by Kerry “Doc” Pardue
My friend, Doc Pardue, posted this on FB and I thought it enjoyable enough to share it here with you. I’m also certain that similar experiences occurred through the war…my penpal was a little boy of twelve.
Some people call it fate, some call it destiny, some people say you create your own path; others call the things that happen to us miracles. Some say we are given doors of opportunity every day. The ones we decide to open and walk through make up our life. I happen to believe in God and miracles both!
I graduated from Bloom Township High School (Chicago Heights, Ill.) in 1966 and went to college for a year I was really bored in college so I decided to take a break for a while and just work. My draft board had other plans for me. They sent me a letter and my mother called me to let me know I was to report for a physical. So I decided it would better for me to pick my field rather than be on the front lines as an Infantryman. My recruiter suggested medic and all he told me was I would be stationed at some nice hospital. Great man, you hold the paper I’ll move the pen. What he failed to tell me was that medics also served on front-lines with Infantry units.
I left for Basic then AIT, then the orders, my whole class was going to Vietnam. So on March 23, 1968 I landed in Vietnam. I was assigned to 170th Assault Helicopter Co. Dispensary in Plieku. It was there I picked up a magazine called Hotrod Cartoons and saw where GI’s could list their names and contact pen-pals from the states so I wrote in. Within a few days I was sent to Ban Me Thout to work the dispensary with 155th Assault Helicopter Co. While I was there two things happened. First, over 300 letters began to arrive from girls from all over the States, I picked out 5 to write to and Stephanie was the only one to write back. I gave the other letters away to other guys. The second thing to happen was that I found out that my uncle was assigned to the Scouts, 2/47th Infantry, 9th Infantry Division. Doug Burrell is my uncle we grew up together. So I decided I would put in a transfer to be with him. I was sent immediately.
Stephanie: Class of 1967, Kecoughtan High, Hampton, Virginia. She graduated from high school in 1967 and married Roger K Jones. Roger enlisted in the USMC and went to Vietnam and was killed on May 16, 1968 during a mortar attack on Hill 55, leaving behind a wife and a 19 month old little daughter, Candice. Stephanie moved in with her father, Col Albert Gamache, a fighter pilot stationed at Andrews Air Force Base near DC. She was there to help him with his three sons.
Her brother, Scotty went to camp and came home with a magazine called Hotrod Cartoons. Stephanie found a section where GI’s in Vietnam were asking for pen-pals. So in August 1968 began to write a GI named Kerry Pardue and two others. I was the only one to write back. Soon we were writing every day. For the next 7 months we became best friends. Before I left Vietnam I told Doug that I was going to marry Stephanie. Right after we started writing she decided to go to school to become a Hairdresser and moved into her own apartment in Baltimore, Maryland.
Doug and I left Vietnam on March 23, 1969 and I went home to Chicago area and stayed for a week. While there, Stephanie and I talked on the phone every day. I caught a flight to Baltimore to meet her and Candice. I stayed for a week. We really hit it off but I had orders to report to the 18th Airborne Corp in Ft. Bragg, North Carolina. I knew I wanted to marry Stephanie and decided to go to the Pentagon and get my orders changed. I found the section and asked if I could get my orders changed to Ft. Meade, Maryland and they told me no, but that I could go to the Flight Surgeon’s Office at Ft. Belvior, Virginia and do flight physicals. That was only 60 miles away I said I’ll take it. I left thirty minutes later with new orders.
Stephanie and I went over to her aunt’s house to celebrate and I asked her to marry me. She said yes and we set a date for September 5, 1969. Three year old Candice gave her mother away. That was over 32 years ago and we are still together and are best friends. We raised three children and now have seven grandchildren. I do believe in miracles! I had to go to Vietnam to meet my future bride.
©Copyright 2002 by Kerry “Doc” Pardue
Thank you brother for the fine article! Thank you, too, for your service and sacrifice…welcome home!
How many of you found your future wife while in Vietnam?
Kerry posted this on the website: International War Veteran’s Poetry Archives where readers will find a variety of posts written by veterans. Here’s the link: http://iwvpa.net/parduek/miracle-.php?fbclid=IwAR1Qx7J3pi79y_qsqeu-eQf76SSZgno0CpoQdfvEAttk3V12BpXX8OF751M
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