Neil Harris

I served during the campaign from 1971-1975 in the USAF, operating (for the most part) out of Travis AFB, CA. During those times, I began on B-52s and then onto C141 and C5A aircraft. I changed from SAC to MAC because the US had stopped bombing NVN ... I didn't agree. Anyway, while a Crew Chief on a C5, my plane, as well as a handful more, got the honor and sorrow of bringing back from VN the remains of our comrads.

This was a very sorrowful, solumn, and disturbing duty. We would take across the pond the instruments of destruction and then return with the destroyed. I was very disturbed for many years afterwards .... the horror of directing and helping the loading and unloading, the setup in the large hangers for the poor families to come .... it was eating at my soul.

From time to time, it can still hit hard; but I believe I have recovered well and have a great deal of pride in what I (and my team) had to do for fellow compatriots, friends, family, and country.

During my "recovery" period, after I finished my tour, I wrote a poem that seemed to describe my inner thoughts.

REQUIEM (Mournful Song for the Battle Brave)

Over here - The plea was near The pocked men - The pocked earth The verdict - No win.

Over here - The plea was near There they lie - With wounds aflame And their eyes - Towards the sky.

Over here - The plea was near We sprang as seed - To comfort those Who needed us - In time of need.

Over here - The plea was near We too cried - The ancient drone Of mortal wound - And died.

Neil Harris

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Copyright © 2000 By Neil Harris, All Rights Reserved