And yet every war veteran that has fought can understand and the ones that haven’t fought can’t understand. Our little “group” talked about killing the gook and there was no remorse or sadness about taking another man’s life. Actually there was happiness.
That was then, this is now.
I killed other gooks while I was in Vietnam and yet this is the one that has haunted me to this very day.
I will try to put it into words, but I am not sure I can.
I spent my year in Vietnam and came back home. When you get back home, you come to terms with your mind and find a way to deal with the war or it will drive you insane. (The V.A. mental hospitals have the ones who couldn’t deal with it.) So you put it behind you. I did and I kept it buried for a long time. As time goes on, the nightmares get fewer and fewer and then they come back- sometimes for one night and sometimes night after night, then they will go away for a while. But I learned to deal with it. You can’t talk about it to anyone except people who have fought in wars and they are just like you. They don’t want to talk about it because, like you, they are trying to forget.
As time goes on, the years go by and you think you have it whipped, but as you grow older, your outlook on life slowly changes. As time went on, the gook came back to haunt me. He was hiding. All he wanted to do was live. He was just like me - a foot soldier sent out to fight somebody else’s war.
Just like me, all he wanted to do was live to go back home to his family.
Do not misunderstand what I am saying. I realize that he would have killed me just as quick as I killed him had the opportunity arisen. I understand all this but he haunts me as I get older.
I came home to my whole family - mom, dad, brothers, sister, cousins, friends and my wife and child. They all loved me and missed me so much and were so glad I was home safe and sound.
Guess what? The gook had a family too. He never came home. His family may or may not have been notified he was dead.
If they were told of his death, the pain and heartache was enormous.
If they were not told and he just didn’t come home after the war, the spark of hope that he is still alive lingered for many years. Even today, 35 plus years later, if his parents are still alive, they know in their hearts that he is dead but just that tiny hope is probably still there.
I think about him.
I don’t know whether he was married or not.
If he was married, his wife would have been destroyed by the news of his death. If she was never notified, how many years did she wait hoping he would come home?
If he had children, how did they cope with the loss of their father. The North Vietnamese don’t have a Veterans Administration. There is no monthly check for her or their children. How many tears did she shed as her heart was breaking and the pain of her loss has thrown her into the depths of despair. Most likely she had absolutely no money and yet she had to live and to feed her children if she had any. How did she survive? Vietnam is mostly agricultural and there are very few jobs for women. Unless she had family to take care of her, she probably became a prostitute out of desperation and starvation because there are no jobs.
If he was married, I not only destroyed him, but perhaps her also.If I had gotten killed, my mother and father would have missed me until the day they died. Every holiday, every birthday, every gettogether, they would have missed me.
There was a lady in this county who lost a son on a PBR that was ambushed. She has another son who is a friend of mine. Sometimes we talk about it and how his mother was a happy outgoing person who laughed a lot and really enjoyed life. My friend said that after his brother got killed, he never saw his mother smile or laugh again. She retreated inside her mind and life as she knew it stopped the day she learned her baby boy was dead. She lived on a few years but literally the gook that killed his brother, killed him instantly but the gook killed his mother a thousand times over before she died of a broken heart.
As I get older, I wonder if I did the same thing to the gooks parents or wife or children in Vietnam.
What would the gook have been had I not killed him?
I went on to have more children and now I also have several grandchildren whom I love dearly and they seem to really love me. They think “Pa” is the greatest thing since popcorn!
The gook doesn’t get to enjoy this because I killed him.
I eat dinner with my mom every Sunday. The gook can’t do this.
I killed him.
In the summertime, I watch my grandchildren play in the pond. The gook can’t. He is dead.
That morning, I shot him and was proud of it. I destroyed him instantly.
He has gotten his revenge because sometimes I think his memories are slowly killing me.
For you readers who have never fought in a war, you may not be able to understand what I have written. For all of us that were there, we can understand.Even now, 35 plus years later, I still wake up at night with my heart pounding and with fear racing through me. The memory of the rounds walking up the ground and into his body is just as vivid today as it was then. I am not sure if it will ever go away. Every time I think I have it under control, he comes back to haunt me. I killed him, but as time goes on, a part of the pain will go away. Just like in Vietnam, during the daytime, we controlled it but at night Vietnam belonged to the gooks. In the daytime, I halfway control my thoughts and actions but most nights belong to the gook I killed a long time ago.I would like to thank you for reading this article. Maybe it will help me put the gooks soul to rest and ease my mind someday.