In Memory of
Joseph Daniel Szidor
Danny Szidor and I were absolute best buddies going through Airborne Infantry AIT at Fort Gordon, GA from April - July 1968. We were in the same squad and were inseparable and spent all of our time together, whether it was in training or on pass to Augusta, Georgia. Danny was such a likeable guy and was very much a magnet to girls, which I liked because I was shy. We somehow wound up in airborne infantry training but neither of us wanted to go to Fort Benning for jump school with the rest of our company, so we wound up in a holding company for a month or so. We pulled the worst duty imaginable (KP, guard duty, etc.) but the adversity only strengthened the bond between us.
In early July, Danny finally got orders to go home for a month on leave and then go to Vietnam. I wound up going to infantry OCS for a period of time but dropped out so I got to Vietnam almost two months after Danny. I was assigned to A Co/2nd Battalion/47th Infantry of the 9th Division in the Mekong Delta in early November. Danny and I exchanged several letters until I got wounded on November 25, 1968. While I was in the hospital in Cam Ranh Bay I got my last letter to him returned with "KIA" marked on it. I was stunned and devastated that my best buddy had been killed. I have mourned him for over forty years. Danny, you have lived in my heart for all this time and the only thing I have to remember you by is the faded photo of you and me taken as you were leaving to go on home leave.
Only recently, through an unexpected e-mail out of the blue from Ame Dittman, neice of Richard Craig Stevens (killed the same day as Danny), did I find out what happened on the tragic day of his death. While I am still bereft knowing that he died, knowing something of the circumstances of his death has given me some measure of peace. I can only imagine the hell and terror of what the brave young men of Charlie Company, 4th Battalion, 9th Infantry Regiment suffered that day in the vicious firefight that spanned most of the day.
Danny, I got to live the life you never did. There were many times that I have asked why I lived and you died, and while I have often felt guilty, I also wanted to live a life that would honor you and my the other buddies who never returned from the jungles of Vietnam. I know that you would be proud of me. I've come a long way since that hot summer we spent together in the Georgia pines and red clay. I will never forget your impish smile, irrepressible spirit and most of all, that huge heart of yours. Rest in peace, my brother.