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A Sample Chapter From the book:


"Land of Childhood’s Fears

- Faith, Friendship, and the Vietnam War"

 © Copyright 2005 – David Todeschini - all rights reserved.

"Land of Childhood's Fears - Faith, Friendship, and The Vietnam War"  - ISBN  # 1-4116-2452-1 - Paperback
"Land of Childhood's Fears - Faith, Friendship, and The Vietnam War"
 - ISBN # 1-4116-7111-2  - Hardcover

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This Sampler Contains Graphic Depictions of Violence.

This is an unedited verbatim transcript of actual conversations.




                 The following is just part of the story of a Vietnam combat veteran; a recent acquaintance and a friend who I'll call "Sox" to protect his identity from those unscrupulous persons who after reading his deposition here, would dare to infringe upon his privacy. My identity has already been compromised by my decision not to author this book sub nom.[1] As for credentials, recent events notwithstanding, they establish my total credibility to what is contained between these covers. 

                In this piece, no attempt was made to render a full accounting. The reason is best not left to explicit explanations, but it will become clear to the reader in the narrative. The reasons; his and mine, are prime examples of why books of this nature and of this emotional magnitude, are few and far-between. The highly emotional aspect of that war is the very reason why some things about Vietnam will never be known. This is to the detriment of every individual vet, and injurious to the entire country as well. 

                The American public needs to know the truth about the war in Vietnam. Enough has been written about the facts and the individual battles, analyses of political and social climates that were factors in our becoming involved, and what went so terribly wrong that the last American out of there had to be airlifted from the roof of the American Embassy building in Saigon under enemy siege. I wanted the American people to look at the facts and know the truth from an entirely different perspective. 

                The intent of this writer, and those few who could manage to be open and honest enough to share with me their emotional depositions, is to finally let America look into our hearts. We wanted to let America get to know us, and to finally let all of you into that inner space where we have for so very long, hidden in our emotionally wounded solitude; afraid and hurt. We wanted to finally allow you into that emotive fortress we erected around ourselves in order to feel safe, in order not to be hurt anymore.

                 We learned at an early age; in our formative adolescence, that to trust too much invites pain, betrayal, and ridicule, and we often felt that if we cried, our image of masculinity – that veneer we worked so hard to build and preserve, would crumble around us. We felt that if we started to cry, we could never stop the tears, knowing that no one could possibly understand why it was that we wept. 

                Often, on the brink of letting go, we feared the emotional free-fall that we were conditioned to believe would follow. Thus, we trusted no one, because nobody could possibly understand, and to be completely cathartic with our feelings, many of us felt would harm us, or possibly even kill us. As a result, we led lives of quiet desperation, and felt helpless, and so, sought help from no one; confided in no one – not even our wives, our priests or ministers, or our closest friends.

                Many times, we were bombarded with so many emotions; things that were shocking and traumatic, but more importantly, they were irresolvable. Some of us were in fear for our own sanity, having been thrust into situations that are known formally in the antiseptic jargon of psychiatry as "Multiple Avoidance Conflicts", and in the common vernacular as "Catch-22" – You can't win, you can't lose, and you can't quit the game. No decision is worse than a bad decision, and any decision you make will hurt someone, or kill you. There is no way out, and no means of resolution or escape. 

                This is the saga of many Vietnam veterans; it is, no doubt the dilemma of veterans and GIs presently serving in the Middle East – which is our next Vietnam. We can identify and empathize with the veterans of any war. All of us share each other's pain, and in that regard, we have a common bond. 

                You cannot imagine how difficult it was to put all of what is in this book down on paper. Sometimes I feel that there is more "down there" in this black hole of repression that I just can't reach. It was certainly surprised that "Sox" had shared that exact sentiment with me, when he told me that he couldn't bear to touch some of his issues either. All of us have a lot more in common than what meets the eye, or by casual conversation is not readily apparent. We are highly emotional creatures, and that, most of all, is our vulnerability. It is our Achilles’ tendon that some learn to artfully exploit and use against us. 

                Vietnam, and the unique situations we found ourselves in, made a mess out of some of us emotionally. One vet not so eloquently put it: "We were so fu––ed-up in the head, that we didn't even know that we were fu––ed-up in the head".

