Edward August Schultz, KIA Vietnam
He had just turned three when I was born making him an uncle for the first time. I grew up following him around my grandparent's farm in San Luis Obispo, helping him feed the calves, riding behind him on his horse, Smokey, riding with him on his go-cart, wanting to swim like him in their pool which was really the water reservoir for the cows, playing "ranchers" in the dirt with little plastic cowboys and tiny metal trucks and playing the many other things that kids play when they have four acres of land to play on. When we played cowboys and Indians, he had a rule that if you got killed, you could count to ten and come back to life again.
Edward August Schultz was the sixth and final child born to Sam and Cornelia Schultz in October of 1946. Of his five older siblings he never met one of them, Erma. She was killed at 16, a year before Eddy was born, by a drunk driver when returning home from babysitting. The other siblings were Sandy, who was two, Gary and Carl who were teenagers, and my mom, Lorine, who was 21 when he was born. Because my mom had three young children and her mom, my grandmother, had two young children (Sandy and Eddy), and because we lived a couple miles from the farm, we spent much time together.
I was in elementary school with Eddy until a new school was built and I was moved there. But in Jr. High and High School we were there together for one year at each school while I was in my first year and he was in his last year. At school he was quiet, friendly and well-liked. He was involved in FFA, and at the fair he showed steer and sheep and ag products that he made. He was on the FFA officer team and was president his senior year. He was also on the FFA parliamentary team. He earned the FFA State Farmer Award. Somehow, he fit in the track team and was an officer in the Walther League, the teen group of the Lutheran Church, which he attended every Sunday. He graduated from San Luis High in 1965, then went to Cuesta Jr. College where he participated on the wrestling team and in 1966 earned the Most Inspirational Wrestler award.
He was the hardest worker I ever knew, but the best part of that was that I never saw him frazzled or in a hurry, or angry. He was probably the calmest person I ever knew too. He always had time for his many nieces and nephews as they followed him around the farm. The best way I can describe Eddy was that he was good to the core.
While he was going to Cuesta, he was drafted and was sent off to boot camp and AIT, returning for a week at Christmas before being sent to Dau Tieng, Vietnam the first week of January 1968. He was the radio man in the 2nd platoon, Charlie Co., 2nd battalion, 12th Infantry, 25th Infantry Division. I wonder if he knew before he left that being a radio man increased the chances of his death. His eyes seemed to say that he knew when we said good-bye the night before he left.
Two months later he was killed in an ambush. This not only devastated our family but also his fiancé, whom he had been dating since his senior year and whom he had known since childhood. For this kind young man who had a heart of gold, who never hurt anyone to be killed violently in a war was difficult to bear. And for my grandparents, it was the second of their children to die a violent death.
Over 40 years later, I received the battle flag of a Viet Cong veteran who claimed to be in the battle that killed Eddy. It was his hometown, so he remembered that battle in Hoc Mon. There were two different battles on two different days around Hoc Mon, so it can't be certain he was in the one where Eddy died. But he gave his treasured flag with tears in his eyes to the family of his enemy.
It haunted me that I was given this flag and it was meant not just for me, but for his "enemies", all of them. I felt that others should know about it too, so that's why I wrote the book "The Box, a memoir" to share the story. Then I thought, if I write about that, this is my chance to bring Eddy back to life, if not for real, like in our cowboys and Indians game by counting to ten, but by bringing him to life on the pages on the book. When people tell me they feel they knew him after reading my book, I smile to myself and think, I did it Eddy, I brought you back to life.
At left, Eddy at about 14 or 15.
Sandy, Eddy and me.
Eddy and me.
Eddy & Sandy (left); Gary, Sandy, Eddy & Grandpa
Grandma, Grandpa, Sandy and Eddy
Eddy's High School Graduation picture, 1965