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11-11-08, 09:24 AM #1
A Day In the Life, One Marines story.
Rated R for Violence. Read at your caution..
I joined the Marine Corps in 1967 right after high school. I was in Nam by December. My combat experience and how I dealt with it probably was not much different than many others.
I was only in Nam a couple of days when a South Vietnamese soldier tripped a booby trap and was killed. The first time I had ever seen someone die.He was not dismembered and there was little blood and the experience seemed eerily surreal.
I was a Combat Engineer and a demolitions expert and mines and booby traps were my specialty. I felt as though if I had been where this man was I could have prevented his death.
A couple of days later we were mine sweeping a dirt road between a place called An Hoa and a fire-base called An Loc when we found that a large hole(50 feet in diameter) had been blown in the middle of this road. Loose dirt was everywhere and the V.C.(Viet Cong) had a bad habit of doing this and planting mines in the loose dirt because they were harder to detect. We had the infantrymen set up a defensive perimeter and we ( My partner and I ) began to probe for mines. Laying on our stomach to reduce our profile to explosions we would carefully push our bayonet’s into the loose soil, feeling for solid resistance while being gentile enough to avoid setting off any mines.
My partner(Clyde Dillenberg) and I were carefully and systematically clearing path through this area when the lieutenant walked by me upright. I thought; what is he doing, to myself. He knelt down just a few feet in front of me and began to probe. I looked up just as he pressed his bayonet into the ground and BOOM. The explosion knocked me backwards and I landed on my back about 25 feet back into the crater . As I looked up I saw the LT’s body flying through the air above me. He must have been at leas 20 ft high. He landed about 15 or 20 feet further up the road from where the explosion took place.
Pieces of his flesh and bone and blood were all over me.
Everyone said that he must have seen something because he suddenly walked purposefully directly to the spot where he knelt down and started probing.
I immediately began probing again to clear path to him so we could get him medical attention. When we had secured an area safe for the medical corpsman to come up to him the sight we found could only be described as unthinkable. Here was a man I knew with one leg ripped off taking with it the hip exposing his intestines. The other leg was blown off above the ankle and shredded flesh hung in ribbons from the exposed bone to the knee. The arm he was probing with was gone to just below the shoulder again exposing the bone from above the elbow to the armpit. The other arm was blown off rather cleanly around mid forearm.
We found him face down and rolled him over to expose the most horrifying sight I have ever experienced. His forehead and cheeks had gaping holes in them and both eyes were gone,the rest of his face was in tact. The rest of his torso was mostly in tact.Immediately assuming he was dead I informed the Doc(Medical corpsman) that there was no need to hurry because he was dead. Just then he (the LT.) groaned.
It was chilling. Then he began to talk. I was both horrified and saddened to think this man was still alive in the condition he was in. The doc called in a medical evacuation and we cleared the rest of the area of mines so a chopper could land and pick up the LT.
There was little we could do but watch and listen to this hunk of mutilated flesh talk asking for help. He could neither see or hear us talking to him but he kept calling out to us to help him. I began to wish for his death so he would stop talking.
We picked him up by the limb fragments and put him on stretcher and loaded him on the helicopter.
He died 3 days later. I was 19. New years day.1968.
There were to be many other days and many other horrors for the next 6 months.
I chose to share this experience as a part of my journey back from 40 years of healing. I was mortally wounded that day but not by mortars, mines or bullets. My wounds started that day and continued to become more and more severe over the next 6 months. I was wounded by enemy mortar fire in late June and medically evacuated ultimately back home and Medically retired.
From the time I was evacuated until more than 10 years later the severity of the mental wounds began to show up in increasingly more bazaar and violent ways.
In 1979 I found the true beginnings of healing from my mental prison. My wife and I had always made it our practice to attend Church regularly but it had little effect on my mental state until one summer morning when I met some folks who were involved in the same business we were in and they began to talk about their faith in ways I had never heard.
They talked of being “Born Again” and of a intimate personal relationship with Jesus. As they spoke I realized that I had been desiring a deeper faith and felt drawn to the Jesus they spoke of. They prayed with me and I invited Jesus into every area of my life. Healing emotionally began immediately. Although dramatic changes began that day the changes took several months to reach a level where I knew I was truly free.
