Litkicks Message Board Archive

a strange sad testimony

Posted to Poetry and Politics

another firsthand report from a military veteran:

was giving an insulin shot this evening at supper in hospital and saw a us marines tatoo on the left upper arm of my patient; he has edema of the face, swollen eyes, draining ears, inflammation of the head area, either a cellulitis infection or an allergy, possibly to the anti-convulsant medication he was taking from brain tumors.

He told me he was in the marines twelve years, went in 1950. I asked him about korea? he said yes, was in until 1964, then got out. He said they called him back in, he was a sniper. I asked him about vietnam. he said yes. I asked him about it. he said he was asked to "take out" certain "distinguished persons" (this was the phoenix program)
He was over there about 2 and 1/2 years. He said then he got out. I said, "after 16 years?" He said that after his last mission, operating alone, they were supposed to come and "get him out" (of that situation), but they were not there and so he was forced to get out on his own (referring to his combat assassination situation)...He said he wanted out right then, wanted nothing more to do with the military. I asked him about the V.A. He said no, he didn't want anything from anything related to the military.

So here's a 70 years old sturdy guy, suffering, perhaps sprayed with agent orange, absolutely a ptsd affect, solemn and quiet, bearing scars.

Nobody who does this type of effort comes away without scars.
I confirmed my own tour of "duty" in the Nam, 2,3, 4 corps 1970-71. Then we dropped it.
Later a female family member called. His phone was off-line.I hung up his phone, transferred the call into his room and helped him to get it right to talk. eyes swollen shut.

For a bite of reality, from the Plough Press,

check out Daniel Hallock's HELL HEALING and RESISTANCE (veterans speak).

Hallock was US Navy, Marines, worked for defense contractor. Interviews with vets, families, testimonials from ww1, 2, korea, nam, central america, gulf war 1.

he interviewed one guy from my lai before that guy shot himself. he talks about audie murphy's dysfunctional alcholism, his life in his garage. about the sell. the wars from personal accounts. the change that happens thru dehumanization, the silent majority, the price of it all, the quietism, thew patriotic mentality,, america the redeemer ( the rationalisations for massacre), against the stream antiwar veterans, healings, a road to peace, a vision for the future. all from interviews with a large number of vets, families. a testimony of suffering.

my patient, who i will see in the morning, has these scars to bear, a young man's manipulation, trained killer, broke away, now a stoic suffering old man, the human cost of war revealed by the survivor. the mute dead's witness. now did you see my face?