My War, by Fleabaggs

This is the most important story SLL will post this month, or maybe ever. It’s an honor to post it. Read it beginning to end and study the pictures. This is the story Americans don’t want to hear, and these are pictures from which they avert their eyes. From Fleabaggs, a Vietnam War veteran:

I have started to write this a hundred times in 49 years. I would like to have used Our War but don’t want to presume to speak for all us Nam Vets still alive who were really there for a year or more. Nor can I speak for all the families of Nam Vets and all the millions of Vietnamese whose major crime was living in Vietnam at the time.

I do presume to speak for myself and my dead buddies who told me their stories as we commiserated in a dark corner of a seedy gin mill where we had been banished. I do presume to speak for some of the families I knew and my mother and the civilians who had an impact on me while I was there. I’m going to show you a picture of a few whose story never made it to the U.S. It’s shocking so stop here if you want to remain comfortably absolved in your sweet fantasy of non-involvement. This is not about “ME,” it’s about us.

Please indulge me while I set the terms of engagement here. I’m not worried about what you think of me or my views. When I say ‘THEY’ you know who “THEY” are so don’t jerk my chain with that kind of stuff. Go back to the Miley video you were watching. When I say “YOU” you know if you are “YOU” or not. If you are not “YOU,” but are offended that I might mean you, go to your therapist and ask her how you became such a thin-skinned oversensitive little prick.

This is not a Rambo story either. For the majority of us guys who were there from Jan. 68 onward, shooting and being shot at was the easy part. The hard part was the rest of what war is about. If you were in Khe Son in 68 or something like that, then yes that was hard. And just to qualify that I know what I’m talking about, I’ve been pinned so low by some guy with a 47 that I was scooping a hole with my cheekbone to get my head lower as my hair was being parted. I was also on my feet moving around 22 or 23 hours a day with very little food. When we got 1 or 2 hours to rest we were so wired we couldn’t sleep. We found a spot to lay down and listen to our heart pound and then back on our feet for 3 weeks straight. TWICE.

Combine that with having seen the proof that it was all staged and I cracked up. When I came to I was trying to choke a buddy and I just started bawling uncontrollably. I was never the same again. In hindsight I realize I made a choice to never feel ever again and set out to do just that.

One of my closest buddies from school got drafted and found himself in Bumdeal Vietnam where nothing ever happened. He’s standing in a wet trench in the Monsoon for hours every day waiting for nothing to happen. Then he gets to go back to a smelly sandbag hooch to rest and his buddy is escaping to La La Land with some pot and a squeeze tube of morphine from a kit. 3 months later he’s sharpening his needle on a nail file and cooking smack over a Zippo, wondering how this happened. He’ll be able to quit pretty easy when he gets home he thought. But I just can’t go back out there tonight without it. Just 8 more months. On the flight home he gathered up what little dignity and self-respect he had left, thinking that he was still a hero for sticking it out. A month later that little shred of hope was gone.

He had no idea how he killed that many old women and babies without remembering at least some of the details. So much for the quitting. 2 years later he died with a needle in his arm. I’m not excusing our bad decisions after we saw the farce that it was. I’m saying that was what happened and that we had lots of help getting to that point. We were not going to disgrace our families by deserting or going to Leavenworth and getting a BCD. So we put on our best pair of man pants, sucked it up and muddled through.

We were typical of the other vets I knew who are gone or are so far into the psychiatric machine they will likely never resurface. We all fell off a Norman Rockwell calendar and into a bankers’ war. It never occurred to us that the government would lie to start a war. Why should we? Our parents would think God lied before they would believe the government would lie. Presidents and Congressman lied sometimes, but not the U.S. government.

We left thinking we were heroes. Our moms gushed with pride at us in our uniforms, the girls went ga ga, we were part of something we could believe in, we marched to John Philip Sousa in boot camp, life was good.  Here is something I posted to describe what it was like for me and so many others I knew. Some people online were giving what I thought were moralizing sermons when they commented on the anniversary of the Mar.16 My Lai massacre and Lt. Calley.

I was there for the 68 TET offensive, the counter offensive and 2 mini Tets. I would never dream of sitting down next to a woman who is 8 months pregnant in the august heat and say “I know how you feel Darlin”. when you’ve been shot at from 50 ft. by someone you can’t see and are required to call in for permission to shoot back. When 2 little boys blow themselves up while trying to blow you up, when you see one of their arms twitching 30 ft. away. When you go without sleep or food while on your feet moving around for 3 weeks twice. When you see Westy dining with Raquel Welch in the light of a patio and you’re heart and guts and balls ache so bad you cry inside. when someone at the airport tries to gently tell you that you have white hippy spit down the back of your Dress Blues. When 45 years later that same liberal hippy wearing birkenstocks extends his faggy hand and says “THANK YOU FOR YOUR SERVICE”. When your family is ashamed of you. When you are treated like a freak at the VA Hospital and you have to see a shrink just to get medical attention. When you no longer have anything to believe in and you fall into booze and drug induced self pity, laying in the gutter with your pants full of crap and you piss yourself just for the warm feeling. When you’re down to 100 pounds with no teeth in a dark parking lot trying to give a blowjob for a drink or a hit. When you cry your heart out wondering what the hell is wrong with you. When you just murdered your dog for protecting your sweet mother over not giving you more drinking money. When she looks at you with hurt and despair and says “how could anything like you come out of my womb. When you’ve turned your back on a desperate woman begging for money with a dead baby because you were brainwashed into thinking she was going to buy weapons with a crummy dollar while never thinking she may have a live baby to feed in an alley somewhere. Then I’ll talk to you about Lt. Cally.   You didn’t rob my buddy and the rest of us of what little dignity we had remaining. You ripped it out of our souls violently and left a gaping sucking wound that never healed. It scabbed over a little but we could always feel it. Meanwhile you let the bankers off free. Some of you didn’t mistreat us but you didn’t defend us. How many of you canceled you accounts in protest or sold your stocks or did anything but lower your eyes and say “I don’t want to hear about that”.

Most of that was from my own story but others turned it inwardly. I never had the opportunity to do what Calley did while on duty. But after my crack up I did indeed take the low road off duty with some American civilians because I knew I could, so I don’t claim sainthood. I was young and wanted to repay someone or anyone. I took the evil and the evil took me. It made me it’s Bitch. It took me places I didn’t want to go and did things I didn’t want to do with people I didn’t want to do it with.

