Kay lived in Saigon, Vietnam for the period 1968 – 1970. Her husband, Jon Merkel, was a helicopter pilot for Air America, a division of the CIA. Jon was killed 18 February 70 flying in Laos. Although his name is not listed on the Viet-Nam Memorial in Washington, D.C., he and the other 250 KIA are listed on the Air America Memorial housed at the University of Texas-Dallas where the Air America archives are also located.
Recently, Kay returned to Bangkok to an Air America reunion. The above photograph is of her niece, an AA Pilot, Hugh Van Es, and her. Van Es is the photo-journalist who took the well-known picture of an Air America chopper atop a building with a stream of Vietnamese lined up to board and leave – the date of the fall of Saigon.
Kay has been writing fiction and poetry since she returned to Dallas in 1970.
SOLDIER OF FREEDOM
We praise today and honor one who’s left us,
A faceless, nameless man who saved our past.
He never saw awards, his name upon the Wall;
He fought for God and country that they last.
He risked his life for family and loved ones.
The “Zone of Silence” was his battleground.
He felt the sting of battle, tearing at his heart;
Preserving precious freedom as it’s cast.
He knew when he was called to meet his destiny,
His mission now completed, battles won.
He paid the price of liberty, eternal vigilance,
No honor, glory, or medals for his sacrifices done.
A gallant Soldier of Freedom, among the chosen few,
To some unwelcome mercenary come to fight in foreign lands.
His valor known to comrades recorded by his Post,
His memory is honored as we face the setting sun.
On wings of eagles you sailed away, into the blazing night.
Oh, gentle noble man; we live without your guiding light.
Mothers, daughters, wives, and sons, you left to save our land.
Lighting freedom’s torch above, you rest beside God’s hand.
In raging rivers, endless plains, and steamy jungles’ heat,
On towering mountains a way of life binds true.
A secret oath we pledge, we wanderers of the world;
We gather now to pass the word of men who were but few.
A single word steals life from death’s prison and for us too.
A rising sun brings hope to fathers of these gallant sons,
These men who sleep in dreamless silent slumber,
To keep this way of life for Thee and you.
©Copyright 2003 by Kay Merkel-Boruff
Author’s Note: For Jon Merkel, killed 1970, flying in Laos for Air America. I wrote the poem for China Post One VFW for a reunion. The words are lyrics to a song used as a memorial.