« Jocko Podcast

122: "Fortunate Son", by Lewis Puller Jr.

2018-04-18 | 🔗

0:00:00 - Opening

0:01:22 - "Fortunate Son", by Lewis Puller Jr.

4:00:56 - Final thoughts and take-aways.

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This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
This is Jack, podcast bod gassed number one. Twenty two with oh trials, and me Jocker, willing good evening echo good evening, And if you have not listened to episode want Anyone the priest, episode to this one: go listen to it before Turning to this weapon episode or even the net episode. They are linked together and that's why we release them all. At the same time, this episode takes up where the last episode left off. This episode is about the story of chastity pullers son Louis be polar. And we will be learning about Lou Polar Junior, from his audio autobiography would
entitled fortunate Son is a Porter prize winning book about it life growing up with his father and his expense it is when he joined the Marine Corps, served as Appleton Commander, Vietnam and About his life upon his return from the war and the struggles that he faced, let's go Book. I first noticed my father's tattoo this summer he returned from the korean war. We just Virginia to the Marine Base Camp, Pendleton, California, mother, had asked me to awaken him from an afternoon nap and, as I entered their bedroom and stood beside his sleeping figure. My eyes were drawn to the blue Globe and its anchor on his right upper arm.
When I extend my hand to trace the outline with my finger, he awakened an acquiesce, ass, we are seeking to the curiosity of a five year old. He playfully flexed his bicep and tussle my hair with his free left hand. I had no idea that the option of my fascination, was the emblem of the Marine corps The organisation to which my father had already dedicated more than thirty of his fifty three years. I did know that it must important, because my mother had a piece of gold and silver. Jewelry in the shape of my father's tattoo, and she wore a frequently when she got dressed up. Later. I learned that mother love the gold and silver pen and despised tat too. There were other things I noticed about my father in the summer and fall of nineteen fifty one a time in which he made a special effort to be accessible to his only son and to make up for
absence during the war. My father had been promoted to the rank of brigadier general after leading the first marine regiment of the four Marine division in the retreat the chosen reservoir through coat. You re just before Christmas, nineteen, fifty the break out to be regarded as a class again, the annals of modern military martyrdom can military warfare for his role in holding together the rear guard. During some of the bloodiest fighting of the war, my father was recognised for his heroic leadership and elevation to flag rank was assured. After engagement, ended mother, told me: Father had escaped from a trap set by red Chinese, but I couldn't in vision has been caught in a device. Some to the one I beaded with lettuce and the Apple Orchard behind my grandmother's home in Virginia, where we waited out the war sent me war mentors
korean swords, an enemy helmet and bugle, and said Ro metals which arrived in silk, lined blue boxes. Factually known among his beloved Marines, as the old man or chastity for where he carried himself when marching. He must have known that combat taking place on the frozen wasted, waste and ridges of Korea would be his last and even then he was passing on to me the proud traditions of his profession for my six they near the end of the summer. He gave me a twenty two caliber single shot rifle which he had modified by signing the stock and half to accommodate my narrow shoulders and short arms on the butt he had stencilled my name Louis, be polar, junior and added the end added touch filled me with pride of ownership and a certainty that I had the best father in the world.
After we had practised on paper targets and tin cans. He took me into the brown hills around our home in search of California, Jack rabbits. First, I struggled the matches, long legged gate but after he realized that I could not keep up he slowly space and began circumventing the steeper hills. Even and I tired easily and my king legs diverted my attention from our elusive quarry. Throughout the several months that we hunted together in Camp Pendleton countryside. I never once came close to hitting a rabbit, but my father, puffed, silently honest pie, pipe Each time I missed and on them occasions when he bagged game, I was alive to carry our trophies Last hundred yards back home. In early February, as my twin sister Martha and I were beginning, the second Hap half Of our first year of grade school and our older sister Virginia was seemingly in adult six greater.
Parade was held to honour. My father's heroism at the chosen reservoir- I was ready to go along with mother and she held my hand as we stood at the end of a son, drenched parade ground and waited for the ceremony to end. Last drumbeat sounded. Standard bearers had retired the colors, my father strode from the field on which he had just been honoured and knelt brief. We too, let me view the object of the mornings. Pageantry old star in lieu of his fifth Navy cross, the most ever earned by any one marine and are country sink second highest award for valor. Now, join the panoply of ribbons. That covered mode of his left chest. The moment that frozen instant more than three decades ago is fresh and firmly fixed. In my mind today, as ever of my most vivid boy had boyhood recollections. Pendleton, Father, commanded
Third Marine Brigade and was charged with training fresh troops for their development being played out along the thirty eighth parallel in Korea on several occasions. And his deep driver sergeant Orville Jones took me with them to observe war games and field exercises in penalty scrub dotted boondocks. I was naturally fascinated by the maneuvers of catchy, clad Marines and the smoke and funding Mark warfare, self It's it's a beautiful picture. It's a beautiful picture and his home from war. Luckily, they must have had their kids pre late. Because he's young and you know cestius. I think forty five at this point or something like that. Forty five and forty six so had the kid hadn't Lou Lui Junior,
when he was a forty or something like that, and this is like every kids would be stoked On this dad- and they know, I know when Mikey when my son was. Like this age, I would bring him sometimes to our training sites, and he would shoot machine guns and husband, AIDS stuff, like that, need watch all the manoeuvre. So these let area six year old boys. They like that kind of thing. I promise you the book in August. Nineteen, fifty three when the court with the Green WAR ended father was promoted to major general and the sun. In front in our front yard, was repainted to reflect his new rank. We had to me, our celebration, because the general who lived across the street was not selected for promotion, but all in all I'm were good and our lives were happy Father had sufficiently compressed from his korean war experience that he was no
hunger, making the kinds of inflammatory statements about the conduct of the war that had gotten endless him into so much trouble in the past. Looting, one that haunted him for years to the effect that whisky and beer would make true White, better than ice cream and soft training. The promotion of major general was poor. That he is on track toward at least the possible shot at becoming common don, of the marine corps and fulfilling a lifelong ambitions of a comedy The marine corps is these senior ranking marine and that's I guess obviously is golf or was it go right. He was ordered by the commandant. Now you know Covered some of this and in the first book, but he was right by the commandant of the Marine Corps to report to profess Marilyn Naval Hospital for further evaluation after
weeks in the hospital you found unfit for duty and scheduled to go before Retirement board in early August he returned home were angry and bitter, and perhaps because he couldn't discussed the poorest. If unfairness of his situation with his fellow Marines invented frustrations on mother. He had felt. From the time of his illness, What year of senior officers in the Marine corps was jealous of a celebrity and would use the stroke as a pretext to India we're that's. What is not mentioned in the first book is that it was a minor stroke. You had he viewed his summons to Bethesda. After board had already passed on his fitness report as part of a conspiracy to do him in and was even critical of the commandant other Marine Corps never told what words passed between my father and the commandant. While he was away from us in Bethesda, but given father, but given father outspokenness and his sense
injustice being done to him. I am certain that they were less than cordial general Le Mule see Shepherd the commandant Had also been my godfather. And prior to fathers stroke, he regularly sent me birthday presence after. Other came back from Bethesda. I never received another gift or communication from my godfather and for years. I did not understand if or why he had abandoned me. So, sure just church. Lastly, let let the commandant know what was up and what he thought about. What's goin on. So, as we know from the first book, marine I suggest you polar that after he was retired from the marine corps. They went to two cestius wife's town. Here we go back to the book, the sleepy Little Virginia town of saluted, although
straddling a major north, south thoroughfare, Was no more than a cross roads with a dozen or so small businesses and fifty years Sixty houses not been my mother's birthplace, would have seemed strange. It would have seemed seems strange. Setting for a man famous is my father to have picked to spend. Retirement years there were so long industry and so few business opportunities that most the young men and women moved away as soon as finish, school and the evidence who remained were either old or unenthusiastic about moving on without a support, staff, are lies, become became much less pampered and for the first I am more than I were faced with household chores prior to follow. Retirement. I never made my own bed or shine my own shoes and now is expected to Hell maintain a home there were times early on, as I struggled beneath a load of firewood or rate Lee, into a pile for burning when I thought what a doubt word, turn of our fortunes had taken
gradually. However, I begin to take pride in my responsibilities and. As the house and grounds began, responding to our nurturing. I felt real accomplishment ever talked about fathers stroke after we moved to salute, but there was an unstated Was that he was unable to do any strenuous work around the house, and I tried to step into the void, I puffed with pride to think that I was in a sense because being the man of the house so low boys stepping up now as in the first book, we talked about the trial that took place in the end where the recruits were killed in and drowned and Jesse Polo is key. The witness stand from retirement to talk about Marine corps training, and this when he comes back from that
back to the book. We met him at the airport in Richmond when he returned home, and I knew by the way he costly strode through the crowd of cameras photographers and newsman, on his to the car that he was pleased with his performance at Paris, island apparently most Americans agreed for the weeks and months that followed he received hundreds of phone calls telegrams and letters praising him for coming to the defence of the Marine corps. I realized, then, that bitterest He was for the way he could see himself to have been treated by the higher ups in the Marine Corps headquarters. He was in capable of sitting idly by while his beloved corps was under attack his testing we also reinforced the perception that he was a Marines Marine who care far more about the enlisted men than he did bout high, ranking officers. We also hunt together, as we had five years earlier in the hills of Camp Pendleton. By now have
moved up from twenty two to twelve gauge shot gun. I could easily keep up with my father as we stopped through the woodlands, at all in fields around saluted, looking for rabbits and squirrels. In California. I'd been amazed that my father could walk so fast and so far, while I seem to always be out of breath or trying to ignore the wooden. Listen. My legs. Now, however, as he neared sixty years of age, and I was moving into adolescents. The rolls were reversed and he was the one who need. Frequent stops to renew a strength still, at a good eye and quick enough reef access to be able to bring down a flushed quail or moving rabbit. But I was begin to understand that when he paused to listen for game or check his bearings was really buying time against his encroaching against the encroachments of old age. So that's The way it is that's the way of works.
Good manners were an element in our of bringing that mother and father considered important. I was taught early to stand when adult entered adults entered the room and ladys out chairs or with car doors we weren't. We never interrupted one option conversations and when addressing them we always ended. Our responses with Sir or Ma Am Father taught me squeeze a man's hand firmly when I shook hands and to look people straight in the eye when we were talking, he Valley personal appearances and good grooming, and until I left for college, I never went more than a few weeks without a hair cut when I Seventh Grady taught me how to tire necktie and from then on. I was expected to be properly dressed in a coat and tie for special occasions. I was equally aware: how I looked to others and seventh grade, I was fitted for braces by an orthodontist in Richmond. And on the way home in the car. My teeth heard, and I was depressed. I've gotten
I glasses only a few months earlier correct, my near sightedness braces were coming so quickly after the glasses. Were more than my fragile psyche could handle. Father, noticed my despondency and suggested that we stop on the outskirts of Richmond for cheeseburgers an ice cream with my sort, If I could manage neither so well, mother and father were finishing their meal in the drug store. Where roost stopped I wandered over to the magazine. Standard began browsing before had gotten you pages into the magazine. I had selected a burly white collar, druggist appeared at my side, so the magazine from my hand and begin brow beating me for reading the magazine without paying for it. I was, only bewildered by his attitude, but before I could retreat or apply Oh geez, I saw the corner of my eye that my father had risen from his booth and was advancing towards the druggist. His teeth were we clenched, as were his fists and their work
fire in his eyes ass. He came to rest. With his face, not six inches from the druggists before he spoke. I looked at my mother who, with her eyes closed in the vital booth appeared to be praying, and then I looked at the druggist, who is at least De pounds, heavier and thirty years, younger than my father leave, the boy alone, my father, growled growled, a voice gone hard or you I can go outside and settle this for a moment. The druggist said nothing as his face blanched until it was the collar of his collar excuse me, sir. He finally stammered and then retreated to this fifty of his cash register mother, had reacted as if she had seen my Father Britain similarly on other occasions,
At Christ church, so this is where we went to school at Christchurch. I threw myself and studies partly to compensate for not being a capable athlete. I did well academically and quickly gained a reputation as one of the bright boy. So nobody talks about how you know he just not not agree. Africa and his sisters are better off with an image he kind of its twin sister. She gonna does better thing, so he focuses on his academics. As I grew older, I began to some time the sometimes painful process by which a sun distances himself from his father and preparation for striking out on his own. Again to realise that my father, the man and my father, the legend were not always one and the same. The legend was all powerful fearless in the face of any challenger adversity and incapable of mistakes in judgment or unfairness in dealings with lesser mortals. The man like Men approaching their twilight
years was not as strong as he had once been. Occasionally showed signs of self doubt and made his share of errors when interacting with other people from time. I was a little boy, he delighted in bawling up his fists and playing and play we going several rounds with me. Continue the game after I started high school, but by the time fifteen or sixteen. My reflexes had become sharper than his and I became uncomfortable. Exchanging mock punches with him that it's. It's embarrassing. I watched her a few interviews with without loophole junior and he's, not. It might sound my keys disparaging by saying there was the legend and then there was the real man, but he eats becomes clear in the book is not being disparaging at all
he's any definite and in some of the interviews I watched them he's explaining like no, it's not a negative thing. It's just that everyone fought Jesse Polar was this legendary thing, but it was the man that he knew as his dad and that man was more important in a better human being and all that so he's not being disparaging by saying that there is a difference between the two he's just be stating that there was a difference. But as you know as loopholes going through this rebellious stage back to the book. I also begin to be bothered by my father's by the waste of fathers, considerable talent and an inordinate amount of time. He spent on trivial undertakings. My father's spent hours sitting at the dining room table playing solitary reading books. Indeed own for many years, mother was busy running the house and raising Virginia Martha and me
While there were days during which my father did nothing more than make an occasional trip to the corner, store fetcher fetch the mail he would easy to have around the house and was almost totally on demanding of his children, but it's to me that this living legend should have more important things to do than serve as an errand bore errand boy for my mother did not realise that the Marine Corps had been his. Whole life and that committing himself so totally to its mission. He had never heard The time for Hobbes or other outside interests, I all did not see until I was much older than my father. Stroke had taken a physical toll on him that he would never acknowledge. In the middle of my junior year in high school, my father awaken one night in intense pain and they took him to Portsmouth Naval
hospital and on the way there, my father held tightly to my hand for most of the trip, and I could tell that he was in agony Although the only complaint was that he was not allowed to smoke in the ambulance and When he returned home, Loopholes are finally realised that he wanted to talk, and so now they're kind of that kind of connect, here, for perhaps seven or eight days in that winter of nineteen sixty two hours able to communicate with my fathers and never had before. He told me that he was fearful about aging and the union credible, declining state of his health, and how he never want to be a burden to his family. I listen His best I could to an old man, reveal feelings that he had never expressed before he all told me that he was counting on me to carry on when he was gone, and how proud he was to have a son to continue the polar name, we did not talk.
The military or my attempting to follow in his footsteps, but even then there was some unstated assumptions about the course my life would take. Several years earlier shortly after his retirement, we had gone to the William gone to Williamsburg for an outing, and he Take me to see a short film about the American Revolution called the story of a patriot, which was shown continue. Sleep tourist visiting the new information centre at the conclusion of a film the main character, watches a group of young men who have just enlisted to go fight. The british any swells with pride when he sees his sound among the ranks of the newly enlisted my father's can't met with that scene registered powerfully on my young psyche and without ever saying another word. I knew that some day I would be enlisting in some as yet, determined cause. Now, five or six years later, I share the dining table of our home.
With the man I love like no other in the world. I wanted desperately to be what he expected me to be it me years to realise that I could never hope to emulate the agent. That was just a polar, but I knew even then that. I love the man. Far more than the legend. Syria, its reality life as I mentioned in the beginning of this poor thing. This stuff about life. You carry it through, stories about life and death, and you can see some deterioration starting to occur The book in the autumn of nineteen sixty seven with the lengthening shadow of the Vietnam WAR spreading a chill across Amerika. I moved on from the care free pursuits of undergraduate life at the College of William and Mary and join the Marine corps.