Many more committed a 100 forms of suicide. Violence, drugs, booze, etc. Few did what I did. Before any of that happened though I would like to show you some pictures of what we saw frequently after Tet. Refugees coming in by the thousands from burned out villages with nowhere to go except to the next large village until they reached the bigger cities. We had no idea how to cope with what we saw. 3 months of SERE training don’t prepare you for this kind of suffering. An old man and 2 old women in an alley where he is offering sex with them in desperation. The look on their faces. The woman I mentioned with the dead baby. She was too old to sell her body but not old enough to get the pity of an old Mama San. When I got home people told me I was exaggerating or lying. Do you have any idea how bad that knife feels. The 2 kids in the top picture would most likely end up like the one in the bottom. This was done to him purposely. We saw hundreds of these kids who were maybe 9 or 10. How the one in this picture lived this long is a genuine miracle. They had their bones broken and reset in the most horrible positions but always with one hand able to beg for money. Then they were starved to the point where a leg would look like your thumb. After that they were dragged out at daylight and dragged in at dark for the rest of their unfortunate lives. They were wherever there were Americans with money. This was done with our full knowledge and consent. How? All the reporters, politicians, bureaucrats, USO performers and Top Brass saw this and yet it never got reported to my knowledge. The kids who were cute and unscarred were sold to the sex vendors for sex and torture or anything the new owner wanted. If we break down into chaos because of any of the 100 train wrecks coming and you are separated from your kids and you don’t think this will happen to them, you might want to rethink that. Make arrangements for them even if you don’t believe it will happen here. If you had the money you could buy anything in Saigon. I’ll give you just one of many reasons I know what I know. I shacked up with the sister of the vice president’s mistress for 3 months. There was no welfare or self pity checks over there. Life would chew you up in a New York minute. She had a kid in a convent to pay for in the Philippines. I’m not willing to incriminate myself explaining the money for that or where I got so much info on the real deal. I was young, adventurous, outgoing and curious and people have always wanted to confide in me. I never ask, I let them talk and I don’t violate their inner sanctuary by laughing or putting them down or analyzing them by running it through my sick mind and telling them what they really just said.

Then there were the feral children all over. In spite of my determination not to feel again they always won our hearts over. The affection and care they had for each other in spite of everything was heart warming. They knew the deal and they weren’t about to be caught by the goon squads. No one that I knew could avoid seeing these kinds of things very long and after 3 months here we all knew how phony it all was. Seeing all these people suffer over it just made it harder for us to cope with. After we got home and endured the abuse heaped on us there was no longer anything to believe in for most of us. The results of that kind of demoralization was felt by our families in ways we will never fully know. I went to visit the parents of some of my buddies before the funeral as was the custom for close friends. It’s impossible to describe the hurt and despair. These were the nice guys, not the selfish wretches like me.

I think it’s timely that I waited this long to write this. We haven’t learned from watching this new group of our youth coming home perhaps even more messed up than we were. We seem hell bent on sending even more “over there” to make the world safe. Our own country is nearing civil war and I read comments online of a kind of eagerness to see it that troubles me. I don’t think that group of people knows what that will be like. Killing a fellow human being is incredibly hard, ugly and messy. It will follow you forever and if you do it because you could instead of because you had to, which many will do. I can only pray that it won’t be one of you reading this. There is a fine line between defense and just meanness because you know you can get away with it.

I’m done now. I wanted to write more but it’s not there. I made a promise to God that I would do whatever I thought he wanted me to do fearlessly for the rest of my life to make up for the evil I did in the old one. I don’t know if I have yet but when I do face him shortly I will be able to say I was no coward in these 35 years of peace he has given this undeserving wretch. I was never presumptuous enough to ask him to let me in heaven, I only asked for freedom from the torment in this life and he granted it. I have never taken a dime of anyone’s crazy money or the meds that go with it. Please don’t insult me with that welcome home stuff or thank you for your service stuff. I don’t play that.

I would like to thank Mr. Robert Gore of Straight Line Logic and gifted wordsmith who will soon be the first N.Y. Times best selling author residing in Gitmo for helping me with this and getting it posted. Also the people on TBP who encouraged me to do it.

Sincerely,

Crazy uncle Frankie Fleabaggs who lives in the attic.

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61 responses to “My War, by Fleabaggs

  1. Thanks Robert. It wouldn’t be up here if not for that phone conversation we had about it way back.

    Liked by 2 people

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  3. I cried, the tale needs to told.
    Bravo Zulu, rest easy soldier.

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  4. Blair.
    The story is out in cyberworld now so we’ll see what happens.

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  5. Oh My God! If BHO can get a Nobel Peace Prize for (?), this is undeniably Pulitzer material. My hat is off to you and surely God will consider your words here on the balance sheet.

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  6. Dwight Presnell

    My older brother is a real Vietnam veteran and is my hero. Has told me some of the things he saw and did in Vietnam and is still haunted by it. You have presented such a haunting story. The piss ants who have destroyed this country and our countries soul are not worthy of wiping a G.I;s butt. Honor knows no boundary. Your service is and was honorable, even though the politicians piss ants have none.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I imagine there’s similar tales from all wars, but that doesn’t make them easier to tell.
    Thank you for sharing.

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  8. Truth. But it just pisses me off. We live in a country with a lot of good people, but with a govt made up of lowlife piss ant traitors.
    God Bless you fleabaggs.

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    • Michael said: ” We live in a country with a lot of good people, but with a govt made up of lowlife piss ant traitors.”

      Fleabags said: “Our own country is nearing civil war and I read comments online of a kind of eagerness to see it…”

      It will come and those “piss ant traitors” will survive and prosper. Maybe we need our own version of the French Revolution.

      Like

  9. If you ask Him, He will take you the rest of the way home. See you there brother.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Thanks for all the replies. My computer won’t let me hit the like button.

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  11. I cried. You speak truth Brother.

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    • The Truth has never been easy, but it has never been nearer, either.
      Thanks for pulling back the veil just a bit to show people what [most of them] have been ignoring… and as you say, the guys (and gals) coming home today have seen just as bad, and are suffering just as sorely – because most folks just turn away and ignore our veterans, fearing the Truth they are forced to carry.
      And yeah, those that are rooting for a Civil War are going to crap themselves when they really get one. We’ll all suffer for it, but the most shocked will be the hordes of willfully ignorant “liberals” who volunteer their sanction to the ongoing atrocities, both at home and abroad.

      Peace be with you, Frank. And it can be, by His grace.

      Liked by 2 people

      • “And yeah, those that are rooting for a Civil War are going to crap themselves when they really get one.” I know a couple like that. They are nothing but know it all braggarts.

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  12. Kind of a sick irony the article has an ad for “Meet Filipino women.”

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  13. SemperFi, 0321

    Yeah, being called a liar by family and friends is the hardest part. It doesn’t fit in with their Lee Greenwood image. And then there’s the vets who also live in denial, to try and fit the image they can’t live up to.
    I’ve had a lot of friends who could have also written this piece, hope most of them are still alive and doing well today.

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  14. Thanks for writing those things from your life from your heart Mr. fleabags.
    For what it is worth, I’m sorry those things happened to you. It is heart tearing to read, can’t imagine how awful it is for you. But I can understand it was. And understand the reasons. I hope that counts for your sake.
    It has always seemed an imperative like nothing else on earth those things have to be visited on those who made them possible to begin with.
    They are bringing all that home, as they are want to do. It is what they are.
    At the very least Mr. fleabags, you are human, no matter what happened. They are not.
    That is all the difference in the world.
    Just remember something, but there for the grace of God we go.
    And maybe by you telling us, there is that much better chance it will finally be visited upon them. There’s not just a few of us who understand we are cannon fodder in their fucking war on us dirt people so they can enrich themselves upon our suffering. Lord knows they got it coming for all the misery and ugliness, the dying and the wounding they sow.
    I was too young by a year to go. I remember my cousin, he would sit with us in our tree house for hours, peeling superglue, and the blood and meat stuck to his hands, he used to patch his buddies up. I think he felt safe up there with us. We never asked him about nothing, there was no need. You could see his heart was all hurt. And we loved him for his trust in us. We knew as kids that war was shit. And like you we where prepared to accept our fate when our names came up. How could we not, our cousin went. He never came back. I don’t think he would have fared well if he did, and he knew it. You could see that too.
    Well, I’ll bet you God likes you. Being an honest Joe about shit counts for a lot.
    Can’t say that about them.

