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A Veteran with Home Movies of Vietnam?
INTELLECTUAL CONSERVATIVE.COM ^ | AUGUST 24, 2004 | James P. Szakmary, Lance Corporal, USMC

Posted on 12/03/2004 8:52:21 PM PST by CHARLITE

A Vietnam veteran questions how Kerry can cavalierly parade his Vietnam experience, considering service in Vietnam was a nightmarish experience that still brings back unpleasant flashbacks. [Zak became an anti-Kerry activist following the DNC convention, and wrote this moving piece for Intellectual Conservative.com at that time.]

At age 57, I still relive Viet Nam every day. How someone else who has been there could be so cavalier about the subject is beyond me. I’ve never seen a “home movie” of Viet Nam before, until the Prince of Boston showed us his. This man, so proud of throwing his ribbons and medals on the Capitol lawn (maybe they weren’t his) now wants to take up residence in the White House. He lied to a congressional committee. He called my “band of brothers,” rapists, murderers and pillagers. They’re not here to defend their honor and now, whom will people believe, a Senator or me? I would like to smack him across his smug face for saying that about us. He also admitted taking part in atrocities that he personally committed. Maybe he has the reenactments of that too, in his “home movie” collection? I believe he also attended meetings where plans were being drawn up to kill members of Congress? As a Naval officer, he had a duty to report and intervene in what he witnessed, but since he was part of the problem, this never occurred. There should be a court-martial today for his actions, inactions and the crimes that he states he participated in.

I am still a proud former Marine, proud of my 13 months of service “in country.” I know what it’s like to be in the boonies, to smell death, and to draw enemy fire. That was done on a regular basis. It’s how we fought the Viet Cong in a guerrilla war. As a forward observer and radio operator, I called in artillery, when they were drawn out in the open. Our mission was to kill people and break things and we did it well!

It was very hot there, with insects, snakes or leaches on us at all times. Always wearing our helmets and flack jackets but still getting wounded and dying in a jungle. Waiting for that med-evac chopper to show up. Waiting for the fire missions to be approved or for close air support to assist us. And what did we read about when we returned to the firebase? The people back home, protesting against us. Calling us baby killers. The Prince of Boston was now one of their heroes; again he was part of the problem. Now he is among the traitors and turncoats such as the Tom Haydens and Jane Fondas of that time. I contracted malaria in Viet Nam, and returned to fight. I was wounded by friendly fire and still returned to fight. I’m a Marine dammit!

Upon my return to the states in the summer of ’69, someone spit on my ribbons on the uniform I was wearing. I was walking through a terminal at JFK Airport with my sea bag, which weighed almost as much as I did. (I returned to the U.S. weighing 145 lbs., a loss of about 30 lbs.) Why would someone spit on me? It wasn’t my idea to go to Viet Nam; I believe LBJ sent me there. The cab driver also didn’t like the fact that someone in uniform got in his cab. (We had to wear our uniforms in order to fly with military orders.) Welcome Home! I don’t consider myself a war hero or even a highly decorated Marine, with 3 rows of ribbons. I’m just a typical Viet Nam veteran. So why is the Prince of Boston considered a hero? Just saying it doesn’t make it so.

I was watching the Democrats after their convention, in front of the Boston Pops. I was amazed at how the Prince of Boston was able to handle the fireworks display. I cannot listen to fire crackers; they remind me of a firefight and give me flashbacks. I can’t listen to the mortar tubes that send these displays into the air; too many mortars hit us in Viet Nam. The smell of gunpowder sends me back in time to a place I don’t want to be. The Fourth of July, unfortunately, places me in a mental combat zone. I have had to spend that week, for years, in my hideaway in the Adirondack Mountains to keep my sanity. It’s that or the VA psych ward again. My neighbors have no idea or regard for the pain they put me through when they set off their fireworks, having a good time at my expense. Do they really understand what the Fourth represents?

