Last night, while looking for something completely unrelated, I ended up finding a Yahoo group I forgot I had joined. The Yahoo group was for those who had served at an Air Force base in Thailand during the Vietnam War, and their families. I joined the group back in 2009, after my dad had passed away unexpectedly. I was hoping I would find out some more information about my dad’s time in the Air Force. Yahoo groups aren’t really my forte, so I soon forgot about it.
And yet, last night I found myself going through the photo galleries of this group, hoping to catch a glimpse of my dad as a young man. Then I was googling, image searching, taking the bits and pieces of what I knew about my father’s time in the military and trying to come up with something. Unfortunately, I didn’t find my father.
I have lots of wonderful memories of my dad, and in that sense I am very blessed. But I know very little about this time in his life, where as a young man – a kid, really – he left behind all he knew to go live in the jungle and work as a jet mechanic. There’s a whole side of my dad’s life that I can’t really explore because I just don’t know much about it. I never took the time to ask. And he’s not here anymore to tell me. I thought I had many more years with my father; turns out, I didn’t.
My advice to you, if your parents are still living, is to learn as much as you can about the lives they had before you were born. It may not interest you much now, but some point you may not have them anymore. And you may find yourself desperately reaching for any piece of them you can find, something new and undiscovered to add to your catalog of memories. So ask questions. Write down the answers. Save them for a time, hopefully in the distant future, where the longing you have to see that person is almost more than you can bear. Trust me, you won’t regret it.
My father served in Thailand at the Takhli Royal Thai Air Force Base as a Jet Mechanic from January 1967 to December 1967. He may have been an F-105 crew chief. If you think there’s a chance you may have known my dad, please contact me. Thank you to all who have served in our country’s armed forces, past and present.