Sunday, May 26, 2019

Vietnam veteran's son discovers the soldier he never knew

The Big Story: Son 'meets' Vietnam veteran dad through another soldier's outreach

Quad City Times
Linda Cook
May 25, 2019
“I read somewhere that enduring a tour of duty in Vietnam was truly a test of character and a test of courage. Denny Wardlow passed the tests — he and all the guys from D Company 27th Combat Engineers passed those tests many times.”

Young soldiers Gerald Goetsch and Denny Wardlow huddled in the fox hole together for days while mortar bombs raged around them.

It was the mid-1960s when they entrusted their lives to each other in the Vietnam War. Now, though it’s too late for Goetsch, of Ortonville, Minnesota, to reconnect with Wardlow, he has connected with Denny’s son, Mike Wardlow, of Bettendorf, who has a new perspective of his father as a combat veteran.

Now, whenever Goetsch and Mike Wardlow speak, regardless of the date on the calendar, it's a "memorial day" for Goetsch, who shared so many war-time experiences with the late Denny Wardlow. Goetsch, who never reconnected with his old war-time friend, has a captive audience in his friend's son for reliving the war. And it's introduced Mike Wardlow to a father he never knew: A parent who never shared the horrors of war with his son.
When his mom died, Goetsch “wanted to talk to Wardlow and find out how he was doing and how his life had gone.”

He had tried to find his friend previously, long before internet searches were common, but had no luck. This time around, he found Denny’s obituary instead. He saw that Denny Wardlow, 54, died in 2000 and was laid to rest at the National Cemetery on Rock Island Arsenal, with military services conducted by Vietnam Veterans of America Quad-Cities Chapter 299.
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