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Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Returning Home to The Village (PTSD Viet Nam)

(C) James J Alonzo

After serving my time in Viet Nam, I was given my 30 day leave prior to following my written orders to report to Ft Hood Texas. I was pissed, I wanted to extend my time in Viet Nam because I only had 9 months left on my enlistment time.

However, when I sent a letter home and explained to my wife, if I extended six months more in Viet nam, I would get an "early out", or a waiver of the last three months. Nanci wrote back that besides her de-nutting me when I got home, she would divorce me!

So I returned to the "world", (USA), without any debriefing or de-sensitizing of any kind. One minute I was in-country, in combat, then 22 hours layer, i'm standing on a sidewalk unarmed, in the USA!

However, the military did give me some "choices" of duty assignments. They asked if I was interested in be assigned to the "Old Guard" at Arlington, Virginia to guard the Tomb Of The Unknown Soldier, and Honor Guard the burials of the deceased soldiers. But I was in no mood to be in such an honor assignment and have that awesome responsibility.

So they gave me a choice of going to drill instructor school at Ft. Benning, Georgia, and then be assigned to a basic training company. I was in no mood in training the "new meat" and send them to that damn war. How was I going to train these kids how to deal with being scared "shitless"! Or how to deal with the stench of death, tagging and bagging the bodies of their buddies, or their buddy's blood on their clothes, the heavy rust smell of blood, treating wounded while under fire, or the heat and humidity of this Asian country. How was I going to train them that if they survived, they weren't going to like the "welcome home" from the US citizens.

Having not picked any of their choices, I received my orders, I was being assigned to Ft Hood, Texas, and I hope Nanci was going to be happy, because I wasn't.

When I arrived in sunny California, standing there in my tailored dress uniform, with my medals, no one prepared us for the American citizens that would be greeting us at the airport! We were greeted by hippy type assholes, screaming accusations, and profanities!

As we walked through the crowd, I saw police officers near by, but they were doing nothing to keep these clowns under control. I couldn't believe what I was seeing and hearing; the insults, the resentment, the terrible comments, all from American citizens towards the military that served their country.

They were taunting us, daring us to assault them, as though they knew the cops on the sideline would arrest us if we attacked.

What have we done to deserve this? Didn't we do our patriotic duty to God, Country, and apple pie? When we were kids, all we heard was when you serve you country, and the citizens will thank you, like they did after World War 2, and the Korean War.

The crowd is angry and hostile, and we had to push back and struggled to make a pathway through these clowns. I am unarmed, however, it is not me that is fearful of being hurt, but my instincts are still razor sharp, and I feel coiled, ready to strike out. Wanting to strike!

Getting to the street curb, I grabbed a taxi, and I feel uncomfortable, for I immediately notice there is no wire mesh over the windows.

"It would be so easy for someone to throw a grenade," I thought, "Never mind, I'm home in the US."

"Take me to the San Francisco airport please." I said.

"How'd you like your welcome?" asked the cab driver, laughing,

"It sucks," I responded.

"Well, I'll give you some free advice. Before you get to the airport, I'll stop at a clothing store, and you get some civilian clothes to wear. There are a lot more protesters at the airport."

"Okay, I don't want to have any run ins like back there."

"It's a good thing there was no fighting," the cab driver said, "If there is fighting the police are ordered to arrest the GI's, but not the hippies."

I followed the cab drivers advice buying civilian clothes, changing into them, he took me to the airport. I went to pay him and he said,

"No son, you don't owe me a thing."

"Thanks again."

"Remember what I told you," he advised, "Don't tell anyone on the plane you served in that Viet Nam war, or you might get spit on!"

As I closed the cab door, I could hear him laughing. I kept thinking, " What the Hell happened? When I left this country, people weren't like this. "

I was in Viet Nam and during that time, Malcolm X, Martin Luthur King,, and Bobby Kennedy were assassinated! Civil Rights riots in the cities! This country has lost it's mind!

I caught the plane to Buffalo by way of Chicago, and there wasn't any further problems. However, i spent too much time in my thoughts, my mind was rapidly scanning through the last couple of years of my life. When I went to war, I was 18 years old, married, a child on the way, and a squad leader in a combat unit. I decided to try and drink away these thoughts, and called on the stewardess to keep the drinks coming.

When I arrived in Buffalo, I was still clear of thought, but yet numb to the strange things I saw. I noted the lack of sand bags, and the fields of fire for these structures.

My family having heard I would be arriving that day poured out of the structure when i arrived. They are in a hurry to greet me outside, but i am in a hurry to get inside, undercover, even though it is now night time, and there shouldn't be any fear of snipers.

Some are people I have known, and some are people I grew up with, and some are family members, however, I feel so detached from all of them. A feeling of shame comes over me with a quick memory of where I had just come from, and I find myself avoiding any conversation.

Besides, I learned that getting to close to anyone means more hurt and heartbreak when they are taken away.

The years have passed as I try to live in my home village of Buffalo, and the fortifications around my home have improved along with the weapons that I keep exceptionally clean and ready to use. The attitude of my fellow citizens has changed to the better, and I associate with others that have been through what I have been through.

We had needed to discuss our memories, or quietly we will meet again when night falls,,,and dream the dreams and walk the walk again,,, here in my home village of Buffalo.

© Copyright 2011 James J Alonzo All rights reserved.
James J Alonzo has granted Agent Orange Legacy its affiliates and syndicates non-exclusive rights to display this work.

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