Poetry

A Widow's Story....

A Widow's Story....
Subject:The death of Marine Captain Richard Louis Basinger in the Vietnam
war
Written by his widow : Nelda Sue Shafer Basinger Ludwig

Dick and I were married May 30, 1964 on a beautiful Memorial Day. After
completing four years of college, Dick and I went to Columbus, Ohio where
he was sworn in as a 2nd Lieutenant in the United States Marine Corps. His
first orders were Pensacola, Florida, where he was to become a pilot. I
became with child on the way to Florida, and nine months later we had a
beautiful baby boy, Mark Randall Basinger on March 21, 1965.

After flight training was completed, Dick was transferred to Camp LaJaun,
North Carolina. Soon after he had orders for duty in Viet Nam. Mark was 17
months old when Dick left. It was a beautiful day; we had said our good-byes
to everyone except our own special love was expressed in that morning
before we went to the train station in Lima, Ohio. As we arrived and Dick
was kissing Mark and I goodbye, there was a woman there who said, "I cannot
stand to watch this", because she knew Dick was going off to war. The
ironic thing was that five years earlier I had met Dick at that train
station as a young girl of 18. I was now 23 and Dick would soon be 24.

I said goodbye to my husband and went to my mothers, where we visited
daily. Mark and I had an upstairs apartment. One morning in February of
1967, a Marine Corps officer came to my door and informed me that Dick had
been wounded in his leg by shrapnel. Dick later called me to say that he
almost got to come home. Mark had just turned two years old, and I thought
to myself "what would keep Dick alive?" I tried to go on with my motherly
duties attending to our son. We would talk to Daddy on the old fashioned
tapes that we used to send back and forth.

I was active in the Servicemen's wives club affiliated with the YWCA. My
birthday was May 11, 1967, and on May 14 Mark and I were in a Loyalty Day
parade in which we rode a wagon with the American flag made of flowers. The
next day I attended church for Mothers day. The following day was May 16,
1967; Mark was in bed. I had always checked the front window before I
answered the door since Dick had been wounded. This morning I did not check
the front window. The door bell rang and I opened the front door. There
were two Marines there. They said, "May we come in Mrs. Basinger". As we
proceeded up the stairway I said to them, "Is he dead?" They replied,
"Yes." My body went numb; I walked back and forth checking on Mark, not
knowing what to do next. They complimented me on my behavior. I knew I had
to call some people. I called my parents first and then Dad Lorain A.
Basinger. Mama said, "Oh God, No" and ran to the fields to tell Dick's
father.

Within a half hour reality had set in and I realized that Dick was actually
killed one day after my birthday May 12, 1967; they never told me until May
16, 1967. It was a very cloudy day. I knew I had to be a strong wife. I had
been trained as a Marine Corps wife. I had to represent my husband in death
for Mark and I. All that Mark remembers about the entire event is the color
of the carpeting at the funeral home. He was so little, but he still sensed
that something was wrong with Mommy.

Dick's remains were sent to Lima and arrived at the same train station we
had said our good-byes at nine months earlier. My brother, James Carl
Shafer, my Dad, and Dad Lorain A. Basinger met the train; it was too hard
for me to go. As they lifted the casket from the train, a very young Navy
sailor saluted the casket as it went by him. My brother always said this
was one of the most touching things. After the funeral on May 29, 1967, my
brother took me back to the apartment. I looked out the window and said
"what must I do with my wedding ring?" I took it off my left hand and put
in on my right. I knew in reality it was over. My brother said, "there is
nothing left to do." The government had sent Captain Gene Gruhler to escort
Dick's remains and to look after me. This gave me the strength to face this
tragedy.

Captain Richard Louis Basinger has lived on in my heart for 32 years, and
also through our son Mark, who is now 34. The love has come back to me
through Mark's two daughters, Sara and Kari Basinger and their mother Amy.
I am still very proud of our country, and honor the fact that I was a wife
of a serviceman. I appreciate all that has been said to my son Mark, who is
talking to many men who were with Dick in his Vietnam tour. All I can say
is all the information gathered at this time is very, very SPECIAL TO ME
AND COMFORTING. I did my best to raise Mark to believe in all the things
for which his father died.

Most Sincerely, Respectfully
In honor of my husband,
Nelda Sue Shafer Basinger Ludwig

submitted by Sharlyn, her daughter [This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.]