As I returned to civilian life in ‘70, I put Viet Nam away and started out to pursue the American dream, getting married, buying a home, and raising children. I became an Air Traffic Controller at New York Center (NYARTCC). That went well until the upcoming PATCO strike in ’81. I quit. I couldn’t get on the picket line nor could I cross the picket line. Maybe I just couldn’t take a stand at that time, but in any event I went into my own business for the next few years. I returned to the FAA in ’86, due in part to partnership problems. I now worked in a tower environment at Republic Airport (FRG), instead of the radar environment that I was formally used to working in. But guess what? A police helicopter crash that I witnessed from the tower was all it took to send me back into a flashback mode. I didn’t know it at the time, but that day started me on a long journey, 180 degrees from where I was at that time. What some may have even considered “normal.” After being placed on Valium I was medically disqualified and unable to continue my life’s profession, ATC. I was now assigned to a job at JFK doing accident investigations. Since it was the FAA Regional Office, we handled 6 states. I wrote up hundreds of accidents and incidents over the years, including Senator Heinz’ crash in PA, involving a helicopter.

Increasing nightmares, sweats and flashbacks from being involved with accidents continued to wake up my buried past from Viet Nam. (Hence the title of this article) These are my “home movies” that play daily in my head. Talk about movies on demand! Burnt bodies, partial bodies, missing heads and blood. No sleep, rotating shifts and rotating days off almost destroyed my family and me. (I still have my wife and 2 daughters.) In ’92 I went to my first Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) unit at the VA Hospital in Northport, NY. I was given 90 days to learn how to cope with this disorder of the highest order, as I’ve come to find out. I was already an outpatient for a few years and still taking my prescribed Valium, but now I would be taken off all medications so I could deal with my true self and was immersed in the program.

In early ’93 I returned to the FAA Regional Office and was given a 9 to 5 day job. No more accidents to work with, I was now an educator. I was the Aviation Education Program Manager for the region. I traveled, I taught and developed aviation programs in high schools and colleges, and I was good at it. But after a few years I found I could no longer outrun my PTSD. By July of ’96 I was retired on Federal Disability Retirement, burnt out and no longer able to work, or sometimes, even function. I now had plenty of meds and was very disoriented. I would like to note at this point that it’s a good thing I realized back in ’81 that I was an alcoholic and put down the drink, because if I were still self medicating, I’d be dead by now. The VA had placed me on 100% disability and Social Security also added me to their rolls. I was only 49 years old, and I was a retired grandfather. I proceeded to “take off” for the next 7 years, staying in touch with my family, but not able to return until 2 years ago. I then went to a third PTSD unit in ’03 in a continuing effort to control my “home movies”.

I spend most of my time either at 12 step meetings or talking to other veterans, mostly Viet Nam veterans, since they seem to make the most sense to me and understand where I am. I also go to a lot of their funerals too. I don’t know why since we’re only in our fifties. I spend Memorial Day and Veterans’ Day weekends at The Wall. That’s where my childhood friends are.

Why am I telling you all of this sensitive information about myself? Because I am hoping that someone will listen. I want to be a part of the solution, even though Viet Nam is not yet over for me. I am a fighter and still go to the VA Hospital every week and still have to take my medications, although I am happy to say it’s been 12 years since I’ve had to take Valium. I can’t afford to be so cavalier about my time in Viet Nam as the Prince of Boston appears to be.

He voted to cut the defense and intelligence budgets and voted to raise my taxes. He spent 18 years in the Senate without one substantial bill bearing his name. Some still accuse the President of stealing the last election, with the help of the Supreme Court, although the facts prove just the opposite. Just because the liberal media says it’s so, doesn’t mean that it is. Al Gore also can’t seem to let it go, but at least he doesn’t wear Viet Nam on his sleeve. Senator McCain didn’t either, and he’s my hero. Would I, or did I vote for him? No! Maybe it was too many years in solitary or too much torture at the hands of his captors, but he is definitely not all there. I can easily see that, but he is still my hero and it’s not necessary at all to explain why.

The Prince of Boston’s sidekick has also been responsible for helping to raise the insurance rates of doctors, thereby helping toraise our health insurance premiums. Again, he is part of the problem, not the solution. Give him a little senate intelligence sub-committee work and he’s an expert too, but why didn’t any of them see 9/11 coming? Clinton gave Bin Laden back to the enemies of these United States, but that was left out of Fahrenheit 9/11. The 9/11 commission, biased as it was, also debunked the movie and other left wing liberals, like Dick Clarke, but the left wing media just continues to hand them a free pass. They really don’t care how many die, as long as their “Prince” gets elected.

