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Ennis man recalls war experiences

Local author and Ennis native Ray Jackson said writing is easy when you write about what you know and he should know.
Jackson’s first book Military Police Protection in Southeast Asia recounts the stories of his time in Vietnam while his upcoming books will focus on his family and their struggles. His book on Vietnam is his first effort at writing and one he said really began in 1986 but was completed earlier this year.
"In 1986, the Ennis community put up a memorial to deceased veterans and some names were left off of it, so I wrote a letter to the editor of the Ennis Daily News and received a great response from it," he said. "From there I made a trip to Washington to visit the memorial and get the list of names of the people from Ennis that had been killed, which made me think of how the families of all these people must have felt not knowing how their loved ones had lived and the struggles they went through, which prompted me to write things down and ultimately led to the book."
It wasn’t as easy then for families to communicate with their loved ones back home and Jackson should know. He and his best friend Jimmy Swindell were only stationed five miles apart but didn’t know it for six months until their mothers were comparing letters from their sons.
"When I received a letter from my mother telling me Ray was only five miles away, I was about to head out on an R&R excursion to Australia but I stopped by the base where he was before I went," Swindell said. "He had just gone to bed because he had pulled an overnight shift and I walked into the tent where he was and his foot was hanging off the bed so I reached down and pulled on his toe and he stirred a little so I walked up closer to the head of the bed and did it again, he woke up and raised his arm like he was going to take a swing at me, but when he saw who it was he just grabbed my neck. It was a heck of a way to find each other over there, but we were glad we could."
Swindell then visited Jackson again on his return from Australia but that was the only time the two saw each other until they were sent home.
Jackson said the treatment they received while on their way to Ennis was both wonderful and awful, but their hometown community was always good to them.
"When we were coming home we flew military standby so we had to wear our uniforms to the airport and to get to the airport they loaded us on buses that had metal wiring over the windows to protect us from the people that were against the Vietnam War," Jackson said. "People called us all kinds of names and threw things at us and I remember this one lady that had to be in her 20s running up to the bus and flipping us off and I couldn’t understand what we had done to deserve that, but that is how it was. At the airport though when we got on the plane everyone stood and applauded us until we were seated and did the same thing when we got off the plane. When we got home the community took care of us and welcomed us back. It was good to be home."
Swindell said reading the details of what his friend went though and being mentioned in the book regarding the time they spent together when they finally found each other is great and he is proud of his friend for his efforts to portray that time in a way that not only covers the bad stuff, but the fun times too.
"I knew Ray was writing the book because he called to ask me if he could use my name and talk about seeing each other, but I didn’t know how it would be done," he said. "With no formal training on how to write books, Ray has done a fantastic job on this book. He tells the story but keeps it interesting by covering a lot of topics and adding in some of the fun times as well. The only thing is that you get to know some of our secrets," Swindell joked.
For those wanting to pick up a copy of the book or meet the author to have the book signed, Jackson will be at Interior Ideas on Dec. 20 from 11 a.m. – 2 p.m. A limited number of books are available and more can be purchased at Amazon.com or Barnes and Noble.com.

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Posted by on Dec 19 2008. Filed under Sports. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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