Then as days turned to weeks, l emulated and copied those around me, trying to learn everything they'd learned.
One had to forsake the teaching and values of their youth, become tougher, meaner, and more cunning than those trying to kill you. All for the sake of survival, you quit thinking as you once had.
Many things in your life lost their meaning. You became hard and, in ways, insolent and uncaring. You learned to become as devoid of normal feelings as possible, (or tried to, anyway). You wanted to care, but you couldn't allow yourself that luxury. You learned that man was no more than an intelligent species of animal and, like all animals, willing to do most anything to survive.
Actually, if you were single, it was a very simple way of life. You carried most everything you owned and lived wherever you were. Your clothes, food, medicine ... everything needed to survive was provided. You had nothing to worry about, except staying alive. If you failed at that, all the other things didn't matter anyway. Then, what you had never allowed yourself to believe in, became real.
In twenty-four hours, or less, you were home, but home wasn't there for you. Home, was as maddening as the war once had been. Everything and everybody had changed so much. In time, you came to realize that everything was the same, but you had changed. You wanted even some small semblance of your old life back, but it always seemed just out of reach.
Then you go to your next duty station, hoping it will be better. Once again, you were back to weekly hair cuts, shined boots, starched uniforms and war games. It was different, but still not right. It was as if you would never fit in anywhere.
Many of those with you had no idea what you had been through and didn't care. You talk to others just returning and band with them. But they have no answers, because they all felt the same as you.
Finally, in desperation I came to a decision. I just couldn't handle the world around me and I knew what I had to do (at least in my case). After putting in the paperwork, (DD Form 1049), l waited. Weeks later, l was feeling somewhat normal ... back in Nam and starting all over again!
Sorry the above comment turned out to be so long. As is often the case when l write, the thoughts just keep coming ...
[Jeff has written an historical novel about a two-year period during the Vietnam War, which he hopes will be published this year.
Chronologically accurate, it covers the major operations of that period, as seen through one man's eyes. It is the story of his time in Vietnam, along with the experiences of others he knew, all woven into one character, who went to Vietnam a few days after turning eighteen and was used up and discharged before ever turning twenty-one.]
“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
Feel free to comment on this post. You are also invited to write about anything you feel comfortable sharing. Memoirs From Nam is YOUR blog. You are writing America's history, sharing the truth about the Vietnam veteran, and what it was like in Our War.