Edd Hogeboom – It is Our Obligation

Posted on February 19, 2012


It Is Our Obligation

It is my belief, as it is of many who served in Southeast Asia; that if everyone does not make it back, then there is a little part of each of us left behind.  For this reason, I think it is critically important to each one of us, men and women alike, to understand the obligation we all have to those that did not return with us, their families, our families, our country and ourselves.

Many would look at us or hear our stories of war and death and say we need to quit living in the past and get on with our lives…and, you know, they are right!  In fact, we have a debt to pay that requires us to live in the present.  Yes, maybe our memories do carry us back a way, but these memories also remind us of who we really are, what we are made of, and, most of all, it gives us the ability to do creative things for the benefit of everyone today and the many tomorrows to come

There’s a philosophy that believes that the almost indiscernible impact of a single raindrop in a lake somewhere on this planet inevitably has an impact on the level of the oceans of the world.  Let me take you mentally through time for a few moments to show you the meaning that exists within this statement.

Over a thousand years ago in Europe, a small child was playing outside the family hut. Just as he was about to smash a small caterpillar with a rock, his mother calls him to come eat and the caterpillar lived to make a cocoon and later a butterfly.  The butterfly is later caught by a mother bird, which carries the butterfly back to her nest to feed her young.

That single butterfly, that spring, was just enough food to keep the small birds from starving.  They eventually grew and left the nest.  One day they flew over a man who watched as they flew by and began to wonder if a man were to try to duplicate the wings of a bird, might the man be able to fly through the air, as well.

Well, Mr. Leonardo Da Vinci thought about the possibilities watching these little birds swoop and soar in the sky above him and he drew diagrams and built models and later full size “gliding wings.”  Many years later other men of vision and scientific thought began building, designing and actually flying machines that from, in part, originated with some of Da Vinci’s concepts.  Later, a man by the name of Igor Sikorsky invented the helicopter, again not too unlike some of Da Vinci’s more basic designs.

Well, as time passed there were other ideas of a more political nature forming within different countries that often would breed conflict to the point of war.  As one country would strive to overcome other countries militarily, the invention of the airplane, and much later, that of the helicopter took on a whole new meaning.  As these weapons of war became perfected and far more sophisticated, there were those, as in our great Country, that were called to serve.

It was in Southeast Asia, that the helicopter came into it’s own.  First it served as a troop transport.   Later a more aggressive concept was developed which involved arming the helicopters and eventually taking them to the level of flying gun platforms.  All the while, the need for information involving the movement and location of the enemy became ever more important.  The smaller, lighter helicopters seemed to fill this need very well.

Those that were trained to fly the various types of helicopters during these conflicts were known as Combat Helicopter Pilots…just like you and me.  Stop, though, and think with me for just a moment.  What might have been the case if that little boy’s mother over in Europe had called him to eat just one second later?  He would have smashed that caterpillar and the little birds not getting that food would have died.  Later, when Mr. Da Vinci looked up in the sky and did not see those birds flying high overhead, he may have walked back into his house and painted Mona Lisa’s twin sister, instead of thinking up designs that would allow men years later to invent and perfect actual aircraft that would fly.

Maybe countries would still be sending their young men and women to war on the ground and at sea, but not in the air unless it would have been in balloons.  So, there would not have been a need for that expertise that you and I, and so many others, learned and developed to such a well-refined skill that we could become part of that unusual breed known as helicopter pilots…and all because a small boy killed a caterpillar over a thousand years ago.

Yes, I know you think this idea is really out in left field…but truly, it’s not that far-fetched.  We know that the thoughts and actions of everyone carry an equal and reflective action be it in a personal relationship, a community action, or an international incident.

If each of us has the opportunity to create one positive action a day that aids someone else, no matter how seemingly trivial or small that action may appear to be, it will have a positive affect on another’s life and will, in fact, start a chain reaction in usually a positive direction that will affect many others, as well.  As an example, and this actually occurred, a friend’s wife had been given an inspirational book some years ago.  When her husband lost his job, she gave him a copy to read.

When he heard I had lost my job a couple of years later, he sent me a copy to read.  I liked it so much, that I gave a copy to my wife’s cousin.  He, in turn, let his wife read it as well.  She liked it so much, she gave a copy to her sister who stuck it in a drawer by her bed and never opened it.  Several months went by and the sister’s husband walked out on her.  Being hurt and distraught she reached into the drawer next to her bed for some sleeping pills that she had planned to take her own life with.  Fortunately, her hand fell upon the book rather than the pill bottle and something caused her to dry her tears and open the book.  She read the entire book that night and never opened the pill bottle.

So someone giving a friend’s wife a copy of a book she thought was inspirational and helpful to her, eventually saved the life of a woman who the she will never even meet or get to know.  That’s, actually, not the important part of this story.  The importance lies in the fact that this particular book was written by two anonymous women in England in the early 1800’s.  It had to be read by so many people and passed from one to another to cover at least two continents, well over one hundred years, and an untold number of people before it saved this one woman’s life.

What would have occurred if any of the events hadn’t happened?  It may still have taken place but through different channels.  Once a positive or a negative action occurs it seeks the path of least resistance, but it seldom stops before all that can be accomplished is accomplished.

So, our obligation to those who didn’t return with us “to the world,” is to do not only the good we would have done anyway, but do a little extra for our comrade-in-arms that didn’t make it.  Maybe, somehow, this will help his family, either now or down the road and just maybe yours and my grandchildren won’t have to do what you and I had to do to keep freedom free!

Finally, the past is only useful and productive when kept in a perspective that will enable us to create peace, prosperity and a greater good for everyone tomorrow.  May God Bless us all!

Respectfully submitted by,

Edd Hogeboom, CAV 16

C Troop, 1st of the 9th, Air Cav

RVN 69-70