                Many of us veterans in the prime of our lives and some at the peak of our careers – just when we had all that we needed, and all that we ever wanted, were tormented still, by the events that happened 30 years ago. I can speak from bitter experience in that vein. In a great number of cases, PTSD[2] from the war can lie dormant for decades, until some equally serious event happens to trigger or re-stimulate the original trauma. By then, it is too late to deal with the underlying issues, and it is unclear just exactly what emotions we are dealing with, or where they originate. I'm sorry, but that is the simplest terminology I can use to describe it to someone who might not be familiar with the science of Dianetics.[3] I can only hope that the reader has the insight to grasp a concept that none of us – even the "professionals" – can adequately convey with mere words. 

                The most prominent factor in the recovery of anyone who has suffered a serious emotional trauma, is being taken seriously by someone who understands; someone who has "been there, done that". It is only natural for someone to require "proof" that a trauma was experienced, such as a VA claims office. For the most part, the forensics is impossible unless a vet had been assigned to a combat unit, or was wounded in action, etc. Barring that, there is precious little that one can do to "prove" anything after 30 years. 

                The pain, the suffering, the guilt – it is real, and it is no joke to those who have to live with it, or to those who must carry the time-bomb of repressed emotions and "stuffed" feelings around with them all the time. Many times during the past 30 years, I've been engaged in conversations, which led into discussions about politics and most recently, about legal issues. Some people are so closed-minded, that they cannot in their wildest fantasy, begin to relate to half of what I could tell them from my own personal experience, and my experience pales in comparison to what many less fortunate (or less blessed) than I could tell them. Most wouldn't have the mind to listen, and trust me, many people, even after reading of our experiences, and talking to vets who were there, wouldn't have a clue!   

                This situation is understandable, since some of the stories are so fantastic, they sound embellished, exaggerated, or perhaps even entirely fictional. People think we're making this stuff up to make ourselves out to be some kind of "war heroes", or something. Let me tell you – nothing could be further from the truth. Speaking for myself, personally, I could care less what anybody thinks. I don't want blood money. I don't want sympathy, certainly not pity, and I don't even want understanding anymore – it's too late. I forgive the country that didn't understand, and put my friends and me into the same category as the "baby-killers" at My Lai.  

                The system I fought to protect, and the civil rights I fought for were not forthcoming when I needed them. Therefore, for my part, America is dead, and it's been stinking[4] for a long, long time. Like the old woman with 97 cats in the house, my nostrils were slowly conditioned not to perceive the stench anymore. I got to the point where I didn't care anymore what people believed, because America has long-since given up on God’s moral absolutes in favor of the New Age, Revisionist, Psychobabble of Dr. Kholberg and his ilk; everyone is now his or her own "moral philosopher". The national credo has become "Do what thou wilt".[5] That's what set off the murders at Columbine High School, and numerous others since.[6] The United States doesn't know what to believe anymore – the subject of another book.[7] People in general seem too gullible or too stupid to look at the facts, and they're unable to discern lies from truth – the subject of still another book.[8] I'm not sure that most people would know what to do with the truth. I can document some of it here, as best I can, and let you draw your own conclusions.  

                I'm waiting for the country I grew up loving, and innocently pledging my allegiance to in my youth; to serve and to defend – I'm waiting for that beloved nation to wake up and take back its liberty from a corrupt shadow government. Dear reader, you cannot know how much it hurts to reveal all of this after so long. Also, in my bid for credibility, having to have corroborating testimony of others to validate my claims, and still, some, and even some of you reading this will deny that it has any truth to it at all. Well, guess what? That's "on you". 

                 Believe me, I could have spent the thousands of hours I put into this book on more profitable and pleasant endeavors. Some may think that what is contained here is vindictive, or too angry, but I assure you, it is not meant to cross the line of righteous anger – something America sorely lacks today. It's about time somebody rattled the cage at the emotional level, because politics is impossible to comprehend.  

                If I could; if it were possible to take a pill and wipe those engrams from my memory, I'd do it in a heartbeat, and I venture to say that if such a thing were possible, most of us would (thank God for Dianetics). I can't take a pill, but Dianetics auditing has helped me tremendously. However, there are still the memories, and I have to accept that this is part of me, and it has made me who I am, or at least it has contributed something significant to the process of becoming who I am. Whether this is good or bad, or good and bad, there is nothing to be done about it now, except to tell the story as best I can, and to use what talent and insight the Good Lord has blessed me with, to help others who are similarly situated. That is part of the ministry I pray the Lord will prosper; that I may be used as an instrument and a vessel of His peace – the peace that passeth all understanding.[9] 

                The following is Sox's story, and I've prefaced it with a lengthy lead-in, because I think what he has to say, saying it through me as his deponent, is important for this country to listen to, to believe, to empathize with, with as much of an open mind and heart as they can muster.  

