Friday, November 15, 2013

Heroes Walk Among Us

Baytown Bert and Ren Fitts

Imagine being a nine year old boy in tatters, standing on the streets of Cairo, Egypt.  The date is August 8th 1945, two months after Germany surrendered stopping World War II in Europe.  You are starving, as the Red Cross packages haven’t trickled down to the urchins.  The American’s have helped win the terrible war, but so far, all you’ve seen is the blistering sun and empty shelves, when all of a sudden four sailors come riding down the street on big motorcycles and they are throwing handfuls of bronze cupro-nickel one millieme coins to the kids… and you catch enough to feed yourself for four days!
Gil Marshall USNavy
My dad was one of the four and to that little boy, a hero.  Those of us who have served our country in the Armed Services in wartime all have similar stories and for the most part, it is buried where no one will ever see it.  There are memories of long brutal hours, terrifying nights watching, horrifying casualties, buddies lost, continuing nightmares, and unsung moments of sacrifice and bravery in our past.

Baytown has such a man and I count it a privilege to call him my friend.  Like the Dauber, he is a true hero in my eyes, even though he is self-effacing and truly humble.  Last Saturday, I was very pleased to ride shotgun in his 1948 Willy’s war Jeep in the Crosby Veterans Day parade and like my father before me, we threw candy to the many children lining the streets.  His name is Warren “Ren” Fitts and this is his story:

My Mom and Dad come from farm and ranch folks and why I guess I like this life also.   I was shoveling out manure when I was a young buck, bailing hay, and learning what hard work meant at a young age.  My Daddy was a WW ll Army Air Corps Bomber Pilot who never spoke to us 6 kids about his time in the military but when my uncles were around and we were out camping and they had a couple of beers we would over-hear the stories of my Heroes.

My Dad went to night school even with having young boys and became an Electrical Engineer for GE and he was given a job with AERO SPACE Team at Red Stone Arsenal in Huntsville Alabama.  I remember in early 60's meeting military people when my Dad took us to open house; later I found out they were Special Forces.  My Dad worked hard and taught us about trade skills and always said if you had a trade you will always have a job.   He also told us to respect those who serve our country because freedom is not free.

My older brother enlisted in the Navy during the Vietnam War in 67.  My Dad was on edge and told me I was going to be a "mechanical engineer and do not think of going in the military like your brother".  I respected my brother coming home in uniform, well dressed and confidant.

A few years later, my brother came to me and said, “If you get drafted you will be a bush bunny and with your low lottery number you are gone, so please go in military for a school and maybe you will be OK.   I went to all the branches and the Army offered me the best deal, so I enlisted.
Ren on top of the prop during an extraction.
I was trained in special leadership and Air Assault Helicopter training, preparing me for the extraction teams.  I finished school with high grades and deployed to Southeast Asia where I entered many countries and was with an AIR CAV Infantry Unit.  Many of our missions were recovery operations or forward support missions.  With my clearance I was told to never discuss anything of our training or where I’ve have been... So my secrets remain secrets.
Ren's the tall drink of water
I am a Disabled Vietnam veteran from a helicopter crash etc.   I am proud to have served with America’s elite forces.  I feel honored to have served my country in the US Army.  My training was the best the world has to offer and made me a better man when I became a civilian in the work force, because the word “quit” never entered my mind anytime under any condition. Am I a hero?  No.  I did my job like my brothers in arms and so proud to call them my family.
Ren is on the left.
Ren is a VFW Life member, Vietnam Veterans of America, Disabled American Veterans, member of AMVETS, American Legion and also a Associate member of Texas Game Wardens Associations, 100 Club all these organization who help others especially many in our community


Anonymous said...

Bert, very nice article today in the Baytown Sun,,, thank you so much... you are so right many Hero's in our town and you to are one of them... Ren

Anonymous said...

Fantastic article, Bert. I'm thinking my car would look good with a shark mouth! Thank you both for your service. JD

Anonymous said...

So many Honorable military veterans come home to find home has changed and they do not fit in.... why I enjoy my circle of family & friends who are Veterans.. Welcome Home to all Veterans and we are a big family... RH

Anonymous said...

Wonderful article Bert. We need to be reminded sometimes of what some of these guys (& women) went through. ..Debi

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