Cartoons reveal stories of Vietnam after the death of a veteran
For nearly 30 years Vernon and Betsy Grant shared a marriage and all of the moments in life. They were almost constantly together, because that is what made them happy.
“He was a very kind person, a wonderful listener,” says Betsy Grant. “So when I said best friends, there’s no doubt about it. We communicated about lots of things.”
There was one chapter of Vernon Grant’s life that talked very little about. It was the year he spent in Vietnam as a commanding officer of the Signal Security Force.
“He didn’t tell me very much at all about Vietnam,” says Betsy Grant. “I just had the feeling that he didn’t really want to talk about the combat part of it.”
When Vernon Grant passed away in 2006, Betsy Grant discovered a box of papers. It told her what Vernon had not. The box contained cartoon drawings her husband had created while in Vietnam featuring a character, “Point-man Palmer.” The drawings gave a glimpse of Vietnam, but, perhaps as a shield from the harsh realities of war, Point-man Palmer provided a bit of humor.
“A sense of humor to him was so important in life. He said one of the things I want to do most is help people laugh,” says Betsy Grant.
From foxholes to jungles Point-man Palmer told Betsy Grant something her husband had not been able to say.
“I learned a little bit more about some of the experiences that he had, the intricate things that happened that he hadn’t told me about,” says Betsy.
She took her husband’s story and used his drawings of Point-man Palmer to create a book. The 156-page book, “Adventures of Point-man Palmer in Vietnam,” also tells a story of loss. One drawing shows the Vietnam Memorial Wall as Point-man Palmer finds the names of four friends he lost to the war. Point-man Palmer celebrates finding them by shouting, “They’re here! They’re here!”
“I think you’re right. He was celebrating their lives and that they were recognized,” says Betsy Grant. “We visited the Vietnam Wall together. I could see how much it affected Vernon.”
Now complete, the book is available on line through Amazon, at www.bvgrantstudio.com and in Madison at the Veteran’s Museum and at the Wisconsin Historical Museum.
Forty years after the end of U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War, Betsy Grant believes it is important to remember the men and women who gave so much.
“If we don’t talk about them now, how are we going to remember?” she says.