I think now, looking back, we did not fight the enemy; we fought ourselves. The enemy was in us. The war is over for me now, but it will always be there, the rest of my days. As I'm sure Elias will be, fighting with Barnes for what Rhah called 'possession of my soul.' There are times since, I've felt like a child, born of those two fathers. But be that as it may, those of us who did make it have an obligation to build again. To teach to others what we know, and to try with what's left of our lives to find a goodness and a meaning to this life. ~ CHRIS TAYLOR in "Platoon"
Tontine is a French word for a last man's club. Such clubs became popular after World War I, which was believed at the time to be the war to end all wars.
The tontine was based on a simple premise: A bottle of liquor, usually cognac, was acquired and the last man alive among a group of veterans would drink it in honor of the others.
All of the World War I clubs have drunk their liquor (the last U.S. veteran died in 2011) and it won't be long before the same can be said of World War II clubs. In fact, there are fewer Americans alive today who are veterans than at any time in the last century.
Sad to say, the Vietnam veterans tontine of which I was a member, which would meet at the townie bar of the old Deer Park Tavern in Newark, Delaware, is a shadow of its former self on this Veterans Day.
Its original members included:
NICK, a Navy river boat skipper who suffered from severe post traumatic stress. He died in 2005.
DENNIS, an Army attack helicopter pilot. I wish I knew where he was.
BOB, such a lousy mess cook that he became an Army ammo truck driver. Today he is a heavy equipment operator.I suppose that six out of 12 ain't bad.
DOUGLAS, an Air Force cryptographer. Cancer got him in 2011 before drugs and alcohol could.
MACK, a Marine Corps mortarman. Today he is an over-the-road trucker.
BIG ED, an Army chairborne ranger. He died of a heart attack in 1998.
CHUCK, an Army combat infantryman. He died of brain cancer from the effects of Agent Orange in 2005.
TOM, an Army helicopter mechanic. Was in a VFW honor guard before moving out West several years ago.
SARGE, an Air Force supply sergeant. He died of a stroke in 2003.
DOCTOR DOC, a Marine Corps medic. He teaches entymology at a big midwestern university
DOCTOR DUCK, who stayed statewide after a bad head injury. He died of acoholism in 1996.