Thursday, October 8, 2009

A Life Remembered

Scott Christofferson 1947-1967

Something happened today to bring memories flooding back of a time that I mostly try and keep locked away only to be visited in the company of those who have also held the lance. This morning, a young man sent out an email to all the employees where he worked, asking them to take a moment and remember his uncle Scott, whom had been killed in action on this date, October 8, 1967 while serving with the United States Army in Vietnam. He asked that those who got the email to visit the a youtube link to view a tribute to his uncle.

When I opened the link and began to watch, I saw the face of not only Scott, but the faces other's who had answered the call so long ago, smiling back at me like a mirror into my past. I came face to face to the reality that I lived on, and here a talented young man, who perished in the very flower of his youth is sending a message to the generations about service and commitment.

God in in his wisdom gave Scott a special talent to be able to convey his thoughts to paper. What follows is a little background on who Scott Christofferson was and continues to be, to those who chance to read his words.

Scott's family has created a website as a living tribute to Scott. With premisison I will let their words describe Scott and how he came to serve in Vietnam.

The third of eight children to be born to Frank and Barbara Christofferson, Scott Christofferson was one of the original baby-boomers, born in Baltimore, Maryland, in November of 1947, less than 2 years after his father’s return from his tour of the South Pacific as a decorated Navy fighter pilot in World War II. The family eventually settled in St. Louis, Missouri, where Scott attended high school, graduating in 1965, and moving on to the University of Missouri-Columbia, where he hoped to major in journalism. He was an aspiring writer when he dropped out of college after just one semester, choosing to see the world first-hand as an enlisted GI-turned combat reporter during the turbulent Vietnam years.

Even more moving is an interview preserved on the website of Scott speaking to a reporter about Vietnam. To hear his voice adds a stronger presence to his written words.

Here is what I discovered about Scott and how he met his death in Vietnam. Scott served with the PIO section of the HQ Company of the 1st Brigade 101st ABN Division. He volunteered to become a combat reporter and soon began to travel with the 2BN 327th Infantry on their missions. On October 8, 1967 he was on a mission with A Company near Tam Ky when they were hit by two reinforced companies of North Vietnamese. Scott, joined in providing covering fire to allow his fellow soldiers to withdraw and refused to leave his position until all had been safely withdrawn. Scott was killed during this time. He was awarded the Silver Star, Bronze Star and Purple Heart for his valor, forty two years ago today.

Almost fifteen years after Scotts death, his younger sister Carrie discovered a box of his letters forgotten in a closet in her mothers home. After reading them she realized that they revealed a person whom deserved to be remembered for more that being a hero. She edited those letters and published them in a book to pay tribute to her brother and as she writes.

"We believe others will be able to gain insight into that period in American history by reading these letters, to develop an appreciation for the young men and women who sacrificed their youth in the jungles of Vietnam, and perhaps most significantly, to know well one specific young man whose journey from college dropout to Army combat reporter to fallen hero is brought to vivid life through his own words."

After reading about Scott, I see how close the degrees of separation were in our paths. I too dropped out of college and joined the Army to serve my country. I was just a year older and for most of my time in Vietnam was also in and out of direct harm, in similar ways that Scott found himself.

So as I sit here and watch that little clip again and wipe the quiet tears from my eyes, I say a silent prayer that I will remember Scott Christofferson and take the time to read his book and share his thoughts with my children.


1 comment:

Shawn Beilfuss said...

Thanks for sharing this, Tom.