I wrote this back in 2015 after traveling from Arizona .
This past Wednesday, I was looking for my seat on the plane bound for Florida. I was silently hoping that I wasn't going to be stuck between the wall and a giant size person for the 4 hour trip home. That had happened to me on a prior flight of the same duration and it was no fun in the least. I found my seat and there was a very thin older man sitting in the middle seat.( I had the aisle) The first thing I noticed was his hat which had stenciled on its brim: USMC/Viet Nam Vet "Corpsman Up!" He stood as I stowed my belongings and took my seat. He stuck his hand out and said, "My name's Joe." I shook it and said ,"Thanks for your service Doc." His face lit up when he heard me say Doc and he asked if I had served. I answered that I did, but not until the early 70's and did not go to VietNam. He, in turn, thanked me for my service. We talked about his days there in 1966-67 as a US Navy Corpsman attached to the US Marines. He became teary-eyed at one point as he described pulling some wounded buddies from a rice paddy where they'd been ambushed. The conversation started and stopped over the next few hours until we spoke about his returning home. He said that he had received an emergency leave, due to the death of his father, and came immediately from the field to the airport facility .From his description he was a mess; dirty; boots worn white from tramping the bush, uncut hair, in need of a shave, and clad in a mish-mosh of uniform parts. Fortunately, the MP's didn't grab him for looking as he did. He landed in San Francisco 24 hours later and was able to get a quick shower and change into clean khakis at the airport courtesy of the USO. As he was leaving the terminal a couple of college kids, as he described them, came up to him and started giving him a ration of grief because he was a military member. Then they both spit on him. He didn't retaliate at all; just kept walking. He became silent after telling me this. The nice young girl who was in the window seat dozed throughout our conversation. I wished she had heard this part of his story. Too many people do not know that this happened to a lot of the returning soldiers as they came through the West Coast facilities. It's a wonder that anyone who did that did not have their heads handed to them. I told him that I was sorry that he had to endure such treatment. He said it didn't matter and it wasn't that big of a deal. He then leaned back in his seat and fell asleep.
Yes it does matter Joe...never again…never again should that happen!
(The pictures are not of Joe, but representative of him)