Tour 02/15/1968 - 04/05/1968
2nd Bn 27th Marines 1st Marine Division
Tony Cardinale, Jr.

United States Marines
Attn:  Bob Hingston & Carl King
First Marine Division

With deep emotion and tears, I’ve read and reread your wonderful tribute to Navy Corpsmen.

My Son, Jim Cardinale, was a Corpsman with a Marine unit.  He was killed on April 5, 1968 somewhere just outside Da Nang.  He was hit behind the head with grenade shrapnel as he was attending to he needs of a fallen comrade.

Although it has been 35 years since his passing it seems like only yesterday.  The Sun has not set on any day that I have not thought of him.  I’ve heard the word “closure” so many times through the years, but to me there is no closure.  He’s constantly on my mind!  There is no greater pain or devastation experienced when losing a Son in battle!  He was just 3 months short of his 20th birthday.  I try to picture him in my mind how he would look if he were still here at age 55.

He came to me one day and expressed to me his feeling of conscientious objections about the war in Viet Nam.  My heart sand as I pictured him joining the ranks of those lousy (expletive) who burned their draft cards and fled to Canada, Sweden and elsewhere to a void a call to arms for their country…  He sensed my anxiety with his announcement and said, “Dad, don’t feel bad, I’m not going to run away from this.  I’m going to enlist as a medical person.”  He decided to enlist as a Navy Corpsman.

After his death, a letter from one of his buddies said that Jim had been reprimanded a few time for refusing to carry a weapon on patrols.  He was quite religious and refused to kill even a deadly enemy!

I have a younger son who followed in his brother’s footsteps and also became a Navy Corpsman.  The Lord spared him.  He had 24 years in the Navy and came out as a Lt.  I live with him, here with him and his wife who signed out as a Lt. Cdr, so she outranks him – Ha!  She is a registered Nurse Anethestitist.

I am still very uptight about those jerks who burned their draft cards and skipped the Country.  Then when things cooled down in the kitchen, they all came back and were given amnesty!?!  I couldn’t believe it!!  What a slap in the face to my Son and the other 58,000 men who were killed helping to preserve the lives of those lousy yellow-bellied cowards!!  I’m not a vengeful man, but I think those guys should have been dealt a punishment of some kind…. Like a 3 or 4 year hitch in state side military duty!!!

I’m 84 years old.  I served 3 ½ years and spent about a year and a half as an Infantryman with the 42nd Rainbow Division in France, Germany and Austria.  My unit liberated the Dachau concentration camp in Germany.  That was a chilling experience.  When I first boarded the ship to go overseas I started praying to God to please save me from being killed.  Then as time went on I decided to gear my mind to the great possibility of getting killed, so I just took it a day at a time.  Later on I started to pray to God again to please keep me alive; not because I was afraid of dying, but because I could not bear the thought of the great devastation that would befall my Mom and Dad with the news of my being killed in battle.

I was thankful that they were spared, and as it turned out, 25 years later I came to know and feel that devastation when I lost my son.  Better me than my Folks!

Hey guys, sorry if I’ve bored you, but thanks for listening.  I never express these feeling personally to anyone and it helps me to relieve my mind just by typing it out.

Take care… Stay well… and God Bless you.

Most Sincerely,

Tony Cardinale, Jr.