                America can come to terms with the fact that this man's story, as terrifying as it may seem, is just one of the many hundreds of thousands just like it, and many more that are much, much worse. The emotional trauma is apparent in the telling of it; most can never, never venture into that abyss of emotional suppression, or reach into that pit of subliminal trauma to pull out the memories by their roots without specialized counseling.

                I counseled[10] Sox with Dianetics processes for over 4 months, starting in the summer of 1999. Although this type of counseling is normally sacrosanct, upon learning that I was writing this book, he wanted me to publish his story sub nom.[11] 

                Sox told me that nobody believed him when he returned stateside, but he had been diagnosed with severe combat-related PTSD[12] since 1987. 

                I do my best here to "keep it real", and as a volunteer Dianetics Auditor, I never, ever "lead" my clients, or use "hypothesized cues" like the shrinks do. I took his case, since it was particularly acute, and he hadn't been able to sleep for days prior to his agreeing to try Dianetics. After only two sessions a week for 3 months, Sox's recovery was remarkable, considering that he had been under a psychiatrist's "care" for over 13 years before I met him, and his condition had only gotten worse because of it... although he's "compensated" on a full disability pension.

                 The following is Sox's story; the events that inflicted such emotional trauma upon him that he turned to drugs, alcohol, and illicit sex to try to "self-medicate" the trauma; the classic "escape mechanisms" that never work.

 "Puff The Magic Dragon"


"Sox" - His Story

                 Sox served two tours of duty in Vietnam; the first from 1967 to 1968 (during the Tet Offensive and My Lai), and had rotated stateside for a few months, and then signed up for another tour from 1969 to 1970. The latter tour is what he called "my revenge tour", but I'm getting ahead of myself here, doing it for good reason. He was assigned to 1st. Battalion, 9th Division Air Cavalry. He was a door gunner on helicopter gunships known as "Puff the Magic Dragon". 

                During conversations we had in a therapeutic environment 2½ years after I started to write this book, I shared some of what I had written here with Sox,[14] as a means to establish that bond of camaraderie that is necessary to be able to speak on an emotional level, without all of the military macho bullsh–– getting in the way. I could tell as soon as I shared "Tragedy of War", that Sox had some deep-seated traumas, and he shared what he could of them with me. We entered into a Dianetics Auditor/Preclear [15] agreement, and he told me that he wanted to tell his story. I asked him if it would be OK if I took notes, and he nodded his permission with the caveat that he be allowed to see them before I committed them to the computer file that would become part of this book. I agreed, with the condition that he not look at the notes until the auditing sessions produced a resolution of his "PTSD", which the "shrinks" only succeeded in exacerbating. Because he was disbelieved by his friends when he came home, "As part of my therapy", he said, "I want to finally tell the world what happened to me over there". I agreed to put his story here for that reason. Five years later, I am finally able to keep my word to a good friend and fellow Vietnam veteran. 

                As we were getting to know each other one day, we sat and talked for a few hours; the discussion's subject was what each of us did during the war. I told Sox that I was writing a book on Vietnam, and shared parts of the manuscript I had started, with him. I told him that doing this was therapeutic for me, since I wrote here, what I could never bring myself to tell anyone. 

                As I learned what he had been through, I found that the first point of irritation was the fact that his experience needed to be validated. He wanted to tell his story, and to know that I was willing to publish whatever he told me. My agreement to do just that made us instant friends. He said, "...this, in print, will be our testimony of what was so terrible that we couldn't even talk about it". We started to talk. I took notes, being careful not to over-do it. 

                As was the case with me when I was audited,[16] pulling these things out of his reactive mind (aka: "subconscious") was extremely difficult; his trauma being much more severe than my own had been. We related to each other as friends, and this worked to our advantage. He didn't feel as if he was being "evaluated". He wasn’t. 

                There were no inkblots[17] to stare at and imagine butterflies or demons, no Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventories,[18] and no 50 year-old dingy-looking raggedy Charles Manson-looking photographs or woodcuts to look at and make up stories about.[19] None of that Freudian Psychobabble. There was just two vets shootin' the bull, but in this case, there was no "bull" about it – it was real, and it was highly emotional, and what I can convey of it in writing, you are now reading. 

                During some of the more intense conversations between us, Sox became visibly upset and flushed, at one point breaking out in a cold sweat as I shared "Tragedy of War" with him. He avoided eye contact, staring alternately at the floor and out the window while fidgeting with a cigarette. These were classic symptoms of PTSD from what I'd read in the literature, and since then, I've caught myself doing it. Sox has lived with his clinically diagnosed PTSD since the war, and he's been in and out of "treatment" for it for many years. 

