In a Dream, Soldier Says Goodbye

Brian and Tirsa Delate. i i

Brian Delate with his daughter, Tirsa Delate. StoryCorps hide caption

itoggle caption StoryCorps
Brian and Tirsa Delate.

Brian Delate with his daughter, Tirsa Delate.

StoryCorps

Many soldiers say that the friendships forged during times of war are priceless. For Brian Delate, a veteran of the Vietnam War, saying goodbye to one of his wartime buddies came after the fighting ceased.

Brian spoke to his teenage daughter, Tirsa, who had some questions about her father's service in Vietnam in 1969.

"It was very hard," Brian says. "I was either bored or terrified when I was over there. But I feel very fortunate. I had some of the best friends ever."

Brian says he and his high school friend, Don, were drafted at the same time and went through basic training together.

"Guess I was gung-ho, kind of, but Don was sort of a hippy with a short haircut," Brian recalls.

Brian says Don just wanted to get through basic training.

"One drill sergeant was really mean and he used to get in our faces and say, 'Hey man, don't you mess with me,'" Brian says.

Brian says that whenever he would get serious, Don would elbow him and say, "Hey man, don't you mess with me."

"I would start laughing and I'd say 'Don't you mess with me,' and we'd laugh and we'd laugh," Brian says.

Tirsa asks her father how coming home from war changed him.

"When I came back I was really, I think, very angry and my friend Don, he was very depressed," Brian says.

Brian went to college following the war and talked Don into joining him. Two weeks later, however, Don just couldn't stay.

"Not long after that he got a job driving a forklift and he got killed driving the forklift," Brian says.

A few months after Don's death, Brian had a dream that he was floating in space and could see Don floating in space, too. As they got closer and closer, Brian says, Don started laughing and said, "Hey man, don't mess with me."

"I said, 'No man, don't you mess with me.' And we laughed and we laughed and then I said to him, 'Are you ok?'" Brian remembers.

Brian says that Don said he was good and asked Brian in return how he was.

"And I said, 'I'm OK.'" Brian says. "And we smiled, and he went off and I went off and I think that was our way of saying goodbye in a dream. He was a special guy, a good friend."

This segment was produced for Morning Edition by Katie Simon. The senior producer for StoryCorps is Michael Garofalo.

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