My trip to the Wall
Phil Jaster
Trouble Shooter "15"


Hi Frank, and Flight!

I am back from the wall now...and feeling much more "at home" after the last weeks hecticness upon returning!

Frank, the wall was awesome.... I arrived at my Hostel around 1:30 EDT on Wednesday the 19th...changed my clothes [I had been in the same clothes for over 24 hours....] got my flag out and proceeded downstairs.

I asked the clerk at the desk how to get to the Wall and was provided with a fairly good photocopy of all the area, they highlighted my path....

I literally prayed the entire walk to the wall, asking for guidance, asking for continued strength.... on those occasions that I saw people looking at me I came to realize that:

1. Most people have some sort of fear about seeing someone carry our flag: they would look away and give an impression that "they did not see me" ..."I was not there...."

2. Some people would see the flag and look down "knowing" I was on "pilgrimage" to the WALL, and they did not want to look into (yet) another vets eyes...

3. There were those FEW who would would look me straight in the eyes and say something like "God Bless you or WELCOME HOME" .... SOMETHING to indicate that they KNEW.....and had been "there" themselves....

My steps began to falter the closer I got to the wall, I renewed my prayers.... at one point I realized that I had not eaten since (maybe) 6:30 a.m. and was hungry.

"Maybe I should get a bit to eat first?" I told myself.

THEN the realization came to me that I could not have eaten enough to cure the hunger in me: that it was an attempt to keep me from having the courage to do what I needed to do: get to the WALL.

I told myself that there were many times in Viet Nam that thousands of servicemen did not get to eat, and this was going to be done on an empty belly....I would eat AFTER my duty was done.

I sat on the last bench before entering the Walkway to the WALL itself... I opened up the eulogy that I had written nine months earlier of John Sharpe's life.

I told him ONE MORE TIME, how much he meant to me as a fellow VETERAN, as an aviator....most of all as a friend.

I then unwrapped the flag and put his eulogy inside with it....and re-wrapped the plastic wrap over them both.

Standing up, I now had a second task: finding panel 18W row 24.... I had a mission to get a rubbing for one of our flight.

It was four inches out of reach.  I stood there and looked at the name turned and went to get a Ranger to help me....

It is just plain spooky the way the name appears upon the paper....the Ranger handed it to me and he left to help others with the same task.

I stood there for a few minutes more...and then realized that with 3,320 miles of journey "done," I had not once thought about where I would lay John's Flag.

I lowered it to the base of 18W, said thank you John... and left.

Yes Frank, the wall is imressive AND incredible... I did return later in the day to be there some more.  The first time I only had "mission" in my brain....

Thank you one and all for your help and support for my Journey... If any one of you wonders if the WALL can help heal the pains we all carry, the answer is YES, at least for this one.


Phil Jaster


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