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  15. God forgave you the moment you asked for it. Christ paid your fare, you only have to believe in him. There’s no other requirement or penance. Just forgive yourself and live what life you can. Whatever you do, try not to feel guilty if happiness knocks on your door. You are what you do, not what you did.
    Thank you for your testimony.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Thanks again for all the warm comments. Heading out beyond cell coverage for the night. See you in the morning.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Flea,thank you for sharing your story.I have friends who have been through a different war but seems a lot is the same.

    This should be REQUIRED reading of POTUS and any with the power and inclination to send the country to war and perhaps a wake up call to those who wish for violence in this country.

    Again,THANK YOU for sharing and I hope you find some peace,you have given folks a lot to think about.

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  18. thank you for being able to tell your, and too many others story. I am certain that your story has helped many. mans inhumanity to man can never be overstated. there is good and bad in everyone, and if one thinks that they never would do bad, think again, we are all capable of it all. Jesus Christ lives, God bless us all.

    Liked by 1 person

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  20. Thanks for putting this up; I hope it does some good somewhere. I spent 90 minutes this afternoon with a dozen other ‘Nam vets and one Afghanistan war vet; it was wicked intense this time, for some reason, maybe Memorial Day coming up. A former “tunnel rat” told us there’s only about 500,000 of us left now; we ain’t even gone yet and the fuckers have had continuous wars since we left that place, and counting. The damage we inflict overseas and on our own is absolutely devastating and heartbreaking. But no one ever seems to learn, and as noted, too many think it’ll be swell having another civil war here, with 330 million people in the third largest country on earth and half a billion to a billion firearms. God have mercy on us all, and thanks again for writing this. Take care.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You are welcome. I’m writing a novel with a big Vietnam war section. If you or any of your friends would like to share your experiences with me either by email or phone, shoot me an email at robertgore1@me.com and we’ll set it up. That’s how I got to talking to fleebaggs, and our conversation led to this article. I understand if you’d rather not; it’s a hard thing to talk about, especially with someone like me who wasn’t there.

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      • Roger that, Mr. Gore; we have stories galore. I’ll run it by several of them next week and also clue them in to your site and writings, which I’ve found extremely interesting and valuable. It was hard to talk about today for some of us; our long-time psych moderator was impressed by the candor and felt new ground had been broken and a great change effected. We feel he has by now acquired secondary PTSD just from listening to us. The group has saved several of our lives by simply existing. We just need to convince more of the younger guys of this, and I mean like right now, because we’re losing them fast. Thanks much to fleebaggs for sharing that stuff; it’s very caustic and harsh but absolutely necessary. God bless him and all here.

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      • I have friends who have been in Iraq/ Afghanistan, north Africa, most for multiple tours- if that would be included in your book I will ask if they would be willing to discuss.

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        • gamegetter II
          I appreciate the offer, but the book only has Vietnam. The one after it might have the Middle East, though, and I’ll keep your friends in mind.

          Liked by 1 person

  21. Thanks again for all the comments. Odd that Dr84 should mention tunnel rats. I told Mr. gore on the phone that I had the highest regard for them. I don’t think there are that many left who were actually there though. Flying in for 3 days as part of a Colonels entourage doesn’t count to me.

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    • Our one tunnel rat vet is not so short and skinny anymore and he doesn’t often talk about his experiences but he was there for the whole year and dispatched many a VC armed with a bayonet and .45. If no one was available for the gig that day, someone would tip a 55-gallon drum of fuel into the hole and toss a grenade in it. We also have in our group a former Army nurse, our only woman vet, and her stories would make one’s hair stand on end, and a former Army medic, who had well over a hundred men, American and Vietnamese, die on him in the field. We’re all on our way out now, and our little group is mainly all about helping the kids coming home these days, who remind us so much of ourselves at that age. And trying to redress some of the damage we did to ourselves and our loved ones in the 40-50 years we’ve been back.

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  22. drhardy84,thanks for looking out for the new waves of vets,have a lot of friends part of it.I have been a soundboard ect. for some friends but though have been through trying times cannot relate to what they have experienced.I was lucky in me mum was a doc at VA who did her best for patients/usually meant fighting bean counters but was able to get me a lot of info. of groups for me friends locally,there are a lot of good folks out there willing to help,hope folks know that and need to keep it updated/current.

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    • We try hard, and we’ve been successful at bringing several Sandbox vets (from the first Gulf war to the present) back into the fold of functioning human beings/citizens. When they first showed up, they were “in crisis,” and in pretty bad shape. Much, much better now and working full-time jobs and/or going to school and succeeding. Raising families, etc. Not to say that they don’t still have their bad days, like we all do, but man, what a difference (still took years).

      The point also needs to be made that we ‘Nam vets couldn’t get the time of day from the VA or anyplace else 45 years ago (many of us either totally ignored or told straight up to “rub a little dirt on it, cupcake, and get the fuck outta here!”). But when the younger wave of guys coming back got treated fairly decently, many of them brought attention to us and our predicaments and the tide turned a little in our favor for a change.

      Which is again, not to say that everything is swell now and we don’t have countless combat vets getting no help at all and over 20 a day killing themselves. Who won’t come in and don’t want anything to do with anybody ever again, let alone the VA or the government in general. We get it. Oh boy, do we get.

      Anyway, many thanks again to fleebag for that essay. That kicked ass.

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      • drhardy84,when I mentioned me mum got me some directions/info. for help,most of it despite she worked there outside the VA system,though some of her patients were very helpful in getting me some contacts of these groups for friends I thought could benefit.

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  24. Wish my son had found a group…

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  25. Nam Vet 0331 Marine Grunt

    Fought in Nam in 69, Grunt, humped the M-60, in the bush for 8 months, medivaced out, saw more then some less then others…don’t ever want to see it again…but If I ever have to I will…had the same problems coming home my Uncle Red did after WW2, for the same horrific close combat reasons. (Read “On Killing”)

    If something wouldn’t have been wrong with after what I saw and had to do…something would have been wrong with me.

    God did not make us to do to one another what we do in war…it has a cost.

    http://www.uswings.com/about-us-wings/vietnam-war-facts/

    Vietnam Veterans represented 9.7% of their generation.

    Vietnam Veterans have a lower unemployment rate than the same non-vet age groups.

    Vietnam Veterans’ personal income exceeds that of our non-veteran age group by more than 18 percent.

    87% of Americans hold Vietnam Veterans in high esteem.

    There is no difference in drug usage between Vietnam Veterans and non-Vietnam Veterans of the same age group (Source: Veterans Administration Study).

    Vietnam Veterans are less likely to be in prison – only one-half of one percent of Vietnam Veterans have been jailed for crimes.

    85% of Vietnam Veterans made successful transitions to civilian life.

    97% of Vietnam Veterans were honorably discharged.

