"Sharing can be a way of healing. Grief and loss can isolate,
anger even alienate. Shared with others, emotions unite
as we see we aren't alone. We realize others weep with us."
~Susan Wittig Albert

Through our writing, we walk out of the darkness into the light
together, one small step at a time, recording history, educating
America, and we are healing.
~CJ/Todd Dierdorff



Thursday, July 3, 2014

Michael Lansford Shares "Dear Civilians ..."

Michael Lansford
I know I haven't said much lately.  Been staying low key, because I've been a little sick. I had Heart surgery in 2006. Agent Orange was growing something on my aortic and mitro valves.  I now have a pig valve and other new ones.

The side effects are, at times I have a-fib and I either take extra meds to regulate my heart, or take a quick trip to the ER for shots to get it back in sync.  It started fluttering Thursday evening, so I slowed things down.  That's just a part of life. 

I told my Dr. I must be having some other side effects from the pig valve, as I now have the urge to root and eat out of a trough. Every time I walk by the pork chop section at the store I think I am looking at a relative. Go figure. 

Who would have thought a pig would save my life? They have better valves now. Mine has a shelf life of 10-12 yrs before replacement. I might get one of those sporty Ferrari models next time!

Anyway, I want to share something we all got before going home from the Nam. It reads:

Dear Civilians, friends, draft dodgers, etc. 
In the very near future, the undersigned will once more be in your midst, dehydrated and demoralized, to again take his place as a human being with all the well-known forms of freedom and justice for all, to engage in life, liberty, and the (somewhat delayed) pursuit of happiness. 
In making your joyous preparations to welcome him back into organized society, you might take certain steps to make allowances for the crude environment which has been his miserable lot for the past 12 months. 
In other words, he might be a little Asiatic from Vietnamese-itis and overseas-itis, and should be handled with care. 
Do not be alarmed if he is infected with all forms of rare tropical diseases. A little time in the land of the Big PX will cure the malady.
Therefore, show no alarm if he insists on carrying a weapon to the dinner table, looks around for his pot when offered a chair, or he wakes you up in the middle of the night for guard duty. 
Keep cool when he pours gravy on his dessert at dinner, or mixes peaches with Seagrams. 
Pretend not to notice if he eats with his fingers, instead of silverware, and he prefers C-Rats to steak. 
Abstain from saying anything about powdered eggs, dehydrated potatoes, fried rice, fresh milk or ice cream. 
Do not be alarmed if he should jump up from dinner and rush to the garbage can to wash his dishes using a toilet brush.  After all, this has been his standard. 
Take it with a smile when he is digging up the garden to fill sandbags for the bunker he is building. 
Be tolerant when he takes his blanket and sheet off the bed and puts them on the floor to sleep on. 
Also, if it should start raining, pay no attention to him if he pulls off his clothes, grabs a bar of soap and a towel and runs outdoors for a shower. 
When in his daily conversation he utters such things as, "SinLoi", and "Choi Oi", just be patient.  Simply leave quickly and calmly, if by some chance he utters, "Di Di", with an irritable look on his face, because it means no less than, "Get the hell out of here." 
Do not let it shake you up if he picks up the phone and yells, "Sustain Sir", or says, "Roger Out", for goodbye, or he simply shouts, "Working". 
Never ask why the neighbors son had a higher rank and by no means mention the term "Extend".   
Pretend not to notice if at a restaurant he calls the waitress "Numbah One Girl".   
He will probably keep listening for Homeward Bound to sound off on AFVN radio. If he does, comfort him for he is still reminiscing. 
Be especially watchful when he is in the presence of a woman, especially a beautiful one. 
Above all, keep in mind that beneath that tanned and rugged exterior there is a heart of gold (the only thing he has left). 
Treat him with kindness, tolerance, and you will be able to rehabilitate that which was once (and is a hollow shell of) the happy-go-lucky guy you once knew and loved. 
Last but not least, send no more mail to the APO address, fill the car with gas, fill the ice box full of beer, get the civvies out of mothballs, and get the women and children off the streets ... 
... "Because This Kid's Coming Home".

Michael "Surfer" Lansford
2nd Batallion
"Bravo" Battery
11th Artillery,
155 split trails
101st Airborne
Viet Nam 68-69
Hamburger Hill 10 May-21 May 69


“I am only one, but I am one. I can't do everything, but I can do something. The something I ought to do, I can do, and by the grace of God, I will.” ~Everett Hale

Do you have an opinion, or a comment, you would like to share about this post? Click on the comment button.

16 comments:

  1. Roger That!!!!!!!

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    1. Michael LansfordJuly 3, 2014 at 5:20 PM

      Thanks for the "Roger That" & reading my story. God bless.

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  2. Thanks Mike. This ignited my "memory bank" (which is getting near bankrupt)! I do recall that infamous memo and I likely still have it stashed away somewhere but cannot recall where (SEE I told you my memory bank balance was near bankrupt).

