My cousin, Donald Edward Van der Schans, enlisted in the Navy as a medic during the Vietnam War. He could have remained stateside as a medic (corpsman in Navy terminology) but he chose to go to Vietnam, to serve his country. He was shipped over there in 1968, where the war was in full swing and many people were dying, both Americans and Vietnamese. In his role as a Navy corpsman, he was attached to the 1st Battalion, 9th Marine Infantry Battalion. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1st_Battalion,_9th_Marines#Vietnam_War.
My cousin Donald was an only child. His mother, my aunt Virginia, nicknamed Ginny, had divorced her Dutch husband and he was no longer a part of his son’s life when Donald went to Vietnam to serve his country. Donald was my aunt’s whole life. Nothing mattered more to her than her son. Ginny, my father’s sister, lived and worked in New York City as a clothes designer. Here is a photo of Ginny with her son Donald before he was shipped off to Vietnam.
Donald Trump was quoted in a September 3rd, 2020 Atlantic magazine article by Jeffrey Goldberg that Americans who died in wars are “losers” and “suckers.” https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2020/09/trump-americans-who-died-at-war-are-losers-and-suckers/615997/. Many veterans and family members of veterans are very angry about what Trump said and upset at how disrespectful these thoughtless comments were. I am among this group and am writing this post to express my own tremendous anger over the vile nature of our current president. Trump has done and said so many things that I think are terribly wrong but this incident tops them all. Perhaps Trump will lose the election because vets and their families are finally turning against him. That is the one good thing that could come out of this controversy.
My cousin Donald was in Vietnam during the Battle of Khe Sahn in 1968, as the First Battalion, 9th Marine, was involved in this battle. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Khe_Sanh. This major battle of the war lasted from January 21 to July 9, 1968. The Marines suffered 155 soldiers killed in action and 426 wounded during this time. As a corpsman, Donald rescued Marines who had been hit by enemy fire. While doing that, he “sustained multiple fragment wounds of the back, abdomen and all extremities,” according to the military casualty report. He was transferred to the hospital ship USS Sanctuary but died there from his wounds on April 1, 1968. He is buried in Arlington National Cemetery in Washington D.C.
As you might imagine, our aunt Ginny was devastated by the loss of her only child. She died less than a year after Donald. All the condolence letters she received from President Lyndon Johnson and U.S. Senator Robert Kennedy, among others, provided little comfort to her. Nor was the Purple Heart medal or certificate (shown below) a comfort for her. As far as Ginny was concerned, her whole world ended when her son died so she didn’t want to go on anymore either. I don’t blame her.
So now I ask Trump, “Is my cousin Donald a “sucker” and a “loser” for giving his life for his country?” My cousin was actually named after his uncle Lt. Colonel Donald Edward Zealand, who died near Ramagen Bridge in Germany during World War II. The capture of this bridge by the Americans helped hasten the end of the war against Germany. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Remagen.
Here is a photo of my great uncle receiving a Bronze Star medal for “Meritorious Achievement in connection with operations against the enemy.” It is being pinned on by Major General Edwin Parker, Commanding General of the 78th Lightning Division. Obviously, this honor took place for actions my great uncle undertook before he died, on March 14, 1945.
I bet if I asked Trump he would think my great uncle Donald was a “sucker” and a “loser” too. Please, for the love of God and country, let us end our long national nightmare and defeat Trump at the ballot box on Tuesday, November 3rd, 2020. Our country deserves so much better.