Again, why am I writing and disseminating my dissatisfaction? I’m sick and tired of our flag and our country being bombarded by a constant barrage of left wing ideology. We’re leaning too far to the left as it is, embracing socialism, and leaning toward communism. My Hungarian born grandparents were deathly afraid of the communists and would have rather been “dead than red.”

I am sensing a deeper and deeper chasm in the U.S. It’s split us in the past with the War Between the States, and it split us again during the Viet Nam conflict, for which I and many other veterans are still paying the price. I fear we are splitting once again, toward civil war or insurrection. I don’t know how long conservatives will sit still and watch the liberals tear down the standards of a once great nation. I am beginning to look at the diehard liberals as my enemy. Are we strong enough to withstand this challenge without a fight? It is the veterans of this country that back up the words of the constitution that grant the Ed Asners, Whoopie Goldbergs, and Linda Ronstats, the freedom to make their ridiculous statements against our country’s standards. How much longer will we stand by and just watch? America must wake up before it’s too late. I am probably writing what most Americans are feeling. We’re a silent majority and if we fail to make our voices heard at the ballot box this year, we’re handing over control of the country to the liberal minority, and their ideals.

I’ve been voting as a registered Republican, and/or Conservative, since I was old enough to vote. I turned 21 in Viet Nam and voted on an absentee ballot for President Nixon, who I might add, subsequently returned me to the safety of the U.S. I made it through the big lie of the draft dodging Clinton administrations, but I don’t know if I can withstand another big lie of a Prince of Boston administration. I am already thinking of Iceland, Greenland, New Zealand, or even Australia. Does this type of thinking make me an Alec Baldwin type?

This country is far from being out of danger, not just from terrorists, but also from their willful cohorts, the liberals. God help us, and God; please help me to make a difference. I’ve been struck down long enough by Viet Nam and my subsequent battle with PTSD. Help me and others to rise up and defeat our old adversaries and our new found enemies. I want to be a part of the solution, a solution for a better and stronger America, where all are created equal. What we do with that equality is up to the individual, not the government. God bless the U.S.

L/Cpl Zak/USMC F 2/11/Viet Nam ’68-‘69

Comments:zak@intergate.com


TOPICS: Foreign Affairs; Government; News/Current Events; Philosophy; Politics/Elections
KEYWORDS: betrayal; convention; dnc; faa; johnkerry; liberals; medals; nightmares; ptsd; ribbons; vietnam; war
THIS is what is called "searing." John Kerry even befouled and besmirched the true meaning of SEARING!
1 posted on 12/03/2004 8:52:22 PM PST by CHARLITE
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To: CHARLITE
This sounds pretty familiar to me. After 13 months in I Corps I have maybe half a dozen pictures of myself. Kerry does four months and comes out of it with home movies. Thank you, America, for defeating this jerk. And thank you, Zak for your service.

Semper fi.

2 posted on 12/03/2004 8:59:16 PM PST by clintonh8r (It turns out that the moral majority......is BOTH!)
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To: CHARLITE
Somewhere I read that John Kerry told a fellow anti-war activist BEFORE he went to Vietnam that he could do more to fight the war there than at home. It shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone that he has had his whole life planned out so he could one day hold the title of President of the United States.
3 posted on 12/03/2004 8:59:54 PM PST by msnimje
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To: CHARLITE

AMEN. Welcome home.


4 posted on 12/03/2004 9:03:31 PM PST by mumzie (www.combatvetsagainstkerry.com)
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To: clintonh8r

---Thank you, America, for defeating this jerk.---

What's scary is that almost half of the voters couldn't tell the difference and voted for the POS.


5 posted on 12/03/2004 9:13:57 PM PST by claudiustg (Go Sharon! Go Bush!)
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To: CHARLITE

This should be required reading in every household.

Time that Nam thing was put into perspective.