    The irony is - a number of these things were in fact factual or close to. I recall sitting down to eat with the "family" and have a nice "conversation". I could tell something was amiss by the look on their faces. After a few days - my parents "requested" that if I COULD - please refrain from all of the "4 Letter Words" while we are eating!! I did not even realize that I was using my "military dialect" It was funny - but then again whenever I said "Mother" - I had to immediately stop before completing the remainder of my sentence. It was so "normal" - I felt like Ralphie I guess in the movie "Xmas Story" that later came out - and waited for the Ivory Soap!!

    PS - I still to this day - open up cans of pork and beans - Chef Boy'ardee spaghetti - etc. and eat the contents straight outta the cans. No cooking or microwave. My wife just walks away and shakes her head - to which I respond.....I am thinking of you honey, that's less dishes you have to wash!!

    Then she turns BEET RED!!

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    1. Michael LansfordJuly 3, 2014 at 5:25 PM

      Hope my story brings nothing but good memories. I forget things also as we all do. Had to watch my "In Country" language too. I also still eat pork & Beans, can spaghetti right out of the can, & still use my P-38. It still works faster than all the other types of openers. I even still shave using just plain water & razor. Use alcohol after shaving, burns a little but helps keep my face from feeling raw like back where we were. God Bless you & yours, always.

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  3. Yes, it does bring back memories. Casual conversation was a struggle.

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    1. Michael LansfordJuly 7, 2014 at 10:03 AM

      That's so true about casual conversation. Still hard to do even today. Thanks for reading my story. Hope it helps us all as that's pretty much all we have is each other & those connected by family ties. They understand also. God Bless, my friend.

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  4. It is good you can attach humor to memories of Nam. Keep the focus there it aids in suppressing any negatives the subconscious might try to insert. God Bless all of you and yours, the yours-- they had to put up with us. Happy Birthday, America!

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    1. Michael LansfordJuly 7, 2014 at 10:06 AM

      Thanks Tony for reading & your thoughts. Most times the humor we made up was all we had, otherwise some would have never made it. Over there it was very hard to find any humor dealing with all we endured every day. God Bless my friend.

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  5. Yep hard to come back to the world after 4 tours ? HA!
    Later Dee

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    1. Michael LansfordJuly 7, 2014 at 10:08 AM

      No kidding. No matter how long we were gone, the world seemed like it moved on & has for the most part forgotten us even back then, but we will never forget. No Vet will. Thanks for all you did & welcome home also. God Bless my friend.

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  6. Thank you for the smile and a few tears that your article gave me. Guys that have nothing but bad things to say about our time spent in a land far, far away, must have missed the many memories that defined us as survivors. Many of the habits we developed in Vietnam helped us survive life, still able to carry on where others failed. I never got this memo, never got the steak dinner that I heard many other Vets were given,never even got a re-up talk. But what I did get was the knowledge that I had survived the worst that life could throw at me. That is a gift that money can't buy. Happy Independence Day Brothers!!

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    1. Michael LansfordJuly 7, 2014 at 10:15 AM

      Man you are so right War Hippy. Those of us that went endured things no one else could possibly imagine or survive. My habits from there have definitely helped me survive many roads I have traveled through my life. I never got a steak dinner & definitely no re-up pep talk. Barely had time to get to airport to get a bird home & had to risk life & limb getting through all the protesters just to get to ticket booth. To this day I am still learning & using what I endured while in country. Some things will never change or go away. Thanks for your comments & reading my small part of my story of what we all did. God Bless you & yours my friend & comrade.

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  7. The first night I was back in the "World", the Fire Dept. siren went off to notify the volunteers that there was a fire. I was out of my bed and on the Floor within 2 to 3 seconds. Next morning went to the bakery, got Cream Donuts, took 2 to 3 bites and immediately threw up. Was not use to the extreme sweetness or texture. Of course , the first sit down dinner with family included, "Pass the f------ salt."

    Perhaps the most vivid memory of returning was the silence. Both at night and silence from people who passed off your past year as though it was nothing more than coming back from a long trip. Even one WW2 vet had the comment, "You were not in a Real War."

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    1. Michael LansfordJuly 7, 2014 at 10:22 AM

      Same here my friend. First night back was very weird. I was afraid to eat or do anything else, much less go outside. Even people made me withdraw, still do at times. I trusted no one & no one to talk to. Took me a while to get used to American food also. Same situation with people when I got back. They acted like I never existed or much less left. Got the same response from the local VFW WWII group, not a real war & YOU LOST, We don't let losers in here. If they only knew how much respect I had for them as my Dad was a WWII Vet in the Pacific, but it was what it was & no way to make them understand our war. God Bless my friend & welcome home also.

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  8. Nicely done, Mike.

    Michael Roman

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    1. Michael LansfordJuly 7, 2014 at 10:25 AM

      Thanks for the compliment Michael Roman. Everything I write is straight from the heart. I cut no corners. For me I guess it was time to speak about at least my little part of the war as I don't want our country to only know what the wrong people told them about us. We paid our dues, They owe us nothing but respect, not insults & name calling, etc. God Bless my friend & welcome home also.

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