Another Brother Gone. From Del.
In June of '68 I was recovering from being wounded, but working still at the Division Photolab. My best buddy, who'd been with me on the day I got hit, was John Pennington, and he and the young photog who took over my field slot were on their way to Khe Sanh. On the rugged road part way
there, they were ambushed, starting with a big command detonated mine that blew away the truck they were on a killed everyone on it. We got the news and went into as much mourning as you can do in the middle of a
John's younger brother George had volunteered for the Navy and became a Corpsman. He served with one of the battalions that was sometimes offshore and brought in for operations, I can no longer remember which it was.
The next morning George showed up at Division to see his beloved older brother, they had been strongly bonded since they were very little boys. We had to break the news to him, and it was devastating. I had some strong rum sent to me by a friend in Missouri, and proceeded that afternoon and evening to get him drunk enough so he could break down and
cry bitterly, as he needed to. It was a long night.
Our OIC pulled some strings and George was on a plane back to Utah the next day, arrived home still in jungle utilities, filthy, but there with all the family, parents and siblings. John's body arrived later and was buried on a nice hill with a view of the valley.
When I came home I stopped for a couple days there to visit the grave and the family. We became close and have been in contact ever since. I took the pictures at the weddings of George's daughters, visited them when they were overseas in Germany for years. He came to see us last Fall in Asheville, and I made sure to go see him back in January when I was in CA on business. He had aged a lot, but seemed to be hanging in there. As always, it was great to see him. You develop special bonds different ways, we were both Nam vets, we both loved his brother, we shared values about this nation, our families, and so much more.
My phone rang ten minutes ago, it was George's youngest daughter. He was found dead in his home earlier today, they don't know the cause yet, but he did have several health problems.
First, I thank God for the total off chance that let me go see him so recently. And second.... dammit, I'll miss him Departures like his leave a kind of hole in our lives that doesn't quite fill in even over time. God bless him, and keep him in peace and joy and with John again. When the funeral comes, if there's a way to get there, I'll be there and do some of the eulogy. He deserves to have another vet say some of the
things that should be said so that others will really understand at least a little better who he was.