Where are you Tam?

The following poem, written by Ron Kuebler, is part of a combat healing process in which members of the NC Veterans Writing Alliance perform public readings of their work in a program called Brothers and Sisters Like These. The group’s mission is to provide healing to veterans of all conflicts through the arts and creative writing.

Private Ron Kuebler started his tour in Vietnam as a Rifleman and left the country as a Sergeant and Squad Leader. His areas of expertise included Infantry and Intelligence including aerial reconnaissance missions and intelligence communications.

Sergeant Tam, the subject of this poem, was with the Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN), assisting the US Army in intelligence and interpreting. Flying in a Huey helicopter fitted with speakers on the skids and an amplified microphone, they encouraged the Viet Cong and North Vietnam Army to surrender their weapons in exchange for money and a chance to return to farming or other pursuits.

Tam and Ron analyzed captured weapons, maps, and battle plans to pinpoint enemy positions. In the process they became friends and shared stories about their families. “I have not had any contact with Tam since I left Vietnam and have no idea what happened to him,” Ron says.

Top image: Ron Kuebler playfully leaping off the communications bunker at Landing Zone Gator


Sgt. Tam

tam by river

Sgt. Tam

Ron Kuebler at Landing Zone Gator near Chu Lai, S. Vietnam

Where Are You, Tam?

by Ron Kuebler

Are you bleeding in your mind as you rue your family lost

Tried to reunite but could not afford the cost

Of paying someone to find your family scattered

Or telling you they were found but tattered

Did you make it past the Viet Cong and NVA gauntlet barrier

Trying to figure a way to survive the reprisal harrier

Wonder if you died in the attempt without reuniting

Or did you figure a way to get to them and then get safe hiding

Where are you now as I often wonder

And think about you when we worked the thunder

Trying to get VC and NVA to give up their weapons to us

Disarm them with money and send them without a fuss

To farm their fields and shoot at no others

Be back in the village as if you were brothers

I hope you survived and your family too

What a reunion it would be if I were to see you. 

Kuebler in 2023 at Carl Sandburg Park near his home

Introduction by Michel Robertson