                Sox's story is chilling. However, there is a lot more that he won't or can't tell me. His problems today arise from multiple traumatic events, which are directly related to his military service. His earliest trauma in Southeast Asia resulted from his Special Forces[20] combat training at the hands of the QC (South Vietnamese Military Police organization that has no parallel anywhere on the planet.)[21] 

                He was given over to the QC for special training by the US Army, along with six others. The QC were a ruthless bunch of renegades, and apparently (like the CIA) operated with complete autonomy. They were cold, hard, killing machines with no respect for human life; they were the equivalent of the VC or Nazi SS troops, in some cases. That is the best analogy I can make to offer the reader – only they were "friendly forces" – they were on "our side".[22] 

                "During our training with the QC", Sox told me, "We were taught to survive in the jungle, eat bugs and snakes, and wild fruits, and how to kill in cold blood – and do it without any hesitation or remorse at all – it was taught to us, and demonstrated to us, that this is what we were expected to do". The "demonstrations" he spoke of, were quite literally that! I was shocked to hear his explanation when I asked him to clarify how this was done.  

                "One day, somewhere north of the base [Danang Airbase] we were walking alongside this dirt road... the seven of us in the company of two of the QC bastards. People were walking by, and others carrying supplies and bundles of stuff. Suddenly, one of the QC grabs a young girl walking on the road... She's 16, 17 maybe. She was very pretty in her spotless white Ao Dai with a bit of lace fringe. She stood out because she looked like she just flew down from heaven…"  

                He paused for a moment to regain his composure, then continued:

                "The QC babbles some sh–– at her, talking in an angry tone of voice from the very first word he said to her. She begins to look through her purse for something... I guess for an ID card, or money... well, whatever she was looking for, she didn't find it. That gook Du ma[23] stopped yelling then calmly pulled his ChiCom 9.62 and shot her point-blank in the head. It was made clear to us that we would be called upon to do the same thing".  

                Sox then said that no one on the road; those walking, riding, or driving by, even stopped to find out what happened. Apparently terrorized by the QC, the people thought it best to mind their own business. They and the QC walked off, leaving the young girl dead in a pool of blood, in the middle of the road. None of the seven GIs dared to look back to see if the body would be removed by the people who passed by.  

                "Nobody objected, nobody screamed, nobody cried, and nobody dared say a f––in' word, because if they did, they'd be lying there dead right next to her", Sox said. Even more shocking than the random, cold-blooded murder of an innocent passerby that they were forced to witness, is what Sox and the six other GIs with him were forced and compelled to DO later on in their "training". 

                "One day", Sox said, "we went out into this little village, and we were ordered to torch it. We had flamethrowers, and the people all ran for cover when they saw QC and us coming up the dirt road. We surrounded a couple of these grass huts they lived in, and cut loose with the flamethrowers. There were people inside, and we heard them screaming and yelling... I don't know how many there were... I didn't give a sh––. Nobody cared. Nobody would know. I was emotionally dead... numb. It was as if it wasn't really happening. Suddenly the screaming stopped. We could smell it... the flesh burning, I mean... It was like a nightmare in slow motion. We passed the test. We left, and let everything burn. On the way out, we heaved a couple-a' Willie Peters [24] in there just for good measure". 

                The foregoing account, as you might imagine, was not rendered in the "neat" manner in which I presented it. The printed page loses much in the translation from the verbal and emotional catharsis punctuated by restrained tears, facial, and body language expressions of incredible inner agony. Some things simply cannot be expressed with the printed page.  

                At the end of his story, Sox became visibly unsettled, and I thought it best to NOT continue. I took him outside, and did a Light Objective Process[25] on him, whereupon in 10 minutes, he felt much better. We would continue this in a day or two when he has had a chance to get some rest. 

                Continuing his story the following day (he insisted, wanting to "get this out"), Sox told me: 

                "After about 3 or 4 weeks of this [training] we all had to demonstrate our abilities... We had to be able to kill without any emotion, and without any hesitation, anyone who got in our way; anyone we were ordered to kill". His "test" was to kill a 10 year-old boy – to strangle the child to death with his bare hands. The QC produced the boy from somewhere, and ordered Sox to choke him.  

