Uncle Shelby's Circus (John A. Williams) - Authorhouse - 2004 - 250 pages

Every Boomer has a story to tell about the war in Vietnam.  John Williams and I started high school at the same time and same place -- Norwalk High in Norwalk, California in 1960.  We both went to college after high school; and we both enlisted for service during the war, hoping to get a non-combat assignment.  I was sent to Naval Air Station Lemoore in Central California to training squadron VA-125, to support the training of U.S. Navy pilots.  John was sent directly to South Vietnam after training.  He spent one long, lonely, dangerous year as a heavy equipment operator in the war zone.  He was 19.  My job was to keep old Navy jets flying so young pilots could learn how to land them on the flight decks of aircraft carriers.  I got to know one of the pilots who was friendly with the enlisted folks.  Lt. Leon Frederick Haas was a great guy from New Jersey who always had a smile on his face.  He finished training with us and was sent to VA-155 for Vietnam duty.  He was replaced by many others who visited our squadron -- the continuous flow.  From time to time, VA-125 would get reports of the pilots we trained.  It was always bad news.  One day in July 1972, we learned that Lt. Haas was on a mission in North Vietnam when his A-7B Corsair jet was shot down over the South China Sea.  He is still listed as MIA.  John Williams and I came home to tell our stories.  Many of us fought in the war over there.  Many others came home with permanent disabilities.  Most of us came home with stories to tell.  But, 57,939 of us did not come home.  [JAM 11/30/2019]