Just One More Day
By Robert "Bob" Kickenweitz
HQ & HQ Trp
September 23, 1967, for the past 36 hours or so Iíve been very anxious as I had already turned in my helmet, flak jacket, and my M-16. I left Blackhorse base camp for the last time on my way to Long Bien, South Vietnam for final out processing. With all my paperwork completed, I sat around all day on pins and needles. At two thirty or three oíclock, we were sent over by truck to Bien Hoa Air Base, again we had to wait until about four oíclock. They called out our flight, and as we got to the person at the gate we had to call out last name, first name, and service number. Then we got on board the Intercontinental Airlines 707 (the Freedom Bird). As I boarded the plane with about another 160 guys you could cut the anxiety with a knife, nobody wanted to be this close to getting home and then be killed. You could have heard a pin drop in that plane. NOBODY was talking, I mean NOBODY! As I sat in my seat on the port side of the plane, the sun shone through my window. I could see my reflection in the window, and I can remember thinking to myself this is like a scene out of a movie. I also remember thinking that now that itís over, that year went fast. The door closed, and the plane started to roll toward the end of the runway. Engines revved up and we started rolling down the runway, then the nose lifted and under full throttle we took off. We climbed at a very steep angle to get altitude quickly and still NOBOBY is saying a word. After a minute or two the pilot came over the loud speaker and said ďGentleman we have left South Vietnam air spaceĒ and all hell broke loose! After 11 months and 21 days I was out of there and on my way home, I made it!
So here I am 49 years later, and although Iím not physically in Vietnam Iím still there mentally. If you have never been in a war zone you probably have no clue to the anxiety level that is felt on a 24/7 bases for an entire year. The anxiety is always there, even if you donít realize it. Itís always hiding somewhere in the shadows or over your shoulder but its there. War is strange, one minute you could be bored out of your mind, and the next youíre fighting for your life. You never want to let down your guard even when youíre bored, if you do, you go home in a body bag. You just want ďOne more day Lord, just one more day.Ē Thatís what you pray for every night ďJust one more day.Ē Iím so blessed to have the family I have, especially my wife Patti. They may not know what Iím thinking about at times, but they know itís somehow related to Vietnam and they are always supportive of me. Someone once wrote, "Not everyone who lost his life in Vietnam died there, not everyone who came home from Vietnam ever left there." One thing I have come to realize is that you can never forget Vietnam, so you might as well embrace it.