Like my father, who'd enlisted fifty years earlier, during the war to end all wars. I travelled from Rural Virginia to the Marine Corps recruiting station in nearby Richmond in search of something like you're than myself. I drifted Through previous four years, drinking beer and chasing girls, with a singleness of purpose that belied my lack of meaningful direction and now on the threshold of manhood and with war. As a backdrop, I realized the time had come to put my Quality aside so, obviously goes to college. He gets dome of college and he says I'm goin in the marine corps. William and Marion months prior to my departure, was still the sleepy southern campus, whose quaintness had attract me for years earlier. The carnage taking place in South EAST Asia had remained a distant non intrusive reality for all, but the most perceptive US
selected, as we were by youth. Experience or even with the Vietnam WAR on like they were independent, edged or even to even even loophole and wasn't pay attention to it. There were, however, signs of a more ominous nature: the networks begun, reporting the rising casualty tools on the night. We news. I viewed graduation that ended my student draft deferment and quality. I'd me further Marine Corps Officer Canada Programme as an opportunity, rather than a burden, as I am the recruiters office, I was, Lee aware of the impact that my name would have on the sergeant, whose duty would be to convince me of the golden opportunities that a hitch in the marine Corps could provide the Marine corps, builds men Cal sat set on his office provider and I and my youthful exuberance, never pause to consider that the core might do the opposite.
When he realized, who I was the sergeant dispensed with his usual sales pitch and concentrated on the mechanics of becoming the recruiter who signed up chest. The polar son. There are good Russell telephoned Marine Corps headquarters. Washington D C Tina waiver for my poor eyesight and Forty on the other render wine at first demurred, but then ACT Yes, when you realise that if he stood firm, the corps would fail to sign up the son of its most famous marine because of a technicality. A I return to salute to await orders to Quantico for basic training, older sisters, husband Captain bill that debate dab was already serving a tour as a Marine Infantry Company commander in Vietnam, and she too was back home sitting out our generation's initial venture into the war. After a chance,
a diet of Hemingway novels and John Wayne Movies. Along with my father's example, I viewed my own, Aspects, if not with eagerness, at least with equanimity,. The calm robbery of the fraternity and the taxpayers and fraternity, and what not one of these at college become or in the future, now seemed almost trivial and although I often drink myself, the point of oblivion. I could not ask the feeling that, for me, carefree. Celebrations of youth could not be recaptured of all my acquaintance. Acquaintances at Millet, William and Mary. Only one had been touched by war, for which I was headed, Brian Spear, the president of a neighbouring fraternity, whose dream of manhood. I have been privileged to share and frequent late night bowl sessions had priest it means the Marine corps and had killed within months of his arrival in Vietnam. The previous June is dead.
Saddened me and brought home the intimations of mortality with which most of my circle were blessedly, unfamiliar. During this you don't remember, Charlie poem talking about when they are the naval gotta me they want even talking about Vietnam, he is This is the new very similar it must have been. I guess they have the twenty four hour news cycle that you have now in the internet. For the reason, the clickbait and all that stuff going on in those things could be a little bit more isolated, like you got to choose, To follow me out the story a little bit during this waiting time. My father remained characteristically closed mouth about my future in the marine corps. I course knew that he was immensely proud of me for having chosen to follow his example, but a taciturn. Standing between us made.
Words are unnecessary. I felt an early, and compelling need to prove myself worthy of his name and key in the twilight of his military career. That spending forty years wished that he could go in my stead as ice my goodbyes and prepared to leave for Quantico. He kissed. Squarely on the lips and held be tightly in his arms are reported. Offshore candidate school is late in the day, as was acceptable over her two large sergeants conversing animated Lee about who, among this miserable collection of pukes, could possibly be chested pullers son, and I wondered if I had taken on more than I could handle, so they get up. Person in charge of it running it running the bay, the basic training here. Oh she s.
The captain greater the next morning cap and greater begin interviewing each candidate in the platoon in his office, adjacent to our Squad Bay, Canada, Polar he began you- will receive no preferential treatment while here because of your relationship to your father, If anything, I consider your presence in Michael tuned to be an irritant rather than honour, because it will require additional effort on my part and because every swinging, dick in this green machine is going to be. I bawling you. I am personally Take it upon myself to see that you meet the qualifications of an officer in spades. Do I make myself clear so now get any love from Captain Gregor. And oh she s here, we go once the routine of us yes became familiar and we learned what was expected became more tolerable each day, sir, Did before sign up with five minutes of calisthenics, followed by morning formation chow and the message endless series of classes both indoors now doors, there's a consent,
what time spent in physical conditioning and drilling on parade ground but the real goal of Austria cannot school was testing of our physical, mental and psychological limits, rather than grounding in military. Three fundamentals check. And speaking of physical limitations. So at one point who do not forced road, marginal hump, and new polar falls back and here we go they get. They get separated from the people that that kept up, and he said I felt an almost visceral humiliation and resolved never to struggle on another march. Captain Greater did design. So much deny deigned so much as look at us. No doubt considering a personal insult that we had disgraced his bill tune and I would for by far the profane tirades that were as usual, stock in trade.
The war training schedule made no allowance for Thanksgiving that autumn we were given liberty a couple of weeks later Saturday, at noon until Sunday night, my sister's roommate toddy picked me up in the parking lot outside the barracks. So he's meeting this woman and that's his girl to find out they go out. Your movie we'll see Clyde and isn't. It is weird you know the movie body right s: yeah! Isn't it like thinking about the movie bonding quite everything about the time frame that came out and its It's weird when you think of the movie you think of everything that is going on with that movie came out like this was happening without doesnt seem that long ago and then does seem long time ago, but I do know is why I think about that
The term like when they see data, remember what I was doing on their memory is what's going on whatever that's that's what I was gonna think during that, as I want sleep on the couch in the apartment living room that night. I sense that the softness of this incredible woman was going to give me the strength to make it through the rest of offshore candidate school. I kissed her good On Sunday evening, in the same parking lot, where she had received me only a day earlier woefully realised that I was falling in love at a time when emotional independence might well be the more prudent course now Go back he's back rosier staff, sergeant Brown taught us to try and divorce or minds from the pain in our bodies, while navigating the hill trail by sea weeks by the sea. More expedient of sucking lifesavers and imagining ourselves in a more pleasant situation, and he
It takes that. I never again loud greater brown or sword to read the exhaustion. On my face by the end of oh, yes, I developed hardness and a conference of which I had not thought myself capable, on the last march prior to commissioning I pray. We ran from start to finish and my defined gaze at captain better added question was of course exist. We. The reaction has been trying to elicit from me for ten weeks at the palace, very cool resolve thing, like I'm, I'm usually no accident, you doing exactly what I wanted you to do so. That was the last force. More spend their last night as we slumbered off to our banks for the last wake up at us. Yes, I overheard one drunken staff sergeant from another platoon tell Brown that seventy five percent of us who chose the. Country would be dead or wounded within six months of arriving in Vietnam
but even his somber words could not dull. My and after that, he ship off to the basic school, which is where all marine officers go to book in in Ozma S. You gotta get your military, doktor nation, but the basic schools, where you're actually learning to be a combat leader, this is interesting that the basic all the entire course in the winter of nineteen. Sixty eight had been shortened from nine months to twenty. One weeks What about one Saturday free each month? The reason for the concentration of the course was obvious if seldom talked about as we toiled through fourteen our work days, attempting to master the skills that would be matters of life and death on her next assignment since can These were so high among our graduates. Our own hectic too being schedule was largely dictated by the staggering attrition rate among the young lieutenants already in it MA whom were be.
Groomed, whom we were being groom to replace and whom we grow. I was too at the frantic promote play space, we recognised its necessity, so that's pretty ominous you're, just gettin pushed through straining because they need you on the battlefield because costs, the rates are so high. Over and over again are instructors reminded us that the road to Hell is paved with the bones of young lieutenants, who had made mistakes, and while their admonitions were perhaps unnecessary, they keenly effective as attention getters. The TED Offensive had begun in the ancient citadel of the city of way fell into communist hands. With the attack, the massacre of thousands of innocent citizens. The magnitude of what we'd signed on for registered ominously to our two, my classmates
My fellow Marines responded to it in different ways. Some saw the stepped up pace of war as a challenge and in their youthful exuberance, welcomed the chance to prove themselves worthy of the uniform other surveyed the situation with an eye. Or the number of junior officers being killed or wounded each week and begin scrambling for military occupational specialities that offered insulation from combat. I began to notice for the first time the graffiti that had been carved in declassed from desktops by anonymous students from earlier classes. Why die go supply one admonished another advised motor tee and out in three a slash put it simply. What the fuck driver truck. The opposite view, point was made by some Gung HO student who, for more for the more thirsty of US wars
business and business is good to remember what book we read with guys like you have to put down three selections that you want to do in the Marine reports: a failure The commander of Jupiter, repetitive Jupiter Gretta, here You guys know if you know I'm coming on there, like you know what I want to be in the motor transport meeting working on truck sir. I want to be in supply So you have a different attitude that already started creep up when I wrote somewhat ironically, as our concern over the military occupational specialities into which we could be channeled grew with the rising casually Joel. Our options became more and more limited until four some classes at the height of the war. They were non existent. The Marie core had a duty to the old combat officers and if that duty required that every officer in a basic school class become an o three infantry officer that, precisely what would happen. That's that's crazy to think about near the whole class. We we need you all to be empty officers that,
good, that's what you're gone. I joined the Marine corps and with the intention of becoming a combat to meet her thing that happened during TAT in any way altered. My determination I could have faced. I could not have faced my father or lived with myself if I had chosen an easier way for me there, for there was no moral dilemma or soul searching agony when it came time to list my preferences. My choice specialization was infantry. My choice. Duty was Vietnam and the in core was more than happy to oblige me. You know it. Even though he talks about in the Balkans. It's always hard to pick out what part someone a to what parts of going skip through, even though he kind of has he talks about how you being in the Marines was his thing. He definitely when he was going to college and senior years in high school. He wasn't really think about it
It wasn't until he was graduating from college. It was pretty pretty quick decision that he made he went from like okay. I don't know what I need to do to join the Marine corps. I think an answer revealed itself to him, but it was something I was thinking about all the time. He wasn't. No, he talks about him not being athletic and he's wearing glasses needs got braces. You he's he's. Definitely. Not your stereotypical gung ho guy, That's my point: he's not your stereotypical gung ho guy he's he's just not, and yet He's followed the footsteps of his father and that's what he decides to do so the book late Saturday afternoon in the long shadows of what had been a brilliant winter sky toddy and I strolled hand in hand to the edge of the river and there beside the gnarled trunk of an old oak. I for them, this time in my life, told a woman that I loved her, and I did not think I could live without her
he held each other closely and from that point, on the careful and from point on the care. Free part of our relationship was over for the first time, We acknowledge that there was no turning back without irreparable damage to each of us. Soon after our trip to Williamsburg Totty showed up unexpectedly one day in the middle of the week at the basic School bachelors office quarters and of I was delighted to see her her unannounced visit was completely out of character. I was summoned from my quarters and could tell immediately by her worried, look as I met her in the lounge at something was wrong. She held my hands tightly and told me that she had just come from the doctors office where she had tested positively for pregnancy. A country outing on the Shores head had an unintended result although I was taken completely
surprise, the news did not upset me. I knew that I loved her and believe that she loved me. Her Nancy simply meant that we would marry now rather than when and if returned from Vietnam. After my initial shock, I asked her to marry me the smile that replaced her worried, look was all the answer. I needed, we retired to the, in Rome where I bought several rounds of drinks- and we began to ponder my rapidly changing circumstances, we were going to a family, and even the timing was a little off, I still consider myself a very fortunate young man. So there you go. This proceeding Friday night, we were married by the Quantico. Chaplain in a simple ceremony in his quarters boom. We're done it's on there is no formal graduation from basic school. Some of our class when, on the Pensacola Fora for training as pilots, some to Fort Sill Oklahoma for training artillery officers, sir.
To Monterrey, California, for language school, but the vast majority of those of us who had been selected into infantry were given twenty days leave to be followed by report date to the West Coast for processing to Vietnam. I was one of the privilege majority, who would be leading troops and combat in just a month, I felt a key. Sense of irony when the Lance Corporal clerk who processed my orders, turned out to be one of the officer candidates who had fun data, my oh she s class. His reward for failure would be safe states. Side too, of duty behind a typewriter, and although would not have traded places with him. For any thing, he was living proof of the Marine Corps, Axiom that the shit bird get the easy assignments. We were in agreement is talking about with him. If we were in agreement that the child will be made
from my father. If it happened to be a boy on the fly reef of the copy of his, your autobiography marine life of Louis be chested polar than he had given me when it was published years earlier. My father had written that he the last of his line and that he wanted at least to grant such from me. I have also written a standard will wallet basic school as well. We all my classmates mates and other writing. It was an unpleasant reminder of ours uncertain future. I was glad them in court insisted that we plan for the very worst. I remember doing that for the first. Even when we were in a well know there like, just, It's weird things where the military like they make you right away and then before you go and employment, you gotta update your will. So it's. I wouldn't want to make it sound like it with some kind of like a dog.
Thing you, but it's it's Sunday, it's this! Is it I kind of I remember I was younger. I kind of was almost comical about it and then we don't annulled or actually we're. Gonna war was quite so comical in cleaning there. At a wedding, not theirs, but someone else's in the officers club I saw a young captain whose leg and so badly deformed by war wound that I find it remarkable that the limb was still capable of bearing wait. I said nothing the tardy about the an attack, go miracle I'd witnessed. When I returned to my seat, but unnerved by the site. I also wasted no time and tossing down several glasses of wine and again skipped over some of this stuff he likes to drink.
And you can see even with that right there he's here. He drank autonomy is cause with his fraternity brothers and what not an Something under him a little bit. He takes a lot of comfort in drinking now he's leaving for Vietnam these first, leave his parents saying goodbye to them in here as with his father as we stood facing each other beneath spreading boughs of a weeping willow tree in the back yard my boyhood home. The alarming fact lost my mind that I might never see this suddenly fragile old man again not be because I might die in Vietnam, but because he might not survive. My tour. He tried to tell me for the thousand time the parable of the spartan mother who, on sending her own son off to war, advised him to come back with his shield or on it. But he was unable to complete the quote.
His final words trail boffin, his shoulder shook, and he took me in his arms and we both tried to take from each other the solace and strength that had suddenly abandoned us. Finally, afterwards An eternity we broke are embrace and my The lead him back into the house with tears streaming down, both their cheeks. There was First time I had ever seen my father Cry On the trip up route seventeen I began to have the distinct feeling that my psyche was unravelling. Had not seen my wife, smile and days could not stir and even to be near those few. People in my life to whom I, the most intense attachments and my father tears had completely unnerved me goes through. This,
in saying goodbye to his wife, and he says when Shakespeare wrote that parting is such sweet sorrow. He, obviously, never left the pregnant wife with whom he was deeply in love to go off in fighting a war, but soon, as my plane became, born, I ordered to scotches on the rocks and finish them in rapid succession now they're making stops along the. All of us were Marines in you. The former now on our way to war, we were all young and scared, but is green, as we were many. To the swaggered cover self doubt, Seattle was the last home, stop for all myself doubt and insecurity. I was beginning to feel like John Wayne in a world war, two movie, as I a marine lieutenant in uniform and on his way to war bellied up to the bar in Seattle, airport cocktail, lounge.