    91% of Vietnam Veterans say they are glad they served.

    74% say they would serve again, even knowing the outcome.

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  26. dang that took me back there. Thanks I guess for putting into words what I can’t get out of my mind, my heart, or my spirit.
    And thank you to Christ my King for forgiveness that I in no way deserve.

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  27. Fleabaggs, et al.
    Listen all, this man is the real deal. Like all of us who went over to that hellhole and came back to ‘The World’, he speaks truth to power. I came home on the ‘Freedom bird’, and wouldn’t you know it… it shit an engine midway to Hawaii. Grown men breaking down crying, madness and mayhem, the pilot came on and told us we should calm down yada yada blah blah, here came the stew’s with those tiny little bottles of booze. One guy grabbed a stew and kissed her, being the first non LBFM he had seen in a year. I was the luckiest Viet vet, My dad bought it in 67, then I joined when I was old enough… I was tail end charlie,72-73, REMF, would never pass myself off as a ground pounder, I respected those guys too much, that’s what I couldn’t get. Too small, too smart, I got Audie Murphy’ed and moved into intel. Never saw anything but alerts, and killing trees. But when I got home, that’s when the fun began…
    Got spit on in SFI airport by some hippie bastard(was this some right of passage?) Called a baby killer, he spit on me, I decked the SOB, reaction. Funny though, the cops were standing a few yards away, saw the whole thing. Asked me if I had a plane to catch, I nodded, they said go, they saw this guy “assault you”. Then I got home, kissed the ground, literally.
    My family was there, took me out to eat… my God, BBQ and Mountain Dew, I was in heaven, then came the stares, the whispers, then the open insults at the next table… “Are we supposed to eat in the same place with one of those baby killers!” The manager was summoned, and, he threw the other family out… him, being a WWII vet, he apologized, my families meal was no charge… then my best friend from high school, asked me how many babies I killed, and I don’t know… I think I lost a piece of my soul. I almost killed him.
    I shut down, I quit feeling, I disconnected from the human race, almost moved out in the woods with some of the other guys… who, you might be interested, are STILL living out there in the woods.
    I took care of myself, did what I was told, had a career, saw that the evil that runs the USA is rampant from the Top to the Bottom, had to finally enter the VA ‘healthcare’ system after my job got shipped to Singapore, yada yada free trade blah blah… f**k Wall street and their fedgov lackies. i haven’t seen a doctor in over two years. There is only one way to fix that f**ked up system, burn it down and start over. I know why guys commit suicide, the VA forces them into giving up. When you walk in the door, you are immediately assumed to be a head case, automatic. I told the psych person I was never in combat, she insisted that counseling was available and I should avail myself of it. I told her that “a man without a purpose, is not a man, and no amount of counseling will change that.”

    Now I hear this constant drum beating against the Russians, and Mr. Trump, fills me with rage. If they take him down, they take us all down, and we need to take them down, and give them a taste of their own medicine… these bastards want a war with Russia… a country that has nukes. Washington was always mad with power, now they have crossed the line into open madness.
    Damn them all, may they rot in hell.

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    • Combat vet or not, you put your ass on the line out there regardless and guys (and women) in the rear made life bearable for us sometimes and also got us our stuff. I can attest that “counseling,” per se, is like unto getting your TS Card punched by the chaplain most of the time. I know I got my serious help from being with and talking with other vets, in my case, other combat vets, but generally all are welcome. You might benefit from finding a local vets group and checking them out; many of us have found this is the only thing that works.

      I hear you loud and clear on everything else you’ve said, though. And also feel the rage, but it’s gone cold and is just waiting…waiting…sooner or later there will be comeuppance. Patience, faith and fortitude.

      And God bless you.

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  28. I read the entire posting. I was 54 in the lottery, but that came as I entered Med School. I have many Vets as friends, from Vietnam and the more recent Wars, in Iraq and Afghanistan. I mentor an Inactive Marine, Scout Sniper in Medical School and know he will make a Great Doc (one that will be going into the Military Medical system, by choice). I will never know anything but YOUR stories and tribulations. I feel you need to hear that there are those of us out here that want and try to understand from a distance that seems too far to really see a clear picture. I cannot relieve you of the memories and feelings that will ever be present but can assure you that there are more of us out there than you know. Meeting them is impossible because of your experiences and the fragility of ALL of us. Maybe, my small addition to the support of your life, past and present, may offer some comfort. I do believe, as one commenter has said, God knows and you are already forgiven as long as you believe in yourself and Him. War is the WORST thing anyone can imagine. The key word being IMAGINE, for many of us, YOU had to live it. I wish all of you that made these inescapable sacrifices, PEACE!

    Like

  29. drhardy84,
    Thanks man… been there, done that… I do have some vet friends I talk to, they’re the only ones I can talk to. The outrage was gone, I thought… then this man was elected, somehow, and I thought “maybe, just maybe, there’s hope somebody can stand up to the bastards?” I should have known, he gets the “death by a thousand cuts” treatment. People think he’s turned into ‘one of them’, I say no, he’s been given ‘The Talk’… he’s afraid for his family. You notice they’ve dropped completely off the radar? He understands now, the evil he’s dealing with, but he’s stuck like a fly in a gilded cage. While we are distracted by the beating drums… The kabuki dance in the theater of the damned.

    My rage is not just for the fedgov fools, but the fact that the children have had decades of indoctrination by those commie hippie bastards that took over the education system. Now they can’t even carry on a coherent conversation, and almost half the country voted for the Wicked Witch of the East. And they cannot accept the fact, that they lost. This is not just ‘new’, its dangerous. And her and the Black Caesar, and all their underlings are egging them on? The head of the snake needs cutting off. God help us.

    Everybody talks about waiting for revolution or civil war, I see it, but nobody gets it. There are few good guys in DC, or local, or state, there is mostly only a raging herd of money worshiping buffaloes, and we are a herd of cats who worship some long lost god called Liberty. These keyboard commandos who’ve never seen the elephant, on both sides, don’t understand that once you unleash the elephant, the elephant sits on you for the rest of your life and crushes everything. I only caught a taste, the days of boredom punctuated by moments of soul crushing fear. Just a taste of what the real warriors went through day after day… they think they lost their souls, but in reality they are the ones who kept them because of their suffering. These kids don’t know what they don’t know, but, I have a feeling that they’re asking for it, and will get it, good and hard.

    The suits, well, f**k them, they’ll get what they deserve… and I can only hope I have enough popcorn and the TV stays on through the whole scene. I live so far back in the woods it’ll be awhile before they get to me, and I’ll be ready for ’em. (Yeah, I live in the woods… but, its in a house, with electricity and everything…. and I paid for it all. 🙂

    Who uh.

    Like

    • Can’t agree more with everything you just said. Anger for what happened to us in the distant past, but also for what the commies have done to this country in particular, and the Christian West in general, since the 1930s. Most don’t see it and don’t read or understand history, or they’ve been fed a constant load of pig-shit malarkey since they were toddlers, with zero inclination to get at the truth. When you snout’s so deep down in the mud and pixel garbage and shit piling up, you forget what the light looked like.