6 posted on 12/03/2004 9:22:48 PM PST by Spirited
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To: mumzie

Ditto, all I can say is, "Wow"


7 posted on 12/03/2004 9:26:25 PM PST by Brian328i
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To: msnimje
Somewhere I read that John Kerry told a fellow anti-war activist BEFORE he went to Vietnam that he could do more to fight the war there than at home. It shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone that he has had his whole life planned out so he could one day hold the title of President of the United States.

To understand Kerry's actions, look no further than who he dated and hung out with as a young man prior to his service. JFK>PT109>HERO>PRESIDENT

8 posted on 12/03/2004 9:32:07 PM PST by WildTurkey
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To: 68-69TonkinGulfYachtClub

Thought this might interest you Tonk...


9 posted on 12/03/2004 9:33:30 PM PST by moonpie57 (Fred Howell McMurray, Jr...The man on my POW bracelet)
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To: CHARLITE
47% of this nation supported the traitor, which is absolutely sad. And they stole our colors. We're not dead RED commies. God bless that 'Nam Marine and may Kerry and his followers suffer.
10 posted on 12/03/2004 9:42:49 PM PST by American_4_Ever (America, F yeah!!!!)
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To: WildTurkey
"I’m sick and tired of our flag and our country being bombarded by a constant barrage of left wing ideology."

Last week I visited the Pearl Harbor Memorial and couldn't help but think what these brave men who died on December 7th would think of our country today, with a major party taking the side of America's enemies, tearing down the troops fighting for our survival and casting the US as an agent of evil instead of the terrorists and murderers who threaten us with another surprise attack -- this time with monstrous weapons on a massive scale.
11 posted on 12/03/2004 9:48:52 PM PST by garjog
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To: garjog
Last week I visited the Pearl Harbor Memorial and couldn't help but think what these brave men who died on December 7th would think of our country today, with a major party taking the side of America's enemies, tearing down the troops fighting for our survival and casting the US as an agent of evil instead of the terrorists and murderers who threaten us with another surprise attack -- this time with monstrous weapons on a massive scale.

Nothing new. Remember, the left supported Hitler till he attacked Stalin.

12 posted on 12/03/2004 9:51:36 PM PST by WildTurkey
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To: CHARLITE

"I turned 21 in Viet Nam and voted on an absentee ballot for President Nixon"

In Nov 68 I was in Viet Nam

I was only 20 and ineligble to vote

The voting age was still 21


13 posted on 12/03/2004 9:53:41 PM PST by 68-69TonkinGulfYachtClub (Why do 99 US Senators allow a traitor in their midst? Why is main stream right wing media silent?)
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To: CHARLITE

Stunning article. Sad that so many will never see it. I often print them out for my liberal leaning AF vet next door.


Upon my return to the states in the summer of ’69, someone spit on my ribbons on the uniform I was wearing. I was walking through a terminal at JFK Airport with my sea bag, which weighed almost as much as I did. (I returned to the U.S. weighing 145 lbs., a loss of about 30 lbs.) Why would someone spit on me? It wasn’t my idea to go to Viet Nam; I believe LBJ sent me there. The cab driver also didn’t like the fact that someone in uniform got in his cab.


I remember this. It happened to my brother on his way home. He had to ride in a Greyhound bus for several hours. He was mocked and ridiculed most of the way. When he was out of the bus and into the station of our home town, he was spat upon, too. WE CAN'T LET THIS HAPPEN EVER EVER AGAIN! Take care in any way you can of our brothers and sisters in the military! Let them know you care.


14 posted on 12/03/2004 11:00:37 PM PST by Just Lori (Before you can win the peace, you have to win the WAR!!!)
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To: CHARLITE

Semper fi.


15 posted on 12/03/2004 11:10:10 PM PST by Deetes
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To: CHARLITE

http://www.tonydiana.com/picture.php

please look


16 posted on 12/03/2004 11:21:18 PM PST by Just Lori (Before you can win the peace, you have to win the WAR!!!)
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To: CHARLITE

Well, okay... I wasn't there, I didn't go, so I can't comment on the whole experience personally, but I know guys who served in Vietnam and *liked* it - *liked* going out on night ambush patrol, *liked* a good firefight, and still brag about being able to hit a running gook in the head at 400 yards. None of them seem a bit traumatized to me; they're all grandfathers now and other than hating Jane Fonda like Satan they don't seem to have any psychic scars from the war, no matter how many real scars they've got.