Welcome to Vietnam. Stewardesses called after us as we left the plain and boarded the trucks for the short trip to the main terminal, they were there asked attractive round. Eyed women I saw until my odyssey was completed and I was headed in the other direction. As we filed through the gate into the terminal, a group of Marines and soldiers standing wouldn t at the edge of the tarmac caught my eye. They were real thin, combat Veterans on their way home, some a few days away from battle most war. Several rows of ribbons on their chests. There appeared to be No interaction among the group of about two dozen And the majority had expressionless faces with fixed on felt fear set in hollow sockets a chill, announced its way up, my son soaked spine and I
fear for the first time since entering Vietnam Sort of getting his welcome aboard guess: you'd call it from there, a commanding officer the briefing was the same basic pep talk. I received a division, including version to my father's illustrious name, the colonel pointed out my father, commanded, the fur Marine division, seventeen years earlier during the retreat from the chosen reservoir and that it is feeding that I now serving the same division and talk about like. Thinking about time going by and now Imagine you are in the same unit that your father was it's only seventeen years. That's not that long! That that's not, that long of a type hell I've been retired for us all eleven,
Does that seem second, whereby by two weeks, so this is a long time. No I've been retired. Sorry, not almost eleven I've been retired since two thousand ten, so eight still Then battles that you have gone by very quickly. I of course had already grasped this historical implication of my Simon. Although my father and I served in vastly different capacities when he is command of the regiment he had thirty two years of service and for Navy crosses he'd earnest for the retreat from the frozen chosen, a bidders combination to a career that included more than twenty six years of foreign service, On the other hand, a brand new second lieutenant with year of service who had now commanded anything larger than a boy scout. Troop and walls. Appreciated the personal reference. I did not feel
up to any sort of comparison with my father, I wish desperately I could simply assume command of Michael Tune without any more references to him. Now he shows up on the ground. My own unit Gulf Company had been out for some days. So I did No really know what to expect, but I did pick up two pieces of disturbing information about third platoon from the top sergeant presently being led by a staff Sarge who decide command several months earlier, when the tenant in command had accidently shot is radio operator in the back, while cleaning his pistol operator was wearing a fact jacket and the womb is superficial, but the young lieutenant was relieved of duty on the spot, according to the top sergeant, whose filling me in Three days earlier, in the course of a night patrol, the man walk point for the third platoon had been killed. Fur
The tune was certainly bunch of teenage misfits, who were mildly curious, but completely unimpressed. With my arrival. I could see the months of living in the Bush had sharpened their reactions to a fine edge. There was very little wasted motions in their movement, while all their faces appeared, boyish most had cast and made them seem years. Older people tune was predominantly white with a handful of Hispanics and blacks and if there was a common, at that united them, it was their lower middle class background, the big problem in leading patrols other than making certain that we stay on course and hit. Our checkpoints was keeping them and properly spaced. They tended a bunch when the terrain was raffer, visibility was poor and to get too far are we were moving quickly or there tired. They were too
together, one booby trap or more round would cause multiple casualties and if they are to spread out, tended to lose contact or were difficult to maneuver. The reason I highlighted that is because it is absolutely true today, That happens with a sealed doing the same thing happens with any military group. You people start bunch up and It's a fine line is there's a balance have to maintain all the time because she just said future far apart gets each other. You lose contact you towards drove ducas together, one bomb or one more round can take out a whole bunch people, so for those you that are troop leaders out their work space and pay attention to it. Dont Bonn job the tendency is generally don't bunch of use we you don't have a problem of too much spacing the tendency is bunch up yet when you're in the situation is more
obvious one, like I'm losing everybody else like we were obvious when you bet bunch, you not be there's a level of security. The idea, mental security like punching up my ass someone, that's a lot of where it comes from too. One afternoon toward the end of my second week near where the last casualty eating incurred. We came across. Ass, the Babby decomposed corpse of envy, a soldier You tell them. My men felt somewhat vindicated by our grisly trophy in some of them would have mutilated his body further, but for the fact that there were so little of it left ass it was. I had to restrain one young marine from urinating on the corpse I wish ACT by the vehemence of their hatred towards who now inanimate objects in their lack of respect for the dead sergeant. Firstly, that was the guy sergeant, less he's a guy that was leading the protein before polar showed up. Sorry, Leslie told me after we had buried, the corpse and shallow grave that I would soon understand, but
you can buy the experience. I did not want to lose that much of myself. I could not help thing that somewhere that envious soldier had, family who would never know what had happened to him, but I naturally kept my Who is to myself now. They spend a few weeks in the first few mix of patrolling r R, it's good expire. It's for him right, whatever we uneventful, It's a joke in here that something like are confirmed, kill at this point were to bushes and a pig that's what they had shot up and now they move from DAWN ha, which where they were before and now they're getting into a tactical air. Of responsibility. That's around the name
We go back to the book. The patrolling here was considerably different from that at all: as our unit found out the first time we went on a joint night patrol with opportune from the twenty seventh by. Counterpart was a staff sergeant rather lieutenant bad sign right off, since it indicated officer, attrition And we all sense that the dna interior, was about new sector. Even more ominous point man, the opportune leader and many of the other men carried probe, sticks long slender poles with which they tentatively poked the ground ahead of them this Kate, had not only the threat of numerous booby traps and land mines, but also the fact that we are operating in an area that belong to the enemy. Most of the time, Although our first patrol went smoothly, we return to our base camp in the morning. The other proteins point man took, sergeant, Leslie and me aside and told us if we learned nothing else from our time with him would be well served to always remember. The probe sticks
he had been assigned to his platoon for nine, since most of it in the denying area, and in that time, had seen all but a handful of his comrades killed or wounded by small arms and booby traps. Same thing. Roger aid was telling us about the sticks, can protect wire sue, crazy. Of the locations within our attack to area of responsibility. One was viewed with dread by all, but the insane among us. Both areas involved, constant patrolling a popular that seemed overwhelmingly sympathetic to the communists, The area known as reveal Riviera was the worst and gay The third platoon its rudest introduction to the denying area of their stepping up these patrols- and here we go about ten metres from the intersection of a Patty dyke and our path.
Was paralleling with another that ran perpendicular to it. I saw Barton's Baxter and the air was suddenly filled with the sound of an automatic weapons. Fire bargaining heard the click of Kay forty seven safety being turned off only a few metres away and as he and the enemy soldier facing him open fired each other simultaneously and at the point at point, blank range I realised that we walked head on into a vehicle ambush, as I do to my knees, a string of bright red tracers, like that Think of neon tubing past ways tied down the burn beside me was obvious that if I had been on the Burma instead of in the party beside it, I would have been eviscerated within seconds The rest of the ambush team, somewhere after our left directed his fire across the path to the church of trade rounds and into our flank. But and I were shielded from the lethal barrage by the Patty Dyke. We had dropped behind the fire from our left subsided, but ball of flame suddenly burst in the patty between me. And the marine behind me
fought momentarily. We were under attack from the right flank as well when I realized that the explosion had been agreed lobbed, into our position by enemy soldiers to our left. Who could not hit us with the wrecked fire? pull the grenade for my belt yanked out the pen and it from my knees, with a hook, shot motion in the direction, the enemy after What seemed like an interminable amount of time during which I thought I had thrown a dud for Green finally detonated and was followed by silence. For the first time. I heard moaning from the marine behind me and realise that he had been hit. My crew, Of course, up Corpsman up were answered almost immediately by dark Alice, who ran the crouching position medical kitten hand to administer first aid to the wall. Marine demanded hidden head by grenade, shot shrapnel Adele bandaged his head and told me that the fragments had struck a glancing blow and that the wounds were appeared. Superficial, probably not five.
That's it elapsed between the time of the first shots being fired and the enemy breakin contact. In response, a grenade toss, but it seemed likely an eternity, sorry Leslie by now at work. His way up to my position and re and as I gave regained my wits, I had him pole all three squads into a type perimeter facing outward and using the net For protection of the Patty Dykes as insulation from whoever might still be lurking in the dark, after the wounded man and die Alice, assured me that a of act was unnecessary. I called situation report to Captain woods at the company commander, who gave us permission to sit tight until first light squads. Is claymore minds in front of their positions, and we passed a sleepless and soggy night, but the vehicle. And apparently had enough and did not attack are perimeter. We had been Riviera one day the petition been hit fore and aft
and I was not at all certain that I was going to be able to take this kind of action on a regular basis at something during the night I became aware of how close I had come to being killed and I'm My way over to a badly shaken Barton who, wide awake, also and thanked him for in my life. This day, one in the Riviera in I didn't another part where they got they got hit twice that day. Therefore day up and he's already think can, if I can hackers and I'll tell you what on that, it's just like anything else. You know it takes him getting used to and. I bet, there's a lot of people that feel like their first situation they get in. Like I don't know. If I can do this, but you you're, your perspective will open.
Up and you're begin to see more and you'll be gain confidence overtime. So don't fret too bad. Back to the book, I probably not written my father, a half a dozen less letters in my previous four years of college, but now that I embarked on a right, passage that was not only fraught with peril, but also similar to the one he had undertaken as a fledgling lieutenant fifty years earlier in the jungles of Haiti in Nicaragua. I feel an urgent need to share some of my experiences with him obvious after having been under fire and forced to react in several life or death situations, have now Much closer to my father, though geographically had never been further from him. It was almost as if a door had been opened up to a world that I had often heard. Disgust but had never experienced, and the experience of combat now freed me to poor my soul out to the one man I'm
wanted to emulate back to the book of the following dawn as we prepare to break camp, one of the men discovered a booby trap at the vortex of the draw where the two hills came together. The device consisted of a sea ration can holding your grenade with its been removed so that when the grenade spoon was held in place by the side of the can the care. Was rigged out knee high and located just to the side of the trail, with a trip wire crossing the trail to Ankara. On the other side, it was the first, Be trap I had seen since coming into country and although route rigged crudely, it was fully as leaf was a more sophisticated device. If we proceed did through the draw on the previous day days twice, I'd rather than stop to make camp. My point
and perhaps several others would probably have been maimed or killed. I reminded myself that the platoon had to become more discipline, that using the probe, sticks and staying off trails our demolition man, rigour time to blow the booby trap in place as we accepted the draw. As the last squad cleared are bivouac area and the police and spread out across the terrain and patrol formation. The booby trap that needed harmlessly almost simultaneously, we began taking fire again in tree line to the airy. We had just left once more most of the rounds were short, but the volume was heavier than it had been the night before and included automatic weapons. Fire, obviously, who ever been shooting out us yesterday, had gone for reinforcements during the night Lay in wait for us having feared out our probable route of March for the next day I picked The pace is the rounds, nip that our heels and the
Squad return fire, but the enemy firing did not stop until one of the men in the squad fired around. Get into the tree line which burst into an orange ball of flame and ended the contact from that quarter by now, those of us in the front of the patrol we're almost running to get out the range. The marksmen in the tree line as we approached another hedgerow that paralleled the main road back to camp for thirteen. I was panting and out of breath but relieved That our adversaries had Miss Calhoun the range just We slow pace to allow the rest of the unit to catch up another slogan. Just in front of me, rent, the air and my point, man in the marine behind him, collapsed into the sand in our hey to get away with tripped another be trap, and I watched helplessly and in horror for the moment for a moment. The two wounded Marines arrived in agony on the ground before me, the man who had the booby trap, which worse than he bled from a half a dozen trapper wounds, including a mean looking gash and his neck, the second man-
Stunned by the explosion and had several minor Nixon cuts, but for the most part he had been shielded from the grenade when by the body of the man in front of him within minutes the corpsman were busy starching. The blood flowed flow of blood, administering morphine shots and applying battle dressings. So this you know this is now he's what thirty six hours into his first day in the Riviera. Continuing this is different patrol as I ground out my last cigarette of the day and gave the order to saddle up the men began and getting to their feet and dawning their packs and flat. Jackets. Almost simultaneous, simultaneously Getting whoosh of mortar rounds interrupted my mechanical direction and suddenly our hill top was the center of a firestorm, the first. For five rounds were long and impact harmlessly on the reverse slope of the hill behind us, but as we do
To our hands and knees, I said: that the enemy mortar men would quickly adjust their fire to compensate for their miscalculation. The firing seem to be coming from a tree line near the law we're colony in directly across the valley from us and, as I pondered are Dick or meant machine gun fire began to sweep down down slope in front of our position. We were. Pinned down on the flat area on top a hill, but the angle was such that the automatic weapons fire could not reach the men They rose from the position that by now the protein has assumed one young marine who join the opportune just prior to our operation. The DMZ suddenly stood up and began firing wrote rifle John Wayne Fashion from the hip before I
pull him down beside me. A well aimed round from the tree line, levelled him and made further effort on my part, unnecessary within seconds doc. Alice was beside the wounded marine medical kitten hand as he quickly affixed a battle dressing to what turned out to be a minor head wound. Now. To make sure of one's clear on this. Firing mortars is difficult to be accurate and you do something rocketing witches you ve, are one round or maybe two or three rounds, and you see where they land and make an adjustment from it. So the first rounds hit long anybody That knows, anything knows that ex rounds are gonna, be short, or they may not be directly on you, but it's only use takes. You know you go along, then you go short. I mean you spot the difference in Europe in a hit. So that's the situation therein.
Back to the book. As I re focus my attention on the activity in the tree line. I realise that while the enemy machine gun was ineffective in reaching us, it will keep us from counterattacking. I also knew that the mortar fire was going to decimate us if we stay put and allowed the sole enemy soldiers time to adjust as Different response to the fall of the next barrage began. I could feel the whistling rounds working their way up. The hill behind us by now Many of the Marines on the forwarding of our line were returning fire from their prone position and because we were above the enemy soldiers, we could fire directly into the trees, not long. After the second barrage had begun. However, the tree line from which it was being directed suddenly exploded into balls of fire, so the position where the enemies was all of a sudden just expose into balls of fire, and I belatedly realise that my own mortar team was laying down its own barrage of suppressing fire.
Looking over my shoulder, I saw one of the team members on his knees holding the mortar tube against its base plate, while his two comrades were furiously shoveling rounds into its open end within seconds of our return fire. The enemy unit broke contact and, as we lay there and stillness, I could hardly believe how desperate The situation had been just moments earlier, My mortar sections, quick action had probably saved us from wholesale casualties, and I horrified to realise that in the course of the fire fight. It had never occurred to me order them to commence firing, huge lesson learned order to decentralize command going beyond decentralize command he would have been a micro manager and. Trained guys to only duty said to do. There would have been done. So that is why this is a classic example of why decentralized command is so important
She, someone just asked me on social media while priorities an acute, nay but so long answer. Why? Decentralized command is so good that one is now when do it well, these is command is the only way that works and others the question or talked round it many times in its in the book trim ownership. But here an example of what happens. If you dont use decentralized command. Luckily they had it not not really by loopholes guidance. They're just like by chance the Marines were trained, read they were ready. And I'll, tell you what, if you see- and I I don't know- receded army, mortar team work in the field on immediate action, drills the outstanding, but I have seen the Marine corps and it's beautiful, the rigour. Mortars like there's, there's just awesome. Aright
The next day we headed back to camp for thirteen. We pass looting It's your and his patrol who had taken sniper fire as they cross. Big rice, Patty, on their way out to replace us. We gave our respective petitions a ten minute break and, as we paused to exchange intelligence and smoke, cigarettes together at one point our conversation. We simply looked at each other and said as if on cue, this shit is gotta. Stop so we tell his ears the other pontoon commander, and this is horrible. This is horrible, and this is what their do. This is their life go out there, you notice. I don't even see the enemy like they know where the shooting from, but then we will see a booby trapped, didn't even see the enemy, and this was happening in there Can the shit it's gotta, stop. We got back to base camp later, that afternoon word was waiting for us that lieutenant protein adjust stumbled into a minefield to men had been wounded initially and when CALM and when their comrades went to their assistance
it needed. Another mine Three more, including zere, had gone down. All five had been met of act and preliminary reports indicated that John Zaire, the bull whom I'd come to regard as invincible was in no danger of losing his life, it was uncertain and if you'd ever resort returned to his unit, his twin brother, another marine lieutenant, had been wounded a few weeks earlier and sent back to the states, and I thought that John could have easily picked a better way to visit his brother. The more I About Johns Year, the way in which He had been wounded and the way in which we always seem to be responding to an unseen enemy rather than initiating action. On our own, the more depressed and frustrated, I became this was not long is that he's isn't, but on the ground that what this is some draining think, but how many times you need to go out
get shot up from an unseen position and have guys get wounded for booby traps. It's it's a nightmare because of our previous losses in the area of the opportune, was in no mood to waste time, winning hearts and minds and when the villages so that another patrols, our grandmother, and when the villagers realise that we are going to be in their midst for several hours, they became inhospitable in it. Separation of contact. I didn't straw Did the lag squad to fire rocket directly into the village of so much as one shot was fired in our direction, we were allowed to depart peace, perhaps because the villagers could sense or resolve. Amarillo to press for are their walk. I realised, as we continued our patrol, that I at least was becoming catalyst and indifferent towards the very people we were supposed to be trying to liberate, but it seems
to be the only way to assure our own survival. So this is the classic thing that you hear about the war in Vietnam. Moving on the continued a patrol, there was another smaller villa half a dozen of half a dozen thatched hot spent, several hundred meters, north of us and Leslie, and I thought it would be best to strike out in its direction since we had a pretty well worn out, are welcome in our present location, heading If we were fired on by snipers before we even cleared the veil and although no one was hit, it was an unmistakable sign of worse to come. Turner was so, is one of these guys. Turner was so angry that he grabbed an old man and his young grand daughter and placed him in the column on the theory that the enemy would not risk firing at us with civilians. In our midst, midst it made no move. I made no move not to stop him and since the snipers stop firing,
I decided to keep or unwilling additions until we reached the next Ville. The old man had lost an arm years before and waved his stump furiously at me, as if he thought But the missing limb would give me a change of heart, but the little girl seemed to realise that we were resolute. Taking her grey, Father, by his remaining hand, lead us but time into the smaller village. When we reach the outskirts, corpse colonel wooden, Turner removed his golden hearing and gave it to the little girl who pocketed it. Out. A noticeable change of expression turned abruptly honour heels and headed back in the opposite direction. The FARC crossed my mind. That I was losing whatever decency I had brought with me to Vietnam, but I was too tired and frustrated to entertain it for long besides,
just ahead of us, there was another village that had to be disrupted and bent to my will. If we were going to survive another day content, doing we move directly into the high ground and set up in a rough perimeter around them of a hill as we and to support the view is on a structured in all directions, and I was pleased with my selection- is our command group said in on the summit. Turning towards sergeant Leslie. To comment, our choice, I could see the marine nearest to me, periphery slipping off his pack just there An explosion broke the silence and red flash filled. The darkness in front of me before the explosion spun me around to the ground and scrambled back to my knees. I could sell the smoke smell the smoke, and here the young man moaning when I attempted to focus my vision on the wounded marine. My eyes,
blurry, and I touch my hand to my face. I realise that my glasses had been blown off by the blast. My face was also wet, where I placed my hand and I again On my hand, back toward my face blood trickled between my fingers at first, I thought I'd been hidden the head, but when I But when my hand began to throb, I realise that my luck had been much better and I'd only taken a piece of shrapnel my hand. Renewed set off the booby trap had been much less fortunate in his body absorbed in most of the impact One of his legs had been broken by the blast and a piece of bone you didn't see me from his pants amid FI his arm on the opposite side was riddled with shrapnel as he was ass much of his side and by the time he had worked, I had recovered enough to worry too. My way over to his position Alice Already was working frantically autumn within minutes he replied battle, dressings to stem the bleeding and mobilise the broken leg and enjoy, the demand with a dose of morphine.