      I live in northwestern VT near the Quebec border but not in the woods; it’s a small village inside a small town, surrounded on three sides by farmland and woods, and the west side by a pretty large lake. There’s another ‘Nam vet across the street who’s friendly but won’t talk about it, another one up the street, not so friendly, who also won’t talk about it. The other neighbors are pretty decent and helpful, no complaints. I go to weekly meetings, am a service-connected/rated disabled vet, and manage to function OK most days, serving on the town’s planning commission and getting a lot of local info and intel that may yet prove useful.

      Stay cool and watch your six; semper paratus, because tempus fugit. I sincerely hope it doesn’t all go down when we’re way too old and frail to help out.

      Like

    • “I should have known, he gets the “death by a thousand cuts” treatment. People think he’s turned into ‘one of them’, I say no, he’s been given ‘The Talk’… he’s afraid for his family. You notice they’ve dropped completely off the radar?” This.
      We are facing some real psychopaths here who care not how many nations are destroyed, and how many they kill through their actions. They care only about acquiring more power and money.
      I think Trump sees the cycle we are in and what is coming down the road, I know Steve Bannon has talked about The Fourth Turning. Trump probably thought he could steer us to safer waters. But the ship of state has been sabotaged in so many different ways.

      Like

  30. Nam Vet 0331 Marine Grunt

    Wrote this soon after my first visit to the wall

    The Babies of the Boom

    We are the children of heroes
    who had been weaned
    on the thin gruel of the depression
    their manhood forged
    in the inferno
    of a world on fire
    the war of their youth
    as simple and righteous
    as survival, victory and freedom

    We are the Babies of the Boom
    breast fed on the promise
    of our father’s GI Bill
    and the Mickey Mouse Club
    the first generation
    nurtured on the tube, inspired
    by John Wayne, John Kennedy
    and the echoes
    of our father’s glories
    free, because of the tradition
    of the American Citizen Soldier, Airman, Sailor, Marine

    and the limb
    grew strong and straight from the trunk
    and the fruit
    fell close to the tree

    Maturing with the promise of Camelot
    our power was invincible
    our ideals pure
    our fear naïve
    our courage blind…
    led by the Whiz Kids
    the Best of the Brightest
    we would follow the tradition
    of the American Citizen Soldier
    we would
    Ask not what our country could do for us
    but
    what we could do for our country
    and
    we went and did it
    not our turn to serve America
    our chance!

    Much and many were lost
    stolen…sold…discarded…traumatized…
    wounded…maimed…K.I.A.
    leaving us trapped
    with the festering residue
    of what men throughout the ages
    who have survived combat
    discover to their horror…
    so much
    so very, very much
    about themselves
    that is best not known

    A generation
    of Americana Citizen Soldiers
    that wasn’t betrayed
    until sprayed
    that wasn’t dishonored
    until ignored
    that wasn’t stressed
    until delayed
    that wasn’t missing
    until abandoned
    then…

    We found ourselves
    defenseless, shocked and surprised
    surrounded and ambushed
    by our homecoming
    by our own people

    Our jaded youth
    limped home
    the stench of death
    clinging to our nostrils
    staining our hands
    while the still frame hyper seconds
    replayed in endless slow motion
    upon the Black Granite Wall
    engraved behind our eyelids

    and we were met

    by the stares and scorn of the vocal minority
    spitting on our sacrifice
    consumed by the simplistic naivete
    of the Woodstock floatism
    the trendy assembly line non-conformists
    who would soon eagerly embrace
    all that they raged against
    (when it was safe and nothing would be asked of them)

    and we were met

    by the stares and confusion
    of the Silent Majority
    their label a dubious distinction
    their empathy tainted with apathy
    the generation gap
    widening into a chasm
    leaving us treated more like victims
    than veterans

    and we were met

    by the stereotypes and distortions
    of the Liberal media’s portrayal
    of the drug crazed guilt ridden
    hair trigger former baby killers
    walking a thin line
    on the edge of society…

    Leaving us on the outside
    glaring in
    ignored or slandered
    our noses pressed against the glass
    of America’s window

    and now a generation has passed
    and my youth
    time and truth have eroded the stereotypes
    “The Wall” honored our fallen
    my daughter watched my fading nightmares
    on TVs “Tour of Duty”
    and looks at me questioningly
    “Was the war like that Daddy?”
    I dodge her questions
    knowing so much
    about myself
    that is best not known

    We were the children of heroes
    weaned on the rich broth
    of Americanism
    our manhood forged
    in the inferno
    of our trial by fire
    the war of our youth
    as simple and bitter
    as betrayal, survival and rage

    It don’t mean noth’in

    Like

  31. reblogged at http://twopartyparadigm.blogspot.com/
    The story touches something deep, especially in these times.
    God Bless.

    Like

  32. Piper.
    Everyone who was there for 6 months or more ate from the same bowl of shit everyone else did week in and week out. Extreme monotony, mind games etc. and at home got tarred with the same brush. Those guys on the carriers didn’t have a picnic either. 3 months of 20 hr work days, never seeing land. We all got tarred with the same brush at home.
    You and Dr84 did a good job describing the VA experience. I only mentioned it in passing just to avoid derailing the theme. A man without a purpose is not a man. Well said.
    DR84.
    Haven’t heard the word malarkey since 63. It was dads favorite line. It’s also where fleabaggs comes from. His term for farm dogs and strays.

    Like

    • My uncle Ricky wasn’t even in-country; he was a gunner’s mate on a USN destroyer off the coast and they shelled the place relentlessly while fending off MIG attacks. He got a Bronze for that; died a few years ago at the same age I am now. Didn’t take care of himself, smoked, drank, lost weight, faded away.

      Lotsa folks got the same shitty treatment regardless of where and how they served when they came back here. In my case it was sheer utter indifference. Nobody gave a shit and the WWII vets had contempt for us and said we lost the war. We still run into that, believe it or not, from some of those guys.

      Then there’s some other men, now in their late 80s and 90s, who are finally, now they’ve had plenty of time to think about it and not repress it all, in-crisis and trying to figure it out. They haven’t showed up in our group yet but we see them around sometimes.

      Like

  33. Nam Vet 0331 Marine Grunt

    Your comment is awaiting moderation???

    WHY

    Like

    • Because I was out of town and couldn’t get to it until today, Sunday. Sorry about that but I approved it soon as I saw it.

      Like

  34. Nam Vet 0331 Marine Grunt, You, and many others were damaged and discarded by the “Silent Majority”. I think Free People that have never fought or struggled for that Freedom cannot appreciate the cost… We face the same problems today and part of it may be moderated (meaning reversed) if we, The Free, were to have a Leader. I am a supporter of Pres. Trump because he has no real Political ties, either monetary or philosophic, to the current Political System. He represents a true threat to the “Powers that Be”. If he is to be a Good/Great Leader, he, in my opinion, needs to speak directly to US and tell us what to do and where to start doing so. We do control those that have been profiting from our hard work. However, without direction, no fighting force can be successful. Our best shot at winning the fight is to step up and start to take down those that are fighting us when we go vote. The solution from which all of you have suffered will always be available but we can do better if we follow the plan laid out by the Founding Fathers. God help us if we do not start to participate.

