~ 720th Military Police Battalion Reunion Association Vietnam History Project ~
Merry Public Relations
Christmas 1968  

   Here's a true story for you, I know it's not an in country story but it's my combat tour. Let me paint the picture for you.

   Fitzsimons General Hospital, Aurora, Colorado, December 1968 Ward 5 west 8:30 PM. The ward is full of patients that have leg problems.

   Now I'm a triple amputee, both legs are off at the knees, left arm is off six inches below elbow, my right eye is gone, right arm is in a cast and my jaws are wired shut.

   Jerry Lieski, Army grunt who broke his leg in Vietnam, is in the bed next to me with his left leg in traction. We have just gotten in trouble by Ma Nelson, one of our nurse's, for teasing each other. I was messing with Jerry's leg, I had hung my artificial arm from his big toe. OUCH! Mom, had me by my ear and made me remove my hook from Jerry's toe, some people just can't take a joke. Then she took my wheelchair away from me, I was confined to bed.


   Jerry and I were forced to have a truce but we really were having a lot of fun. My bed is about three feet high and I'm sitting on the edge with my back to Jerry. Right next to the bed is the over the bed table, which happens to be right in front of me. Jerry decides he's going to get the last blow in because his big toe is throbbing. All of a sudden I'm hit on the back of my shoulders with a pillow that was traveling faster than a speeding bullet, it hit me like a locomotive. SPLAT ! I landed right on top of the table with legs and arms on each side but to make it worse the table slides away from the bed. I'm now two feet from my bed and Jerry calls for Ma Nelson. Now my ears are throbbing, Ma gave me a chewing out that only a Mom can give. But in the long run it was still worth it, I got even with Jerry later.

   A few days later Christmas arrives and one of my favorite Red Cross gals Bonnie Martin shows up with the Local VFW Post. Bonnie is a great gal and this is her first Christmas working with the VFW and a bunch of crazy Nam Vets. I'm sitting in my wheelchair next to my bed and the VFW Commander comes up to me with Bonnie and a Christmas present. He gives Bonnie the present to give to me and the Hospital newspaper is there doing their “public relations.”

Jim & Ma Nelson

   Bonnie kneels down beside me and I start opening my gift, a camera flashes just as I pull out my first present.....it's a pair of red socks. Poor Bonnie wanted to run and hide but we both managed to laugh about it along with the rest of the guys. The VFW Commander was ready to head for cover, thought he'd get nailed to the wall on that mistake.

   The next day a couple of my buddies and I caught Bonnie and made her wear a pair of Combat Boots in the hospital while wearing her Red Cross dress.

   PFC James R. Brunotte, B Company.

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