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VietnamThe night is so dark you can hold your hand in front of your eyes and can't see it. We have relaxed somewhat. Templeton is fast asleep. I learn later that he can sleep standing up. It was years later that I realized that was his way of escape from all around him.
The 69th Armor has bought tanks up and placed them between every 4th bunker. Sgt. Harris told us we don't have enough Starlight scopes to go around. Only 2 or 3 of the bunkers have one.

I told Herbert that if he was sleepy I would keep watch. About an hour later he is sound asleep. I am nervous, not scared (to much) and really hyper alert. I try to penetrate the darkness with unaided vision, it is hopeless. I found out that if I didn't force myself to relax I started seeing things that weren't there. Vague shadows would appear from nowhere and everytime my heart rate would increase. I quickly learned to shift once in awhile and stop staring into the darkness. Looking for movement or objects with your peripheral vision helps also.

I estimate it is between 2 and 3 o'clock in the morning . I am going to give it another hour or so and then let one of the others keep watch. Everything is deathly quite. The only sound is an occasional night animal.

I had no way of knowing that I was getting ready to learn what that old saying meant, "war is days of complete boredom, interrupted by moments of sheer terror."

Suddenly there is a bright flash of intense light about 3 or 4 bunkers down. Instantly I can hear an M-60 blasting away. It is quickly joined by the sound of several M-16's. All of us are scrambling around trying to figure out what we are supposed to do. I can hear a thumper (M-79 grenade launcher) join in. The darkness is now our worst enemy. Where are they? They could be right ouside our bunker! I have a quick flash of a memory of what we were told about satchel charges and rockets. Should we leave the bunker? Should we stay? Sunddenly several bunkers down I hear a terrific BOOM! Looking that way I see one of the tanks has fired what could only be a flare round. It is fired straight out about 10 feet off the ground and mometarily lights up the whole world with an errie red light straight from Dante's inferno. The flare, making a weird swooshing sound quickly disappers into the distance. I take advantage of the light to scan the wire around the perimeter. Nothing is moving out there. The automatic weapons slowly subside. A few minutes later all firing stops and several handheld pop flares swoosh into the air, pop open and slowly float slowly back to earth on their parachutes. I scan every inch of the wire while I have the chance. Nothing. I look over at Shupe (Herbert) and Templeton. There eyes are as wide open as possible. Both look terrified. The flares slowly fade out and the darkness returns. I notice my hands are trembling. Slowly we begin to relax a little. One of the worst things about being a lowly grunt is no one tells you anything. We still don't know what happened. Herbert, Templeton and I decide to hell with sleeping. We discuss the incident in quite whispers. Of couse it is all speculation, no facts.

Welcome daylight slowly lights the horizon. Unbelievebly we have managed to take turns getting a couple of hours sleep. A good thing as we have another long day of digging ahead of us. Sgt. Harris passes down the line and tells us the field kitchen is set up and go get something to eat. Unreal! You have to give the cooks credit! I soon get my introduction to powdered eggs. Ugh! If I had known that 90% of the food we would eat in the future would be c-rations, I might have liked them more. One thing I do like. There are 20 gallon pots of hobo coffee sitting around. I fill my canteen cup. The coffe is made by dumping coffee grounds directly into boiling water. One sip will keep you awake for three days. It tastes like ambrosia. Love it!

All discussion is about the incident last night. As it turned out one of the guys in another bunker had not learned he shouldn't stare into the dark. He had fired at a "shadow" he thought was Ho Chi Minh coming to get us all. Everyone else just joined in. Have to back your buddies play. Damned FNG. Wait a minute, we are all FNG's!?

The sun is barely up and it is already hot and humid. It's going to be a long war.


Comments

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Re: WAR:
by Anonymous
on Sep 01, 2001
A quick note on this section. If a veteran is not a combat veteran or does not have medals, it is almost impossible to get sevice connected for PTSD. Most guys like myself and others had no problem getting service connected for PTSD. I don't mind admitting I am permanately and totally service connected for PTSD. I am not ashamed of that.
No one can ever tell me that every person involved in this event, could not have developed PTSD. Not one shot was fired in our direction, we did not engage the enemy that night. Yet every person there sincerely thought he was about to be killed, or one of his buddies was or would be killed. The primary criteria for PTSD. Yet the VA denies non combat veterans constantly. It is wrong. A better search of the records would qualify a lot of veterans. Instead the VA claims "we can't "find" the records. Bull Cookies!!
I will get off my soap box now.

Re: WAR:
by Anonymous
on Sep 02, 2001

Looking forward to reading the rest of the story as you bring it to us. And yes your right PTSD is misunderstood but with a little research one would know it is found in all segments of society. We are body, soul and spirit, what ever touches one touches the other. A fact that has taken traditional medicine years to come to grips with and they are just now opening the door.


Re: WAR:
by Anonymous
on Sep 02, 2001

Makes one feel like they are there.


Re: WAR:
by Anonymous
on Sep 02, 2001

there it is --- says it all.


Re: WAR:
by Anonymous
on Sep 02, 2001
ARROW,
You are exactly right. PTSD can be caused by many things. Abuse as a child, rape, serious accident, victim of a violet crime just to name a few. It does affect all areas body, soul, mind and spirit. Everyone reacts differently to stressful events. Some people are set up for PTSD early in childhood by being in a dysfunctional enviroment and not being taught adequate coping skills. Sometimes people from near perfect enviroments are prone to PTSD. Research has a long way to go.
Over the years I have worked with people who had PTSD for various reasons. Not speaking of myself but based on my experiences with these people, combat veterans with PTSD have the most severe, far reaching symptoms imaginable. Yet many of them with proper treatment go on to lead productive lives.
That is why I am adamant about getting the word to veterans who even think they may have PTSD to seek testing and treatment if necessary. Unfortunately one of the primary symptoms of PTSD is denial.

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