War at Home Jul 67 Viet Nam Map
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(If I had thought about it, I would have photographs of this but just like the Viet Nam experience, I did not realize that history was being made)

In the summer of 1967, I came home to Milwaukee Wisconsin on an extension leave (a reward for staying another six months in Viet Nam).   What else would you do leaving living in a tent in Viet Nam but to come home and go on a canoe trip with some Explorer Scouts and live in a tent.  Well that is what I did with my High School buddies Tim Poshek and Bill Streng.

I didn't spend my whole leave on that canoe trip.  There was thirty days of catching up with the family and friends.

As luck would have it, I had a kidney stone attach right at the end of my leave.  After a week in a civilian hospital, I was transferred to Great Lakes Naval Hospital where I passed the stones.  I was discharged from Great Lakes after my scheduled return date to Viet Nam.  I was given two days to go home to Milwaukee, pack and get on my way back to the unit.

I arrived home in Milwaukee and was ready to go when a major event happened in Milwaukee in the summer of 1967.  The racially driven riots of 1967 caused a curfew in Milwaukee.  Checking with the Military Police, I was directed to obey the curfew until it was lifted at which time I could proceed back to the unit.

While the curfew was generally for everyone to stay home, my buddy Tim Poshek worked for the Milwaukee Journal Newspaper and had permission to travel downtown to the newspaper office.  The city officials wanted the newspaper delivered to keep the information flow to the people.  Tim offered to let me come with him and so I accompanied Tim into downtown Milwaukee during the Riots of 1967.

I went into the War at Home.

For those who do not remember, the growing unrest from racial inequalities had escalated into rioting.  This including burning of neighborhoods of major US cities.  The violence including acts like setting fires and then shooting at the firemen as they arrived at the scene of the fire.  It was a very violent time in the US.  There was a war between the government and rioting people.

I had a year and a half in Viet Nam, being in villages where we had to share with the VC, where I had to worry about the cyclo driver behind me, or where I had to worry about the people in the next room at a house of recreation.  I had often been very near an enemy who was very aggressively trying to kill me.

Now I was in downtown Milwaukee passing armed National Guardsmen.  It was chilling.  Armed guards in Viet Nam, sure; but in Milwaukee?

All the gas stations were closed because of the curfew.  We stopped at the gas station across the street from the newspaper to tank up because provisions had been made for newspaper personnel to get gas.situation once before in Germany when I has challenged by a guard when I was in a secured aircraft and the guard did not know I was supposed to be there. 

Two police squad cars zoomed in and officers flew out.  The next thing I knew I was looking at the wrong end of a shotgun.  I had been in the The only problem in Milwaukee was the looks on the police officers’ faces.  They were not as calm as the guard in Germany.

So here I was on leave from the war in Viet Nam in Milwaukee Wisconsin and I was feeling more fear then I ever felt in Viet Nam.  Perhaps it was because in Viet Nam, I expected to be in jeopardy.

After a few minutes and a radio check, the police officers backed off and we were on our way.

A few days latter, the curfew was lifted, and I was on my way back to the safety of Viet Nam. (another story)

With all the memories of Viet Nam, we all need to remember how violent in can be at home when things get out of hand.  We do not need Wars at Home.