13 Jun 1968 — Vietnam
Jerry and I got engaged in the fall of 1964. He was in the US Navy, he got out in Oct. 1964 and we were married Nov. 14, 1964. We were so young and in love and now he was home. We were childhood sweethearts, but in our high school years, he left for the Navy.
My mother made my wedding dress and I made the veil. Since the wedding was in November and fall(which I love) we used fall colors. Jerry and I went over to my Grandparents in Sweetwater, TN and got lots of Grandma's fall mums. We used them along with ivy and ferns. It was a small country church wedding. How happy I was coming down the isle on my daddy's arm and seeing my sweetheart waiting on me. Finally after all these years we were going to be togather forever and ever. I was 19 and Jerry 20, so young and in love.
We got a small apartment in Harriman, TN and Jerry worked in the mill in our hometown. I stayed home, I was learning to cook and oh my, sometimes things turned out good and other times you had to drink plenty of liquid. Oh! they were such days and full of love.
In 1966 I got pregnant with our first child, I lost her,still born at seven months. Our little girl, Tonya Suzette Ferguson was born on June 11, 1966 and went to live with our sweet Lord the same day. We cried our eyes out. I carried her for seven months.
Jerry didn't like his job and wanted to go into the Army and he did after we talked about it. He wanted to make it a career and he already had the years he served in the Navy. We thought this would be a good thing. After basic training, jump school and all the other schools,we were stationed at Ft Bragg, NC. He was with the 82nd Airborne. My Sky Soldier. This was in 1967 and I lost another baby at three months. Was God ever going to give us a baby to love, a part of each of us and our love.
Jerry came home one evening and told me he had his orders for Vietnam. My heart fell, we knew this would happen, but when? This was late in 1967.
We packed up our few things and headed for Tennessee. I stayed with my folks and Jerry went to Ft. Campbell for more training.He was with the 101st Airborne. Didn't get to see him much at this time.
The end of Jan. 1968 he came home on leave. He left for Vietnam a few weeks later. We took him to the bus station. It was a sad day and I tried not to cry. I wanted to be brave for my soldier, but the tears came anyway.
He called me from Ft Dix, NJ to wish me a happy birthday, this was on Feb. 5th, I turned 23 and Jerry was 24 on Jan. 1st. I was so surprised to hear his voice say Happy Birthday Kitten".
Jerry got to Vietnam on Feb. 10,1968. I received letters telling me he was ok and all about being over there and he was already counting the days off. He missed me so much and I did him also.
Jerry had a buddy, David Lee Edney "Toby" from Erwin, TN that he had went through some schools with and Toby had already gone over with the 101st Airborne in Dec. 1967.
I got a phone call from Toby's folks and they said Toby had gotten killed and that Jerry would be his escort. I was sad and happy, I was going to see my sweetheart. Toby got KIA on March 13,1968. I felt so sorry for his family and his sweetheart. It all was so sad. That's when it hit me, this was real and I could be standing in their shoes. A cold shiver went up my spine.
I was waiting on their big front porch for Jerry to come in. When he got out of the car, I ran down the steps into his arms. He was so upset with the lost of Toby, but happy to see me and be back in Tennessee.
I would not let myself think about the bad stuff, Jerry was coming back in Feb. 1969, he would make it and so would I.
I took Jerry to the airport in Knoxville, TN on April 13,1968 and I wanted to scream and not let him go. I was so afraid! He had told me some things like bury me by our baby girl, Kitten. I've always loved you and will till the day I die. I won't be back home alive. Stay strong for me. I didn't want to hear these words. My soldier was coming back home to me in Feb. 1969.
In Vietnam Jerry was with the 173rd Airborne Brigade Co D 2/503. I was so proud of my Sky Soldier. He looked so handsome in his uniform with his spit shined boots. Why I even learn how to shin them boots. Jerry would just laugh at me, it took me so long.
On May 13,1968, I found out that I was pregnant once again. Oh how happy I was and just mabe this time I could carry this baby. I had a part of Jerry with me. I wrote a letter and sent him a picture of me with a big smile. That smile soon changed!!
I received the sweetest letter(last) from Jerry on June 13th, but did not get to read it till June 14 since I was in Erwin, TN at Toby's mother and dad's house for his brothers wedding. In the letter all he talked about was coming home to me and the baby and for me to be careful and maybe I would be able to carry this one. He couldn't wait to see me and the "baby' when he got off the plane in Feb. He talked about August being the half way point. He drew a picture of a woman and a soldier like a clock saying he thought about me all the time and again those words. he would love me till the day he died. Oh to read his letter and what he was saying and knowing he was gone, it was the worst time ever in my life until I saw his body..
For a few weeks I had had an awful feeling, just scared that something bad was going to happen. I would try to shake it off, but it would just come back. I could see two men in uniform coming up long steps on a big front porch, but my folks only had a small proch and few steps.
Toby's brother, Charles was getting married June 14, 1968 and asked me to come, I took a bus to Erwin, TN to the Edney's house. The morning of the wedding, we were up and getting things ready along with getting us ready also. I had my hair in rollers and shorts and maternity top on,I was so skinny and my little tummy was already out there!! Boy was I proud of that.
