29 March 2019, J’s brother died, at age 72, of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, or Lou Gehrig’s Disease. The disease was determined to be related to his combat service in Vietnam, fifty years earlier.
Today, on the first anniversary of his passing, we visited the grave of Corporal Michael F. Folland, Medal Of Honor, a Richmonder, who served with my brother-in-law. Corporal Folland covered an exploding grenade with his body, smothering the blast while sacrificing his own life. All pretty tragic, sobering events, but this is the nature of war.
His grave is in a small, shady, serene cemetery on a country road about 45 minutes from our home. His comrades in death include a sizable number of Civil War dead, some with “unknown”, as the only name on the marker.
Corporal Folland did not have the chance to grow old like my brother-in-law, or have children or grandchildren. His passing was among the thousands of small tragedies, South Vietnamese, South Korean, Australian, New Zealanders, and American, who died to stop the spread of Communism in Southeast Asia.