I ignored his offer to bind my hand which, by conspiracy like a razor neck and turn Lord Watson, my radio operator, who is already on the metabolic net whenever Scott our casualty stabilized. He informed me that there was a real danger of losing him if we did not get a prompt met, a fact and I summoned the chopper as forcefully as I could It seemed fitting that I had lost my glasses and was losing my perspective on the war at about the same time, and although several men congratulated me on having earned my first purple heart. I was in no mood to respond to their remarks today, It is better vaccine and they put back to camp as we entered the camp. It headed too company area, we passed a group of rear echelon, cooks and bakers, who had just finished watching a movie on the outdoor screen. They had rigged to help them with their boredom.
The movie screen had been a sore subject with my men, since it had first been erected because we had, we had a troop directly by it. Our way out too and from the Bush, this occasion, one of the hapless cook, started Make a comment about grunts returning from war games and said of my men pommelled him to the ground before he had finished his sentence. Leslie In turn are quickly ended the fractious, but even the most dim waited among us chaired the frustration that had drifted triggered the outburst we had just Lost another casualty, defensive the domino theory, and there was nobody among us who is going to let a slight by our rearrest along mother Fucker, go on answered Woods gave us news that our casual
it was going to live, but his time in the Bush and the Marine Corps was probably over. I felt like crying and wondered how my father handled these kinds of situations. I sense that I was going to have to get over feeling personally responsible, ever time one of my Marines was wounded or I would go mad, but for now all I wanted All I wanted was the Bolivia that another gown of beer would bring Leslie proposed Close to the green machine and its proud traditions and after several more beers, I understood with remarkable clarity. The meaning of expression, eat the apple and fuck the core now Today or out on another patrol and theirs, contact and they actually get an air strike.
Communism multiple aircraft come in putting down. Oppressive fire back to looks so intent where we are watching this display of aerial wizardry that I did not even notice at the firing had begun behind us in the tree line. We have cured earlier until several round screamed overhead and redirected, my attention, the squire, closest to my position reacted immediately and after TAT to face the threat behind us laid down a volume of fire that saturated the tree line and bad damage to house between it and our position, the enemies firing soon. As soon as our return fire began and after both sides. It stop. Shooting a woman emerged from the house carrying a small child. The little girls arm had been blown off by one of my men who had fired into the house when he detected movement. We were. In a few hours. The woman made her way to the road with her time The girl moaning in her arms
Mother and daughter were covered in blood and Watson began radio in frantically for a vat as Corpsman went to their aid. The marine hush had shot the a girl looked on stunned disbelief for the rest of the day and was not able to respond to the simplest of commands, the little girls evacuated until half an hour later, when the enemy unit had retreated back through the cover of the partially destroyed village and when the protein at the bridge had been. On evacuating its half dozen casualties, and it was a simple matter to send a little girl and her mother with the wounded Marines. Michael soon had taken no other casualties. Other than the young man who had shot the little girl. It was apparent his psychic wounds. Would
probably never heal. I wrote my father a fifteen page letter full of information about the military aspects of my tour and the life or death situations we faced give this strong new bond. I could probably have gone on for another fifteen pages, but I saw writing when I realized that my fifth pages exceeded the combined length of all the letters I had written to him in four years of college, as I wrote I looked in word at the way I had responded to the biggest challenge of my life and my soul. Searching convinced me that I did not. A military career. As a young man in college, I had poorly Defined but high expectations of myself, but now in the midst of chaos and uncertainty, I D
enough insight to realise that I could be happy school or play a trade, if only God would permit me to survive the war. I knew that I definitely did not enjoy the mantle of leadership that had been from upon me and I agonized over the life and death decisions regarding my men that I was forced to make in the process. I began to developed mixed feelings toward them. Marine corps and my country, alternating Lee, between loving and despising. Both and I was confused by the ambivalence of my feelings, towards both core and country apart. We had already begun to regard the enemy as some sort of inhuman cannon fodder.
Realize that my reaction was a defence mechanism that allowed me to accept and dispense deaf and mutilation more readily, but I also knew that I was going to lose part of my soul if that thinking progressed much further. When I could no longer bear the reality of my own situation and the incivility of war, I took refuge in day dreams. I also drink beer, usually in solitude and late at night, and although the alcohol did not raise my spirits as it had when I was a teenager freed me, Temporarily, from the albatross of command Corporal Turner noticed the amount of beer I was consuming and eluded, briefly and good naturedly, but I was running an efficient operation and paid no heed to his comments.
Yeah so he's having a hard time, seven, a real hard time and again This is a book that I'm reading fraction of the book and there's a lot more detail of where these feelings are are coming from. And its common from situations like this, the point gotten thirty metres in front of me. By the time we reached the foot of the hill, and I knew that once we had reached the crest, we would be back control as I can to him too slow pace and allow the rest of us who were strung out behind him to close the gap in automatic weapon, open fire from the top of the hill. The point man drop immediately as we all did, but I could see as the enemy fire raked the sandy area between him and me that he had we take it around in the leg he
They are exposed and vulnerable as the fuselage tat to the earth around us and in the confusion I realized clearly that he was going to die if I could not alter their pattern of fire. I pulled myself to my feet and headed toward him, but the me Gunnar shifted his fur. To meet my charge and I die. Behind a rotting log. Only ten or fifteen metres, from where I had begun and then abandoned my only John Wayne style feet of the war Movement had distracted the vehicle soldier on top of the hill from the wound point manatee poured round after round after round into the base of the log shielding my body, as I attempted borough into the sand behind the log. I look down and saw a colony of red ants going about their business as if nothing were happening. I was fascinated by the little creatures, only inches from my nose and knew that I must be losing my equilibrium to be.
Thinking about ants. While the terrain around me was being pockmarked with lead, I forced myself. The refocus on the threat of the hill and by now the Marie. Behind me. Returning fire within me It was over and the end Gunnar use, the reverse slope of the hill to make us get away while one of my Our team scrambled up the near side when its cured the hill. I hurried over to the point and watched helplessly as doc administered, an injection of morphine and Watson, called up the second hell compter matter back of the day. Life and the Riviera for all them, and it was well I'll go to the book cabin woods devise an ambitious operation as a. To settle the score in the Riviera. He knew it would be unacceptable from a political standpoint
We level Vm Dong, the hamlet at the edge of the Riviera unknown Vietcong stronghold, from which we have been taken. Increasing amounts of hostile fire, but he also knew that our south korean allies were free to operate without political constraints. That fact. So heavily into all of our planet. Therefore, seized on the idea of a joint operation in which our company would be lifted at first light into the Riviera. We would then, Form a cordon around Vm Dong and assessed The korean company would sweep through the village and dry the unsuspecting enemy into Fields of fire. Whatever else the Koreans did in the village was there business, but the reputation for brutality? We. All knew that which would be loathe to support the Vietcong so openly in the future Our timing was right. The operation could turn out to be a turkish you beyond that we would be on the office for a change and Bruce
tomorrow would be of immense value so Conducting this big operation and their inserting by helicopter and polar gets in on the ground, inserted from the helicopter everyone's on the ground now in here we go, I concentrated as best I could on making certain that the two squads to my left were online and imposition to hook up with a bull tune. Adjacent to them, the confusion and noise from the other helicopter around us troll, was almost impossible. This Bruce position was to be a top high bluff to our right, overlooking Vm Dong, where we had camp right before after I had got my men on line mine. The summit was to connect with his location, Watson fall. Closely in my tracks with the radio but there
two nearest men to us where at least twenty metres away on the other side and, for all intents and purposes out of hearing range as we maneuvered in the area to my immediate front, which I had been collecting in my efforts to maintain platoon integrity. Suddenly I saw Squad of Green uniformed north vietnamese soldiers begin running out of the village and in my direction, data aren't we panicked when the helicopters began landing and were now probing for a way out of the news we were drawing around them. Ass, they advanced toward me I was unable to get the attention of the Marines near me, dawned on me to my horror that I was the only obstacle between them and freedom. I raised my rifle to my shoulder and attempted to draw bead on the lead soldier, but my four bullet was off the mark and when I put the trigger. For a second time my rifle jammed.
By now the northeast ME soldiers had spotted me and said Of them fired wildly in my direction until they abruptly through their advance and veered off to my left, standing alone with a malfunctioning weapon and seven enemy soldiers bearing down on me, I was at once seized by a fear that was palpable and all encompassing my throat became dry as parchment and beads of perspiration popped out on my forehead before coursing down my face. I turned a happily with Watson in tow and ran as fast as I could toward the safety of the bluffs above Vm Dong, where the com headquarters party was to be located narrow trail led up the hill to the headquarters group and, as I approached it, never occurred to me that the thirty metres between my course and the commanders position had not been secured.
I knew only that the fire power advantage of the envious squad I had just encountered would be neutralized if I could reach the men milling at the crest of the hill with Only a few metres left to cover in my flight a fun This boom suddenly rent the air, and I was propelled upward with the acrid smell of cordite in my mouth. Rules. When I landed a few feet up the trail from the booby trapped, how its around that I had detonated, I felt it if I had been airborne forever. Colours and sound became muted. And although there was now a beehive of activity, all around me, all movement seem to be in slow motion. I initially thought that the loss of my glasses in the explosion accounted for my blurred vision And I had no idea that- pink missed that engulfed me had been caught.
By the vaporization of most of my right and left legs. A shock began to know my body. I could see were haze of pain, that my right thumb and little finger were missing, as was most of my left hand, and I could smell the charred flesh, which extended from my right, wrist upward to the elbow. I knew that I had finished serving my time in the hell of Vietnam. As I drifted in and out of consciousness, I felt did at the prospect of relinquishing my command and going home to my wife and unborn child not understand why Watson, who was the first man to reach me kept screaming pray. Lieutenant for God's sake, pray I couldn't see the jagged shards of flesh and bone that
It only moments before been my legs I did not realise until much later that I had been forever set apart. From the rest of humanity. For the next hour a frantic of Marines awaited the manufacturer. That was my only hope of deliverance and work to keeping me alive doc knelt beside my broken body and with his thumbs Kept my life from pouring out into the sand until attorney it fashioned from a web belt was tied around my left, stump and a towel was pressed tightly, hole where my right fire join my torso, my watch and rifle were destroyed by the blast of my flock jacket was in tatters. But I did managed turn my undamaged maps of the command and commanded the petition over the corporal turner during
of my lucid intervals, I also gave explicit orders to all the Marines Corpsman hovering around me that my wife was not to be told of my injuries until after the baby was born. There was, of course, no possibility of compliance with my command But the Marines ministering to me a shirt me that my wishes would be honoured. Because we're on a company sized operation. There were six corpsman in the immediate area, around Vm Dawn and each And carried a supply of blood expands, which were designed, and to stabilize blood pressure until whole blood could be administered as work spread of my injuries, each of the company's corpsman past expands the dock Alice, who used the last of them. While my men slapped at my face to try and get me to drink water and held cigarettes to my lips in an attempt to keep me awake when the chopper,
Finally, arrived I was paid don't structure and gently carried too entrance where a the crew chief and medevac surgeon help me aboard some located my left boot, which still contained its bloody foot, and that too is placed on the stretcher with me Copper began its race towards Trio of Naval Support Hospital and the name I was only moments from death, but I remember think clearly before losing consciousness that I was going to make it. I never again saw the third platoon of golf company a remarkable of young men with whom I had the most intense male relationships of my life, and I felt guilt. For years that I had abandoned them before our work was finished. I was too feel even worse than I was glad to believing
and that in my mind, I spent my last healthy moments in Vietnam running from the enemy. I came to feel But I had failed to prove myself worthy of my father's name had broken in spirit as well as body I was We too have to run a different gauntlet. In the naval support hospital trials and denying located just down the road from the sea. Compound were I'd, feasted on frozen strawberries and ice cream. Only a few days earlier, the remainder of my clothes were cut away. Massive transfusions were started directly into my jugular vein and severed foot was discarded. On arrival. My blood pressure had fed. The register, but once it was restored- and I was stabilized, I was reeled into the operating room where my left stump was derided and left open
and the four artery, which was All that remains of my right. Leg was clamped shot. The procedure was fairly simple. Because they were so little left work with, I remember thinking before us accompany to anesthesia how clean and shiny the tiles and the operating room appeared. How all the room was and how worried the eyes all seemed above the green masks of the doctors and nurses who labored over me when I read consciousness. In a clean bed with white sheets, an assortment of tubes carried What's to and from my body, and when I read up to remove the annoying want affixed to my nose. I found that I could not do so because both my hands were wrapped in bandages the size of boxing gloves. I understood the reason for my bandaged hands
Seen my right hand with its missing farmin little finger earlier, and I also knew that my left hand was now red tape. Only a thumb and half a forefinger. The word prehensile no longer applied to me. I did not. At no or new. Only vaguely that I ass, my right leg at the torso. I not only a six inch stump remained of my left five, in addition to the damage to my extremities idly, massive portions of both buttocks. Scrotum had been split and I sustained a dislocated shoulder and a ruptured Drum at smaller wounds from shell fragments peppered the remainder of my body. Only my face had been spared. It remarkably contained only one small
blue line across my face from a powder burn. Communications from The army in the Marine corps were badly garbled in the first days after my wounding. My wife was first told that I had lost only one leg and later ride lost one leg below the knee and want to be the knee when she first got the message. She went straight to Fathers pantry poured a double shot of bourbon and tossed it often one motion. Already furious that she had been last received the news she spent a sleepless night after Walter Cronkite Ported my injury on the evening news Next morning she travelled to saluted be with my parents. By
time she arrived, they had received more accurate assessment of my injuries. And my wife was soon discover that, if I survived, which was doubtful, We do so with a bilateral above the knee hip dis articles. None with fear and exhaustion and seven months pregnant. She look solace. From the only male polar who is still capable of standing on its own two feet. Some suggested adjusted most savage imaginable injury. Just then they talk about a lot in the book about how
the fact that he survived. This was just unbelievable. Unbelievable loss blood, the severe trauma to two images. It was just a completely savage, wounding. While I was still in denying a parade of young officers who had been my peers in the basic school made the obligatory too to the hospital to see me the concern on each of their faces. So alarmed me that I finally requested it was given a bottle of whisky to help them through the experience for my part, becoming dependent on massive injections of morphine to quell the phantom pain in my missing limbs, and Phone, the inevitable acceptance of my loss, so my visitors were forced to drink alone. Might down my future brother in law, who is on his way act. The states re routed is homeward path to spend a few
minutes with me, and he told me years later that he'd resigned himself to never seeing me alive again after he had completed his visit now start head home. He gets too Japan in and suit guy developed distress, also as a result of the shock of being wounded and two thirds stomach, had to be removed was excruciating and I was not expected to survive the operation, the opera exposed a second, also wants the surgeons got inside. When we were under way again, I was assigned a nurse who sold duty was to be available in case the exposed for moral artery. In my right side, ruptured a day later, My plane set down at Andrews AIR Force Base outside Washington D C. I had in keeping with.
Parable of the Spartans soldier returned on my shield, my temperature was a hundred five degrees. And I had not had addressing changed since leaving Japan was transferred to the base hospital near the term. Where my wife and family had gathered and had begun and stealing themselves to meet me. There was no brass band to greet me. No rousing renditions of stars and stripes forever and no politics to offer their support for a job. Well done. I was home, though, Back in the United States, after a splendid overseas tour that had not quite reached its third month. And I had avoided for whatever reason the fate of Was casualties who were returning home?
women and boxes. By the time I had been made as presentable as possible. It was late in the evening. And a nervous hospital commander justify it. The concern that I might die in his watch reluctantly agreed to. Let me receive visitors, my precarious state. It was decided that I should only see one family member at a time. Father was the first to enter the room. He stood quietly at the foot of my bed for a few moments surveyed wreckage of his only son and then able to maintain his stoic demeanor began, weeping silently.