    Like

  35. Nam Vet 0331 Marine Grunt

    Bruce,
    When I came home in 70 I was elated to be alive and still have all my limbs and no serious damage. I mean I was giddy. Spent time in physical therapy but my physical wounds were healed. In hindsight it wasn’t the lack of understanding or appreciation that poured gasoline on my soon raging PTSD fire…it was the open hostility I received in the liberal NE I lived in.

    A well dressed man my Father’s age in an almost uncontrollable rage, with spittle flying from his words started screaming in my face in NY City on the street with the classic accusation of being a murderer and a baby killer, his wife dragging him away…a crowd gathering to watch the rant in cold silence.
    Another ambush.

    A voice yelling out from the crowd when I was walking down the boardwalk in Seaside Heights NJ: Get out of Vietnam!…then when I turn with balled raised fists and challenge whoever the yeller was…I was faced with a crowd of glaring people who keep walking…everyone now silent…the coward moving on with no retort.
    Another ambush.

    The young woman at the wedding table at the reception who asked me in a loud almost accusatory voice: “Did you kill anyone in Vietnam?” while not waiting for an answer condescendingly finishing her run on sentence with: “I could never do that.” while looking at me as if I was a slide on a microscope. Everyone at the table just staring at me.
    Another ambush.

    The former boyhood friend who went to Rutgers and was active in the anti-war movement, who wore a white t-shirt with a red fist on the front and the word STRIKE on the back, who sat at the feet of a Marxist professor, who made the almost fatal mistake of drinking too much and smugly confronting me in a local bar and yelling in my face so everyone could hear his alcohol furled rant…here are his exact words after poking me in the chest with a finger: “You are nothing but a Marine bred for violence, a murderer and a baby killer!” Ahhh…but this time I was ready…this time it wasn’t someone my Fathers age or a voice in the crowd or a woman. I didn’t just knock him down…once I had him outside I beat him into a senseless pulp…I gave him the beating of his life…I gave him a beating that remided him of the consequences of his words when ever he looked into a mirror for a long time…maybe for life…I gave him a beating that I bet he still shudders at when remembering…I then dragged him to a sticker bush and while choking him with my thumbs pressed into his Adam’s apple I swished his head and face around inside a sticker bush. Three other alarmed rubber neckers saved his life by pulling me off..and it took a heroic effort to do that…I would have done time for manslaughter. Multiple eyewitnesses later told me I was killing him.

    I put the word out in my home town the next person that insulted my service was going to get the same beating or worse. Never, ever had another incident. Matter of fact for a long time when I came into that bar (or any local hang out) it got quiet…and everyone was always extremely polite.

    Two years later I got into a long line at a McDonald’s and the boyhood friend was in the front of the line…he looked over his shoulder and our eyes met. Without hesitation he ran out at full speed, jumped in his car…and actually burned rubber leaving the lot. I smiled.

    Reading “On Killing” by LT. Col. Grossman explained more to me about what I experienced and why than any other book or person…including VA PTSD counselors.

    Like

    • Nam Vet 0331 Marine Grunt,
      I cannot experience what any of you have had to endure. To suggest that is naive. You did experience what many of us did on the “playground” by whom ever that “bully” was during our childhood, via the professorial bully. He got what, even today, all bullies should get a hiding. I can only commend you for what you did and am glad that he was not so damaged that you had to pay. I have read both writings of Grossman’s book, “On Killing” as well as the one he wrote with the LEO, “On Combat”. There is a lot to learn about what We are but the wounds that you, and others from our generation must be attended to individually, in my opinion. I only wish that I could do something to lesson the pain and suffering that has followed many back home where “understanding” should be more forthcoming. I do believe that “Life is a Struggle” and the one that those who have gone to war and must deal with is one of the most difficult. The anger and hurt secondary to the betrayal of those back home (in the World, for you as a group) requires some risk taking and the knowledge that all will not be fixed but a site like this and the ability for some of you to speak your mind seems to be a step forward. God Bless You All!

      Like

  36. Nam Vet 0331 Marine Grunt

    Bruce,

    My PTSD story is a common one but in spite of the combat trauma and the ugly homecoming that poured some gas on it – my overall life has been wonderful and intentional…40 year ongoing tender marriage to beautiful, vivacious woman, She says with a twinkle, “That life with me has been a day at the beach…Normandy!” A joyous daughter, who has a rock solid marriage to good husband and father of my joyous grandson, successful corporate career that took me all over the country…and then a successful consulting career that led to writing and speaking in my profession (business fraud investigations and confrontations)…leading to a lifelong dream in progress living and working on a modest farm in the country.

    The above is why I included the positive stats about Nam Vets in an earlier post…I have lived determined not to let the trauma or the anger or the bitterness that sometime still wells up define my life.

    Forty eight years later I’m still hyper vigilant, embarrassing startle reflex, always sit in a corner or the back, head on a swivel when out, don’t do crowds or fireworks if I can avoid it, feel naked when forced not to be packing..but here is my Paul Harvey Rest of the Story…in 1993 at the age of 43…23 years after I came home…after 23 three years of intentionally turning my back on God (long story) I came to the cross of Jesus Christ…and finally came home all the way.

    Thanks for your posts,
    Semper Fi

    Like

  37. An honest account. thanks to Frank and to 0331 Marine, and the others that shared. To young for Vietnam, spent my time in Central America and being the referee between the Serbs, Croats and and Bosnians, AKA the Easter Christians, the Western Christians, and the Muslims. I came out and got a job on the police department of a major city, and found myself on the scene, trying to stop people from bleeding out, mostly those who got in the way of someone’s depraved mind. I read your words, but more importantly I felt your words.

    I’ve had an alright life, but it is hard to relate to the everyday bullshit that people get excited about. I am fortunate to have a few Vietnam Vets still around the job, and a few Iraq/Afghan vets coming along. People you don’t have to explain yourself to every minute or incident.

    God Bless you all.

    Like

  38. Nam Vet 0331 Marine Grunt

    Thanks Mike…Here are some edgy poems written in the early 70’s when the wounds were open and the memories still bleeding. I don’t know if Robert will allow the first one it has some profanity…I don’t talk like that anymore, but I did then, its a blunt raw poem about war. These have been locked away a long time.

    Got to Pray…Got to Kill

    Crossing stagnant marshes
    leeches take turns with the mosquitoes
    sucking our blood
    flies are swarming
    over spots of flesh
    festering with jungle rot

    a 155 booby trap blew Thomas apart
    we just found his boot
    with his foot still in it

    monsoon season is here
    patrols every day
    ambushes every night
    we hump in the rain
    and sleep in the mud

    sniper got the lieutenant
    right through the forehead

    got mortared again
    lost three men

    we fought all day
    torched a vill
    found an old mama-san
    who was setting a bobby trap for us
    it blew her hands off
    we just stared as she bled to death
    she just glared back

    stepped over ole Luke the gook
    burnt, charred and gooey by napalm
    we call ’em crispy critters

    watched the funeral of an eight year old boy
    in the vill at hill 65
    the V.C. had slit his throat
    because his father had helped us

