OKANOGAN — “Iraq has a distinct smell, one that I will never be able to get out of my head,” my father tells me. He claims that he still smells it on some of the things that he brought back, but I don’t smell it anymore. When he returned, the smell was everywhere, like old sweat and dirt from thousands of years ago. I just figured it was the smell of war; a sign that he had gone through some of the most dangerous places on Earth and survived.
“I, _____, do solemnly affirm that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God.”
Editor’s note: This story was originally published in The Wenatchee World on Nov. 11, 2009. Erick Erickson is now 88 and living in Wenatchee. His friend Karl Bates, now 86, still lives in Yakima. Erickson flew to Washington, D.C., in early November 2012 as part of the Inland Northwest Honor Flight to visit Alrlington National Cemetery and the World War II Memorial.
After 13 months in Vietnam, Bill Lay found himself coming home on a bus ride to the airport. At the airport, a crowd of about 30 people stood waiting on the sidewalk. They threw food at the bus and spat at the military members’ faces when they stepped off the bus.