He moved my side. Grass my shoulder as if that simple act of communion would stay the convulsions that now racked stooped frame and in my please state I was on able to reach out or otherwise console him. There was only the second time in my life that I'd see my father cry and, as the nurse Led him from my room, I felt an aching my heart that all but equips the physical Aid from my wounds, just just a poor.
The fall of nineteen sixty eight and throughout my hospitalization in Philadelphia, the government had given no thought to the temporary lodging for families of wounded servicemen and my family checked into a motel near the hospital for that week. In what was the first of many Agonizing expensive stays, they were so. Concerned, initially about my condition at the expense of the accommodations, were simply regarded as a nuisance, but time went on, the economics of the situation became intolerable and they began to dump upon rooms were planned visit day. Visits from Washington. There is bad enough to be. Shot to pieces in the service of your country, but it was outrageous, then, to be expected to sustain heavy outside costs associated with recovery, and talking. I were doubly sympathetic to the plight of the enlisted wives, for whom the.
Extra costs were often an unbearable hardship. By the end of my first two weeks in the intensive care unit, the odds favouring my survival had improved considerably, although the practiced eye. The reverse must have seen the k several times a day. My bandages had to be changed and without morphine. The ordeal was so painful that I quickly reduced to the have love a snarling animal. For a period of time, I came, became convinced that the staff, as well as my family had entered into a conspiracy designed solely to increase. My torment and I live, stout at all who dared entered my room because I Threw up so much of what the corn and tried to spoon into my mouth? I simply began to refuse food and my weight trot to less than sixty pounds.
Orders were issued that I'd be fed through a tube. In my nose. I was also completely immobile and had to be rotated from back to my stomach and vice versa. Every three hours in a special bed that employed to thin mattresses on sir you are track and resemble the sandwich board more than resting place, despite the constant turning I developed bed source from the pressure on the perspiration, with which I was constantly soaked and by the time I had completed my stay in intensive care. I'd open source, the size of quarters all the way, along my backbone and Elvis A decision was made to win me off the morphine, on which I had become
Ike illogically, if not physically dependent- and I beg them and then screamed for my shots at a time between, in actions as the time Between injections was lengthened and the dosage was decreased with the morphine Del my senses, I had to face both physical play, pain and the reality of my loss, enforced four days. I was nothing more than a bundle of jagged nerve endings, as my wife stood by to walk, wiped my brow feed me, lime, lifesavers and hold cigarettes, to my lips, it was a period of my life during which I lost all self respect for not, the strength to carry myself with dignity, I love my country and the marine corps for having brought me to such depths.
During the first month of my hospitalization, I was confined to the electron electrically powered bed that rotated me as I was on a roasting spit and the combination of my injuries and a lack of mobility left me as weak as a new born baby. I deteriorate to a point where I could not lift my head from the pillow and developed a dangerous looking old spot on the back of my head were a bedsores big. Turning to form by the time the box and glove size bandages on my hands were removed at the the month. The muscles in my arms had atrophied, to the extent that my elbows appeared huge in comparison with my forearms and biceps, So
I mean, obviously this is just like beyond wretched and again I'm I'm not I'm not I'm not even covering it all about going into the details that he goes into So they need to transfer him once he gets a little bit more stable on the Monday. Following my transferred it s, a cue twelve men, If the patients who were far enough along in the recuperation process to get weakened, passes returned from liberty in crude, including my roommate, Lieutenant Paul Barents, double above the knee Amputee lieutenant Barents had been raped. Across the knees by automatic weapons firewall setting up an ambush in Vietnam eighteen months earlier, and his wounds were so severe that both his legs been amputate amputated surgically. He had made remarks real progress, however, and adjust into the wooden Pross that the whole
Spinoza limb Embrace shop had out fitted him with and when walked into our room that first Monday morning, with only came to study is balance. I was amazed to discover that a man with so little remaining of his legs could ambulance later I lay awake and mould over the events of the day and the utter lack of control. I had over my life prior Being moved into the room with Paul this, Jeez of my life were finite and unappealing I was turned in my bed every three hours and in the morning the corpsman shave bathe and sent me. My dressings were then changed and for the rest of the day, various doctors and nurses, poked and prodded at me, as if I were a side of beef in a meat market.
I no longer had any idea of my own capabilities and whatever dignity I once possessed had abandoned me as surely as my lit missing limbs for weeks, I've been brooding over the idea of asking Totty for a divorce, since I did not feel was fair to force her into a lie. If time of caring for a helpless cripple in fact considered suicide. But I now laughed despite my. Alan Kali. When I realized tat, I was incapable of throwing myself out of the partially Been window only feet from my bed ass. I watched Paul sleeping peacefully in the bed across the room from I wish desperately for one night's rest, free of pain or discomfort. That then occurred to me Paul must have been through the same hell I was now experiencing and he had survived the ordeal
he had also redefined his relationship with his wife in a positive manner. In a few, and in a few weeks would be putting the marine corps and the Vietnam WAR behind him and looking for a job by the time blessed sleep find he came, I had were gradually come to realise that I must undergo a drastic change in attitude to avoid spending the rest of my life as a miserable lonely. Freak. As Paul's roommate, I was privy to many the conversations he had with the other patients of ethical q, twelve many of whom stop by that first, we Wish him luck on his operation? They or a diverse assortment of young marine and naval officers who guard room in wheelchairs on crutches or using Familiar prosthetics for many were to become life. Companions.
Varied in their backgrounds and personalities. They bore the scars of a war that whatever Dennis devastation produced bonding among them far more powerful in some ways than the time. The family kinship some like lieutenant Joe Belts, her we ve been wounded three times treated their disabilities, affirmations of manhood and where war, their wooden legs, and I patches as badges of honour. While others were truly shattered by the wounds they had suffered. Lieutenant clean Mccleery. Who had lost an arm and an eye to a vehicle. Satchel charge turned to cry. To restore wholeness to his life and lieutenant cow good men, who is now missing his legs, his testicles and his right farm curse.
God and anyone who was foolish enough to cross his path. In MID November And he was wounded on October, eleventh in mid not in MID November. I still at all bedsores along my spine and barely healed skin graphs across my buttocks, and I was so weak from my wounds and inactivity that the first two. Few times I was placed in a wheelchair, my head flopped, over my shoulder as if it were connected to my torso by a slinky at less than sixty hounds. I was so emaciated that I did not recognise myself before
This time I was wheeled by a mirror- and I automatically reached from my face to make certain that it was mine. One night. A couple of weeks before Thanksgiving, I was paid a surprise visit by an old fraternity brother who had graduated the previous year and was in Philadelphia for business. Seminar And I had been close in college, but our shared experiences had been care, free and joyous, and I was. Well prepared for the tears TAT streamed down his face. When he first saw me. Ass. He was for my gross grotesque condition. Later. I was able to understand that if this of my own body was shocking to me. It had to be even more so for those whom I had been, close and I wondered and knew why toddy would want to remain with me on
Friday, before Thanksgiving, my Father in law called from Fort Belvoir with news that. Hardly had given birth through our sun, Louis Burwell, Polar the third whom she was affectionately, calling Lupi We were real family and, despite the rocky start, I could. I was. I talk to my wife that this child was godsend, then destined to solidify our marriage. They mean everything that we take for granted. She's, not you can't even go to them. There is child cities. Now he meets his, I guess I'd say: physical therapist.
Female, my name is Commander Shaughnessy. She said extending her right hand gripped my forearm, you must be lieutenant polar I'm in charge of physical therapy and we might as well get started. Balance and strength through tenant, balance and strength. She said we must Creature, strengthen improve your balance. If we are ever going to get you up and walking, occupational therapy was far less demanding for me compared with most of the upper extremity, it is because the damage to my hands was minor, my left hand, I still had a farm and half A finger on my right handle, though missing most of the farm and little finger. I still had the middle digits combined there.
I wanted to almost a whole hand and what I could not do with one hand. I could sometimes accomplished when I put them together, but when you think about that his hands are devastated and he says that the damage to his hands is minor. One of his doctors, Doktor Cabot, when Cabot put me on a beer ration to try and increase my weight. I drink several kinds of night and top them off with the prescribed sleeping pills, my wrist putting incoherent so alarmed the staff that the sleeping pills were discontinued, but I continued to drink beer by Christmas, I added five pounds to my sixty pounds frame. I'd wait almost a hundred and sixty pounds when I entered the marine corps and although never came close to weighing that again, I still needed.
In another forty pounds. Here's some thoughts in Vietnam. I had the power of a God with lightning and thunder only as far away as the nearest artillery battery my command may have been questioned, but they were always followed and, although came to despise the life and death decisions, I was forced to make. I love to make them professionally and competently. All that was taken from me at the moment. I was wounded, It was difficult to adjust to being totally powerless many times I struck out, blindly and rationally at the corpsman and nurses, who are trying to help me only increased my frustration that in my
We can state, I was unable to inflict any damage on them. I now have to ask for everything, then it was damn oblique, difficult to maintain a self image. When I was still soiling, my bed Shortly after New year's I'll who had the first of many identical dreams in it. I was back in Vietnam and my platoon and I were preparing for a combat mission. As I gathered up my gear for the engagement, I could not find some the equipment needed and ammunition, clip socks or a helmet. Particular last item varied with the dream and was nearly as important as a light, her death situation we will be facing shortly, but for
stretching over its loss rather than apprehension of impending danger was the dominant emotion associated with the early part of the dream. The middle sequence was hazy, but as the dream, ended waiting game. The unit of enemy soldiers and I'd be come separated from my men. The soldiers chased me through the surrounding area as they closed in on me, I woke covered with. Spraying and certain that barely avoided that last look into my soul. That will surely proceed my death. I've had the dream many times since it first roiled up from my subconscious in the winter. Nineteen sixty nine and each time it has seen it has been is terrifying, as if I was experiencing it for the first time. I mean see. Now that the dream is a reenactment and playing out. The events leading up to my wounding, but my understanding
the dreams origins does not ease the terror associated with it, in fact, It only serves to remind me a new that had Chosen to confront the enemy on that now distant battlefield. Where I almost died, I would perhaps have come to know myself better or to have proved myself, my father's son now. He ends up what the room Paul leaves. He ends up, get a new roommate and his wife Toddy able to move up to Philadelphia close to where he's in the hospital And eventually he starts
some time in the apartment. Unfortunately, the second story apartment. So it's not. They can't just live there. But he escapes goes there for the first visit, and here we go back to back. It was the first time in more than six months I have been in a car and the initial experience of transferring from a wheelchair to a car required all my strength. Years later, I learned from Jeff and Dave where these people are given the right who had not. See me since, before my wounding had I'd for most away to our apartment. When we arrived Jeff and Dave carried me up. The steps into the wheelchair to our new digs on the second floor, they had gone. Totty sat me on the bed I sat on. This bed beside me. Cradled looping arrives the three. Thus we find the alone and, as I reach her hand. Conversation seemed completely unnecessary. I did
No, how is going to get back down the steps Monday morning for my first day on outpatient status at the hospital, but then again I didn't really care. When I first got home, I was unable to sit on a commode alone and toddy. To assist me with my most bay sick functions. Degrading though it was, we development intimacy rare in a couple who had been too the other such a short time, and we learned together, The fuse our tensions with laughter rather than tears for a while. Toddy was wiping the rear ends of everyone in the apartment, and when I got to the point that I could go To the bathroom on attended, it was a close question. As to who is more thankful. One night in early February, as Toddy prepared Lupi for bed
And this is when he's now sort of living in the apartment as it as a outpatient one night early in february- is Totty prepared Lupi for Forbad and I scanned the newspaper for news of the war are routine was interrupted by hysterical phone call from Linda's year toddy the phone and after tat. The calm Lindy down for several minutes. She and the receiver to me, John had been seriously wounded by land, mine and Lindy Justice a word that he was going be met. Her back to the Philadelphia evil hospital. He was not critical, but he had lost one leg and was in danger of losing the other and had me to pull shrapnel wounds to his upper extremities. Tried to reassure Liddy. The best I could- and I repeat, The Tories invitation to lend to stay with us after John arrived all, I could think When we finish the conversation, wasn't it must. Been a hell of a large land mine to bring down John Zaire.
He had almost completed his time in the Bush when he was wounded and I was reminded that the first month and the latter more than the field where the most dangerous times for in for treatment. I was fitted for my artificial legs at the limb and brace shop located in a cluttered building adjacent to physical therapy I had no right stump. The proceeds For my right, Prosthesis prostheses was more complicated. There, wired that Eddie make a mould of my lower torso that standard. Halfway to my armpits. When he had almost hardened. He caught it down the middle with a cast saw, and I wriggled free at Expo to me that when the upper part of the right prostheses was completed, it would resemble a rigid corset, with the hinge on the bottom to which
artificial leg would be attached. I could not imagine being comfortable much less walking with such a device, My sister, Martha and MIKE downs we're getting married at weekends Nicole Marine Base. Toddy, and I were going down to stay with her parents a nearby by Belvoir. During dinner, one of the groomsmen, you're with a degree from Harvard suggests to me that I consider run for political office as part of my future plans that sort of an inch patients are foreshadowing of his future. So this is again. This is his elder sister. Getting married or Sars Twin sister getting married
And it's the wedding, Martha appeared radiant on our fathers arm and his metal bedecked chest put to shame the meagre by comparison, decorations of every other uniformed men in the chapel I caught, I got caught at the entrance to the ballroom, the zone, the wedding. I called the entrance to the ballroom trading chit chat with some of the earlier rivals and by the time I was able to excuse myself, the room was half full Suddenly I was surrounded by a sea of outstretched hands and, as I tried to work my way across the room, I felt completely alienated from my family and friends. I had known most. My life were now crowding in on me as I was about to expire, bad Williams, one of Marthas Old We're friends and my best boy who had friend, saw the expression on my face and ran interference for me. Until found a safe corner, shaken down several quick drinks and mechanically returned to the greetings of the gas through continued to press. In as I continued to drink,
the emotion I felt downstairs teased but Learn that I was not prepared to deal with such a social situation so quickly on the heels of my war and hospital experience. Later in the evening a colleague, basic school told me almost as an aside and without any change of inflection as voice that Terry purred tenseness had been killed just before Chris some can showman had been killed at the beginning of February. The casual revelations of their death. So numbed me that I was able to only repeat their names and not my head in acknowledgment. Later that week, I went back to the limit embrace brace shop to get my studies, which are the short legs at you. First get when you're working on learning
walk again and he was busy has worked table when I wheeled in an emotional the pull my chair to the parallel bars in the center of the room. While he brought my legs over, they looked more tree limbs than wags, but Eric proud of his work- and I did not come and as he placed them between the bars in front of my chair for the right side He had me remove my shorts and put on a body sock before wiggling into the plastic bubble. That was on top part of the process. I got in and around my waist. He helped me fastened it into my body by two leather bag. Its attached to the bubble. I then pulled myself up. To an upright position between the bars and as the hinge connecting to the bubble to my lower part of the device locked into place? I found myself standing for the first time in five months, Eddie than real My left stump with an ace bandage, guided the stump into the socket of my left stubby and pulled my down to the socket. By pulling the elastic bandage off the stump.
Through a small hole in the bottom of the socket, when he First, I was standing wobbly between the parallel bars, leaning heavily on them for support and soaked imports. Perspiration. I was only eight inches from the floor. Although the distant seemed more like ten feet For the rest of that session, I did nothing more than a bow it's on the studies and point out two Eddie. The pressure points that You did standing for a better fit once or twice I spare with letting go the parallel balls on either side of me. But each time did so I almost too but over and quickly had to grab the bars to store. My balance could see like Not not only is this whatever. Thirty. Forty years ago, Technology, wasn't there the stuff that their creating? We got leather straps. It sounds like a freak and medieval torture device more than anything else,.
