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Military Quotes

If there is one thing you can count on in war it is that there is nothing you can count on in war.

-- Richard M. Watt

Fred Deakins, February 2002

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Fred Deakins
Veteran of the Month, February 2002


I was born in Johnson City, Tennessee on May 9th, 1947. I grew up there and went to Science Hill High School. We have had one famous graduate, Steve Spurrier. He was a pretty good athlete. During my childhood I was obsessed with war and army stuff. I have to confess I was the neighborhood bully and loved to beat up on kids. Then this guy came along that later played fullback for the University of South Carolina and he showed him what it was like to have your butt kicked. I think it was from that whipping that I started having sympathy for the suffering of others.

I was in the Army from 1966 to 1969. My MOS was 91P X-ray Technician. I also had some medic training, and had a secondary MOS of 91A. After training I was stationed at Ft. McClellan, Alabama. It was the only Army base that has much more women than men due to the WAC Training Center being there. In spite of that I volunteered for Vietnam and, sure enough, I got orders for Germany. I cleared post and was sitting at the Anniston bus station waiting to leave when this sergeant came and told me to go back to the base. I had orders for Vietnam. Seems all medics with orders for Germany had had their orders changed.

I got to Vietnam expecting to got to some Evac or Surgical Hospital but instead got orders for the 1st Cavalry Division. I figured I was going to be made a combat medic but found out the Cav did have x-ray technicians, four of them. Each brigade had a medical clearing company and there was one with headquarters. A clearing company's job is to be base for Med-evac and when they picked up casualties they brought them to us and we stabilized them and triaged who would go on to the hospitals. We were also Graves Registration for the brigade.

Anyway, I get sent to Camp Evans up in I Corps and joined my company, Charlie Company, 15th Medical Battalion. When I got there I found my equipment was of WW II vintage, not what I had been trained on. Not only that, the guy before me was incompetent and they wouldn't let him x-ray humans. I spent a month up there x-raying scout dogs. The only action at that time was booby traps and they used dogs to sniff them out. It seems they were always getting fragged in the tail so I got very good at AP and Lateral dog tail x-rays.

Then the whole 1st Cav got orders to move to III Corps. We moved by plane, truck convoy and LST and ended up in Quon Loi north of Saigon and near to Cambodia. No more dog tails. We got huge numbers of casualties not only from the Third Brigade of the Cav but elements of the 1st Infantry Division, 82nd Airborne, ARVNs and the entire 11 Armored Cavalry Regiment. We had double or triple the load we were supposed to support. The most I remember was 167 seriously wounded in an eight-hour period. We did all this in a bunker that had room for four litters. We were damn good but it made us crazy as hell. We were probably the worst soldiers in the Army. We were undisciplined, rebellious and in a serious war with our NCO's. But when the casualties came in we were amazing. I was a sorry soldier but what we did in that bunker was both the most terrible and greatest thing I have ever done.

I tried to get it together when I got home but really never did. I was one of the silent Vietnam Vets that didn't talk about it much and had nothing to do with Service Organizations or other vets.

I went back to college and got a BS in nursing. I went on to work in ICU and the ER for a while and then got promoted to House Supervisor. It was a kind of trouble shooting job and was the designated rebel. I was charged with protecting the patients from the system and could stop any practice that might harm the patients. I was on the Code Blue team and taught ACLS. I was considered very good in a crisis. I just told them I had seen worse.

As time went by I noticed a change in my mental abilities and was tested. I was diagnosed with a form of dementia and the cause was PTSD. I had to retire and am now disabled by the VA.

Since that time I have reached out to veterans over the web and now have many friends. I have even found a guy from Charlie company and Tom Breaux are good friends. I have studied PTSD and have been through a six-week long inpatient program at the VA and my greatest joy now is to help other vets or anyone with PTSD.

I am married to a wonderful woman, Shirley and have three kids, Ronnie, David and Cora. I also have five wonderful Grandchildren, Chaz, Alyssa, Ashley, Brandon and Beth.

I am Assistant Scoutmaster and teach backpacking. We live about thirty miles from the Appalachian Trail and Backpacking is the specialty of the troop. We do many short hikes of varying durations and a Fifty Miler every summer. I intend to do a long hike myself and may go to the Vets Campout in Georgia and walk home on the AT. It would be about 400 miles.

I have been formulating plans to write a book about my experiences. If I do it will be unlike any other book about war.

To all my friends out there I can only say that I love you all.
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