Richard O’Connor on the Long Journey Home
By State of the Re:Union
Richard O’Connor was featured in our recent Veterans Day Special and was kind enough to share this:
On November 10, 2010, I was fortunate to be the subject of a broadcast on Veterans’ Day, a special by State of the Re:Union. Sara Wood interviewed me numerous times and worked with other SOTRU producers to produce this wonderful piece.
Jim Jerrell (USMC,Ret.) spoke on my behalf during the broadcast. I fought with him in Vietnam. He is responsible for getting me on the base (Travis AFB, Fairfield, CA) to sing and play my guitar for the wounded. He and his wife Estella have been visiting the wounded for the past seven years.
Nate Johnson was another contributor to the broadcast. He works for the Concord Vet Center as a counselor. He is an avid cyclist and has organized a yearly 500-mile bike ride from San Francisco to Camp Pendleton, CA. It is called “The California Tour-500 Miles in Support of Our Wounded Veterans.” I have met up with them for 2 years to sing at campsite stop at New Brighton State Beach in Santa Cruz.
It wasn’t until 2008, with the help of a VA counselor, Jeff Jewell, that I was able to find the Marines I fought with in Vietnam. Now I can go to the website (http://12thmarinesassoc.homestead.com/index.html) to see and chat with fellow Marines. There on the site you can see pictures of my fellow Marines and myself. Mike Hoskins who also spoke on the broadcast put this site together. We fought together on the same howitzer on Gio Linh and both were wounded twice after 64 days of fighting (1967). Mike has written a book about his experiences and would like to publish it. I also have written a book, but I am more reluctant to face the publishing process.
I was wounded 3 times during my year in Vietnam. I came home on a stretcher to an empty airport and a changed life. The cargo plane landed in May, 1986, at the same Travis Air Force Base where I sing and play today.
It’s déjà vu!