Now we're moving forward a little bit. Now that my pain was manageable, I became less self absorbed and began to function. Focus on external realities and I was discomforted by my perceptions. It seemed that the entire country was at odds over Vietnam and, as the debate rage students, students demonstrated and politicians rallied. I became more and more confused. Had I not been wounded, I would still be putting my life on the line in defence of foreign policy that many were now calling me Guided or even immoral and if they were correct, my sacrificed and the sacrifices of my fellow servicemen were workforce amount after I began living out of the hospital Jim Roddy got a new roommate. And the seemingly endless cycle of admissions and discharge. Of war casualties was repeated when I first met lieutenant
a g Bob carry. He had just been assigned to the bed space I had formerly occupied and the doktor were evaluating his injured right leg to determine how the level which it would be amputated. Bob who had been a Navy seal team leader in Vietnam was wounded by an enemy grenade and fire fight, in which timid Freud in North vietnamese Army squad here Can you to lead his men for several hours despite his injuries and the scuttlebutt in the hospital had it he was about to be recommended for the medal of honor. The morning I entered my own room by Roma discovered Bob. He was listening to a reef. Franklin tape played several decibels, above what ward rules aloud And he was trying to take pictures of his mangled leg with an instrument, a camera oblivious of pain and after I
use myself. He handed me the camera and asked me to snap a few pictures of his leg for the american region. Folks, back in his home state of Nebraska. Jim and I exchanged glances, but neither of us could tell if Bob was delirious or just marching to the people of a different drum. I took the pictures, while Bob joined a researcher in singing respect, and I immediately that lie One s own, you twelve, was about to undergo a rejuvenation. So here we have a. I from the seal teams August carry you is Bob, Carry is awarded the medal of Honor Hum Hindu for actions during Vietnam that they, just briefly discussed, you can see. He brings a little bit of the. I guess. The seal team ethos back to the book within days. Bob was taken to the taking of the operating room and when you
returned. His leg had been removed at mid calf during the first two days. After the amputation, he fought taking the kind of paint shots for which Gemini had begged and stoicism though, on Nerving was a source of amazement to us all. Given I learned how to dole the pain with narcotics and Bob's wounds were not as severe as mine His pain is greatest gems. We want to see him more comfortable and to have our view confirm that morphine was indispensable to recovery instead Bob asked for a phone go back with which to beat back the phantom pains and is missing limb. And Jim and I were left to conclude sheepishly at some people had higher tolerance. To pay for others. Yet some Senator Gary one day when I arrived at therapy Commander Shaughnessy was waiting
with my new crutches there were similar to the standard under the armpits support crutches, except that they ve been designed for four or five and a half were tall person as well ask them to my exact tight she ignored comments about donating approaches to the circus. After I got regular length, expert she stood close to me, as I attempted to take my first step outside the bars. I was amazed at how much more difficult it was to swing each leg forward without proper support and stability of the parallel bars and With my initial venture between the bars I manage only. A very short walk. My first day on crutches, I was tired third and sore by the time I had crossed the room and returned and, as I say, I myself back in my wheelchair heard of familiar refrain refrain from Commander Chauncey. Balance and strength, lieutenant balance and strength. I think balance frustrated
I'm gonna to continue to tell myself applies to everything, for us boarding a little bit here during the time now is undergoing the restoration of my left hand. Bob carrion Johns your had begun to enhance morale and S oak. Twelve carry preferable to begin with had a freer hand than most of the other patients because of his status as a war. Hero When some of his antics begin to outrage, the staff, the rest of urge them on tomorrow, or possible internal bleeding. He was put. He was on an output inputs status which meant that all fluids entering an exiting his body were checked to care. For what he considered a gross invasion of privacy. He stopped. A pair of forceps from the dressing Card Board bag of jelly beans and began inserting different colored beans into his bow movements, but
and whose job it was to strain, the fecal matter wasn't sense when he realized what Bob was up to and he complained I'll be the lieutenant carry with setting a poor example for the Navy enlisted personnel, for whom you should be a role model when confronted The head nurse Bob threatened to kill his car keys in the offensive matter and until the monitoring was halted, the ward made bets on what would pop up next in Bob carry stool samples, so carry team guy antics. In early June. Just before the rut, reconstructive surgery, on my right hand, was to begin fail and Sally Leslie came to Philadelphia to spend that was his platoon sergeant Feeling Sally Leslie came to Philadelphia to spend the night with us fear what recently completed his torn Vietnam and was anxious To end, I was anxious to see him and get word from the protein feel Tommy
corporal Morgan. Squad leader had written me at Christmas, had gone berserk. Killed several vietnamese women, while patrolling the Riviera when rotated out of country Morgan was being charged with murder, and it was expected that he would do time in the Portsmouth prison. I was not surprised by the news and although I could not forgive the atrocities, I felt it could understand the feelings that car Them to lose control fill all told me that captain Woods had been wounded and met a fact, but that he was able to Maine to remain in the core after his recovery. I was just rest, to hear of this Prs wounding, but his injury completed the circle. Every officer I had known who had spent Time in the Riviera had been wounded there, and I want Can I thank the Lord my time in that God forsaken Wasteland was over.
In early June. I check back into the hospital for reconstruction of my right hand There was not enough remaining of my thumb or little finger to be useful, you're sands and was had to say to remove the little finger and attached to the farm in an effort to give me a little additional length and more of a grip. He explained that Operation was not always successful, but he did not think we had much to lose since the start of my little finger was almost useless anyway in its abbreviated state after here Explain the risk to me and I had signed the consent form he paused. For a moment and then told me that he wanted to show me something that had nothing to do with my surgery, but that might affect the future course of my hospitalization. He then handed me a letter from the Navy surgeon General Washington to subordinate commands that stressed the need retire as quickly as possible. All act
if duty, Vietnam casualties, who are no longer, who no longer met the physical or mental qualifications for retention the letter went on to state that the Is injured, servicemen could be better cared for by the veterans administration, but it's clear to me that the military departments having no further use for men, me who had almost died in the service of our country, now wanted to get rid of us as quickly as possible. I just been confronted with the start ever It's that I was merely refuse to be discarded, and I was on comfortable. With the growing feeling that I had used by my country. He gets that surgery where they try and make his thumb longer. Anna Lindh doesn't work. Turned black
a disappointed sands and finally accepted failure of his surgery and had the staff. These my hand from the sling he apologized profusely to tardy in me and wrote, wrote me a refill about prescription for dark on capsules and send us home for weeks of convalescent leave. It told us that he, not intend to remove the black and fun for at least a month when the rest, my hand would be fully healed and he was- and I were stronger so again, dust hey sorry, drug. You up now carry. Carry had already been discharged and was to be awarded the medal of honor in by President Nixon in a White House ceremony. Lydia Heroes from my generations, war were rare and often unrewarded, and it was good Bob get the recognition Honor, he deserved, I confess
the tardy that I was bit jealous of Bob Success, but at the same time I felt enormous pride. Stood in the White House and received his metal. He resents the Presenting all of us who had served honourably, toddy sports. To my admission was disagree. That we schedule a party for Bob at our apartment after his trip to Washington, and I quickly agreed. Now the different scenario. Here when I got home when I got home later that day, Totty told me that her brother would be driving down from Prince in the next day, rob which studies. Brother arrived for dinner. The next night the course of the meal filled us in on the Anti war campus unrest. I have been reading about draft card burners and take overs of administration buildings for months, but when he told me when he told that nobody seemed to get upset when american flags were burned and that
students were american flag patches on their rear ends of their blue jeans. I was appalled. On July, twenty of nineteen sixty nine APOLLO eleven landed on the moon on our black and white portable television, Totty Robin I were watch. Footage of Neil Armstrong, walking on the surface of the moon and making is now famous comment to the world. That's one small step for a man, one giant. For mankind. We all had wondered what he would say to mark such a historic occasion. And though we knew that the words were carefully planned and rehearsed, they seemed opiate it. We met our glasses. In tribute to him, it seemed incredible to me that Armstrong could walk on the moon, but that I could do, but that I could not do the same on earth.
Such an ordinary task that most of humankind did without a second thought. In August nineteen sixty nine is Philadelphia. Summer humidity reached its zenith, and I was group from surgery. That's the hand, surgery at it had been having. I begin to look more closely at the Vietnam WAR and leadership in Washington that had shaped its course so profoundly and so profoundly altered my life before Vietnam, I been essentially a politically accepting without question the judgment of our elected politicians. Now I was not so sure of the infallibility of the democratic process and closer. I looked the more. It seemed that something was terribly wrong. On a more personal level. It seemed to me that the Vietnam veteran was being made the scapegoat for everything that had gone wrong with our foreign policy and time I read
story of another returning veteran being spit upon or being similarly ostracised by, the same Americans. He thought in serving I recoiled and discussed. He's got a little more social commentary, the following week. After a half, a million young men and women gathered at a farm and baffled New York to listen to Joe Cochrane Joan by as smoke dope and embrace the concepts of peace and free love. I ended my Convalescent leave and resume physical therapy at the hospital I envied the woods, stalkers freedom felt a generation removed from them Even though most were my age, or only a few years younger, we talk about contradict.
Sure you're watching Woodstock take place and you're just going in for more rehab so he's continuing on trying to learn how to walk on his prospects legs. I tried to wear the legs while sitting in my wheelchair between sessions, but they were uncomfortable and severely with restricted mobility. They all. Added thirty pounds to my weight and, at the end of each day, at the hospital needed no coaxing to store them in my locker until the next morning he's with his wife and they It happened to go into a restaurant. The restaurant was packed with young men, and women were blue Jeans and Army feel jackets. Many of them war, red bandanas over shoulder length, hair and peace signs were prominently displayed on all, but a few. I'd seen first hand the calculate
acts of cruelty inventions of which men were at war were capable and if nothing else, knew that there were very few lofty ideals at the level of conflict. I had experienced it made me angry to see these college kids with no frame of reference outside a classroom. Second, guessing the decisions that it almost cost me my life, and it made me angrier still to think that they might be right down Night, I again had the dream in which I was separated from my men and was present By a unit of enemy soldiers, this time, however, I was wearing my wooden legs and I was running as fast and as effort we as if they were real legs, on November, twenty two nineteen sixty nine just a week after prison Nixon's silent majority speech toddy and I went to a ball at the officers-
Rob to commemorate the hundred and ninety fourth anniversary of the founding of the marine corps. Big deal in the marine corps. Them ring by then he's out the ball. I was envious of the sea of uniformed men who could glide about the ballroom so effort lit effortlessly. But I was grateful that toddy and I got it it's to dance. As I sat on the sidelines and watched, however, I began to get the easy feeling that, despite the pageantry and hoopla, what was Taking place, bore was no resemblance to my own marine corps. Experience all the marine officers assigned to the Philadelphia naval Base in its support activities or in supply and logistics, and, as I scanned their metals, I was struck by the latter of combat decorations once again I was reminded that I had been taught both as a boy and as a young officer at the basic school that a marine
that marine officers were com, poltroon leaders first and that whatever else they did was incidental. I could see now that the lessons I've learned were only partly true and I brooded over my perception. To make matters worse. Young Marines were still dying in Vietnam and I suddenly felt guilty to be feasting on prime ribbon drinking chilled wine, while real Marines were trying only to make it through another day in the arena. I had just left this I am a year earlier and I wondered how I was going to handle myself in civilian life. If I could not even be comfortable with my fellow Marines. In MID November, there was another Die war March on Washington, with the media described as being larger and more successful than the one month earlier. The fall. Day November sixteenth. It was reported that Lieutenant William Kelly had been guided by the department of the
army for the massacre of south vietnamese civilians at me lie and as the details the atrocity began to unfold. I felt both sickened and tainted by the road violations Americans from all walks of life now seem to be saying that the war was immoral and Kelly. In addition to allowing innocent women and children to be slaughtered had validated the stereotype of Vietnam veterans as blood thirsty killers, and misfits waited in vain for any report about american servicemen in Vietnam, who would actively help preserve the lives of civilians. Indeed, that was, the major premise for are being their buttocks. Poles of humanitarian concern I had witnessed were almost never to be read had were, as Chris, approached, I began to see that I was now
we're going to attain a level proficiency with my new legs that could even remotely be described, as normal walking. I we reached a point where I could walk for free dear sixty feet on the flat smooth cirque surface of pity rum. But any distance beyond that was outside my range. In addition, there were surfaces on which I could not walk at all, such as sand, gravel, grass and the slightest variation of slope in a terrain caused all insurmountable difficulties. So not only is the technology ancient, but it's just harder to work with and and his wounds or severe I mean he has no articulation in in the law, Could he lost the hip, so just namely challenging and Start to realise that it it's not gonna be its market.
Advantage ram, it's not going to be a step up for him to be using the prosthetics. Because they have a little Christmas celebration. After we finish the traditional Christmas Turkey, candied sweet potato and plum pudding. I told my father. I wanted him to see me walk a brother Why help Totty bring my legs and crutches from the car I made them the family weight in an adjoining room while toddy help me on with my legs and when I was ready and standing, she summoned my mother, father and two sisters for the next ten its eye, paraded up and down the length of the room, while my father looked on and held taught his hand after I had finished, came over to my side and put my arm around her shoulder for support. I put my arm around the shoulder for support as toddy took pictures. Must standing side by side. Not a word had passed between us, but I could tell by the tenderness, in his back,
schools and the way he set his jaw that he was moved. I knew known for some time that I would never be able to fill his shoes, but it was good A fine to be this to mock him in the I, for my part,. I felt that, even if I never walked again I'd God sufficient pay off for the months of fish. Therapy that led up to that one moment when my father and I stood together on Christmas day. Nineteen sixty nine. Everywhere I looked at seeing that Vietnam veterans were being shunned and reviled and again not reconcile my father's generations, triumphal return from worldwide Or two with my own experience, we came to understand that my contemporaries did not want to share the pivotal experience of my life I learned
keep my silence. I also it did it is my own frustrations and insecurity about my future. By turning more Toward alcohol. And for a long while my over indulgence allowed me to postpone coming to grips with the war. On her last day Commander Shaughnessy his physical therapy shut up for work and are uniform. I want you to know lieutenant that, even if. You never make it out of wheelchair you further than any of us expected and you have given meaning to my work. Doktor will act conferred with me out the neck. The last series of operations, on my right hand, he sensed my discomfort and before turning to the surgery he asked if he could speak frankly at my nod. He told me that he had been monitoring my progress since I had become his patient and that in here
opinion, I was never going to be able to walk well enough that my process, but it would become a practical means of locomotion. You didn t me at the ultimate decision to stick with a wooden leg, the wooden pins, was, of course, mine, but I should not harbour any guilt. If I took the path it s similarly circumstance amputee, he had ever treated, had taken Now he gets another operation on his hands in order. Accomplished his objective. You have to split the tissue between my thumb and forefinger in toward me, palm so the exposed hand to the left side of my abdomen for two week period then use the flesh my torso to increase the web space. The operation was called a political flap graft
And would be followed up a month, to the flap, was detached by a much shorter and simpler operation to revise the draft. Far from the past, here's the here's, the doktor, giving him some thoughts on surgery, apart from the possibility of an operative mishap or post operative complication, lieutenant the principal drawbacks. Being sense of scoring at the donor sight of your left side and tender, flash with a graft is to be applied to your hand. Also, you will probably have to shave your hand every couple of days if the donor flesh it's here suit, no brakes.
Midway through the ordeal of having my hand sound my side. I received an urgent and alarming call from my older sister. She had just got off the phone with our mother, who had called to report that our father had awakened that morning, confuse Endoored disoriented, the we come out immediately and me The preliminary disdain notice of a minor stroke or cerebral accident. But it decided to leave. Father at home for the present. Virginia hung up. I could not get back, cannot get the phone. Back onto its cradle, with my one free hand and frustrated at my helplessness and the news about my father, I let the phone fall to the foreign sank back onto my pillow. Time, when my father was most in need of help, I was unable to do any more than lie on my back like a turtle and wallow in my own self pity I feel guilty
And useless, as I thought about bad news. It seemed ironic that my own son was gaining and ability to speak, just as my father was losing his and I wondered if they would ever conversed together. On the day that doctor will let formed performed my final surgery April thirty of nineteen. Seventy President Nixon had me televised speech to announce that the United States and so Vietnamese forces had attacked communist sanctuaries across the border from South Vietnam in Cambodia. I wanted. The warder ended was fearful that Nixon's decision could expand and prolong our involvement, but I still, add a small unit leaders perspective. I knew that the troops along
Border, if they could not come home at least wanted to be able to respond to enemy attacks. What bothers me. The most, however, was the shift in the mood of the country. Increasingly, the war seem to be regarded by more and more Americans as just not worth fighting, and if that were so I had lost my legs and several good friends for nothing. Four days later on May fourth, one thousand nine hundred and seventy National Guardman's guardsmen activated to monitor anti war protests at Kent State University in Ohio, shot and killed for student demonstrators. It was not made clear. Why the guardsmen had responded to a student protest with such deadly forest, but the graphic footage of the shootings aired on television screens across the country. They galvanise the protesters and shocked the conscience of America. I few is appalled by the census killing, but I could not
I understand why my countrymen seem to react so much more creatively to Force Kent state killings, into the killings of more than fifty thousand Americans in Vietnam. As summer arrived in nineteen. Seventy I began to distance myself from a hospital and look towards the future. I continue to go to. Give her p tee, but By now I had accepted the fact that boring some miracle of modern medicine. I was going. Spend the rest of my life in a wheelchair. When the Philadelphia Naval Hospital concluded there was little more could do for me a three doktor panel. By doktor will let was convened to document my disabilities. The findings of the Physical Evaluation Board filled three times Britain pages will at told me
He had never seen a more extensive narrative of combat sustained injuries in one individual. Most patients hoped to be rated. For his high degree of disability is possible because their retired pay or disability compensation would be based on the physical evaluation boards findings. In my case, the combination of my injuries was enough to called qualify me for total disability several times over, and there was never any question that the government Was going to compensate me at the maximum rate, I was, of course, found unfit from further military duty and ordered retired list, effective August, thirty, first, nineteen, seventy and that's it that's it. It's over gets his retirement papers by noon. We were on our way as we clear
the Sentry Box, on the way out of the base, a young marine on duty saluted the officer stick around the bumper of my car and I absent minded. The acknowledged him by touching my hand to my brow. I was a civilian for the first time in our marriage, was two and a half months pregnant with our second child. In Williamsburg remove down away and spoken Williamsburg, we settled into our rented bungalow on a tree line street adjacent to William and Mary Campus. I've been sceptred into law school class. Commencing in the fall, but once He was quickly realized quickly, realized that I was not yet emotionally ready for the rigours of law school and I the with the dean to begin taken classes in January nineteen. Seventy one rather than its in September,. For the first several months I felt completely agree, and cut off from the support I had. While I was at the hospital.