    I’ve got the screaming shits again
    Had to slit my cammies always squatting
    Doc gave me some tiny white pills
    told me to eat C-rat cheese
    begged, borrowed and stole C-rat toilet paper
    my asshole is a faucet…

    dry season is here
    it was 114 degrees yesterday
    humped fourteen hours
    seven dudes passed out

    platoon got ambushed
    purple hearts for everybody
    lost half my gun team
    and most of the squad
    was hit tee tee
    by a B-40
    but greased their ass
    payback is a motherfucker

    second platoon was overrun
    on no-name hill
    gooks in the wire!
    Most of the platoon
    was K.I.A.
    N.V.A. took Tex alive
    cut off his balls
    and sliced him open
    Fuck the Geneva Convention

    what’s left of the company
    got three days R&R in China Beach
    beer and steak
    boom, boom and dope
    more nicky new guys
    back in the bush

    on a patrol
    lost one man
    had a million dollar wound
    but he died of shock!
    he only had two weeks in country
    can’t remember his name

    big operation
    buck, buck two solid weeks
    105s, 155s, phantoms and Puff the Magic Dragon
    saved our asses
    played some heavy rock and roll
    with my lady M-60

    in country five months
    out of the six I came with
    I’m the only one left…

    Hear back in the world
    Jody has been busy
    And the long hairs are rioting.
    If I make it back
    gonna kick some ass and take some names

    Doors got a new jam
    “It’s all over for the unknown soldier”
    Blood Sweat and Tears got a new jam
    “And When I Die”
    It’s a rock and roll war

    fuck it, it don’t mean nothing

    on a four man killer team
    we did the J.O.B.
    get some Mac Marine
    payback is still a motherfucker

    Drew a bulls eye on the back
    of my flak jacket
    Fuck ’em if they can’t take a joke
    on my helmet I wrote
    Kill First, Die Last, Burn and Destroy
    so much for their hearts and minds

    the company assaulted on line
    swept through a V.C. vill
    it was a “Search and Destroy”
    but we got it reversed again…

    the odds are crazy
    don’t think I’ll make my twelve and twenty

    company got hit
    sweeping through Dodge City
    Beacou Med-Vacs
    more nicky new guys

    I’m in my seventh month
    getting close to being short

    nothing to eat but C-rats
    nothing to drink but river water
    haven’t washed in weeks
    got use to the smell
    but my skin is crawling
    dream of frosty vanilla milkshakes
    and women with round eyes and big tits

    on a patrol
    it rained grenades
    I got hit again
    two weeks on Hill 327
    14 nights in a hospital bed!
    but they sent me back

    during a “Search and Destroy”
    all we found were booby traps
    lost four men
    my old buddies are gone
    dead, wounded or crazy
    got to saddle up
    got to hump
    got to dig in
    got to stay alive
    got to pray
    got to kill

    it don’t mean nothing.

    The Casualty

    I laid between the crisp white sheets
    trapped in the folds
    of the hospital corners
    bleeding from wounds
    no one could see
    dreaming
    sweating
    floundering
    in the surreal nightmare
    of my fears, trauma and remarkable survival…
    a scarred statistic
    unconsciously mourning
    his dead youth (Killed In Action)
    and not really sure of anything
    especially all
    once held to be noble
    staring up at the ceiling
    hour after day after week
    counting the cracks
    in my mind

    Who Was I … What Had I Become?

    5 a.m. in Kennedy airport
    sitting alone sipping coffee
    in an almost empty terminal
    staring blankly
    trembling slightly
    a few silent travelers hurry past
    ignoring the slumped teenager
    who stared at nothing
    but felt everything

    In a glass wall reflection
    I saw a stranger
    stiff in the uniform of his country
    owning the heart of a frightened child
    and the eyes of a ruthless survivor
    a man-boy
    caught in a whirlpool of emotions
    drowning in a sea of blood
    spinning…spinning…lost

    The past overwhelmed the present
    death and hate battled relief and gratitude
    blood lust and gore haunted the survivor
    nightmares smothered reality
    (reality…what the hell is reality?)
    pain mingled with confused fear
    who was I…what had I become?

    It was time to leave
    a moment I had prayed to see for so long
    and yet
    an empty numbness ached
    it was so hard to rise
    a weight crushing, grinding me down
    hailing a taxi
    I headed home
    nervous and worried
    I had survived the war, but
    who was I…what had I become?

    All That I Wanted … All That I Found

    I wanted to experience life
    instead I destroyed it
    I wanted to become a man
    but became a guerrilla
    I wanted to be brave
    but became crazy
    I wanted to be strong
    but turned cold and hard
    I wanted to follow my conscience and convictions
    but lived by raw animal instincts
    I wanted to help defeat my country’s enemies
    but found my country didn’t care
    I wanted to do what was right
    and almost drowned in the wrongs
    I wanted to be a hero
    but returned a haunted casualty

    from the rose colored glasses
    of a teenaged idealist
    to the sunken glazed stare
    of a shell shocked veteran
    all that I wanted
    and all that I found
    are questions screamed in my mind
    that never make a sound

    My Rage is Blind and So Is My Country

    I am sorry
    the grinning boy who left
    returned such an angry young man
    trapped in a gun barrel
    impaled on the flag
    dreaming with ghosts
    and covered with scars
    you could never see
    never touch
    never comprehend

    My stolen youth
    shattered ideals
    broken dreams
    and dead eyes
    don’t belong anymore
    to your pampered Pepsi generation
    with their fists in the air
    and their heads in the sand

    It’s no one’s fault
    your love couldn’t kiss
    the blood off my hands
    or calm the horrors
    that scream in my sleep
    or soothe the torment
    of my betrayed patriotism
    or hide your revulsion
    from my private hell

    I am sorry
    your pained doe eyes
    wept and pleaded
    for the cold hard man
    to put down his drink and leave
    and for the grinning boy to return
    but their innocence couldn’t see
    he was killed in action
    sent home
    and buried alive
    by his country’s hostile indifference

    I am sorry
    my back is to the wall
    as my angry pen
    spits out these words
    but…
    the war has stolen my tears
    turned my heart into a rock
    marooned me with my own blood lust
    and left your eyes
    reflecting a violent stranger
    that scares us both

    I’m sorry
    your hidden romance
    and rebound marriage
    to my secret understudy
    made it all seem
    like a poorly written soap opera
    but the show must go on!

    Now I am where I need to be
    alone
    and a thousand miles away
    from yesterday
    fighting a war in my head
    and healing slowly
    so very, very slowly
    there’s no other way
    there’s no one to blame
    my country is blind
    and so is my rage.

    The Unwritten Poem, By the Forgotten Man

    Remember the night we first met
    and I kept staring
    you thought I liked your girlfriend
    instead of you
    but I didn’t

    remember our first date
    the picnic at the park
    you pushed me in the pond
    and laughed while I almost drowned
    but I didn’t

    remember the first time we made love
    it just happened by itself
    you were afraid
    and thought I was using you
    but I didn’t

    remember that summer night
    we held each other and cried
    because we were so happy
    and you thought we were being silly
    but I didn’t

    remember that big fight
    and the things we said we didn’t mean
    I drove away cursing
    and you thought we’d break up
    but I didn’t

    remember our wedding day
    and the joy we shared
    we held one another all night
    and kissed for hours
    you said I fell asleep first
    but I didn’t

    remember when I answered the call
    how brave you were
    we talked about our plans
    the children we would have
    and the life we would live
    when I came home from Vietnam
    but I didn’t

    Like

  39. Nam Vet 0331 Marine Grunt

    Thanks Robert and Ip727…I’m a hard core Copperhead.

