'They Are My Men': A 50-Year Veterans Reunion Helped My Dad Process A Brutal Battle
by Kara Frame
Nov. 11, 2018
At that exact time 50 years ago, the guys were half a world away, about to enter battle. It was a muggy morning and my dad’s unit, part of the 5th Infantry Regiment,was headed on a reconnaissance mission into enemy territory. There were 88 men from his unit there that day. Some were on foot, wading through thick brush into the dark canopy of the Ben Cui rubber tree plantation. Others were in armored personnel carriers behind .50-caliber machine guns.
Not a day goes by that my dad, former Army Staff Sgt. Tom Frame, doesn’t think about the men who fought and died alongside him in Vietnam.
Staff Sgt. Tom Frame, the author's father, stands at right in this 1968 snapshot from Vietnam. Frame family photoIn recent years for Veterans Day, he and some other guys from his unit have paid tribute by traveling to Texas, which was home for Staff Sgt. Marvin Rex Young. Young was one of 18 men who lost their lives in the Battle of Ben Cui, an intense firefight between my dad’s unit and the North Vietnamese army.
The pilgrimages have been a way for my dad to reconnect with his fellow soldiers. And it was another trip to Texas, back in the summer, that really helped him honor Young and the others who died in the Battle of Ben Cui.
It has been 50 years since Ben Cui, and to mark the anniversary, my dad organized a reunion for soldiers from his unit and for family – the first time since 1968 that the men would be together on the day of the battle, Aug. 21.
I asked him why he wanted to get the guys together. “It’s my duty,” he said.
But really, my father doesn’t need an occasion to remember. “I wake up in the morning and I look outside at a beautiful morning — and I think about them,” he told me. He wonders why he survived and they didn’t. It weighs on him. And it has weighed on our whole family — in the form of post-traumatic stress disorder.
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