A personal look back


I don’t know why I felt like sharing this with you all today but I’m going to anyway. This picture was taken in November of 1980 after my older brother killed his first deer. The pitiful looking 3 point in the picture. He shot it with a Model 94 in .30-30 WCF of course. What else? He got buck fever and nearly missed. Just barely clipped it’s spine. Good enough though. The ugly little kid at bottom is me.

My brother is on the left in the orange hat. I think he was about 15. Next is my Grandpa. I don’t think a more patient man ever existed. He was infinitely patient and very soft hearted. He was drafted for WW2 and was on his way for the invasion of Japan when the war ended. He spent the rest of his time in the Army on occupational duty in the Philippines. I can’t say how he would have handled being a machine gunner in combat, thankfully he didn’t have to. I can’t imagine him being the same man I knew if he had been in combat. His father was in the Army and was part of the punitive expedition under Pershing into Mexico. After getting out he kept the Colt Model P he carried into Mexico. Years later in the middle of the night his brother in law showed up drunk pounding on the door. My Great Grandfather shot through the door and killed him. It was rough back then. They lived on the KY side of the area the4 Hatfield & McCoy feud took place in. Things hadn’t calmed down much even by then. Later on that same Colt was stolen I’m sad to say. Otherwise you would be seeing pictures of it.

My Dad is on the far right. Dad was the youngest of 4. He was drafted into the 4 Infantry Division and went to Vietnam from 1967 to 1968. He was part of the Battle Of Dak To. He made it back when my brother wasn’t even a year old. The war got Dad in the end years later. His exposure to Agent Orange combine with working in the coal mines ruined his lungs. He was hurt and had to retire in 1987. His back was damaged. Not knowing at the time the even then his lungs were doomed. The agent orange screwed up his lungs and caused diabetes. Years later the Army doctors did a bunch of tests and gave him the verdict. After that the Gov gave him 200 percent service related disability check for the rest of his life. A sad case of being financially set for life but no health left to enjoy it. Even with that you can see where my interest in the Vietnam war came from. Dad was always open to talk about the war even though he saved some of the more serious stories until I was older. Some I didn’t even hear until the last 10 years.

Dad may be the only person in history to have a confirmed kill with a parachute flare.

After a week of fending off night attacks on their firebase, a couple of guys were on listening post and heard something. They called for a flare and Dad fired the illumination round from his sections 105MM Howitzer. The next day while a patrol would outside the perimeter, they ran across a lone Viet Cong soldier face down in the mud with a parachute and flare laying across his back with his neck broken. Apparently the illumination round burned out and silently floated down and 1 in 100 million chance hit poor Anh across the back of his neck. Some where in DC or West Point library there is a statistics and lessons learned from the Vietnam war and in one entry there is a section that says “1 Enemy KIA with 105 MM Illumination round “

Above is my Grandpa, me and Dad shooting rats swimming around from a flood in 2001. The dog is my golden retriever, Sandy. The dog died of cancer in 2014. Papaw died in 2009 and Dad passed away January 2019.

I hope you guys liked this little “inside baseball” look into my personal life. With Father’s day barely past and Dad’s birthday in a few days it has me thinking about these two.

Dad at the NRA show in 2016 holding his dream gun.


  1. Thanks, Shawn. Thank God for dads and grandfathers.

    Family legend records two instances where an ancestor used a pistol to defend himself. Nobody alive has any idea where the pistol is, though. The Great Depression was rough on that branch of the family.

  2. Cool piece of family history.My granddad was a 20 year army man who fought in WW2&Korea,then,became a public school teacher,not sure what was more challenging!

    His son,me uncle,was a snake driver(cobra attack helicopter) in Vietnam and also a 20 year man.

    Talking with me grandpa in his last years learned a lot about the depression not taught in schools and he was very angry his son sent to Vietnam to fight,interesting and nice points of view from folks who had been there/done that.

  3. Fathers and sons. We’re lucky we had ’em as long as we did, and luckier yet if we still have ’em. Lest we forget.

  4. My old man’s Vietnamese flare-story involved an ARVN chap managing to ignite a flare in his own armpit. Dad said the scream was loudest and most unique he heard in theater.


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