                "They told me to look him in the eyes – I had to look the kid in the eyes; never take my eyes off his... I had him by the neck, and then... then…" Being conditioned by the most brutal psychoterrorism techniques known to man, Sox held back floods of tears, as he admitted to me in intermittent phrases and disconnected sentences, that he actually did as he was told – he strangled a helpless and innocent child to death with his bare hands and without a word. When the child died, he let his lifeless body fall to the ground. He said, "I didn't feel sorry, and I didn't cry. It was like it was happening to someone else... Like a movie I was watching, not being able to do anything but what I was told to do".

                The QC trained these men, seven of them in all (that we know about), in the martial arts, taught them to set and remove booby traps, how to make IEDs,[26] and commit random acts of terrorism apparently designed to scare people from giving any assistance to the Viet Cong or the NVA. Of the seven who were originally with Sox, five "graduated". The other two, who had resisted the QC's orders, "just disappeared one day", Sox said.  "I never saw them again after that". 

                After Sox's training at the hands of the QC was completed, he was returned to his [US Army] unit. At this point, Sox recalls "I was emotionally dead... I didn't give a sh–– about nuthin'. I kind-a enjoyed it after a while – killin' gooks, I mean. It was just like being addicted, only worse I looked forward to it. I got real good at it. I opened up with that .50 or the Minigun, and it was Rock 'n Roll. All I had was the adrenaline. I didn't feel sorry, and I knew that I should have felt something. I was overloaded in this tornado of feelings and after the initial shock passed, it was as if I was in the eye of the storm... a dead calm, and I knew I was good at what I did. That's why, when I rotated back stateside after my first tour... walkin' around in the streets... in the stores... I knew that I couldn't have that life... I couldn't have a wife... kids... every time I looked at 'em, I knew that it would take me back there, and I wasn't sure that I wouldn't hurt them... or God forbid, kill them". 

                I assured Sox that now the trauma is passed, and that we could get him processed [in Dianetics] enough so that the compulsion to kill would be gone. That was his primary fear; that he would end up hurting someone he loved. In another tragic incident a short time into his first tour, is the death of the starboard door-gunner on one of his missions. 

                "... The job is dangerous. You’re sitting behind this quad-50,[27] and there's metal all in front of you. The only part that's vulnerable is your legs and your head".  

                Sox paused for a moment, wiped the sweat from his brow, and then continued: "The crew communicated over the headsets, and there is so much noise and confusion! There was this gunner behind me... We called him "Tennessee". I don't remember his name…" At this point, Sox went off on a tangent; an unwitting method to avoid confronting the painful issue at hand: "... Come to think about it, nobody got called by their real names... you know, it didn't pay to have really good friends out there, 'cause the next minute any one of you could be dead".[28]  

                I interrupted him and asked, "What about Tennessee?" He responded, now on his original train-of-thought:[29] "... Yeah, well, I called him on the headset, and he didn't answer. As we flew out of the line-of-fire from the ground, I hesitated to turn around. As the chopper circled to make another pass, I turned and saw him slumped over his weapon". Sox was having great difficulty at this point, so I stopped him, and had him go through everything up to this point a second time. 

                "... I got up, and pulled him back off it... he was dead... shot in the forehead…" Again hesitating, then averting his eyes to the floor, and running the fingers of both hands through his closely-cropped hair, he continued in suppressed anguish: "... I pulled off his helmet, and when I did, the back of his head just fell to pieces... like a crushed melon... he... his brain came out..." 

                Sox's unit was operating primarily out of Danang Airbase, aka: "Rocket City", so-called because hardly a day went by that the base or the city, didn't come under rocket or mortar attack. During the '68 Tet offensive, Sox witnessed "... piles of dead and dismembered bodies..." of enemy troops who were killed by tower gunners, land mines around the base perimeter, and Claymores. It is a little-known fact that NVA and VC "sappers" who were high on drugs of diverse variety seemed invincible to gunfire, and even the pellet-laden focused blasts of Claymore mines. The GIs in the guard towers knowing this, took to firing rocket flares and Willy Peters, since the only thing that stopped the sappers was a rocket flare in the chest, or to have their legs cut out from under them by the quad 50s. 

                "There is no way", Sox said, "that anyone could live through that much ordinance comin' at 'em... you would think... but they did... they damn-sure did". 

                Most shocking in this potpourri of human drama, is the fact that Sox was in the vicinity, in the air behind his quad-50, on the morning of March 16, 1968, the day that will forever live in infamy in the annals of American military history.     

                March 16, 1968, that darkest of all days in the history of American warfare – the morning that the massacre at the village of My Lai, and an equally tragic but almost unknown atrocity at My Khe, 4 miles away, were committed by US troops. These two incidents had stigmatized everyone wearing a US military uniform. In effect, every soldier, especially Vietnam veterans – we were all at My Lai as far as the American public was concerned.