Maybe this guy is just a little too "sensitive"??

But none of them whom I know, have any pictures or home movies either... apparently taking pictures wasn't that important to them at the time.

(On second thought... one Marine of my acquaintance WAS really traumatized by having the Marine Corps take away his M14 and give him an M16... he went AWOL for 2 weeks and hid out hoping they wouldn't find him while they were swapping rifles, but they got his anyway... he's *still* traumatized by *that*...)


17 posted on 12/04/2004 12:52:05 AM PST by fire_eye (Socialism is the opiate of academia.)
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To: CHARLITE
Would I, or did I vote for him (McCain) ? No! Maybe it was too many years in solitary or too much torture at the hands of his captors, but he is definitely not all there.

Amen about McLiberal not being "all there" (even the left-wing guy who does the cartoon TV Funhouse on Saturday Night Live did a pretty good cartoon skit of McLiberal stumping for President Bush)! Just as LCpl Zak says we can't allow the "Prince of Boston" to be president, neither can we allow the "RINO of Arizona" to become our commander in chief.

Semper Fi Lcpl Zak.

18 posted on 12/04/2004 7:53:54 AM PST by DocH (Release ALL your Navy records AND your private journal Kerry!)
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To: fire_eye

"Our mission was to kill people and break things, and we did it well!" What part of that don't you understand? Yes, I am sensitive to being spit upon after spending a year in a jungle. I guess you're tough enough to let that not bother you though. Maybe someday I'll be as good as you and your unsensitive Viet Nam buddies. I'll work on it. As for the flashbacks, I have no control over them. Remember, Kerry didn't have a problem with combat either - except for what was seared into his memory...
P.S. I liked the M-14 story, nice touch.


19 posted on 12/04/2004 9:01:13 AM PST by zakker500 (Zak/USMC/F 2-11/Viet Nam/'68-'69)
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To: CHARLITE
It's articles like this which make me wonder about the Navy Seal wife and her battlepics as well.

Thanks for the post.

NOTAM: Pop a Smoke

20 posted on 12/04/2004 10:56:40 AM PST by Askel5 ( Cooperatio voluntaria ad suicidium est legi morali contraria. )
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To: CHARLITE

bump


21 posted on 12/04/2004 10:58:20 AM PST by VOA
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To: CHARLITE
I am still a proud former Marine, proud of my 13 months of service “in country.”
There it is brother. I wear my service including VN as a badge of honor.
Semper Fi...

22 posted on 12/04/2004 11:01:19 AM PST by oh8eleven (RVN '67-'68)
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To: Spanaway Lori
Thank you for your service.

I apologize for the ignorant among us.

Welcome home brother.

23 posted on 12/04/2004 11:01:34 AM PST by mad_as_he$$ ("Sure is a nice day for making things right." Boss Spearman. NSDQ, De Opresso Libre)
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To: CHARLITE

Char,

Thank you for posting my article. I appreciate the kind words from everyone, they mean a lot to me. I want to thank everyone, even fire eye, for responding. I'm sure he meant well too...

Zak


24 posted on 12/04/2004 4:34:05 PM PST by zakker500 (Zak/USMC/F 2-11/Viet Nam/'68-'69)
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To: zakker500

I see where you were spit on in the summer of 1969. Surely you aren't blaming Kerry for that, are you?

Many guys took photos in Vietnam -- I would venture to say that most did, from conversations I've had with other vets about that. And as for 8mm movie cameras, the PXs over there sold thousands of them.

And don't believe the Swift Boat Veterans for "truth" lie that Kerry returned to the site where he received the Silver Star and re-enacted anything. He didn't. He took some film of the area right after it happened, but there was no re-enacting. Most of the footage he took in Vietnam was of the scenery -- he was hardly in any of it.

Welcome home.

Doug


25 posted on 12/07/2004 11:05:09 AM PST by DougReese
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