NOTE: I received the following mail from Bill Boyle who is going through a bad time with his experiences in Vietnam. I asked him if he would like me to post his mail as others may be experiencing similar trauma. I am not a psychologist, but know in my own bad experiences, talking about it does help. if you would like to respond to Bill or me, I have included email addresses at the end of his mail.

November 7, 2012


Just wondering how many of us are left from the team that went down with the 173rd - I was 22 at the time, now 69. Uncle Ho had a year to get me, but not a scratch (except on OUR barbed wire at Dong Xoiai when Charlie tried to retake it a few weeks after they first overran it, which was just after we arrived in country. I was up there w/ Lt. Scriaev (Ski) when they came back. We were saved by jet fighters off some carrier out in the South China Sea . . . no one who hasn't been in combat don't know what it feels like . . . will we still be standing in the morning? No reinforcements were available because there was too much going on around Nam at the same time, and there was no time to bring them in if there had been . . . it was only the jet jockeys who kept us from being overrun - they got there before the attack really got started, thank God!

Uncle Ho didn't get me, but Sam sure did, like so many others, with Agent Orange: diabetes, and later a stroke. At least it was a "mild" stroke, not crippling, and not cancer . . . anyway, I'm still kicking. PTSD has caught up with me  . . . that's another story, not worth recounting here, but yeah . . . actually, it got me years ago, when I tried to return to civilian life, '69 through about '75, but I didn't recognize the connection at the time (no one was talking about PTSD then) . . . but what it did to my life then is causing a 2nd generation of PTSD as the stroke dumped suppressed memories into my consciousness and they won't stop replaying.

I'm not looking for sympathy, just FYI recounting to our unofficial unit historian what has happened to at least one of our guys. And I wonder how many others, having made it through the painful post-Nam years, the alcohol, divorce, job problems, difficulty putting down roots among people who didn't understand and didn't want to, many of whom condemned us as baby killers ( thank you John Kerry - what a lying whore!) How many others, now aging, are struggling once again? I'm know I'm not alone.

Thank God I have a great wife who listens when I need to talk about things she really doesn't want to hear about and empathizes even if she can't really understand . . . it wasn't what happened there, it's PTSD from what happened HERE in the 70's that's killing me now. . . .

Best to you, Tim,

BIll (Sp4 in Nam, SSgt at discharge in '69, G2 USARSO, CZ)



Do whatever you wish with my email - if it helps someone else, reminds someone that he is not alone - well, we need to stand together however we can and help each other,  since outside our families few who weren't there care about us old Nam vets. We're yesterday's news, yesterday's baby killers, old men of no interest and little value to anyone outside our families and a few close friends. I see too many on the streets of DC, and at the VA Hospital there, lost in the fog of alcohol or drugs, beyond reach in their private hells.

The war cost many of us far more than a  year in Nam - it cost us us wives, education, jobs. It produced alcoholism, drug addiction, broken marriages, and trapped too many in private hells that many ever escape. Some came back, never missed a beat, and picked up where they left off. I wish I had been one of them. Too many of us couldn't - and though I did pretty well for awhile, I am now haunted by the 70's,  by the little nursing student I met just before leaving and married soon after returning. If was her letters that got me through the loneliness of Okinawa and the madness of Nam . . . but I was too messed up for her o stay: our marriage lasted 5 years. I was too crazy, too unstable, too strange, so she did what so many other vets' wives did in those days - she divorced me so she could find someone "normal" to marry.

I finally got over her and married a delightful little lady I met on the mission field in Guatemala. Of course if took 18 years years to get that far . . . She's a precious little lady whom I love intensely. Unfotunately, in June the AO-inspired diabetes resulted in a "mild" stroke, the worst part of which is not the cane or the loss of strength in my left arm that annoys the hell out of me and makes me drop things - at least I can walk and talk and eat mol normally. What kills me is that it shook loose memories I had boxed up and stored away years ago . . . and have been reliving ever since. Memories of that little nurse. Of the time we spent together in the Canal Zone, the trips we enjoyed, the love we shared. She was a true jewel (as is the little Latina I married 22 years ago). But the memories are driving me nuts. I can't shut them off. It's as though she left last week, not 40 years ago!

Is this PTSD? Probably not in the strict sense of being directly related to combat, but it was Nam (plus the anti-war movement in the US in the 70's) that made me crazy and caused the divorce and the pain that has resulted over the years, so I figure it's somehow service related. I don't know. In a few more years it won't matter. War does strange things to people, and has many ways of destroying our relationships and our lives. Sometimes I think the lucky ones are those who were shipped home in body bags. Their families wept, many of the widows remarried, and life went on. The dead found peace without alcohol or drugs, without wrecked marriages, broken lives and broken hearts. Sometimes I wish I had been one of them, my name on the wall, remembered from time to time by the lady I would never have married, mourned for a year or two by her, my parents and my brother, while I would be rejoicing with my Savior . . . He had a reason to preserve me, so I will struggle on the best I can and trust Him to heal me, one way or another, in this world or the next.


Email Bill Boyle

Email Tim Yoho