I don't know about you, but the older I get the more I reflect back on my life. It's difficult for me to comprehend that it's been 55 years. Those days seem almost surreal now. I was literaly a kid back then. Most of us were teenagers. We saw things that no teenager should ever have to see. When I got out of the Marine Corps, I thought the feelings I was experiencing were normal. Fact of the matter is I will never be normal again after that day. Unfortunately, it took me nearly 40 years to come to that realization. Those feelings nearly destroyed me, our marriage, and my relationship with our children. I always had to be the tough guy. Showing any indication of needing help was a sign of weakness. My injury contributed to that. I was always afraid that if I failed someone would say, "See, I knew he couldn't do it." I've always had to be a little bit better and a little bit tougher because of that. Several years ago I was asked to sponsor a Marine who was in a Recovery Program at our church. To be honest, I didn't think I was capable of helping anyone, but I decided to step out of my comfort zone. Turned out be be one of the best decisions of my life. I accompanied him to a veterans support group one night to show my support, even though I had already made up my mind it was going to be nothing more than a bunch of whining veterans. Again, another great decision on my part. The leader of the group is a psycholigist and a decorated Vietnam veteran. He walked the walk and talked the talk. Truly an amzing man. That visit turned into a 3-year recovery program for me. So much for helping the Marine I was sponsoring. I learned that it's okay not to be okay, and admitting to my problems was actually a strentgh, not a weakness. Gradually, I learned to let down the armour that I had built up around my heart over the years. To be honest, I've never been a tough guy. I was afraid to show emotions and feelings because I thought it made me weak. I can't begin to tell you what a relief it is not having to constantly put on that facade. It changed my life. I recently stopped attending the group because I'm in a much better place. The memories from LZ Margo will always be there, but I process and deal with them much differently now. If you're still experiencing issues from Vietnam, I strongly encourage you to talk to someone and seek help. It will change your life. There's nothing to be ashamed of.It's "okay not to be okay."
One of my summer rituals is to get up early every morning, make my coffe, and sit out and watch the sunrise. It's my "reflecting on life" time. Despite some little bumps in the road, my life has been amazingly blessed. I have to give God all the credit for that. I'm not that good. I realized this morning that I've experienced over 20,000 sunsets and sunrises since September 16, 1968. 20,000. Those who sacrificed their lives at LZ Margo never experienced another sunrise or sunset.Being here to experience sunrises and sunsets is an amazing blessing. I now have many aches and pains, but I'm so very, very blessed. I'm sure any of those who sacrificed their life at Margo would give anything to be here for just one more sunrise or sunset. I, no we, are so very blessed. Every day is a gift from God.
I hope you're all doing well and are healthy. You're constantly in my thoughts. Semper Fi and God Bless