Bill Pozzi

Bill Pozzi

In 1971, I was flying out of San Francisco International Airport. I had been in the Vietnam War recently and had learned to always look up; the VC would put trip lines just above eye level that would set off booby traps.

Above the arrival door was a balcony that allowed people from the street to see who was arriving. This was before 9/11. There was no airport security. We were all normal then. We did not have to take our shoes and clothing off to fly on a plane.

I saw this gaggle of hippies walk in the door from the street carrying signs and a couple of cans with liquid in them. At that time, approximately 25 Army men with sea bags on their shoulders walked in a door from the tarmac – they were obviously coming back from Vietnam.

The hippies leaned over the balcony rail and spit and poured some kind of fluid on these poor guys while shouting derogatory sayings and mocking them.

I could see this unfold from where I was standing. It was the first and last time in my life that I was filled with rage – I saw red. I tried to find a way to get up to that balcony. My intent was to punish those lowlifes.

This incident really left a bad taste in my mouth, and I hated the hippie movement. How could these creatures punish men who were drafted by a Democratic president and sent against their will to fight in a war that had a no-win strategy conceived by old liberal men and women in Washington, D.C.?

The war divided the country; most of the young did not want to fight. The old, especially the World War II crowd, thought it was a walk in the park compared to the Big One, WWII. If you were in the armed service and had short hair, none of your contemporaries would have anything to do with you. If you went out socially, you could find companionship with older people.

I would drive my truck into San Diego, park in a structure and go to the movies. On a few occasions, I had my windshield broken because I had a military base sticker on it. I spent four hours one night in the back of my truck, hoping to find the person who was going to rebreak my windshield. My thoughts were that something else would be broken but not my windshield.

The rudeness and antisocial attitude of the liberal antiwar movement was very demoralizing. It was something that I will never forget: We were called baby killers.

I really enjoyed being in the service, and the best time of my life was going to Vietnam. The country was beautiful, the people were very brave and the national food was great. Most of the men in my team did not want to come back to the U.S.

Fast forward 40 years, I started volunteering for Warriors Weekend in 2012. My first job was in the kitchen preparing and cleaning up. A year later, I was given a job to drive a van. I transported the men and women from Port O’Connor to the community center or to the doctor if they became ill.

I got to know some of the injured. They would talk about their experiences, and I would listen. Even though I had the privilege of fighting in the Iraq War as well, they had a completely different viewpoint on their war.

They were not bitter about the citizenry; many were lost souls. By hanging out with these Marines and soldiers, I was able to let go of my animosity of things that happened 40 years earlier.

Seeing vast groups of folks from Houston to Victoria wave at the bus procession was really good for me. The people of South Texas are a cut above the rest of the country – very patriotic and gracious.

Who else donates at fundraisers, volunteers, drives their boat and attends a huge dinner to help folks they do not even know? Nowhere except Texas.

My wife, Barbara, was the organizer of their Vietnam War Parade. More than 500 Vietnam vets came and were finally “welcomed home.” Only in Texas.

I appreciate what Warrior’s Weekend has done for me and the Veterans they have helped. My first war had social implications; the Iraq/Afghanistan War had IED and PTSD issues. Warriors Weekend has helped us all. Thank you, Ron and Sherry Kocian, Michael Petrash and the hundreds of volunteers and donors who make this possible.

You have helped more than you will ever know.

Bill Pozzi is the Victoria County Republican Party chairman and a community volunteer. He served in the Vietnam and Iraq wars as a Navy Seal. He may be emailed at billvgop@gmail.com.

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(3) comments

Douglas Josef Halepaska

Too little too late is a major understatement. At least the men today definitely appear to be well treated.

Pat Tally

The Viet Nam conflict has had its claws in almost all of us who lived through it as adults. Who got drafted and who got out of it. Was it necessary and why. How could Americans be involved in perpetuating atrocities so soon after WWII. Most people who were anti-war were not hippies. They were just against war and against sending American boys to war, especially that war. They certainly were against the government also. There were anti-establishment sit-ins, marches and the rioting at the Democratic convention. I think we can agree that our country was damaged by that war in ways we are still experiencing. Many anti war Americans regret the way soldiers were treated and parades have been held all over this country to try to make up for the way Americans acted in the 1960s and 70s. Around 100,000 people attended the 2011 parade in Chicago. Too little too late for many. The many people who created Warrior Weekend and contribute their time and money deserve so much credit and I hope they are touched to hear that it has benefitted not only the participating veterans but people like you and me who still bear unseen scars from “the Viet Nam era” and wish our leaders had never gotten involved.

Glenn Wilson

Pat "...not only the participating veterans but people like you and me who still bear unseen scars from “the Viet Nam era” and wish our leaders had never gotten involved." -- And yet, learning nothing whatsoever from the experience, our government, in collusion with the Defense Industry, has dragged our troops all over the Middle East accomplishing nothing but killing, destruction and burning up taxpayer $. The latest episode in this sorry drama has gone on for 18 years, through Republican and Democratic administrations. This time around though the government has done its PR work and convinced We The Sheeple that America is in danger and is being protected by our troops from invasion and annihilation. At least now we're thanking them instead of beating up on them.

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