                As Sox's C-47 was running a cover operation that morning a few miles from My Lai, the pilot had the cockpit radio tuned to the frequency used by Charlie company of Americal Division. Sox overheard most all of what went on over the radio. He overheard a conversation between "... a Bird Colonel, and the RTO... as the troops entered the village, there was the standard chatter about the surroundings, estimates of the population, and coordination of observations with the spotters flying overhead. Troops on the ground usually went in and verified what Air-recon spotted". 

                Of course, that was nothing unusual; Recon from the air was SOP, but what happened next, "without any warning at all", as Sox told me, was totally anomalous. 

                "I don't remember the exact words", Sox told me, "but there were apparently several radios [30] [6-meter backpack radios were common] on the ground... After all the chatter about what and who was where quieted down, I heard someone on the ground ask, 'What do you want us to do, sir', obviously talking to the f––in' chief honcho". Sox seemed extremely uncomfortable in this "space", so I broke the rules and interrupted him saying, "You mean the chief MIFFWICK?" He replied, "Huh?" I responded, "You know... M.F.W.I.C. – pronounced 'Miff-wick' – Mother-Fu––er Who's In Charge". We both laughed, and he was then able to continue without the emotional overload that I could sense coming over him. 

                "The Colonel responded with 'I damn-sure don't wanna' feed 'em', referring to the people in the village. Obviously, there were implied orders that no one was supposed to hear or make sense of. I'm sure Danang Air Base's 18-inch reel-to-reel recorders got the entire conversation on tape". 

                It was common practice for the base operations Radio Room to record all the transmissions for review, in case a transmission was garbled or misunderstood. 

                "The orders", Sox said, "were disguised as something else. The real orders were to 'Take no prisoners', and THAT was understood by Charlie company... I could tell by the conversation". I asked him, "What exactly was said to make them think like that? How do you get 'Don't take any prisoners' out of a simple thing like 'I don't want to feed them?" He responded, "Look, Dave, it's not WHAT was said, it's what was NOT said. It's really very simple. Once you take someone prisoner, you gotta' feed him. If you don't, he'll starve to death, and you may-as-well have shot the sonofab–– right there and saved yourself the trouble of walking through the jungle 20 miles, with 300 gooks at gunpoint... Makes you targets for every f––in’ dink with a rifle hiding in the bushes or up in a tree. If the ... MIFFWICK... {Laughs nervously} ... didn't want to feed 'em, that means he didn't want to deal with prisoners and paperwork. He didn't want his men dead trying to bring back a bunch of gook ICs [31] it's just that simple. Those GIs were not there on no Red Cross mission. The guys on the radios knew what the Ol' Man meant". 

                Sox said that the response from the RTO on the ground verified this, "because", he said, "the guy on the ground said, 'But Sir, there are lots of women and children...' and the gist of what the guy on the radio was saying was an objection to the implied order... Something that was understood without having to say it outright... Without saying 'kill them all' over the airwaves, the Ol' Man had given the order to kill everyone in that village". 

                The implied order was objected to, and when it was understood as given, and duly objected to, the Colonel, according to Sox, allegedly responded "You heard the orders, soldier, now carry it out", or something to that effect. 

                "Lieutenant Calley was there, somewhere", Sox said, "... but I didn't hear anyone being addressed as 'Lieutenant'. I don't know the sonofab––, so I wouldn't have recognized his voice, anyway". 

                Sox subsequently heard the transmissions over the radios, which were verbal descriptions of the events that unfolded. What he heard as intermittent sound bytes of the drama in progress as the troops started to kill the villagers, was heard only when the microphone buttons on the ground radios were pressed.  

                "What I heard were people screaming and yelling in the background... It was hard to hear them..."  

Author's note: The microphones on the PRC-25s and other field radios are noise-canceling units. They are not very sensitive, requiring that you speak directly into them to be heard. Background noise – even screaming, would be greatly attenuated. 

                "The GIs were yelling to each other egging each other on. One voice said "I order you to shoot!", as apparently some of them were reluctant to participate in the mass-killing".               

                We do know that there were some who did not do what they were ordered to do. However, the information we are relying upon comes from the media, and the media has been proven unreliable in matters of objective truth.  

