Now the New York Times has revived one of those old Trump scandals that may well be true but tells us nothing we didn’t already know about the maniacal ego centrist in the White House. While there isnt enough detail to prove this one beyond question, is sure looks like Trumps’ dad got these foot specialists to gin up some bone spurs for Donald’s Vietnam 4-F.
Which presents a good opportunity to tell my own Vietnam era story and note it doesn’t matter what Trump did in the 1960s about Vietnam because it wasn’t like it was our great patriotic war. And don’t point at me for dissing those who were drafted or volunteered because I knew plenty of them who went, some who died and all who were patriots because of it.
I was at Penn State in the late 1960s, when all this happened. I was already working at newspapers, which would become my passion. A woman named Mildred Lego headed the draft board in Altoona, where I lived. It was noted at some point that I simply never signed up! My response to that in my sophomore year was to claim I thought they would just call and I was waiting.
That, of course, was a complete lie. I was already a sergeant in the Army ROTC and looking forward to a juicy check as my academic career continued to develop when, boom, it was suddenly over. Once again, I had no idea that it would require some science credits to go on to a journalism major so I almost completely avoided science classes except for the one or two I failed with flying colors. It was simply too concrete for me.
So, when it came time to register at Penn State’s main campus in State College, I just tossed my punch cards into the air and walked out. The only good thing that came to me out of college was my relationship with my wife, who I remain fond of to this day!
Before you knew it, mail arrived from the government telling me my student deferment was lifted and I had to ride the bus to Pittsburgh to get a physical before I was put into the Army. I took the ride, after checking up on all the things people did to fail the draft physical. None of it sounded likely to me. So there I stood, pretty sturdy looking in a collection of guys with caved in chests and pimples and Gawd only knows what else.
I kept moving along handily and passing every test with flying colors until I got to the guy who wanted to look at my butt. He noticed that just above that region lived a handy scar from a back operation, a Z-shaped thing about four inches long. “So what did they do there?” the doctor asked. “Cyst removal,” I said. “Good. You’re out of here. 4-F.”
Well shit, I said. I thought I would be going into the army having blown my early college career. “Not with a scar like that one,” he said. “You couldn’t sit in a jeep for more than an hour without irritating it and next thing you know, maybe another cyst. The Army doesn’t want to have to pay for your operation.”
I don’t want to say I was delighted. Perhaps not being very bright at that point, I thought the army might be a good place to go. I was a very good shot with a rifle. I had some stamina. I was generally well behaved. I saw an officers’ career ahead of me.
Nope. The 4-F certification came in the mail a while later.
So I was out of it. Completely out of it.
Not a bad thing. I had some friends die in Vietnam and some others come back so ruined I could not recognize what had happened to them. But it didn’t land on me.
So maybe I understand why Donald Trump lied his way out of Vietnam. He didn’t want to go either. Who could blame him? The problem was he had to use his father’s influence to get the pass. I did not. I used my career as a high school furniture mover in a warehouse and some shenanigans on a conveyer belt as my excuse. That’s where the cyst came from.
That’s so far behind me now I can barely remember the operation, except there were some very good looking nurses at Mercy Hospital in Altoona who kept telling me to sit with my legs crossed because more than my asset was exposed in those robes.
Later on when I was a reporter for UPI in Moscow I made a friend of Joseph L. Galloway, and that remains to this day. He is the man who respected soldiers, particularly soldiers in that war, so greatly that he picked up a rifle at a seminal battle early in the war and fired at the enemy. Bold for a photojournalist, I would suggest.
Books and movies have flowed from that event. And a friendship flowed from it for me. He got a medal and I got an old friend.
So it wasn’t all so bad.