This is not a war story. Plenty of those have already been written. It’s not an
attempt to analyze the war and its impact. I’m not that clever. It’s just a way
to sort things out. After 35 years it still bothers me.
If you read it, just take it for what it is, a way to bring a part of my life
out into the open. Maybe by doing this I can exorcise the demons that come in
the night, mostly when I’m alone. If that makes me sound a little crazy, maybe I
A few years ago, on Veterans Day, I was invited to speak about the war at a
local high school. It was the first time in over 30 years that a group of people
asked me about what happened in Southeast Asia during the war. There were five
of us in the room telling our stories, and I was amazed at how difficult it was.
A couple of the guys broke down. One left for a while. When he returned he
struggled, trying to make those who listened understand how war effects all it
touches. We all struggled through our stories. None of us anticipated how that
day would effect us.
The things that bothered us had been locked away for many years. Even though we
tried to set them aside, and built our lives after the war, the memories didn’t
go away. They never will.
If any part of this makes you believe I’m feeling sorry for myself, then believe
what you like. If the writing style is rough enough to make you criticize, then
There is an attitude that war produces that makes vets different. It comes from
being thrown into impossible situations where friends die, from believing that
you’ll never see home again, and from taking another persons life. All this
happens to young men in their early twenties, none of whom are prepared for what
A big part of this is dedicated to the three guys whose names are on the honors
page. They didn’t have a chance to make the adjustment because they died in the
jungle several thousand miles from home. They weren’t fighting for a cause, or
trying to make the world a better place. They were just trying to stay alive
long enough to come home, but like so many others throughout the ages, they
never returned home. They never had the chance to live the lives that all of us
were intended to live. Their lives were cut short before the really began. For
what? For life, liberty, and the American way? Was it to help those who could
not help themselves? Were we in some imminent danger from the North Vietnamese
and their allies? I’ve searched for honest answers to these questions so that I
could find some justification for the suffering and loss of life. After all
these years, I’m still looking, and so far have found none.