Transcribed from the CUC newspaper November 20, 1969
Vietnam death seen firsthand
November 20, 1969
By Dwayne Boyd
During these times of confusion and doubt concerning the war in Vietnam, when it seems to be the in thing to quickly pick up the torch of dissent (literally), perhaps it might do us all well to consider the sober reflections of one who has been there and has experienced its significance first hand.
I’m sure that most of us are in some way familiar with the friendly goateed grin of Charles (Charlie) Shyab. I’m not so sure, however, how many know that Uncle Sam interrupted his plans for school and introduced him, if somewhat forcibly, to that land of many wonders (???) – Vietnam. It is not enough to say that his service has been highly commended and that he received a lot of pain and unpleasant memories for his efforts – for Charlie has much more to say of the situation than that.
Charles was born and raised in Cleveland. He attended Mt. Vernon Academy where he was active in sports, school plays, and exchanging funny but friendly jibes with his English teacher. He graduated from MVA in 1962 and came to CUC the same year. He continued to attend CUC until 1966 when he exposed himself to the clutches of Sam by dropping out temporarily. Sound familiar anyone? After the routine training of a I-A-O at Fort Sam Houston came the routine assignment to Vietnam. More routine was to follow – the routine of death, destruction, pain, and sorrow. He saw it all as a senior medical aidman with a combat unit. Charlie has always been a friendly good-natured guy, probably more mature and aware than the average young Adventist fellow. But I think that it can be said, without the least hesitation, that this trip into the jaws of death aged him to a quiet refinement as a human being. One gets the impression by talking to him that he is above the bickering of the “Doves” and “Hawks” over the pros and cons of the war. Lofty and passive ideals, however good they maybe, somehow lose their gloss when exposed to the face of death, as do the gung-ho appeals to courage and commitment to the fight.
After getting to “Nam” as it is commonly called by GI’s, he was stationed in the Pleiku area where he saw his first actions during the Tet Offensive. A little later, while operating the area of the Ho Chi Minh Trail with his 4th Infantry Division unit, he received his first wound. It was a minor wound, as wounds go in the war, received while directing his medics and retrieving the wounded under intense enemy fire. Later, while preparing to accompany his unit on an assault against an enemy position on a hill, he was wounded by an incoming enemy mortar round, receiving multiple shrapnel wounds over much of his body and nearly ending his life. While recounting these experiences he show great anxiety. He says that even now, when he hears combat firing on television (news, etc.(, he instinctively flinches, as he has been conditioned to do.
As has been said and as his records show, Charlie’s service in Vietnam has been highly commended. However, as a result of it all, he has no well thought-out philosophy as a solution to the war. Although he says, “I can’t agree with the hippies and what they are doing,” he feels that a first hand experience is a better basis for making decisions. When asked if he thought his service was really worthwhile and not in vain, he said, “Our commitment there was and is worthwhile in that it allows them to build stability and prepare to defend themselves, and thus have a better chance for self-determination.” He goes on, “I think it’s right to get out, but we should make sure the South Vietnamese have some stability.”
On the spiritual side, he said that he always carried a Bible with him. He said the Bible, (stained with blood) helped him greatly through those trying experiences. Of his buddies he said, “Religion was a very personal thing with the guys.” Not necessarily related, he said, “The guys who gave their lives gave them for a principle; they knew what they were dying for.”
After receiving his critical wounds, he was sent from Vietnam to a hospital in Japan. Then he was returned to the U.S. and to his home, and also to a young lady by the name of Jocelyn Blaxll, whom he had met prior to his army tour of duty. She had faithfully corresponded with him and had even sent him bandages and minor medical supplies as well as many other things. They were married in October of 1968. Charlie returned to CUC this year and plans to graduate this coming April, with a major in History. Afterward he hopes to teach in an Academy.