by Michael Lund
Following a Military Experience and the Arts writing seminar for military, veterans, and family this fall, Blackstone, Virginia resident Thomas Bragg has produced a memorial booklet about his friend, Edward Bartholomew Lama.
Thomas and Eddie served in the same unit in Vietnam in 1968-69. While Tom came home to Southside Virginia, Eddie, a native of Mundelein, Illinois, was killed in action on 31 March 1969. Thomas portrays their friendship though pictures and story.
Working with workshop director, Michael Lund, also a veteran, Thomas was able to contact members of the Lama family in Illinois and Wisconsin. They sent photographs taken in Vietnam by Thomas, which had been sent home by Eddie to his family. Eddie had done the same thing, snapping photos of Thomas that he then mailed to relatives in Virginia.
The Lama family also sent a copy of an article from the 28 April 1969 Newsweek magazine that mentioned Eddie’s death, “A Quiet Week in Vietnam.” Two others were specifically identified from the 204 killed in those seven days.
Gordon Chaplin, the Newsweek journalist who wrote about casualties in 1969, is now a celebrated writer and conservationist. He wrote to MEA that, “It’s amazing and wonderful that you’re following up [on the story] after all these years.” Reading what Bragg has written about Lama’s personality, Chaplin added: “It was a long time ago, but I do remember that Lama’s story was by far the most dramatic of the three that I included in my piece. That was why I led with it. His buddies obviously loved him. His story’s resurrection after almost 50 years is ample testament to that love and to the kind of guy he must have been.”
In this 32-page booklet, a compelling portrait emerges of the two men, who were both a team of machine gunners doing their job and a pair of comedians trying to lighten the mood in their unit, which sustained a high number of casualties. “Keeping it Lively” was their motto, and that’s the title of Thomas’s tribute to Edward.
The Blackstone Conference and Retreat Center generously donated space for the workshop. Copies of Thomas’ booklet can be obtained from Michael Lund at Longwood University’s Department of English and Modern Languages, which co-sponsored the workshop.
If you are interested in obtaining a copy of “Keeping It Lively,” please contact Michael Lund at firstname.lastname@example.org