Episode 61: Remembering Vietnam with Joel Nelson

On this special Veterans Day edition of Cowboy Crossroads, working cowboy and poet Joel Nelson shares his experience and poetry from the Vietnam War.

1 comment

  • dennis moroney
    dennis moroney McNeal, Arizona
    Andy, Thanks for this particular program. This was a gut wrenching experience on so many levels for me. I was in my last year of high school and then graduated when Joel was in Viet Nam. A bunch of my friends were in Viet Nam or would soon go. One of my best friends was there in the same area, and in a similar unit as Joel, doing the same kind of duty. Airborne Ranger, LRRP, Recon. After he came home from Nam, we had a horseshoeing business together, and also cowboyed on his dad’s ranch in Wickiup, Arizona. I did not know what PTSD was at the time, but I have come to understand a lot more about it since. My grandfather was a West Point graduate, and a highly decorated veteran of WW1, WW2, and Korea. My Dad was a Combat Infantryman, and company commander in Korea and awarded the Silver Star with Oak Leaf Cluster, and survived intense combat in that war. I was over a year old when we first met. It was a rocky beginning. As the oldest of 7 kids My brother Joe and I were raised as recruits. In order for my Dad to get a military retirement after Korea he continued his military service in the National Guard and later Army Reserve. My brother and I had military uniforms, went on training maneuvers, and night exercises with his National Guard unit, including live fire , and heavy mortar training. We pulled targets at the rifle range, and i could field strip an M1 rifle by the time I was 8 years old. My Dad competed at the National Rifle matches at Camp Perry Ohio, for many years with great success. I read field manuals in my spare time. It was expected that I would continue our family tradition, but by the late sixties, early seventies, the war in Viet Nam was beginning to be questioned. I was in the first year of the lottery which prioritized the order of draft for service based on a random selection base on your birth date. I was never drafted, and never served in the military, never went to Viet Nam. These days I see so much of my Dads PTSD played out for years of my youth, and that of my friends who served in Viet Nam. Today I see it in so many of younger vets who I know who served in The Gulf War, Panama, Grenada, Afghanistan, Iraq, and other obscure and unmentionable secret wars around the globe. I have been lucky to be able to mostly live out my dream to be a cowboy, and rancher, and also to see my son be passed over from military service. I live fairly close to a major Army base here in Southern Arizona, and have the pleasure to sell all natural range fed beef and lamb to many soldiers stationed nearby. I have been privileged to know Joel Nelson a little bit, by way of our mutual friendship with Gale Steiger, and Joel has ridden on our ranch and helped us gather a time or two. Later Joel and I have done a little bit of cow business as well. I did not know any details of his service before listening to your podcast, and it was cathartic for me. Thank you sincerely for what you are doing. Thanks to Jay Dusard for putting me on to this podcast,

    Andy, Thanks for this particular program. This was a gut wrenching experience on so many levels for me. I was in my last year of high school and then graduated when Joel was in Viet Nam. A bunch of my friends were in Viet Nam or would soon go. One of my best friends was there in the same area, and in a similar unit as Joel, doing the same kind of duty. Airborne Ranger, LRRP, Recon. After he came home from Nam, we had a horseshoeing business together, and also cowboyed on his dad’s ranch in Wickiup, Arizona. I did not know what PTSD was at the time, but I have come to understand a lot more about it since.
    My grandfather was a West Point graduate, and a highly decorated veteran of WW1, WW2, and Korea. My Dad was a Combat Infantryman, and company commander in Korea and awarded the Silver Star with Oak Leaf Cluster, and survived intense combat in that war. I was over a year old when we first met. It was a rocky beginning. As the oldest of 7 kids My brother Joe and I were raised as recruits. In order for my Dad to get a military retirement after Korea he continued his military service in the National Guard and later Army Reserve. My brother and I had military uniforms, went on training maneuvers, and night exercises with his National Guard unit, including live fire , and heavy mortar training. We pulled targets at the rifle range, and i could field strip an M1 rifle by the time I was 8 years old. My Dad competed at the National Rifle matches at Camp Perry Ohio, for many years with great success. I read field manuals in my spare time. It was expected that I would continue our family tradition, but by the late sixties, early seventies, the war in Viet Nam was beginning to be questioned. I was in the first year of the lottery which prioritized the order of draft for service based on a random selection base on your birth date. I was never drafted, and never served in the military, never went to Viet Nam.
    These days I see so much of my Dads PTSD played out for years of my youth, and that of my friends who served in Viet Nam. Today I see it in so many of younger vets who I know who served in The Gulf War, Panama, Grenada, Afghanistan, Iraq, and other obscure and unmentionable secret wars around the globe.
    I have been lucky to be able to mostly live out my dream to be a cowboy, and rancher, and also to see my son be passed over from military service. I live fairly close to a major Army base here in Southern Arizona, and have the pleasure to sell all natural range fed beef and lamb to many soldiers stationed nearby.
    I have been privileged to know Joel Nelson a little bit, by way of our mutual friendship with Gale Steiger, and Joel has ridden on our ranch and helped us gather a time or two. Later Joel and I have done a little bit of cow business as well.
    I did not know any details of his service before listening to your podcast, and it was cathartic for me. Thank you sincerely for what you are doing. Thanks to Jay Dusard for putting me on to this podcast,

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