PTSD??? Not Me!!!
By Jim Regan
Grew up among Veterans, WW II/Korean. Some were my close family and I paid attention to what they said and did. Role Models? You bet! Had another Role Model, never really met him. My Dad! A "Crusty" Navy Chief. He was on the PT Boats that took General McArthur, et al, off Corridor. Dad and his crew, eventually, after running out of; fuel, torpedoes, and supplies, burned their boats and "E&E'd!!" He was captured and "MIA" for a couple of years. A 6'4", crusty ol' Irish, Navy Chief Petty Officer!!! I already know that he took the toll as a POW. Enroute to the mainland Japan, with 1800 other POWs, his ship, the Arisen Maru was sunk. It was part of a convoy and unmarked. Our sub sank it. Five survivors from the Arisen Maru! Dad did not survive.
"Sainted" Uncle Bill came home from the Islands. Wounded and decorated. Became one of my mentors/teachers/friends. I used to watch him, especially on holidays/celebrations. A glimmer in his eye, like a twinkle. Now I know that it was a tear!
When I entered the US Army, lots of Veterans took me under their wings. They; cajoled, harassed, haunted, pushed and physically pounded me to be a Soldier. Too many to number or name. Their names and faces are burned into my mind.
Who were these guys? They were Veterans from WW II. and Korea. Some of whom had more Valorous Decorations than I can remember. One comes to mind. A Buck Sergeant, who took time to train me in demolition, and yes, Long Range Patrol (1960.) But he had a problem with the "Bottle." He was awarded the MOH in WWII, and resubmitted for another MOH in Korea w/ the 187th RCT!
Where is this going? The folks, friends, relatives, and comrades, were not the same when they returned from combat. There is no way that I could ever imagine what my Dad would have been like had he survived!!
Then on to the Vacation Land of Southeast Asia. First tour. LRRP Company, later Ranger Company. All my years of training prepared me for this. The Troops/LRRPS/Rangers/and all the Support Troops were exactly who I would want to "Go to Combat with!!"
Lost some wonderful guys that first tour. As I DEROS'd, had a chance to sit around and drink a Bud with some of my fellow SNCOs who were going back to the land of the big PX. On our last night in 'Nam, they/we were all getting pretty melancholy. One guy says that he lost “umpteen” troops at LZ whatever on one night. Another says how many he lost over the year, lots! It kinda goes on like this for the evening and I just sit, quiet, and think. The numbers of the losses is really out of sight.
Things get quiet and the guys finally look at me and ask, "Jim, how many guys did you lose??" I was startled, and almost reluctant when I told them the number of Rangers that we had lost! It got real quiet when I told them that we had lost fifteen Rangers/LRRPS over the year! These fellows were accustomed to casualties, I was not. You don’t get used to it!
Next tour was w/ the Vietnamese Rangers. No close associations. Different from what I did with the US LRRPS/Rangers. Lots of “back seating Chinooks with my Ranger Bn, cross border into Cambodia. Had lunch in some interesting places across the Red Line. I remained on active duty with the Army. That became my support group, and I never realized it. There were periods of hard charging beer drinking. Moved on to other things in the Army. Different kinds of jobs, arenas. Divorce, drive on! My mentors came through and pushed me to do other neat things in the Army. Cleaned up my act, and even got to work for some really heavy guys.
Now retired/retired. Do I have PTSD?? I think the last letter is "Denial!" Never knew I had it 'til someone came up with a name for it. Can I overcome? You tell me!