Vietnam War Remembered: My Fallen Brother
This article was originally published on May 28, 2013
Frederick Don Snyder was killed on May 17, 1970. He was the machine gunner perched on top of the second of three swift boats patrolling the Dam Doi river in the marshy deltas of South Vietnam, just miles inland from the South China Sea. The first boat in the patrol came under fire by the Viet Cong who were hidden in the jungle thickets along the banks of the river. Don immediately took his position and fired on the Viet Cong. In the ensuing firefight, Don was able to give sufficient cover to the first boat to allow its escape. Don sustained wounds from shrapnel throughout his torso. His lungs were hit, and he died in a military hospital the next day. He was 22.
I was a eight, just a few months shy of nine at the time my oldest brother was killed and my parents’ hearts were intractably broken. I am the youngest of their seven children, my only sister was the oldest, with five brothers in-between. Don was born on my sister’s first birthday, March 6, 1948. We were the classic boomer family with our births covering the years from post WWII, to the early sixties, the space age, and the decade of Vietnam.
Perhaps it is due to of the loss of my brother when I was in such a tender stage of psychological development, or maybe it is because of my patriot heart–or both–that the guys who came home, our Vietnam veterans, are so special to me. And I find particular satisfaction in defying and disproving the culture and media organs that have for decades mis-characterized them, slandered their efforts in Vietnam, and hidden their stories of heroism and compassion.
I refuse to sit by and let my brothers who served in Vietnam go a minute longer without due tribute to their willingness to fight for their country to stop spread of Communism into Southeast Asia and preserve the ideal cause of liberty for all.
I returned from a church service a couple of years ago when July fourth fell on a Sunday and wrote one of my first ReaganGirl.com posts called “The Acceptable Blood.” This is a quote from that early post:
I was moved and changed that day by the remarks of those so personally touched by war. No earthly standard teaches more about the Savior of the World that the examples of those who have given all they have to the cause of freedom, which is His cause and is central to His eternal plan.
I came home with my children, put together a simple meal and we broke our fast after having gone without for breakfast and lunch. My oldest daughter sat down and in her petulant and provocative way said, “So, why did Brother ***** spout off today about how great America is and all that?” I told her to stop. And I said, “Do not mock the blood sacrifices of those who have died to ensure that you can sit down to an abundant table, in a free land, to speak your mind, for good or ill. Right now I will speak.”
I related to my children what had been taught at the pulpit earlier. It took awhile because I had to pause often to staunch the overwhelming emotion within me. But they listened, in riveted silence they listened.
“You see, the Lord Himself brought forth His gospel, which transcends the Law of Moses. The first law was completed by the Savior’s atonement, and when He died upon the cross the need for blood sacrifice was fulfilled and would never be required again, save for the one type of blood sacrifice which remains acceptable to Jesus Christ. It is not the sacrifice of a lamb without blemish. It is the sacrifice of those who willingly pay their installments towards the cost of freedom. The blood of patriots who are willing to lay down their lives in the name of individual liberty and in the defense of justice for all, is not just an acceptable sacrifice to the Lord, but it is the most holy of earthly gifts.”
“In the beauty of the lilies, Christ was born across the sea,
With a glory in His bosom that transfigures you and me.
As He died to make men holy, let us live to make men free,
While God is marching on…Glory Hallelujah!”
This is the simple tribute to my brothers who served in Vietnam, my friends who served during the Gulf War, my Fathers who served in Korea and WWII, and my Grandfathers who came before them. May the richest of Heavenly Father’s blessings fall upon my sons and daughters who now serve in Afghanistan and other regions of the world for the just cause of liberty and human dignity. My heart is with you all on this Memorial Day, 2012.
By Marjorie Haun 4/3/14
Tags: #GetOnTheShelf, Brown Water Black Berets, children's books, Frederick Don Snyder, heroes of the Vietnam War, Little Bird Dog and the Big Ship, Saving the Vietnamese Orphans, Swift Boat, veterans, Vietnam War