Grover Wright, Promise Made, Promise Kept

Posted on July 31, 2020

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Vietnam, late February, 1970
The sun had set, and I was alone in my room, spread out on my cot. My roommate Cliff Lee, scout pilot/lift pilot had returned to the Real World. He had survived a year of combat.

The door cracked open, and then David Zimmerman, a fellow cobra pilot stuck his head in, and asked how my day went. We started talking as he came in, and slid into a half-sitting, slouched position up against the wall, a can of beer in his hand.

The small talk went serious when David said that he was pretty sure that none of us would remember each other, and what we were doing in ten years. I told him that I disagreed.

In support of his theory, he pointed out how little each of us REALLY KNOW about our parents; and the minuscule amount we know about our grandparents. The discussion finally went personal, as most discussions like this do. I told him I would never forget his “sorry ass.” He said he was pretty sure he would forget me! We continued to point and counter-point…. until we came to THE PACT.

If one of us was to be killed, the survivor would come to the grave of the fallen sky trooper, drink a six pack of beer, and… urinate on the fallen’s grave. Yes… pee on the grave! This is a perfect example of what months of combat do to one’s mind. Your protective mental health mechanism from the INSANITY is to become a hardened, non-emotional soul. It was funny. It was soo Charlie Troop. I agreed to THE PACT.

David and Kevin Frye were subsequently killed in Vietnam on July 28, 1970. The details of this are covered in perfect detail in Randy Zahn’s excellent book, “Snake Pilot” available on Amazon. Suffice it to say, I will forever hold the army flight school system responsible for this tragedy for ignoring a serious flaw in David’s training.

For ten years THE PACT weighed heavily on my emotions and in my soul. On Sunday, August 3, 1980, I knelt on the ground staring at David’s headstone. I hate drinking beer. We should have said whiskey. With tears pouring down my cheeks, I realized that I was going to fail at completing THE PACT. The times had changed, I was not protected by the wall that kept emotions at bay. I begged forgiveness for not being able to urinate on his grave. The act was now obscene, was now vulgar. I promised instead to never forget. I promised to keep our PACT dear to my heart.

July 29, 2020 Lodi, California
Stephanie and I traveled to David’s grave. Armed with a single yellow rose, a small American flag and a six pack of beer, we approached his grave. It wasn’t any easier. In the back of my mind there was a detail that I could not do. Does it really matter?

I acknowledge this burden that I, and all my brothers carry. It has two components: the loss of fantastic friends in combat, and our own survivor’s guilt. We were there alongside our brothers as they fell, ending their lives. We are here now, wondering, why we are here. For many of my brothers, the survivor’s guilt is deafening. My heart cries for them.

Today was an emotional cleansing day for me. I can still look at myself in the mirror and say that I have kept THE PACT for fifty years. I will return again, in years to come to David’s grave. I will remember. I will remember.

Image may contain: 1 person, closeup
Image may contain: grass, outdoor and nature, text that says 'DAVID ZIMMERMAI LALIFORNIA CWO US ARMY VIETNAM BSM AME 43 OLC JULY 23 1948 JULY 28 1970 80'
Image may contain: one or more people, grass and outdoor
  • Dave Smith Awesome story Grover!!! We never can forget!!!😪😪😪
  • Nichole Tuscher 😢❤️
  • Toni Joe Flynn Thank You for your service and Thank You for Sharing this heartfelt story…now I have to find the tissues.
  • Tim Thurrott Thank you for sharing, glad to see the pact is being honored. God bless David and his loved ones.

     

    Grover WrightGrover Wright replied

     

  • Joni Bollinger Thank you for sharing your story. Thank you so much for your service!!!
  • Gerald Morgan So many bits and pieces of our memories like this, at the allotted time rise to consciousness to never forget our friends lost in smoke and dust of combat.

     

    Grover WrightGrover Wright replied

       1 Reply

  • Dan Bollinger Thank you for sharing, thank you for your great service!
  • Bruce Huffman Thank you for keeping your oath!

     

    Grover WrightGrover Wright replied

       1 Reply

  • Randy Zahn You’re a good man, Grover. Proud to have you as my mentor and my lifelong friend.
    I’ll make an oath now. I won’t be pissing on your grave!!

     

    Grover WrightGrover Wright replied

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  • Susan Holler Wilkes Thank you for sharing yourself from your heart. You are an honorable friend and your words and actions speak volumes about who you are and the heartfelt relationships you had and continue to have with those you served with.
    Thank you for your service Grover!

     

    Susan Holler WilkesSusan Holler Wilkes replied

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  • Randy Zahn It never eases.
  • Vincent Nelson Jr I too, have a similar story. I will relate it some day. Love you Bro!!
  • Steve Collinsworth Thanks for keeping THE PACT, and for letting us see in your heart, Grover.
  • Kim Walker Florez Grover, thank you for sharing your story, it is important not just to you and our brothers, but the wives of Vietnam Veteran for we try to understand, what I learned from this is, I can never really understand I’ll I can do is be HERE always for not jSee More
  • Marilyn Kresse Owens Thank you for sharing, Grover. You have such a good heart. You are respected and loved by your fellow brothers in arms, and by we wives too.

     

    Marilyn Kresse OwensMarilyn Kresse Owens replied

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  • Joe Mosby And love u guys for it. 👍🏼😎😎

     

    Grover WrightGrover Wright replied

       1 Reply

  • Edd Hogeboom God Bless you and your Family Grover!!! God Bless all of our Brothers and their Families who have preceded us into our Homes in Heaven!!! God Bless all of our Brothers and their Families who still share this life with us!!! The First Team Brotherhood will never end!!!

     

    Grover WrightGrover Wright replied

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  • Frida Santa A friend,a mentor and God fearing gentle man.

     

    Grover WrightGrover Wright replied

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    Grover WrightGrover Wright replied

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  • Meghan Stice Sending extra hugs!

     

    Grover WrightGrover Wright replied

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  • Robert D. Heckler Headhunter sir!

     

    Robert D. HecklerRobert D. Heckler replied

       2 Replies   2h

  • Patti Pringle You are a wonderful and great friend to all you served with they will always remember you and you will remember them you are true to your word So sorry so many were lost in the Vietnam War or injured But I thank you Grover for serving OUR Country and all your brothers I knew some that served Thank you hugs

     

    Grover WrightGrover Wright replied

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  • Joey Myers Amazing story!

     

    Grover WrightGrover Wright replied

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  • Gary Sherman HOORAH! May our brothers rest in peace; They deserve it.
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    Grover WrightGrover Wright replied

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  • John Loftice Thanks for sharing Grover. No closer friends than those made in combat as you know. Nothing more honorable than honoring those friends as you just have. Glad to have you as a friend from those days though we didn’t fly in combat together we learneSee More

     

    Grover WrightGrover Wright replied

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  • Janet-Marie Whitley Beautifully written Grover. It came from your inner soul. Our country is indebted to all our Vietnam Vets for their service. You know how much I appreciate you and our friendship. If only we had more like you in the world.

     

    Janet-Marie WhitleyJanet-Marie Whitley replied

       2 Replies   26m

  • John Strickland Grover Wright Thanks for sharing my brother. The survivors guilt will always be in the back of all our minds. We just have to learn how to deal with it.
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    Grover WrightGrover Wright replied

  • Patrick Bieneman Grover, you are the epitome of what “True” friendship really means. Love ya brother.
    • Grover Wright Patrick Bieneman thank you buddy! Thank you for Nam. And thank you for all you and Carol do daily for our Troop. I greatly appreciate your efforts!!