I still have some spells where I get emotional and uncomfortable when spending a lot of time thinking about those months In Viet Nam. The hate, bitterness and anger are long gone. The violent incidents, long gone as well, the headaches loss of reality, also gone.
I have functioned as a whole man for many years. Although my physical scars remain and somewhat limit my mobility I am free indeed.
My hope is that by sharing this bit of my life here with my family at VAJoe that maybe one of you will find some healing as I have.
A difficult journey starts with one step. Start today.
If you have questions about any of these experiences you may post a response or email me at
Last edited by Captain Kirk; 11-11-08 at 09:26 AM. Reason: Amend title
11-12-08, 08:34 AM #2
HOLY COW, MAN!! Great minds think alike....so I'm told. If "you" weren't a Believer, before arriving "in country", serving in a line Company, in 68', and 69', caused many attitude adjustments! I was in country, less than a month, when our Platoon was ambushed....near Dong Ha Mountain. When I heard "Corpsman up", I made my "bones", the hard way...as usual. Terrain, was so thick, NO MED-EVAC! By the next nite, I was having "conversations", with God. Tough way to find your Faith! BUT...He's been with me, ever since. Still feel guilty, and ashamed, for surviving some terrible events, BUT....I treasure EVERY day, smell ALL the flowers, dance in the rain, and also treasure the site of a beautiful woman, or a sharp hot rod! Thank You, JESUS!!.....SEMPER FI....very appropriate saying!....Doc Greek
11-12-08, 10:01 AM #3
That is part of a book I am writing on my life's experiances.
My family died and left litle record of what thier life experiances were.
I'm a big believer in leaving footprints.
There is another one under the same topic posted earlier called."the last day. it is a documentation of the day I was wounded.
I'll publish another one tomorow on TET the battle for Hue.
I would be a basket case like so many with PTSD were it nnot for my faith.
02-06-09, 03:27 PM #4
Thanks for posting your story Captain Kirk, as well as for your transformation.
See you when we get beamed up....
02-06-09, 05:30 PM #5
Thank you for your service to our Country and to the Marine Corps
02-07-09, 07:27 AM #6
02-07-09, 07:29 AM #7
02-09-09, 07:14 AM #8
Thanks Captain Kirk for being yourself (a Genuine Marine)
02-09-09, 07:45 AM #9
Kirk....catharsis, is supposed to be good for the soul....I think you're on the right path! Some of our memories ARE tough to live with, BUT sharing them with men who shared our own experiences, makes us realize that we're ALL on the same path. I'm right there walking right next to you! GOD BLESS!!.....SEMPER FI....Doc Greek
....."Doc Greek UP!!".....
02-09-09, 08:06 AM #10
Hey Doc, Good to hearfromyou. Thanks bro. for the props.
Bill, Thank you for your support. I love sharring my testimony. For many years I could not even bear to think of it.
God's healing power.
04-07-09, 10:14 PM #11
Thought I would drag out the dirty laundry and read this bedtime story.
04-08-09, 12:14 AM #12
Captain Kirk thanks for sharing your story. It helps to get it out.
I went for years and kept in all inside and was very bitter.
It wasn't until I met my wife now for 12 years that I opened up. She was interested and listened and understood. She was the only person that would sit down and listen and really care and appreciate my service to our country.
All us Nam Vets carry our own load but with brothers like you we will all survive.
It really breaks my heart when I see these Marines on T.V. that come home with no legs, no arms and so on. They are true Marines and you don't hear them complain one bit. All of them I have seen would do it all over again for there country.
To all you Marines on here you have my support and help if there is anything I can do for you. We are all brothers who have all served in the best damn branch of service there is the United States Marine Corps. Once A Marine Always A Marine.
Welcome home Marines and Chesty where ever you are.
Semper Fi Redman1
12-05-09, 12:12 PM #13
I just recieved a copy of the book Echoes from the Halls by Gregg Stoner, where several of my personal stories are written. It is surreal to have something you experianced in a book. I'm writing some more stories now. I'll post them after I finishh them.
12-05-09, 02:34 PM #14
GODBLESS you DOUG THANKYOU FOR YOUR SERVICE AND SACRIFICE.
12-05-09, 02:43 PM #15
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