No one in the world outside the hospital had experienced Vietnam WAR, the way I had alone in isolated. I began The bottle up my feelings rather than try and share them with others. I reached inside, at the unfairness of my situation, fought a war that cost me so dearly while leave. Virtually all my new acquaintances untouched. I was now told in countless subtle ways that I could not vent my grief and frustration by talking about the war because it made society uncomfortable. I frequently chose to stay at home rather than venture out my reclusive nest. And that there were fewer occasions to subject myself to the stairs of curious onlookers, but it also made me a prisoner in my own home and increased my despondency- and Members with despair, my earlier student days when I try
barefoot on the hot bricks of a campus walkways and the owner checks on my freedom or self imposed. I Going to take solace increasingly in drink and by time the second semester classes began. I had to curtail a day We routine a half a day and drinks between the cocktail hour and bedtime. He's hadn't down the path of alcoholism. If he's not already there so. My father had survived his October stroke and ass the earlier ones. There was no doubt To his brain other than a marked worsening of his aphasia, which is losing the ability to communicate
and a new tendency towards outburst of the temper he was in the house, support for several months when you find He came home. He required constant supervision which took a heavy toll on mother. At first, we tried Roy the clock nursing shifts, but the lips the problems associated with getting skilled practitioners in Rome, salute proved to be a nightmare. It talks about his mother. He or she devoted all her time to my father final months at home. Often into him until late in the night lighting and rely relighting his pipe and trying desperately to understand his garbled words the attention that she lavished on him was them noble endeavour. I'd ever in her undertake. So now is going to law school the first. I most called upon the briefcase the professor unaware that I was in a wheelchair, asked me to stand to recite.
For a long moment, the class became completely still and I could feel the collar rise in my cheek twice struggled for a response, When I finally managed to reply that nothing would give me greater pleasure than to comply with this request, but that I wasn't your chair. He quickly apologized and ivory. The case without further distraction. You talk about some of the people he's around in the college. There were, students who had obtained medical deferments, some of which were legitimate and some which were, if not fraudulent, at least questionable. There was in the academic environment in which I found myself in nineteen. Seventy one prevailing attitude that America involvement. Vietnam war was, if not downright a moral, certainly a mistake of epic epic proportions from that premise for photo corollary,
that any effort to avoid involvement in the war was justifiable. Or even laudable, as came to believe in the spring of nineteen. Seventy one that this attitude representative of the thinking of an increased percentage of the american people. I also begin to feel that my own sacrifice All of us who had fought in the war were meaningless. Unable then, to discover any higher purpose for the wasted lives of the dozen men whom I counted, friends who had not come home. I began to spies the government and the Marine Corps, which had asked of many of us everything and we give back and we had been given back almost nothing. I felt discarded and used up and as I try
Dispel with alcohol the magnitude of the absurd fraud, of which I had been a willing victim, I was assailed by conflicting, an unresolved emotions. On the one hand, I wish that all unscathed. Young men, whom I was now hearing a different view of the war, had been forced to endure the war first hand On the other hand, I wish there were none that none Been called to serve let the insanity still unravelling in Southeast Asia would simply stop. With this slave actually buy a new house have a new, healthy baby girl that the name Maggie and
Shortly after Maggie was born, we invited my parents for a day visits that they could see our new house and their new ground grandchild after we had visit, And Maggie went down for her nap totty took my mother shopping and Missis Gibson, and I tried to entertain father he seemed agitated after we were after long and is faltering efforts begin sentences made it obvious that some was bothering him. As usual, he had more difficult, finding nouns than verbs, but I actually became aware that he was trying to discuss the war with me. When I realized how important the conversation seem to him. I tried desperately To fill in the gaps in his phrases and to anticipate. What is questions were, but the effort was so hard wrenching for the both of us. He seemed to understand that the United States was not
in the war, a situation he found bewildering wanted to know how I was hindering handling or what are any positive results. Tried to assure him that I was fine. But my words had a hollow ring even to me. And I realized that this dear sick old man knew the agony in my heart and what trouble I was having finding meaning in my experience. By the time my mother and wife returned, we were both emotionally drained and, as I changed hugs with my father, and then watched MRS Gill, and help down the front. To help him down the front steps and into the car. I was relieved to see him go
The only conversation my father and I had had the war. As I look back on it, I find it scruciatingly, sad that, while my father was ready to talk about it, he was aid unable and while I was able, I was already. Can't help but think about what justice probably wanted to tell his son you just The motto wisdom that he had and what are you,
Through- and he probably could have put things in such good perspective form and he can do it. The third week in April that year, more than a thousand Vietnam veterans gathered in Washington to protest american involvement in the war. On Friday, the twenty third, in a culmination of the events of the week, the protein Veterans were scheduled to mark on the steps of the capital and discard their metals in a symbolic gesture of their feeling of had been discarded themselves by the nation. These were my brothers not story. I'd intellectuals were malcontents data into to the overthrow of our form of government, but soldiers and Marines, many of whom had paid for their perspectives, which shattered lives and shattered limbs.
They were now saying that they are sacrifices had been meaningless. That my sacrifice had been meaningless and that the precious blood spilled by our dead and maimed fellow veterans had been meaningless. For years. I have been hearing similar redder From aunt I wore spokesmen, whose. Ideology is foreign to me. But I was now hearing it from those young men whose kinship with me had been forged in the bloody crucible of Vietnam and its impact like a lifting, fog from a shrouded landscape, stripped me of my remaining self delusions on Thursday night before the climate the last days. Events in Washington I took my most from our bedroom closet and debated whether I should drive to Washington and throw them away.
Ass. I sat silent. We in the dimly, let closet feeling the weight of the Brons and silver in my hand, and studying the red white and blue stripes of my silver star and Majestic cameo of George Washington of my purple hearts. I knew that I would never part with them. They had caused me to dearly then now, I clearly saw that the war in which they had been earned was wasted, cause the metal still represented the dignity and the caliber of my service and of those with whom I had served. I could no more discard them, then I could repudiate. Country by Marine Corps, or my fellow veterans, as I put them away.
Very sad and very tired, but grateful none, the less that my children were asleep in their beds in America rather than anywhere else in the world. One Saturday night later that spring, I drove up to Saluda Fora visit with my parents, we'll down the hall towards their bedroom my mother, went ahead to tell Father that I was there, and I heard him excitedly call my name as it came out to meet me when I reached. Take his outstretched hand his face. Suddenly, ordered for a moment. He stood motionless in front of me while his head jerks, bad modestly,. Mother realized immediately that he was having stroke and we manage, Ease him into the chair.
But all animation had gone out of his face and a thinly of spittle formed in the corner of his mouth and made it. Wade down his chin. After several minutes, the episode power But his head lay heavily against his shoulder ass. He sat slump in the chair and we stood up against then moved him into bed he urinating, helplessly on the floor after we got him into bed He seemed to rest easily, either because he had lost consciousness or because the warring MRS in his head completely exhausted him and mother called the family doctor. While I stood watch the stroke stripped him away of his last vestiges of
de when I saw him again several days later. He did not recognize me using continent become become verbally, abusive to most of the staff on the ward, as with per the strokes. His physical impairment was not as great as was the change to his faculties body now took short, hesitant steps and he was frail sallow. Looking and oddly bent at the waist when he stood when I entered the room and move toward him to kisses sheikh he became convinced that I was trying to run him down with my wheelchair and he climbed onto his bed and curled up into a ball. The shot me out for Our I tried to communicate with them, but when I After room, it was obvious that my visit had been meaningless to him and then I
never hear him call my name again as he had only months before this last terrible stroke, random. They're trying to decide if we're going to keep them at home, which obviously their needs at a point, health wise. We can't stay at home anymore and they need to make a decision and someone's got to make. That decision and the decision falls on on Lewis, Jr. I felt that by committing my father I would be be turning back on the only man whose life for me had been boundless and qualified, but in the end I realized that I had no real choice, but I signed the paperwork. Tavern transferred.
The Hampton Virginia vs Hospital, I used my left hand the steady, my right and keep it from shaking my decision, the time has proved a wise was among the hardest I ever had to make. Then he goes to visit him and the visits are just. That means it's more of the same after several more such visits I began to wish the end would come in this deterioration quickened through the spring and summer. It began to appear that my wish would soon be granted. Now we end up doing an interview with a newspaper guy and it seems like a. Well, he hadn't been interviewed very much at this point, and here towards the end of the interview
Conversation became focused on my feelings about having served in an unpopular war and again, and I and as I gave them, to my frustrations. There seem to open within me an emotional floodgates that surprised both while I was, talking, I knew that I would probably be misquoted where that my words be taking taken out of context but I had remained silent, an introverted about how I felt for so long, That I now spoke Unguardedly and from the heart I told the young man that, if my son or older and about to be sent off to combat unit in Vietnam. I would everything in my power to keep him at home. And I rashly concluded by saying that, knowing what I now knew, I myself would refer to go. If called again when the article Peered in the paper a day or two later, it was picked up
the wire services and run in papers across the country and even abroad, with headlines like general taller son would not go. Now. I was cast as a wild eyed radical and I felt that my Doing this only a few years earlier to sacrifice my life for my country, and my hideous disfigurement were cheapened by the about face ascribed to me. It also made me suspect in the eyes of many career marines and doing so increased the disenchantment that I was feeling towards the organisation to which I was so strongly bonded. By the time the false session of law school began, my father's
Dish worsens the point that he could not walk and he had shifted to the main part of the hospital, because he could no law We're communicate, it was impossible to gauge the frequency or duration of the small strokes and mother had warned me before my first visit to new quarters that I should be prepared for the worst. There was little resemblance to the man who had once and so widely regarded as a tower of strength. He had lost a lot of weight since my last visit several weeks earlier, he now wore a mental brace on his left arm and he was blind. The only stimulus that he responded to was the feel of the feeding spoon against his lips.
On the morning of October 11th, one thousand nine hundred and seventy one three years to the day after I was wounded in Vietnam, I received a phone call from my mother, saying that Father had developed pneumonia. Been transferred to the intensive care unit of the hospital, he was not responding to treatment and the doctors expected the worst I drove to the hospital as soon as I got off the phone and my sister and mothers and my mother joined me later in the morning. His doctor took me aside and told me that he was dying, but that it would probably be at least nightfall before the pneumonia had run its course.
Mother was distraught and try to hold yourself together by talking nonstop about any topic that entered her mind as long as it did not relate to her husband mice. Sisters were far better able to consoled her than I and at their urging I drove back to Williamsburg in the afternoon to shave and shower and have taught make arrangements for stand by baby sitting for Lupi and Maggie. When I returned to the hospital in the later, noone fathers breathing was again becoming labored spite the oxygen mask and my mother sisters and I Sat in a small room together and waited as darkness began to fall. After what seemed like an eternity fathers doktor came in to say Heroic measures, or now pointless and mother
sensing. The doctors next requests told me sisters that she wanted to be taken on I sat in the hallway outside the I you with the doktor, while my mother and sisters went fathers bedside bedside to say their last goodbyes. Their visit was brief, brief and when my mother emerged, balled up handkerchief in hand. She was supported on either side by Martha and Virginia choking back years. She came over to me brushed my cheek with her lips and without saying a word turn to the hospital. There's doktor saw them to their car. Oh he was gone. I sat smoking a cigarette
and wondered how my mother was going to get by without her husband when the doktor returned, He asked me for permission to move my father's oxygen mask. I nodded my assent and continued to sit by myself in my wheelchair in the hall. My father was dying in the next room and other than being glad, but He's going to be alone with him when he passed away, I felt numb and emotionless. After a few more minutes, the doktor came out of the unit and beckoned me to go to my father's side. When I wheeled. To his bedside and locked the brakes on my chair, he looked frail and delicate in the dim light
Deepening shadows around him and holding his responsive hand. I saw that is reservoir of strength. Once seemingly inexhaustible was now almost used up. At the other end of the room to nurses. Busied themselves with a log book That they had no business sharing this last moment of intimacy with us. I fought back an impulse to scream at them to get out of the room and leave us alone Stan I reached up and pulled the curtain around my father's bad as far forward as I could reach after several more minutes,
They struggled to take a few shallow breaths his chest rattled through one last exhalation. Then he was still. As I watched a single tear formed in the corner of his right eye, then trickled slowly down his cheek, although I knew it was involuntary. I saw the tear as his parting gift to his only son, and I laid my head
Am my dead fathers chest and wept for a lifetime of missed opportunities to get to know him more fully. Just report on my way back to Williamsburg from the interstate. I went over the day and tried analyze the relief I was feeling I knew that part of it
stem from the culmination of a long, protracted ordeal bonnet. Also hoped that now that he was dead feeling ass though I were living in his immense shadow, already I missed my father terribly, but I miss the man who had nurtured me through my youth and my early man had manhood, not Legend against whom I had measured myself for so long. The funeral took place at noon on a crisp fall day. His chin was softened by high overhead son. Every seat was taken. With my mother seated on my left toddy on my right. I bowed my head for a moment's prayer
for the service began. Rest another look around the church church. Cross. The Isle. There was seated a contingent of marine corps generals three dozen strong, many of whom come down from Washington, honest special. Arranged helicopter to honour one of their own. Most of more contemporaries of my father said. Ramrod ROD straight in their retirement and now assembled to mark the end of an association that for some heads and five wars and fifty years conclusion of the indoor part of the service and in guard of four sergeants from the Marine Corps barracks at the eighth and eyes streets wash Do bore my
others, fathers casket from the chancel and as they passed our pew, my mother clutched my hand and we followed the procession to the family, burial plot adjacent to the church outside, The wind stirred the stately, elms and oaks of the churchyard and as we passed through a cordon of marine standing at attention with their white gloves, hands raised to the brim of their hats. I watched the brown and gold leaves of autumn skip merrily across the room to my father's grave after the family, members were seated in the folding metal chairs pay. Well to the grave and the honor guarded placed the casket on lowering device, the crowd from the church filed and around us, and the minister began man that is born of a woman.
Half but a short time to live and is full of misery he come up. Cut down like a flower. He flieth as it were a shadow and never continue with. In one day Before toddy and I return to Williamsburg, I drove down to the churchyard alone to visit my father there's grave one. Last time the grapes was ablaze with floral arrangements of every size, shape and color, and its gaudy patchwork of vivid. Whose contrasted starkly with a dying leaves of this round in trees and the brown autumn grass. I was last alone with my father, my god
my thoughts. But I was as yet. Unable to sort out the conflicting strands of Desolation that had been building within me since that last year had run its course down my father's cheek. He was now- and I was grateful that toddy had gone to know him, however, briefly and to see, kindness in him before he died. I knew that much and would have their lives touched by the recognition that history had given him, and I wished that day trickery, my son carry some memory of him. That was more than vicarious. I also wish that I had been more like him, then I want if I would always find myself inadequate when I compared myself with him. He had been a wonderful father and I was fortune to be his son, but it has not been easy.