All of a sudden the phone rang and it was my daddy, I could hear his voice talking to Mrs. Edney, but at the same time two men in uniform was coming up the long set of steps to the large front porch. The same set of steps that I ran down to run into Jerry's arms only a few months ago. They knocked on the screen door and asked for Judy Ferguson, my daddy could hear me scream over the phone. They took their hats off and came in, I sat down in a chair for my legs could not hold me up. As they said I regret to inform you, all I could think and say NO NO NO this is not real, not Jerry, I'm carring our baby and it will not have a daddy to help raise it. No this can not happen to me, not now, not when I'm going to have our baby, and now I won't have a husband! I was in a grog, a daze. This was not real, this is a bad dream, not my Jerry.
What was suppose to be only a few days of a search and destroy mission turned out to be an extended mission. They were tired and looking forward to a hot meal when they got word their mission was extended. They had spent the night on top of a mountain overlooking the South China Sea in Binh Dinh, South Vietnam. In the morning of June 13,1968, Sgt. Sam Solano and the Lieutenant whose nick name was Dennis the Minis took a squad of six which included Jerry to patrol the area before the others headed out. It was a beautiful day, the sky was blue and the weather was great. When they got to the botton of the hill, they spotted several of the enemy. As they fired upon the enemy, the enemy took off running down a trail and the squad ran in pursuit of them. The trail eventually led to a fork. The Lt. directed Sgt. Sam Solano to go on one trail with two other, which was Jerry and Leonard White, and the Lt. took the other trail with the other two. Sgt. Sloano's team continued down the trail. They were led into an ambush.. As the enemy waited for them, they hand detonated a claymore mine as they came up the trail. It was a planned ambush. That's when Jerry was Killed,My sweetheart from grade school, we would have been married four years in Nov. of 1969.As the Lt. and his team heard the blast, they went to their rescue. As they rushed to their rescue, the Lt. radioed back to the rest of the men on top of the hill and alerted them what happened and requested reinforcements. They heard the initial blast that killed Jerry and several others. They got the squad ready and were rushing down the hill to their rescue when they heard another blast that killed the RTO and the medic. The Lt. was wounded. The Lt. and his team were also led into a second ambush. It was believed to be another hand detonated claymore mine. Another planned ambush.
When they finally reached the scene, it was total chaos. The Lt. was wounded and the RTO and the medic eventually died of their wounds as the were loaded into the helicopter. As they loaded the KIA's and wounded into the helicopters. many were crying and cursing for what had happened. It was a sad day. They were angry at the Lt. for directing Sgt. Solano with only two others down the trail that led to their ambush. As I see it now, the Lt. was young and only doing what he thought was right, I'm sure he was scared just like the rest of the guys.
Now what? I had to stay strong in order to keep my baby. In my 7th month I had to be rushed to the hospital, I was bleeding bad. Had to stay a week, but I still had our baby!!
On Dec. 24,1968 our son, Jerry Lee Ferguson came into this world. He was 6lbs.8 oz.19in long and looked just like his daddy. I finally had our baby, but no husband, what a sad and happy time in my life.
Jerry Lee was named after his daddy and Toby,( David Lee). He's so proud of his name and his daddy and Toby. We have been to the traveling wall a couple of times and want to go to D.C., but oh! how it hurts even after all these years.
I remember when we were on leave and took Toby home and stayed a few days with the Edney's. All of us would be out in the front yard playing football. Who would have thought that within the year both Jerry and Toby would not be with us.
I took Lee up to the Edney's a couple months after he was born and it was so bitter sweet. All the memories that flooded back into my head and heart. I could just see Jerry running to me when he got our of the car when he escorted Toby's body home. I could see all of us playing in the front yard.
Our son will be 40 on Dec. 24 2008 and I'm now 63. He still looks like his daddy, so much that it is scary. He has some of his ways and at times it will make a shiver run up my spine and tears to my eyes. I'm so proud of him. He is married to a sweet girl, Lisa and they have two girls, Lexi and Lani. He had been a fireman for nineteen years. I think he is handsome!! Mothers Pride. Jerry still lives on in my son and in my heart.
It still hurts and finally after 40 years, I'm letting it all out. I put it so far back in my mine and didn't want to think or talk about it. It hurt too bad.
It's time to heal, I can talk more about it to our son and now able to look at pictures and read his last letter over and over. It was dated 6-6-68. Our son married on 6-6-99 and my folks were married on 6-6-42.
I've since remarried to a wonderful man who was in Vietnam the same year, 1968. He was in the Navy with the Riveron Forces. One of the boats he was on hit a mine and it killed two and blew the rest in the water. He was one that went into the water. They were on boat #13. Lee and I have been able to talk to some guys that knew Jerry in Vietnam and one was only about 30 to 40 ft. away when Jerry got killed. He was the one that told me Jerry was killed as soon as he got hit.Praise God, I didn't want him to hurt and be in pain.
God has bless me in so many ways. a husband that lets me cry and talk to him about Jerry when I need to, wonderful memories of Jerry and Toby, our son, and another child, a daughter, Mary Grace. She has four boys, Kurt, Cole Ty and Eli.
God gave me a part of Jerry by letting me carry his child and then gave him to me on Christmas Eve. What a Christman present!!
Jerry, my love, I now laid you to rest and will try to go on with my life. One day we will see each other again and won't have to be apart ever again!!
I go to the little graveyard to put a new flag on your grave and flowers on our baby girl, Tonya Suzette. In the mornings when the light is just right, it hits both your graves since your side by side and it's so peaceful with the gentle breeze and the birds singing. I know you two are together now and all is well and you are at peace. NO MORE WARS.MY SKY SOLDIER.