                Sox continued; "I remember hearing the troops who were chasing people out into the surrounding jungle. They were talking to chopper pilots who acted as spotters, telling the troops where the people were hiding. A bunch of them [civilians] were rounded up like cows, and when they had a bunch of them cornered in a small area, the troops opened fire, killing them all. I remember hearing this over the radio... the comments of the GIs which were cruel, and sadistic – I never heard nuthin' like it before or since". 

                According to Sox, the epithets that the GIs had screamed at the villagers, could not be recalled verbatim, but he said, "They didn't really make any sense". To the best of Sox's recollection – even under Dianetics processing, the soldiers were screaming incoherent epithets and accusations, such as "You'll never have kids again", "We'll stop this generation", "You'll never give one of us VD [Venereal Disease] again", and things to that effect. 

                "It was clear to me", Sox said, "that this was some sort of vengeance mission... Vengeance for what, I couldn't tell you. All I know is that My Lai turned into a free-for-all in an instant. Those people didn't have a chance".

                From Sox's description of what he heard over the radio that day, even someone who could not bear to place himself mentally in such a situation, could envision the nightmare that was unfolding in this little village 20 miles or so from the city of Danang. I, myself can identify with the emotional trauma of hearing such things over the field radio.[32] The imagination runs away with you, but it is reality-based. In that situation, it is unclear to this deponent whether the psychological damage is identical, or to what degree it is more or less severe than actually having been physically present in that situation. I suppose that it would all depend upon the sensitivity threshold of the individual, how many prior traumas he's been through, and whether he perceived himself as part of what was going on, somewhat culpable, or a full-fledged accomplice. This situation is markedly (and obviously) different than watching the NEWS on TV, because you are made "...part of the drama that inflicted the trauma" [33] – if not by being involved in a related or "support" operation, then merely by association. 

                Another one of Sox's early-on traumatic experiences was holding a buddy that was shot 4 times in the chest. "I held onto him", Sox told me, "and I looked him in the eyes and told him that the medics are coming, and that before he knew it, he'd be home with family, and he and his girl would be doin' the 'Nasty-Nasty' in a few days. You can't imagine how I felt telling him that, when I knew it wasn't true... I lied to him... I was a f––in' liar, and don't know if I did the right thing or not. I tried to make him comfortable". Sox broke down and cried bitterly at this point. I gave him a cigarette and fixed him a cup of coffee, and then we took a break. 

                What Sox didn't see in himself, I saw. After 24 years, I had suppressed trauma along the same line as his, albeit not nearly as severe. What I saw is the fact that this man had, after 30 years, felt empathy, and compassion for another human being whom he hardly knew. The fact that he can still be troubled by it after so long, speaks volumes about his character; it tells me that Sox is an exceptional individual. It tells me that I should count myself fortunate to have him as a friend, because even though he's been conditioned to suppress his emotions in order to maintain his sanity among the insane situations he was thrust into, it doesn't mean that the man has a cold heart or a black soul – quite the contrary!

                This man, and others like him, can always be counted on to tell the truth and do the right thing. He may have lied to the dying soldier, but he gained no benefit from the deception. His only motivation in lying was to make the kid feel better and give him some comfort in his last moments. Perhaps his compassion overwhelmed his logic, and he believed himself, in that instant, that somehow the kid would pull through. There was no alternative in that situation, and I can identify with it. 

                Survivor's guilt is a natural reaction it seems, to such things. Although it may be irrational and illogical, we are, in my opinion, not dealing entirely with the mind here – we are dealing with those Biblical intangibles of heart and soul. 

                Quite understandably, Sox became upset and agitated at several points during our therapeutic conversations on this topic, which took place over several months. I hope I have done him justice here. The setting was informal, in a relatively comfortable environment, without coercion or external pressures, and with the total absence of leading questions or "hypothesized cues" on my part, as per the Scientologist's Code of Ethics. It was quite a while before I was comfortable taking notes, but Sox requested that I publish his story "some day" in the book I was writing. 

                Being sensitive to his emotional withdrawal, as he appeared to be speaking so matter-of-factly about a fellow combatant he held in his arms, struck a chord with me, and my own experience with a mortally wounded child at Trung My Tay.[34] Talking to Sox was as if I was looking into a mirror, which amplified my own experience. I could fully empathize with his inner emotions – the entire gamut of them from helplessness, fear, sorrow, anguish, anger, and rage, to the almost inevitable self-inflicted injury of false guilt, or the unfounded guilt of somehow feeling culpable – even in part – for what happened. In addition, after it was all over, the endless "what ifs?" and "if onlys?" that play around in your head – been there, done that, have T-shirt.  

