Stories of American Heroes - Brought to you from the "Home of Heroes" - Pueblo, Colorado
Before I'd left Vietnam I'd learned from Jaime that he did not own a Bible. My first concern upon my arrival home was to purchase one. I had his name embossed on the cover and mailed it to him along with several religious paper back books. A few weeks later I got my first letter in reply.
When I'd been with Ranger Team 75 there had been talk among the men of awarding me their coveted black Ranger beret. The team had chosen to do so and asked Jaime to mail it to me. It is one of the very few momentos of my Vietnam service that I still have, and it is indeed the one that means the most to me.
In his letter Jaime talked mostly about how good God was and how much it meant to him to be a Christian. There was some talk about the team and how things were going in the "bush", mention of family and home, and repeated mention of how much he enjoyed his new Bible and other books. It was closed with four words that became his standard closing line in every letter: "In Christ, Your Brother, Jaime Pacheco."
A few weeks later another letter came. "I don't know what our good Lord has for me," Jaime wrote, "but I tell you, when He leads or shows me to where He wants me I'll know I can't ever be happy unless I do as He wants me to. As for my going home, I don't know yet. I'll just let Him take care of that as He has taken care of me in ALL things." I read and wept unashamed at his simple faith in God and the way he unreservedly committed his entire life and future into God's hands. Before he closed with "Your fellow Brother in Christ," Jaime wrote, "I know if it be Our Lord's will to go back to the States alive and well, we, my family and I will meet again some day."
Every night I would lay in bed and pray that God would keep His hand on Jaime, would keep him safe and free from harm, and bring him safely home soon. I waited eagerly for each letter, and the third arrived shortly after Jaime had written it. It was dated 12 May, 1972.
By this time Jaime knew that it would be some time before he would be coming home. As a Ranger he was much in demand and the rash of troop withdrawals would not affect him. "Man let me tell you," he wrote, "I am ready to go home right now! Personally I would, like I said, go home right now, but if I had my way I would like to go the 15th of June so I could be there for her (his wife's) birthday, and after all out processing, arrive at my home town the morning of the 20th of June. But the way things look it seems that it will be more like in August or the very latest, October. But at any rate, I am going to let God lead me and use me according to His will. Yes, that is the way to be Doug, God IS GOOD." He closed the letter as my brother in Christ as was his usual pattern. In this letter there was a slight change in the closing lines, however, it was two months before I was to notice it or understand what it meant.
I continued to pray for Jaime, asking God to protect him. Every day I would check the mail which came to my father's house in Montana, in hopes there would be another letter from Jaime. In the previous weeks Jaime had been asking me to tape some Gospel music to send him. I had been singing with some friends in a neighboring town, and every time we got together to sing I thought of my promise to send Jaime some music. Somehow, we just never seemed to get it done. I was thinking about this as I drove home from work one day early in June. I would be visiting my musical friends that very weekend and resolved that whatever it took, I was going to get Jaime's tape made.
As I passed my father's house on the way home I stopped to check the mail. There was one letter, from the Department of the Army. My hands trembled as I opened it, knowing deep inside what it was going to say. The black type blurred beneath a rush of tears. I struggled to believe it said something else. But no, there is was in black and white, "I regret to inform you that Specialist Pacheco died on 25 May, 1972."
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