Living. Can his shadow as darkness fell, and I took leave of his grave. I wandered him back and I wanted him con after we got two Williamsburg that evening I looked in on my sleeping Joe And then at last fixed a drink for a long time after time he had gone to bed. I sat in the darkness of our family room periodically going to the kitchen to replenish my glass and waiting for the blessing numbness lowood, wash away the turmoil. Well, unfortunately, the turmoil was not over back to. Look at the end of January, just as I was beginning examinations
John Zere died of cancer after having been diagnosed only a short time earlier. In dying, he took part of my experience to his grave and I felt cheated and betrayed that man could no longer bear testimony to our ordeal, In early June of nineteen, seventy two I awoke one morning and read in the newspaper, but Captain Fred, subtle, a highly DEC Raided army combat veteran and college fraternity brother had been killed in Vietnam, maybe that summer, A drunkard, a cocktail party unembarrassed taught his parents and my mother by loudly announcing that I thought that president, Nixon was up to his crime
if not to his ears, in the shit from Watergate. Already decided to support Senator George Mcgovern, but I was baffled, my family seemed more upset by my cocktail party accusations than by the carnage in Vietnam, over which the president was presiding. January, nineteen. Seventy three and agree an ending the Vietnam WAR had been reached in Paris and on January twenty Eightth. An official ceasefire ended the longest war in american history in February the first peeled abuse led by Captain Jeremiah Denton again come. Home and for the next seven weeks, jaded and cynical public had its ride in its country rekindled by, site of almost six hundred american servicemen and Seville
In pure double use being reunited with their families and expressing their joy at finally coming home, I confess to being almost resentful, not the pew w were recognised so positively, for their sacrifices. Given all we'll be all appliances and free sports tickets and ass I watched them being showered with confetti. I wondered What had happened to my parade? That's an interesting contrast mean you obviously have colonel reader and in Charlie Poem on here and there colleagues, I came home, that's when they can that's them. Can about, and clearly you see the footage of them common home. It was this big welcoming, like said braids and here he was you know in his situation and you get a parade.
I worked as a summer. In turn in the General Council Office of the Veterans Administration and when he, when we return to Williamsburg, I realized that I was deeply depressed and then I doing inadequately with my feelings and drinking far too heavily toddy, and I too Is it over the fall term of my last year in law school began. I sought out doktor atoms and army psychiatrist at the hospital where Maggie had been born and began weekly therapy sessions. I was begun to feel as if I weren't observer of rather than a participant in my own life by late spring taught in our feeling more optimistic about our prospects and we had at any time since the beginning of law school, I had passed the Virginia exam and the job The council's office at the Veterans Administration, where I worked a previous summer, had off
me a permanent position after graduation. In June I was looking toward my future as a young Washington. Lawyer has a guy shows up. Who he knows and eyes miss tiny hot, and he says Tom Downing is gonna retire. Some day Tom down. It was a politician and when he decides to step down. I would like you to take his place as the next democratic congressmen from Virginia S. First, congressional district. So, let's just another little foreshadowing of this guy, who was a politician at some point, was going retired. Within weeks. At the time I start work as an attorney at the veterans administration. President Ford instituted a clemency programme for non military deserters and civilian draft evaders. So They set up this board where you like. Oh you you'd avoided. The draft
that's: ok, we're gonna win if we give you for it and they put like a group in place to go through a case by case, to figure out what kind of who get the clemency and he get a job doing that back the book. I thought humble to be part of such an important endeavour, but a little. I had to be meeting in such a grand setting, despite my good fortune in surroundings. However, I was also sadden over the news coming out of South Vietnam in March the communist had began, had begun a major offensive. Non central highlands and on ouch eleventh. They took the key city of bout move. Thought was captured by the end of March cities where American Marines and soldiers had fought and died were toppling like dominoes on April thirtieth Saigon surrendered without a fight and for the first time in three decades there was no fighting in Indo China, the American WAR Effort
Had cost us in excess of one hundred and forty billion had produced more than two hundred thousand american casualties, including more than fifty thousand death and it created a grotesque Scar on the american people, that was as palpable And would be as long lasting as this Scars, I would carry to my grave, so this is just gotta, be I mean I've. I obviously when, when we when we saw ISIS take romani back and Just thinking of all the sacrifices obeyed made by my guys by does the Marines at foreign about our money in seeing the ices flag use. These sickening and here you have even more sacrifice. And even longer war and I go and goes down without a fight.
Back to the clemency situation. We granted clemency in almost ninety five percent of the cases we evaluated and in there cases where we required a period of alternative service. The average length stipulated was a little less than six months, so they were very lenient in in given out clemency. Very Then you know the whole situation and well looking back and he arose about his explained with away he felt about clemency. Would here I'll give it to you looking back, I think we have done some good for the applicants, whose cases we heard but then good was insignificant when weighed against the error. Apparently harm caused by four administrations that mired us in Vietnam and then refuse to acknowledge and. The wrong doing or culpability to this day, I think we as board members were in the business of determining the guilt of the wrong people and
as for me as shattering inexperience as the loss of my legs and a dozen good friends at Vietnam to discuss, were face to face the arrogance and the blindness that's so often past for leadership during the Vietnam era. You know he was saying like look at where we are living clemency to these people, but we should be. Going after the politicians that got us there in the first place. When the clemency board was disbanded in the summer of nineteen. Seventy five, I returned to my old job at the office of the General Council of the veterans affairs, illustration, but after having been back at the Vienna few months, I began to feel like a pawn in a game over which I had no control. Some, I'm after the first year Tom Downing the Congress,
from Virginia first congressional district unexpectedly announced that he would not be seeking wreck reelection. I've been keeping an eye on congressmen downing's feet since tiny hotlines surprise visit, but is now spent in early nineteen. Seventy six caught me most of the political Junkies around the state and even tiny Hutton himself, totally unprepared. So here we go going into a political race here and the guy he's gonna end up running against ago. A guy named Paul triple and he starts gathering, some intelligence on Paul trouble. I also I discovered that treble who was one year younger than I had obtained, a medical deferment from his local dry, the board that ensue aided him from any. The fall out of the Vietnam WAR, I hadn't I doubt that Paul treble who was now loudly proclaiming the necessity of a national defence second to none and how
line towards communism had engineered a questionable deferment to avoid the war that had killed Of my friends said with something about, his range of motion in his arms is elbows or something is why he was deferred the draft. This is an interesting things so now, starting to spin up and start to get, go forward in this election back the book. Many People with whom I conversed were unequivocal in their belief that Paul trouble was making all the right political moves and, as an incumbent would be difficult to beat. Nevertheless, I was on I in my enthusiasm to take him on and like many political novices, I paid more. Mention to the encouraging words. I heard that Discouraging once I knew in my heart
I could not get an accurate reading of my own chances until I enter the rest slots in a very important thing. To think about. Is that an eye? I again, I skipped through the book a little bit, but I think Lou had taken two years. The guy The guy gave up the sea this guy tremble, had one and including run against him now, two years later this week running. So that's why the guy that he's going against trembled and incumbent, but it's just interesting that he was you listen to the people that were telling them yeah. You should do it and anyone ever told him hey. Look the guy's, unencumbered the guy's got get a good politician. He's got it base its, not smart. He didn't listen to them. The only of what was that kind of biased yours talk about these biases right come from a he's, basically, as confirmation by us he's hearing what he wants to hear so and I began to assemble a staff to formulate a campaign plan
Again, raising seed money, so there we got his its ought. Greece he's run it. I thought the contrast between Paul triples background and my own would speak for itself in terms of our respective sacrifices. He however, proved far more depth deny it wrapping himself in the american flag and the comedian, never once in the course of the campaign made any reference to the circumstances surrounding. Draft affirm it. I came face to face with Paul trouble for the first time in the early spring of nineteen. Seventy eight in his early Thirty's with blonde hair light complexion and almost delicate features triple. Heerd even younger, although here his wife worked tables around them, like seasoned professionals,.
I could see no evidence of any disability in either of his arms and from the way he was shaking hands and slapping the backs of diners around him. He apparently had rehabilitated himself quite well. So you know he's very suspect of a guy skip out on the Vietnam war. On one occasion, Local veterans of foreign wars post- and I again this is all in the book, but he's a very savvy political player in trouble, and he he's got very good relationships in a bunch of different areas, including the press, so the press report things. No doubt the reply. What triple does they won't say anything about any just he's get It's a tough, it's a tough tough campaign and troubles of professional he's. Doing good Good job- and this is one situation- He'S- got some friends at the veterans of foreign wars. On one occasion, a local veterans of foreign wars Post gave him
Its man of the Year award, and I was invited to the banquet where was to be honoured. I accepted on the condition that I would be recognised and allowed to speak. After our arrived, it was awful that there had been a misunderstanding triple who sit at the head table. Was the centre of attention throughout the evening. While I was seated at the back table. After the meal was concluded. He gave standard speech on national defence and then had his picture. Take for the newspapers, as he accepted a plaque from the post commander. My recognise consisted of having my name read from an alphabetical listing of invited guests in the room, and I was not permitted to do anything more than raise my hand when named in a room full of summer soldiers and sunshine patriots probably the only man who will ever experienced combat were shed blood for his country and they gave their highest award to
boy who did not even meet their own lacks requirements for membership, Missus burden them up. His camp is so. This is again this. This is all detailed, really well in the book, and it's actually interacting cos, to hear a little bit about the behind the scenes of a political campaign. It's all in there all the things that go on a political campaign and his and pay managers, a guy named Dennis and their fight we get and towards the end of the last week of the campaign, and there have been a little sit down and campaign manager says DEN triples ahead with solid support in every area of the district. He said pointing helplessly at tangle of papers on his desk. I'm gonna run a negative, add attacking him for taking so much political action committee money. But at this point it looks pretty hopeless so his death is campaign managers, as luck would run, some negative adds against him back
book. I nodded my understanding and for an awkward moment neither of us said a word finally, put my hand on his arm and told him that was in that we ride out the remainder of the campaign with the dignity that we aim for, as I prepared leave. He handed me a letter from a contributor and told me that he had been saving it for an appropriate occasion. So dollars, I gotta go in there I'm gonna go negative, keep dignity the campaign, and then he gets handed. This letter Of a letter which had been mailed in Florida was from a doctor who had treated me when I was brought in from the battlefield in Vietnam. Never he wrote Had I seen more severe traumatic injuries in a patient who had lived, and I wondered: at the time if I was doing the right thing by allowing you to live. Your survival had said. To me a miracle of do
yes value which severely tested the moral imperative of my hippocratic oath, You're running for the House of Representatives, ten years after our meeting in Vietnam, Rear firms the worth of my service and is a source of great personal satisfaction to me, pre powerful, So then we get to election day election day with one precinct reporting. I was in the lead, and for Still a flicker of hope stirred inside me triple quickly. The lead, as other precincts began reporting and I watched in fascination, as my slim led became a route, and I think I looked at this the result of the election and tribal beat him with seventy two percent of the votes. So it wasn't even close
The morning after election, I awoke with a hangover having stayed up half the night dress running my sorrows as I had not worked and well over a year. That's while he was campaigning had mainly in two homes for much of that time and heading and had incurred, a personal loss of ten thousand dollars toddy and I were financially strapped for the first time in our marriage. When I began for a job. The process was laborious and with no concrete Aspects in my depression over the campaign was compounded. I felt were first because I was not working and with time on my hands, I brooded over the meaning of my political defeat and drink heavily most nights, as I look back. On my run for Congress, it seemed to me that my reward for having served was that I was forced to challenge and incumbent who, because been spared. The military service was able to enter the political arena, well ahead,
me and to stack the deck again, any political success on my part in my depressed state. I begin to despise Paul Triple and his victory within intensity. I'd never felt towards any other man and my contempt. Expanded to encompass most of the young men of my generation, who had found ways to avoid the war experience to me matters worse. Toddy came home from running Aaron's one day shortly after our return and Firstly, announced that the triple had bought a house just around the corner from us the irony of having to watch him drive around the neighbourhood with his congressional license. Plates was almost more than I could bear.
Bad place. I now begin to isolate myself for meaningful contact with all, but my immediate family. I avoided special occasions and seized on any pretext to maintain my self imposed exile. I So became more obsessed with the Vietnam WAR, and I do endlessly on the unfair treatment and lack of respect that my fellow veterans and I received from the media from society and from our government by late winter. It was not on common experience for me to open a new ball of scotch every other day and warm drinking did nothing to improve my melancholy and continued to search for the blessed oblivion. I see to be able to find only at the bottom of a bottle. I could see that the pay so my drinking was accelerating and on numerous occasions I told myself that I was going to have to give up my crotch, before my children realise that their father was becoming a lush but
found some excuse to continue drinking at the end. The summer of eighteen. Seventy nine. I was offered with some help from the White House a position as an attorney and the office of the General Council at the Department of Defense. I was also drinking, have we almost every night and my dependence on alcohol. Had become so fix that my primary goal on rising in the morning was to make it home in the evening so that I could been begin drinking again. After six months on the job. I could tell what I was becoming powerless over my ability to control my drinking and though tariff I'd buy my situation in the not felt since Vietnam, I not reveal my dark secret to anyone For years I had used alcohol to know the payment of my Vietnam experience and the law of my legs and now and what I regarded as a cruel irony, the hall, was failing to bring the relief of oblivion.
Good by the realisation that my old companion was turning against me, I drink more. Have we and became even more depressed and withdrawn. Totty sense that something was severely wrong, but since she did realize the extent of my dependence on alcohol. She attributed my darkening moods to depression, and waited for me to pull myself out of it. Within six months of beginning my new job reached so to state of despair that an especially differ Work assignment, precipitated a crisis unable, to PETE the task on my own into isolated. To ask for help. I decided that I was a failure as a lawyer, a husband and father, and I began contemplating suicide. One morning when Totty was away from the house for several hours with the children, I begin linking straight shots of vodka to get the courage to take
my own life after half a dozen shots I wrote Toddy a brief note her that I loved her and the children and not what I about to do was not her fault. I then drank another half dozen shots called a prominent Vietnam, veteran New York, whom I barely new to tell him what a rotten deal we veterans and gotten from our country after the phone call I had one more drink, went out to my car tightly closed the garage and kitchen doors. I put the key in the ignition. For what seemed like an eternity, I sat behind the wheel. My hand, on the ignition key and tears streaming down my face, and I thought about never seeing my family again unable to turn the key and suddenly feeling the effects
of so much vodka. I decided to put my head down on the seat for a few minutes. Before getting on. With my plan came to several hours later. Toddy was can over me scream slapping my face and all I could think was at my suicide gesture, like my life, had been a failure. After being sedated in the psychiatric ward of the nearest hospital, I awakened some time next afternoon at Bethesda. I was stabilized diagnosed clinically depressed and introduced to a regiment of individual and group psychotherapy for the next week, while strangers plotted the course of my future.
And again there's I tried to give the hands of the alcohol use and in how it escalated and goes into more detail of how it does escalate and that's kind of the climax of that situation. Over the fourth of July to he gets out over the four July holiday Toddy and I were invited to the White House for reception and an evening of patriotic music and fireworks. I again drank to access and behaved badly, my drinking, to be reaching a point where I would sporadically become on dick, double and then black out over the course of next fall winter I drink myself into near oblivion. Almost every night, and while there were no obvious signs of my dark secret at work, I was born moody and withdrawn. I would
bacon in the morning, shaky from over indulgence and badly in need of a Once again, my main go on rising was to make it to the end of the day. So I could resume drinking a shame. Of myself. I wall doubt, friends and family. Alone and isolated. I became increasingly bitter at the injustice I fought. Life had dealt me within six Ray weeks, I was fixing myself a large glass of wine in the middle of the night. Almost every night. By spring I fast on my way towards meeting alcohol in my system at all times, just to feel normal, and I frequently had risen to wine to Bottle an hour or so before I shaved each morning in order to steady my hands once at work, I try to do all my paperwork. And take care of everything that needed my signature in the mornings before the tremor returned. I then spent the rest of it
fixated on the thought of that first drink after I got home in the evening and in terror that I was going to be found out By some right exhausted my defences against the encroachment of alcohol, I knew that I was in serious trouble and that, despite my best efforts, I could not stop drinking? On my own, I tried so brands drinking. Only beer wine drinking only after a certain time of day or no later than a certain time of day or not drinking at all. Or what new and feeble approach I seized on. I always seem to wind up drunken out of control and myself esteem plunged to such gaps that I no longer considered myself fit company for friends or family. Toddy knew that I drink too much, but she had no idea of the extent of my drinking and she tried to Hold on to the illusion that my problem,
depression out, of which I would eventually emerge. On the Monday, before Labour Day of nineteen, eighty one I stopped off it, The Christophe my way to work and bought a pint of vodka. I, ever before drunk at work during the day, but I had now gotten to the point that I, seriously question whether I could last eight hours without a drink on my they and Tuesday. I took small drinks from my pint throughout the and no one at work seemed any the wiser.