I sent my earlier post on Wasted Lives to the archive. As Mage says, it stirred up a lot of discussion.  Now that’s not a bad thing, but frankly, having literally lived through the Vietnam War married to an enlisted man who became a ‘Mustang’ in Marine lingo, divorced and remarried another vet from that war, then lived with yet another fellow who had too many memories of his experiences in Vietnam, I don’t want to go there.

I will say this, however, all three came from the lower class Isenberg writes about, and each one had become career military.  None was drafted, and each one spent enough time in the service to retire. I know one or more of them are dead now, each having survived horrific experiences they relayed over and over.

Two of them joined as privates and worked their way up through the ranks. The third was an ROTC scholar who earned an appointment to Annapolis owing to his football prowess. Another became a “full-bird” colonel. Each one of them developed an issue with alcohol. None of them ever got sober. I imagine today they would be diagnosed with PTSD.

Then I met David.  He says his war is the forgotten war…Korea.  He served four years as a company clerk (like ‘Radar’ on the TV series Mash.) Although he had been drafted, he had some college (ROTC – UNC) and Army offered him a commission. He said, ‘no thank you.’  David too had an alcohol issue, but he’s been sober since 1977. God bless him. The other guys never got sober to my knowledge.

All three of the men I lived with prior to David joined during or just after Korea, two of them served in Korea.  Still what they remembered and talked about was Vietnam over and over and over.

David was in Germany during the Vietnam War working with the Dutch as an engineer.  They handled those missiles pointed at the U.S.S.R.  Remember the Cold War?  Nobody does.  It’s always the hot wars in SE Asia.


Because life goes on, below are some recent family photos.  (We think Li’l Chris will be a red-head.) Big Chris arrives home from Yemen in a few weeks (another place we have US troops).

Top photo: Auntie Joy with Li’l Chris. Below, Rita, or mom who will return to work next week. Daughter Connie, aka Grammy just back from Utah, will take care of Chris for the summer. The black lab is Naomi, Rita’s old dog.


8 thoughts on “Momento

  1. Conversations or tv shows would often trigger nightmares for my dad, a WWII vet. He never talked about it. I assume faith, family, work helped. My uncle, also a WWII vet, descended into alcoholism. His wife, children and siblings stuck by him. I don’t know how he did it, but he was sober and a great husband, provider, father and uncle the last two decades of his life. Those touching photos make me thankful for blessings of family, friends and survival.


  2. We have a relative who fought in Korea. He has horrific memories of that time, some of which he has shared with extended family.

    PTSD is a huge problem for the military here following service in Kosovo and Afghanistan. We weren’t in Iraq thankfully. Now we have special forces training Kurds on the ground in Northern Iraq, fighting ISIS. It never ends.

    The nightmare that was the Viet Nam war had many more casualities than were ever recorded and reported, as do all wars. So much suffering by people in the war-torn countries and among the military and their families in the aftermath. We never learn from the past it seems.

    You were fortunate to find David. Enjoy every minute of your time together. It is precious, as is your granddaughter and her little sweetie. It’s too bad there isn’t a year’s paid maternity leave as there is here. It will be hard to leave that precious boy even if it is with his grandma.

    Best wishes to all.


    • Thanks Marie. Yes, I know Canadians/Canadiens have been in most of the wars the US has been in, as have the Aussies and often the Brits. Sadly, it seems someone has to do the dirty work of fighting the nasties.

      I never met anyone who says they “like” war, although if the film, ‘The Hurt Locker’ is correct, it suggested that some men find war addictive (and women too, these days?). If the book Tribe is correct, the addiction is to being with your fellow warriors, or “band of brothers.” I have known men who spent multiple tours in war zones, for example my cousin Karl who has had about eight tours in the Middle East, and won a Bronze Star for his efforts.

      I’m happy we are helping the Kurds, they are the West’s oldest ally. Some historians think Saladin was a Kurd. You will recall he helped Richard the Lion Hearted.

      As for Rita, she’s been off for two months. Her sister held her job open while she was on maternity leave. Rita is working to pay her bills, including health insurance for Lil Chis. Rita is on her mom’s insurance because she is under 26.


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