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We stand on the backs of their sacrifice: Their history is our tradition as long as there are Americans to remember...

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We stand on the backs of their sacrifice: Their history is our tradition as long as there are Americans to remember...

My name is Nicholas Esparza Jr.  My friends call me Nick.

I am the son of Nick and Ophelia Esparza. I am the oldest of five children, with two sisters and two brothers.

I was raised in Waxahachie on the south side of town and attended Marvin Elementary. During those years I was into a lot of sports, but baseball was my thing, pitching to be more exact. I played farm league and little league, and I threw a mean fastball.

I really loved music and I learned to play the guitar pretty good. While in high school, music became my main passion. 

I used to get together with my buddies at my dad’s barber shop and we would have jam sessions in the back room. It wasn’t much, but we just loved it, and the friendships that were made there.

In 1964, I joined a band. We called ourselves “The Techniques”. They were the best friends that I could ever ask for.

We had a five-piece band, and I played a Gretch Corvette model guitar. We played some shows at the high school gym, the skating rink and some dances. We played 60s rock music and few 50s songs also.

We went to the observation deck on the Southland Life building and took some pictures that were to be PR shots for the band. I thought it was pretty cool being on top of the tallest building in Dallas.

A couple of years later I joined a new band, “The Beaumen.”

I switched to playing a red Gibson bass guitar. We played a lot of gigs at the Naval Air Station in Grand Prairie and several nice clubs in Dallas.

We also played at the Optimist Carnivals downtown at the courthouse square. Our stage was big flatbed trailer, but to me, it was greatness. Those were some good times, and happy days… We were truly a band of brothers.

Motorcycles and cars, did I ever love them! Anything that went fast got my attention. My uncle Luis had this yellow Ford Mustang… it was the first Mustang in town I believe.

He used to let me borrow it… Oh Man, what a car!

He doesn’t know this, but I can get from the northern edge of Waxahachie to downtown Dallas in 15 minutes with that car.

Someday, I plan to have a Mustang of my own… A white one I hope.

After graduation, I got married to Chris and got a job working at the General Dynamics plant in Fort Worth. I had a good job and a beautiful wife… God has been good to me… Life was treating me fine. 

And then it came in the mail, my draft notice… I was drafted into the service in 1968 and was sent to Fort Polk in Louisiana for basic training.

After boot camp, the Army recommended me for the Officers Commission School, so I was sent to Georgia for officer’s training. 

After giving it a try, I decided that being an officer wasn’t for me. I told my C.O. that I wanted out… He asked me why… I told him that just couldn’t give orders that might cause any of my friends to die. 

I just wanted to fight for my country and then get out and come home to my family… You know, do my duty, and get back to my hometown and my wife. I just wanted to do the right thing, that’s all.

So I volunteered for duty with the Airborne and completed my paratrooper training there in the Southeast. I served in Company B of the 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment in the 82nd Airborne Division.                                                                        

I was shipped out for Vietnam in the spring of ’69. They had us stationed to the west of Saigon next to the Cambodian border. 

Being in this country took some getting used to, for sure. This place was like some sort of strange Wild West fantasy gone bad.

I had not been here long before I started counting the days until my tour was over.

It didn’t take much time before I was making several new friends.

I managed to borrow an old ukulele and at night I played it for my platoon.

Sometimes I would sing gospel music for them, because, well because they needed me to.

My best friend here in the ‘Nam is Mike Martinez. He is from Houston… Me and Mike, we sort of made this pact with each other, that if one of us didn’t make it home, then the other one would go and visit his family. It was kind of a weird thing to do, but it made me feel better about all this.

I’m not going to lie, I worry about this place for sure, but I am not what you would call scared. I have contentment in the Lord and I know that he is in control.

My platoon’s favorite song was Glen Campbell’s Galveston. So at night I would get out the ukulele and sing it for them…

 

 

Galveston, oh Galveston,

I still hear your sea 

winds blowin’,

I still see her dark 

eyes glowin’,

She was 21, when 

I left Galveston,

 

 

Galveston, oh Galveston,

I still hear your sea 

waves crashing,

While I watch the 

cannons flashing,

I clean my gun, and 

dream of Galveston…

 

 

One day, some of our platoon was headed out on a patrol. Some of the guys hollered over for me to go with them. I wasn’t supposed to go, but I went with them anyway.

I can’t say why I went, I wasn’t really supposed to. It just seemed like the right thing to do. They needed me.

We moved silently through the damp jungle, it was eerily quiet, too quiet. There was a dense canopy of trees above us. Then suddenly the air exploded with noise and gunfire!

There were green tracers flying everywhere… and the snap of bullets passing by! There was a bright flash of white light…

I remember calling for Martinez… He made it over to me… I told him to tell my wife that I love her… Tell my family that I love them… 

It was April 20, 1969, and I was 20 years old… It was a Sunday and I died in the arms of my buddy… We were soldiers once, and young… Remember us.


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