In the last 50-plus years, I’ve been asked many times why I was picked to escort the first Air Force master sergeant who was killed in Vietnam to Arlington Cemetery in Virginia.
My general said he picked me because I was of equal rank, looked good in my uniform, and could talk to the war protesters, who were very upset with this new war we found ourselves in.
Arlington Cemetery was very large at that time. Later when I was assigned to the Pentagon, it looked twice that size.
The one person I talked with was Vice President Johnson.
When I returned to Travis Air Force Base, I received a nice thank you letter from the sergeant’s wife and daughter, whom I also escorted there. My general received a nice report from the Pentagon of my escort duty, and a copy was put in my military records.
I never heard from the wife and daughter again.
(Contributing writer Everett Vanover lives in California.)