My tour in Bravo Company

   I arrived in country in April or May and went out on a few dicey patrols. We heard that a big patrol was coming in which the best men of each company would be picked because it was extremely dangerous involving a well built up NVA sight near what I believe was called Yellow Brick road. Anyway it was around the Laotian/Cambodian border. What eventually transpired is that the powers that be decided to send Team Albrook out because they had a lot of experience and unfortunately many of the men were short timers. On that note I really pressed them to take me. I was turned down because I didn't have enough experience. I remember that everyone left their wedding bands or valuables behind and wrote letters to their significant others as they did not expect to return. Sadly they did not return.

   I remember well that when I first came over a few rough things happened and I was in fistfights with some of the crusty old veterans who did not take to me too well. The men solved issues out back with fists. The really touching thing is that one of the men came up to me the night before going out on that fateful mission and pretty much shared his heart with me and how he wanted to come out of this war a better person. He had a desire to be caring and kind with people. He said he saw this in me. It really shook me up and I felt very humble in his presence. He was really a damn good Recon Marine and somebody that I respected. Sometimes when we are being ourselves and people seem to dislike could be different than we imagine. One thing that I got clear about as a Marine and a Recon Marine is to be who you are and be authentic. I wasn't trying to be like everyone else. Some of the leaders or a "few Good Men" encouraged me to stay on my path and not change. Some of those men had mentored me- telling me things that I needed to hear..How to cross open country like Charley Ridge, how to work with my M-60, how to stay grounded and not react in the wrong way in firefights. Sometimes when as a new guy facing exhaustion they had very tough and physical things that they did to teach me. It was okay as it was always a lesson well learned.

   Those men of Team Albrook went out the next day and they were shot down by an RPG rocket. I know they gave their all and I am alive today because they cared. So since I have arrived home in the states in 69.there has not been a day that i do not remember them. Sometimes I go to a quiet VA graveyard and just sit quietly expressing my gratitude for them.sometimes i ask them for advice if i am having a challenge with depression or PTSD. I feel them telling me to enjoy each moment, each breath, and I hear them telling me that they are in a very good place and that they have peace and love in their lives. I have felt a lot of tears down my cheeks over the days, weeks, months and years. I fully understand how much I have to be grateful for and what it means to be a warrior and cover someone’s back. I feel that I did well on my tour it was the coming home where my war started...a lost marriage to the woman that I loved, nightmares, flashbacks, lost jobs. It’s not to be regretted at all. It all builds character and makes us who we are. We will never stop being Marines. or men who care and fight for ones we love and what we love.

   Today I relate to the men on Team Albrook as an example to give what I can to the new generation..The men coming home from Iraq and Afghanistan..Albrook and my Recon brothers have inspired me to be a giver not a taker. We are building a unique slide guitar for a Vietnam vet who has no use of his hands. He lost almost everything physically when he got in a firefight trying to get POWs out with the 101st Screamin Eagles in Cambodia/Laos. He shared his story with us, one that he has kept secret all of these years..It was heart wrenching but what a brave and selfless man he is. 'This man has shared with us his vision that any quadriplegic should be able to play a guitar if it is designed correctly. So we learn from a few good warriors to pass it on.

   My dad landed on Normandy Beach on D-Day as a 101st Screamin Eagle. He never talked about the war to me. I could see his courage in his character. As a boy, I saw how he treated all people, fairly and with respect. I once saw another man in a rage yelling at my father and my dad calmed the man down by not talking it personally and graciously responding to the man.

   Marines are about doing. Need I say more.

Semper Fi

Dan Vanbuskirk Bravo 68/69