 

I was knocked unconscious as the bullet struck my head

My squad, frozen with fear, naturally thought I was dead

As no one could see me with my left heel under my back

And I couldn't see either because everything was black.

 

Coming to, I felt the warm blood oozing into my left palm

I didn't know whether to rejoice or recite the 23rd Psalm

And when a bright glow illuminated my closed eyes

I thought it was another spirit penetrating the foggy skies.

 

I decided I was alive because I was hurting and weak

So I opened my eyes just to make sure and take a peek

I remembered not to move, but to play possum instead

And then prayed the VC sniper would think I was dead.

 

Through narrow eyelid openings...I glanced around

But it was hard to see lying on my back on the ground

I heard my RTO radio for help, others calling my name

And I listened to frantic "cherries" go mentally lame.

 

Miraculously, I saw a smoke ring silhouetting the leaves

And like a ventriloquist I said, "Look high in the trees!"

Then I said, "On three, I'm going to run like a gazelle

As you aim forty feet above the knoll and fire like hell!"

 

For a while there was silence then loud 'Airborne' cheers

Hearing my voice stirred emotions and a few shed tears

My voice had scared my squad who thought I was dead

But I was lucky to be alive after being shot in the head.

 

I figured my chances were probably zilch or next to none

Being able to physically roll, get up, then having to run

I had a little feeling in my back...none at all in either leg

And I was wheezy like I'd just chug-a-lugged half a keg.

 

Carefully, I said, "Get ready!" through tightly pursed lips

My head was throbbing and I had severe pain in both hips

Snake yelled, "We beez' ready Sahge, dah' guys beez' set!"

But I said, "Wait one, Snake, I'm not quite ready just yet!"

 

I was practicing, mentally, how I was going to move and roll

And I was trying to muster some strength in body and soul

I said a quick prayer, yelled, "Ready, One - Two - Three!"

Rolled quickly, sprang like a cat, and lunged behind a tree.

 

Hearing weapons blazing away was a truly comforting sound

But feeling faint and weak, I slumped and fell to the ground

As bullets continued ripping into the trees above their heads

And when I looked up again the entire jungle was in shreds.

 

Later, after Doc bandaged my bullet wound and swollen knot

I stared in total disbelief at the gaping holes in my steel pot

Somehow my steel pot had saved me...this was easy to see

And spared my squad the added grief of another tragedy.

 

I've never said much about the details of this incredible day

Keeping the ordeal within, dealing with it in my own way

But it's time to share what until now made little sense...

"In war, soldiers must be vigilant or pay the consequence."

The Purple Heart was awarded to Lloyd A. King for his combat wounds received 12 August 1968.

It's the fifty year anniversary of Lloyd being shot in the head. Lloyd was given his nickname "Angel" by his friend Snake. Snake told him he must have had an angel sitting on his shoulder to not have been killed. I have held the helmet/steel pot in my hands. His squad did kill the sniper, and gave Lloyd the rifle that shot him. I have held that in my hands as well.

Thank  you again, everyone, for your kind words.


 

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