Chilkat Valley News - Serving Haines and Klukwan, Alaska since 1966

 
 

Monument holds painful memories for some

 

Gene Clark, left, and Bosh Hotch visit the Moving Mall, a replica of the Vietnam Veterans Monument in Haines Tuesday.

Don “Bosh” Hotch stopped Tuesday while helping build the replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial at the Fort Seward Parade Grounds.

“This is where my name should have been,” said Hotch, 65.

Drafted in 1968, Hotch was an Army specialist in Vietnam. His unit was assigned to spend a week at the top of a mountain, monitoring enemy troop movements. He and 10 others were loaded into a helicopter with a week’s worth of supplies including 10-gallon jugs of water, ammunition and food.

The weight was too much for the craft, which crashed, killing all aboard but Hotch – who jumped out before it hit the ground – and one other soldier. “We were the last chopper coming in. It was just overloaded.”

Hotch spent three months in a hospital in Japan for a broken leg, back and neck injuries. “It was a helluva fall.” Given the option of not returning to Vietnam, Hotch spent the rest of his hitch in Korea.

Hotch has seen the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. and has used a monument directory to locate the names of friends who died in the crash. “The (monument) in Washington, it gives you the chillies when you go by it,” he said.

Terry Jacobson was an E5 in the Army’s 11th Air Cavalry. It was making missions into Cambodia with attack helicopters near the war’s end. As mail clerk, his duties included writing “deceased” on the mail of comrades whose deaths were coming in increasing numbers.

“You’d be drinking with guys one night and the next night they were gone,” Jacobson said. Jacobson has never visited the war memorial in Washington and said he wanted to find the names of his fallen comrades on the traveling wall here. “I want to look for them.”

John Newton spent the Vietnam years in Europe and Texas, as an Army tank gunner. The memorial, he said, has done the country good by serving as a reminder of the sacrifice paid by veterans.

“It’s part of our history, and my personal feeling is that without it, the Iraq and Afghanistan vets would have had to go through what we went through. The government is taking a little bit better care of its vets now,” Newton said. “But the main reason to bring it is for those 58,000 names.”