                I don't know if he noticed, but I felt myself "flooding", and still not knowing which feeling or emotion to deal with first. The "therapist" or Dianetics Auditor sees a lot of himself in the person he's trying to help. 

                "Some things", Sox said at the start of our sessions, "are just too painful to talk about... It would just kill me... my heart couldn't take it". [He has diabetes and a heart condition, but he wasn't referring to his physical health]. I am not a psychiatrist, nor do I ever engage in tinkering and playing around inside people's heads the way these Merchants of Chaos [35] did with Sox for 30 years. I told Sox "Writing this all down, was my way of dealing with this sh––. It helped me make what little sense can be made of it. Writing it down validates it, makes it real, and puts it into context so I can deal with it... and I've dealt with it". 

                Asked about why he would allow me to print his story here, Sox responded. "This is my testimony about what I saw, and about what my brothers went through but couldn't bear to talk about, much less commit it to paper. It is my indictment against the corrupt politicians... those rat bastards, and what they put us through for absolutely no reason at all, other than their own greed and corruption". 

                Sox liked the idea of being vindicated in print, and so do I. I told him, "They can kill my body, my friend, but they won't silence me. My 30 year oath of silence is over, and I realize now, that I should have broken it a long time ago". 

                Perhaps my brothers suffering the repercussions of the 1991 Desert Storm War and the trauma of the latest Iraqi conflict will take this cue and not be silent about what they're going through. 

                For what it's worth, our testimonies will eventually be the epitaph on the tombstone of a corrupt government that has passed out of the control of the governed long, long ago. 

                In addition, as for the greed, and the corruption, and the slick apparency of concern and empathy the politicians put on to get elected, I say, "Give me a break!" 

                "But the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling-down of strongholds." – 2 Corinthians 10:4 KJV

                We Christians know who the real enemy is. We await the deliverance of our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, and we watch and wait in faith, and with the peace that passeth all understanding, because we know that this life is not all there is, and that the battle over evil has already been won.  

"Vet's rap Sessions - a chapter from "Land of Childhood's Fears"

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"Land of Childhood's Fears - Faith, Friendship, and The Vietnam War"  - ISBN  # 1-4116-2452-1 - Paperback
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[1] Sub nom – (Latin) "under another name".
[2] PTSD – Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
[3] See:
[4] "...Lord, by this time he stinketh…" - John 11:39 KJV.
[5] "Now therefore know and consider what thou wilt do; for evil is determined against our master, and against all his household: for he  is such a son of Belial, that a man cannot speak to him". - Isaiah 25:17 KJV
[6] See: for literature on psychiatry and drugs in schools.
[7]"The Merchants of Chaos" - See my bookstore on for availability of this title.
[8] "The Lie Detection Manual" - ISBN 1-4116-1821-1 -  see my web site at:
[9] Phillipians 4:7 KJV
[10] This counseling is called "auditing", which simply means "to listen".
[11] Sub nom – (Latin) "under another name"
[12] Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder was "officially" recognized by the American Psychiatric Association as a "disorder" in 1985.
[13] Photo from the web.
[14] In other parts of the manuscript that existed at the time.
[15] Auditor – a person who listens. Preclear – a person who is being audited, who is not yet "clear" of engrams, and therefore not  "clear".  – "Pre"-clear (prior to being "clear").
[16] Audited – undergoing Dianetics counseling sessions.
[17] Rorschach test.
[18] MMPI – Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory - a list of about 800 questions that is supposed to reveal your "personality".
[19] Thematic Apperception Test – Results from this test is completely subjective upon interpretation by the "shrink".
[20] Operation Phoenix.
[21] Except perhaps to the Nazi SS.
[22] With friends like the QC, one does not need enemies.
[23] "Du ma" – (Vietnamese) "mother-fu--er".
[24] Willie Peters - White Phosphorus grenades.
[25] Light Objective Process  - A Dianetics technique which orients a person to his present-time environment.
[26] IED - Improvised Explosive Device.
[27] Quad .50 – four .50 caliber machine guns mounted in tandem
[28] By not making friends, many combat soldiers hoped to avoid the grieving process they would go through if good friend were killed.
[29] What Dianetics calls "The Time Track"
[30] Probably PRC-25s.
[31] ICs - Innocent Civilians.
[32] See: "Misinterpreted Target" – Chapter 3 in this book.
[33] See: "Flashbacks" – Chapter 16 of this book.
[34] See: "Tragedy of War".
Merchants of Chaos – a term coined by L. Ron Hubbard to describe psychiatrists, psychologists and "social engineers", and the title of  another book I am working on – See: or for availability.


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