Today is National Vietnam War Veterans Day, which, this year, is commemorating the 50th anniversary of the end of the Vietnam War. Fifty years ago today, the final US combat troops withdrew from Vietnam.
Over the years of the Vietnam War, 2,700,000 men and women served and 58,220 U.S. soldiers died. In the 1950s, there was only a small number of advisors there, but a build-up began in 1961 and by 1969, there were 500,000 American soldiers there. One of those men was my dear friend Sonny Crawford, who volunteered to go. During his time there, he served as a point man for his platoon, meaning he was the first person in line when on patrol, the most dangerous position. Sonny was recognized for his bravery by being awarded a Purple Heart.
Sonny returned to the United States after his tour and has committed the rest of his life to peace. He is a self-described “old hippie” who lives in the Berkshires of Massachusetts with his family. While in Vietnam, he fell in love with Southeast Asia and for many years, he traveled to that part of the world so that he could buy Asian art pieces to import to the United States. Also, he and his wife Emily adopted their beloved son, Sovahn, who was born in Cambodia.
Sonny, with his purple heart license plates on his truck, is still serving others. After hearing that his local emergency services put out a call for EMTs, Sonny jumped in and took all the courses and training required to pass his national certification. At 72, he is actively involved, and routinely heads off to help when someone has been injured in an accident. After hearing many of Sonny’s stories, it’s clear that he’s enjoying working with other emergency medical personnel and helping those in need.
Sonny has given more than his share to our country, and is, as they say in Texas, “a good’un.” He also has a wicked sense of humor, which, when coupled with Ray’s, can make me belly laugh. Not to mention that he’s fluent in several languages, including Thai, and is also an accomplished artist, musician, teacher and tree-trimmer.
Happy Vietnan War Veterans Day, Sonny, Thank you for your service.