VIETNAM VETERAN — Joe Ryan gives a huge “thank you” to all the Vietnam veterans who served back in the day. In this picture he is 19-years-old, back in April 1969 in the U.S. Army.

Veteran remembers Vietnam

Published Apr 8, 2018 at 9:00am

Last Monday was Vietnam Veterans Day.

It was a time to say thank you to our 2.7 million who were in the country of Vietnam during the war. Did you know one out of every 10 Americans who stepped foot in Vietnam was a casualty? Did you know 58,148 were killed and 304,000 were wounded?

It was 50 years ago that I was an 18-year-old soldier in the U.S. Army. My closest memory of a near-death experience happened one night along the Cambodian border in the summer of 1968. The North Vietnamese Army fired about 100 rockets on our position. As I scrambled for cover, one rocket landed just a few feet from me. It had my name on it. My fellow soldiers told me you never hear the one that gets you. I actually heard this one coming. It failed to detonate. I guess God had a plan for me to write this sports column for you every week.

Back in 1984, I asked Smith Post/Rome Free Academy baseball star Michael Moshier why he sprints out to second base between innings. He was the starting second baseman for two years and he answered, “If I run as fast as I can I will get two or three practice throws from the first baseman before the shortstop or third baseman get to their positions.” Mike went on to play baseball for Notre Dame University and was a four-year starter. Did you know he was only 5-foot-4 inches tall?

Mike broke so many records in his career at Notre Dame: Most walks, most sacrifice bunts, most double plays by a second baseman, just to name a few.

From the mailbag: A post card from Buddy Evans from San Antonio at the NCAA Final Four. This is his 41st consecutive championship tournament and he has sent me a post card every year. He signs it, “Yours in hoops, Coach Evans.” His entourage includes Jim Kenny, Mike Adey, Steve Evans and his wife Gail.

Nick Mellen was named ACC lacrosse defensive player of the week recently. He plays for Syracuse University and went to high school at West Gennese. His dad Dave was a great hockey and football star back in 1984 for RFA and went on to play Division I hockey at Clarkson. I guess the apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree.

Sydney Stamboly scored five goals for the RFA girls lacrosse team last Tuesday in the home opener for the Lady Black Knights against New Hartford. I bet that made her dad, RFA Athletic Director Mike Stamboly, very proud. The team is now 1-0 in Tri-Valley League action. I think this team is going to be really good. 

Do you remember Tommy Campbell? He was a very good football and basketball athlete for RFA back in 1991. When he played sixth-grade basketball for Denti he was a grammar school legend. His coach John DellaContrada once told me he was the best basketball player he ever coached.

Pick of the week: Rory Mcllroy to win the Masters this week. I would like to see Tiger Woods in the mix too.

My mom once told me: A beautiful heart can bring things into your life that all the money in the world couldn’t obtain.