It's been 41-plus years. I so vividly remember the summer morning on our North Boyer farm when Mother came outside the house to tell me that my older brother Mike had just called from Vietnam.
"I'm okay," Mike, a 1966 West Point graduate, had first told our mother.
Such a beginning for a telephone conversation spanning thousands of miles! And, such relief when we heard the details of his story!
Mike was okay because he had just survived the first-ever SAM missile shootdown in combat. He was flying a Cobra helicopter that day, with Capt. Marco Cordon serving as his co-pilot.
The heat-seeking missile exploded and tore the complete tailboom from the helicopter. Within a split second, my brother gathered his thoughts and guided the helicopter to a crash landing.
Soon, the two were rescued by members of a squadron who had witnessed the missile attack.
The details of that day have stuck with my brother for four decades. Over the years, he has been able to contact most of his military colleagues who played a part in that day and those involved in the many bloody days which his unit experienced during their service in the Vietnam War.
Mike's story was compelling enough for Colonel Oliver North to invite him for an interview segment on "War Stories."
This morning, on Veterans' Day 2013, Mike has released the Kindle edition of his memoir at www.amazon.com.
The memoir chronicles Mike's journey from Sandpoint to West Point, after receiving a nomination from U.S. Representative Gracie Pfost. It moves on to his two tours of duty in Vietnam, which were climaxed by the helicopter shootdown and rescue.
He tells of his life after Vietnam, working in the paper industry. As the years passed, he continued to reconnect with military comrades and in some cases, their widows.
The memoir also includes a Brown family visit to Vietnam after the war. Also, interspersed among the anecdotes are Mike's personal thoughts on the Vietnam and his passionate reflections of the many brave soldiers who persevered and served in the unpopular war.
As an English teacher, author and journalist, I can assure potential readers that Mike tells a compelling story, even when he must provide technical information about military situations and helicopters.
This past year Mike and our youngest brother Jim, an Oregon architect and illustrator, got together and talked about the scene where he and his co-pilot were rescued. Jim's detailed full-color painting of the scene, included in the memoir, is superb, to say the least.
I'm proud of both brothers and extremely proud to recommend Mike's memoir, especially on this Veterans' Day 2013. His story poignantly reminds us of continuing sacrifices and bravery our troops put forth in our behalf.
Thank you, Mike, for your inspiring memoir. Thank you, Jim, for your talents in portraying a vital part of Mike's story.
And, thanks to veterans from all wars who have given of themselves for our freedoms and way of life.