Veteran’s Day Nov. 11 2023

When Jim and I lived in King William and I used to keep my horse at the Fort Sam Houston stables, a group of us used to ride on the grounds where permitted. Down into Salado Creek and around the edge of the national cemetery, where Jim is now buried.

One time when we were near the edge of the National Cemetery we saw a pile of gravestones, just heaped up, some scattered around, all broken. A retired Marine sergeant who used to ride with us. Don Diaz, rode over to them and looked them over and said, “They’re being replaced. They got broken or worn or stained and they’re being replaced, these are discards.” And he leaned down to read the names, as if he might know them.

Don and I used to ride together from time to time, just the two of us, and he told me a lot of stories about Vietnam. He didn’t mind telling me the stories because he knew my husband was a combat veteran. He said he knew a lot of young soldiers that got killed because of poor training. He said they’d been trained as if they were going off to fight a regular army as in WW2. He also told me good stories about growing up poor and Hispanic in San Antonio. I hope he is still among the living. He was a great guy.

AP photo