|Heroes All ...|
I've been reading all the posts from fellow Vets. It's good stuff, all of it, especially the post called The Reluctant Hero (October 6, 2014), about Mr. Peter Lemon, who was presented with the Medal of Honor.
The most recent one by Mr. Edgington, Laotian Rescue Mission, about flying into Laos to rescue the recon team is also very good.
As time moves forward and you become a short timer, the fear factor goes way up. With each mission, you get the feeling that this will be your last ride. There are times you feel every round is aimed only at you. It's kind of like having a sign pinned on you, or a target, saying "I'm Short",
Many a time I felt I wouldn't get out alive, like so many others felt, yet by the grace of God I lived and for the rest of our lives we all deal with survivors' guilt and the loss of so many we fought with every day. You even wonder, what has happened to me since I fired that first round? You're still the same person on the outside, but inside, your world is in a turmoil that never turns off, or goes away, ever.
Firefights did many things to us. You get numb, you get more afraid, more hardened, cold, and even indifferent. Every emotion there is, you live it inside yourself and there is no one you can explain it to, especially when you get back to the world.
It's hard to put into words what we dealt with in times of life or death, combat, and even more so when being overrun and knowing your life depended on hand-to-hand and you were literally fighting for your life and the lives of others.
It was knowing that if you lost, your comrads would be lost, and that makes you fight with a purpose so fearful and so scared that you become not scared. Inside, you know you must fight even harder and be willing to lay down your life to save your people.
You already know you won't make it, but you continue to take out as many of the enemy as you can, so long as you have a breath of life left in you and can still squeeze that trigger just one more time.
When it's over and you've survived, the reality sets in and you withdraw even more, knowing what had to be done and it fell in your lap. Why me? you ask yourself. Fate? Timing? Being in the right place at the right time? Or worse, the wrong place at the right time ...
The roads we traveled then are still alive today, filled with guilt, anger, sorrow, remorse and more. We live it all every day and night. All it took was one simple squeeze of a single trigger from a weapon and life is never the same forever and ever.
How can we ever explain these feelings and the many, many more we carry with us? We went from innocent scared kids to hardened combat veterans -- for most of us, before we were even considered adults back home.
For me, I was home by the time I was twenty, a hardened combat veteran. Back in the world, I was still considered a kid and not old enough to buy beer, or worse, NOT old enough to vote, (as I was informed). See, I was not mature enough to vote and make decisions that affected my life, or the future of our great nation.
I thought I had already proven that, except for the fact that NO ONE back home had a clue as to what we all did over there to make it home again, nor would they understand the real world of COMBAT LIFE 101 ...
Other Articles by Michael Lansford:
“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
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