John E. Abrams, an Edgewood Town Councilor, has graciously agreed to tell part of his father’s story when his father served as a Navy pilot during the Vietnam War. He has provided an excerpt from ” Behind The Lines“ stories authored by combatants and others who have experienced military combat and other aspects of some wars in which the United States has been involved. The stories have been compiled and edited by Andrew Carroll. I’ll leave the rest to Councilor Abrams and other sources:
My Dad was a Decorated Navy helicopter pilot. He was killed in action in Vietnam in 1968 when his aircraft was shot down along with his wingmen. None of the crewmen of the aircraft on that mission survived.
War all around him, my Dad would take time to record and send my Mom audio tape letters. He left us his thoughts about the war in his own voice, with the battle sounds in the background. Even now, after 43 years, it is very difficult for me to read his words, and more difficult still to hear the tapes. I am proud to share an excerpt of one of his audio letters. I hope this stands as a small tribute to the difficult and dangerous situations our military men and women in conflicts face daily.
This excerpt was transcribed and reproduced in a book containing letters and commentary from Americans at war beginning with the American Revolution. The book is titled “Behind the Lines” authored by men and women in conflict, compiled and edited by Andrew Carroll. ISBN 0-7432-5616-6. I recommend reading it.
From an audio letter in the voice of my father – Lt. (Senior Grade) John L . Abrams USN
Well this war is different than any other war, you could ask somebody from World War II, or Korea if they ever killed anybody, and they’d probably say, “well I don’t know.” And they’d be telling the truth. They were firing at long ranges, long distances, to emplacements, this type of thing. This isn’t that kind of war. We’re firing from 600 meters away. We fire, we hit, we see what we hit. We see the results of our hit. We see the wounded, and of course we see the dead. Of course, Charley gives it back to us too. We take a lot of hits in the aircraft. Occasionally one of us get it too. We’ve had three door gunners wounded – one of which died – since we’ve been here. I’ve been shot at quite a few times, and I think I’ve got a purple heart coming for a minor thing that happened here a couple weeks ago (one of three). There’s nobody here that’s not getting shot at, although this part of the war isn’t as highly publicized as what is going on in the north. The part we’re doing down here nobody wants to talk about. It’s a dirty job. Its women, twelve, fifteen-year-old boys and grown men that we’re killing because they’re killing Vietnamese and trying to kill us. Some of the atrocities Charlie commits are unbelievable. It’s really hard to believe some of the things that he does. In this thing the last few days we liberated a VC prisoner of war camp. Some of the people have been in the camp for two and a half to three years.” There is the sound of gunfire crackling in the background. “I wish that guy would stop firing, it’s making me nervous…. Yesterday for example, we were cleared to go into an area where Charlie supposedly had an arms cache. We went into the area —- sure enough, there was all camouflaged — arms cache. So we went in, circled the area one time at high altitude, rolled into our strike. All of a sudden, people start running out of the hooches — we call them hooches, they’re grass houses — running out of the hooches that this material was all stacked around. And every one of them had a saffron robe on. A saffron robe is a bright orange robe — kind of the color of a flight suit, if you remember what that looked like — that the Buddhist monks wear,— every one of them. Now what were Buddhist monks doing where there was a large cache of Charlie equipment, and no Buddhist pagoda around the area? Charlie’s not dumb, but he’s not smart either, really. They ran out of the hooch, ran across the rice paddy, and they never got any further. Now maybe there were some Buddhist monks among them. Possibly there were. And Charlie was trying to escape along with them. But they all got it…
Editor: Lt. John Leon Abrams, as his son has said above, gave final full-measure to his country and its citizens on July 13, 1968:
Lieutenant John Leon Abrams was serving as a pilot with the Helicopter Attack (Light) Squadron Three Seawolves when he was killed in action in the Mekong Delta region of South Vietnam. His UH-1B helicopter was hit by .50 caliber enemy fire, causing the transmission to seize at 800 feet. Also killed in the crash were his copilot, LtJG James Henry Romanski, and his crewmen, AMH3 Raymond Douglas Robinson and AMS3 Dennis Michael Wobbe. His fellow Seawolves remember John’s bravery and devotion to duty.
HE IS NOT FORGOTTEN.
The above blue text is provided by:
Together We Served
If you follow the link,above you will find other information for Lieutenant John L. Abrams. Additionally, Lt. Abrams service information can be found by clicking here and here including comments and tributes from those who served with him. We want to express our heartfelt thanks to Lieutenant Abrams and all of his family for the sacrifices they have made on our behalf.
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