    In the 70’s writing was my outlet…a therapy. It allowed me to explain much of what happened, what I saw, what I did and what I felt…and will always feel. It was steam released from the pressure cooker of that decade.

    Reared the First of Many

    In a sweaty jungle clearing
    owning the darkness unseen
    deadly NVA shadows crept
    probing…to find the 360…to kill
    to pour through the breech and overrun
    war’s hunter and prey
    one in the same
    men stalking men

    behind yellow clumps of
    whispering grass, alongside of
    my shallow hidden foxhole, reared the first of many
    in cringing reflex
    after the deafening shrapnel burst
    his overthrown grenade missed me me!

    throwing myself up
    a split second confrontation…enemy upon enemy
    panic owns him
    his black olive eyes…slanted on a desperate boyish face
    saw me too late… hidden in the hole
    closer then he thought
    a mad scramble to turn, to escape, to live

    the .45 frantically bucks
    trigger jerks…someone is screaming
    me

    frozen silence encases
    acid smoke from the barrel
    the jerking puppet boy/enemy was slammed back into the night

    then reared the second of many

    Two Dark Red Juicy Looking Apples

    I remember Billy’s bright boyish face
    His laughing blue eyes
    His easy devilish grin
    And those two dark red, juicy looking apples

    Under a blazing Vietnamese sun
    we stood in line…(hurry up and wait)
    like human cattle
    a heard of young Marines ready to battle stampede
    waiting to board the choppers
    and whirl off to first contact
    sweat oozed from every pore
    the weight of the Grunt strapped on us
    helmet, pack, never enough ammo, canteens, grenades, claymores, flack jacket, C-rats etc., etc.
    fear sliced through our hearts
    silence and gloom hung heavy in the air
    then with a wink and flourish Billy reached into his pack
    and like a magician pulling rabbits from his hat
    he held out two dark red, juicy looking apples
    his eyes sparkled with delight
    as he watched me closely
    “Bill…How? Where? When?
    “Stole’em…cook’s hooch…last night.”
    he tossed one over to me
    that mischievous grin, curling
    splitting his face from ear to ear
    we laughed then attacked the fruit
    they killed Billy that night.

    Had Stopped Doing That

    When they killed Jim
    I didn’t watch the Corpsman
    frantically work in vain
    I didn’t help lay him in his poncho
    or carry him away
    or watch the copper
    swallow him forever
    had stopped doing that
    just welcomed the familiar numbness
    as it seeped in
    and pretended to ignore the secret guilt
    (relieved it wasn’t me)
    just grabbed my E-tool
    and dug my fighting hole deeper
    I didn’t cry for Jim
    had stopped doing that
    a hundred years
    and half a dozen buddies ago

    Tennessee

    He came from the green hills
    of Tennessee
    and that’s what we called him
    short and muscular
    with skin the color of coffee and cream
    bright coal black eyes
    a wide easy smile
    and a slow confident walk

    One day in the bush
    we became foxhole buddies
    over a prized can
    of Dinty Moore Beef Stew my Mother has sent me
    and I’d been saving;
    we crouched in the gun pit
    brown juice dripping off our chins
    grinning
    C-rat fruit cocktail for dessert
    hot coffee in our canteen cups
    puffing on two Hav-a Tampa Jewels!
    the jungle feast was complete
    our friendship was sealed

    The patrols, ambushes, snake bites, killer teams,
    sweeps, operations and search and destroys
    slowly passed
    in a parade of fear, physical misery and boredom
    adrenaline and gore
    and occasionally
    we’d visit one another’s fighting hole
    for a jungle feast.

    The mortars came out of nowhere
    exploding everywhere
    heaving the earth up
    into geysers of screaming shrapnel
    in minutes it was over
    and then I saw him
    rolling and withering and gasping
    on ground soaked red
    by his blood

    The corpsman worked furiously
    to stem the flow
    of the life pouring out of Tennessee
    but he lay there dying
    begging for the morphine
    that quickly numbed
    his last moments of pain and terror
    I offered him a cigarette
    and words of encouragement
    he didn’t answer and I didn’t believe
    then in a drug induced coma
    he drifted off to death
    and we gently wrapped him in a poncho
    and silently carried him to the chopper

    I walked away, a zombie Marine
    grim and sad and scared and confused and weary and so…so old
    secretly ashamed
    of my relief for still living
    sitting in the gun pit
    eating alone
    trying not to feel
    trying not to think

    There Are No More Heroes…Only Killers

    The wedding reception shifted into high gear. Shirtsleeves were rolled up; ties, jackets and high heels came off. People wiggled, giggled, hopped and clapped to the hokey pokey. The bride and groom strolled around the hall beaming and the serious drinkers gathered at the bar. With beer and cigarette in hand, I found myself at a table of strangers waiting for a chance to break into the conversation and gain the undivided attention of a flirty young woman whose eyes had invited me. She obviously was eager to talk and stared intensely at me, but after quickly dispensing with the usual verbal foreplay her real interest was exposed.

    I hear you were in Vietnam.

    How did you now that?

    I overheard some people talking about you, they said you were wounded.

    Yea.

    You must have been in a lot of combat.

    Well…less than some and more than others, but enough to know I don’t want to see any more.

    Can I ask a question? Her tone suddenly edgy…rising…almost shrill…

    She leaned forward as if sharing a secret, her tongue lightly flicked over her lips, her eyes shone. The people around us who had been listening with one ear grew silent, heads turned, my stomach muscles tightened as I realized it was happening again.

    Ask.

    Did you ever kill anyone…over there….I could never do that….

    (Her scalpel tongue
    slices unmercifully
    piercing my heart
    the stares and silence that own the table
    gently twist the blade
    their eyes dissect my soul
    as the memory of killing squirms
    I meet her hungry gaze
    as its insensitive curious cruelty
    feeds on my moral anguish
    she has turned me inside out
    and as I sit there secretly bleeding
    I watch a dark corner of her mind
    waiting…anticipating…
    the war rages daily on TV
    like some endless gory serial
    first hand death is at a premium
    she is eager for the violent details
    of the ultimate human hunt
    and once again I find the harsh reality
    of my ugly homecoming
    there are no more heroes…just killers)

    Yes.

    Her eyebrows arch as I give my standard answer to the brazen question. My face stiffens into a cold hardening mask. I offer no details that she yearns for. Shock, disbelief, awe, revulsion and intensified curiosity take their turn on her face, while she stares as if looking at me through a microscope. Silence surrounds us as I meet her gaze, holding onto her eyes with mine, reaching for her core…and for a fleeting moment time melts away as I let her see a reflection of the icy violence that I learned to embrace…that helped keep me alive…the cold killing she wonders about.

    She breaks away her eyes darting with a nervous realization of what is staring at her. Slowly standing I drain my beer and look through her with dead eyes. she starts to talk eyes darting…but I turn my back, her voice trails off… lost…. dangling. The table is silent. The party has evaporated.

    Walking away I hear the table break out in a low murmur of excited voices. I head for the bar and the understanding comfort of a few quick shots of brandy and decide to join the serious drinkers and numb the numbness.

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