Forrest Niemi

American Veteran Dealing with PTSD from the Precise memories of Vietnam War

Profilers: AMST 150 (Harry Kim, Jason Niemi, Nikolai Nelson, Daniel Fulton)

[00:00] Brief introduction about yourself? 

I am Grandfather of Jason. I was gonna get drafted because I was breathing and nobody was going to say, “you’re not going.” I had a unique background, I went to Purdue University, it had 2 years of mandatory ROTC. I was with military people. A lot of people were in the ROTC so I knew the whole military. I was feeling very comfortable with my military skills with the drilling and all that stuff. I felt very comfortable that I would become an officer and I did go through ROTC. My only choice at that time was either infantry or artillery. Those were the only two that were offered. I went down because I knew I could wait around for a month or two and get my draft noticed or just start. I was so confident or maybe a little young and foolish, but I was not like “I don’t know where I’m going.” I was very confident about the military. When I took all the tests, the answer was “you could sign up to anything you want.” You qualify just about.

So I said, I want to sign up for infantry. He says, “Then you hear me? You can sign up for anything.” I said, “I wanted to sign up for infantry because I wanted to go to OCS.” He just shook his head and couldn’t believe it, because here’s a guy who could take any course I wanted and avoid it. And then, of course, Vietnam wasn’t active at that time. This is the spring of 64. So I went to military OCS, and basic training, and I became the company guide for everything that you could ever demonstrate. I was doing fine, except I got to ride a truck out at the March job because I was buddies with all the NCOs I’d bring them, make sure they got their coffee, their donuts and everything else, and the only thing I had to do is the final umpteen mile march. I had to do it.

But I started to realize that a lot of walking in the infantry and artillery got trucks and stuff, you know, that got easier. So I went and said, Can I switch to artillery for fastening? And they said, Yeah, you’ll have to waive infantry if you want artillery. I said, Oh, I can handle that because I was already guaranteed it. So then I took the tests and I got accepted by the wait several months. You had to wait your turn to get in there, so I was enlisted in a little John Missile Battalion for a few months. And there they had me doing all the special stuff too because I realized I was going to OCS and I knew what I was doing. I had easy tours taking care of that kind of stuff.

Then I got into OCS, Artillery, and graduated in July of 65, and about a third of our class was just sent to different places. But some of the class went to Korea immediately, and a third of us stayed at Fort Sill to go to Korea in 11 months. We all laughed at the ones that had to go early because we got to be lieutenants and hang around having fun being an officer at Fort Sill, you know, be important.

Unfortunately, every one of us who had a delay got rerouted to Vietnam. So I got my orders changed from Korea to Vietnam as a single replacement and went over there around April of 66 as a general replacement. I Flew into Saigon, not knowing where I was going or anything else. When I went to Saigon, they said, “Come back tomorrow, sir, and you’ll get your assignment.” Coming back I was told I was going to the first Cavalry Division of the two Corps. They have only been there since about July or August of the year before.

They’d been there less than a year, but nine months –  I was going as a replacement. And I know that for observers they all come from the direct support battalion, the 105, but they are 8 inches 175. So I had something. Maybe I’ll get one of those, then I won’t have any problem with it. Two days later I’m up there and they said, “You’re going to the second twelve 105 Battalion, you’ll be a four observer, and with a rifle called the first Cavalry it’s all helicopters, air assaults, all that good stuff.” I went there and they said the next they go down there, go down, get your weapon and all that. I got an M-16. I said, “We never even saw them in OCS.” They were so new. They were in Vietnam. We saw a picture of it but we never fired them. I asked them if they could tell me how to fill Strapped them. They said they’ll tell you how to fill the strap. Get your ten magazines and go down there. I just signed to go with a FO that’s been there. I went down there, and introduced myself to them.

The next day, we’re on a plane, going to Pleiku, and taking other planes to go into position very near Loas. Now I know nothing. There’s no orientation and I need to fire this thing by 16 so you get that’s how it started. I then became an FO for a rifle company. And second of all, that’s where I lived for the next four months I had a record sergeant myself. We both had radio offers. My group of four artillery people was for two radio operators and the tenant me for all the records. The sergeant and we (me and my group) lived with the infantry, went wherever they went, and one of us would be in the lead platoon. Every day, we were out in the field. The key for the company would be behind the lead platoon and I’d be with the CPA, with the company. The next day, my record sergeant, I would flip. So every other day I was the lead platoon. You’re probably behind the first squad is a CP for the lieutenant, have that platoon, so you’re with him. You’re always with the officer that has yours. Every other day I was basically in the lead platoon, the other day when Platoon back from the lead.

My weapon is a defensive weapon, a protection weapon. I’m firing artillery, air support from fixed wings, jets, mostly helicopters, and rocket fire helicopters. I actually did naval fire. So you live and you’re not going to use your 16 unless you’re being overrun. Everybody else is doing the fire, your firing weapons, and talking to the captain or whatever. And what we need is where we go in about four months.

But then I got malaria and I was hospitalized and then came back. In the last six months I became the fire direction officer for the battery that I was with, assigned to the artillery battery. So I live with them. I had two combat experiences: one was as a fourth observer. Then for the last six months, I was the fire direction officer in the field where I was. So three officers in an artillery battery, six guns, one or five. There was a battery commander, captain, exec officer, and First Battalion, and I was the fire direction officer. We all had to work after they laid the battery because they could just sit there. I had the fire control of the firing, mostly two guns at a time. Out of the six, sometimes six. And it was a big problem going on at one time where I had six different fire missions with six different guns. That was not easy, but I pulled it off. That was six months when I never left the field.

But one day at Christmas I said, “You guys get to go in there once a month and have a couple of days back in, okay? Get a couple of beers and have a good time. I’m here six months and one day off the field.” But what was nice about that was I wasn’t looking for them. They knew we were making so much noise out in the middle of nowhere. We got moved at different times but never left to go back to my home base. In six months I was in the field. I mean, that’s a record – I had to be away for every fire mission. So you sleep when you can. We did harassment interdiction for that stuff at night. But it was a somewhat safer one because we were looking for them there. They knew where we were. If they wanted to attack, they could. But when you’re with the infantry, you’re looking for them. Almost every time contact was made by them, you walk in and you get shot at first. So that was a lot more questionable as far as how you’re going, how healthy you wind up being versus who didn’t mind being out in the field because I’m not looking for him.

But it was a situation with the infantry. That’s the toughest one, the one mission. And then about three or four days a week, the sergeant is ready to operate. Both were wounded, as mortar fire would be mortared. I was on a patrol and ran from a machine gun nest. bout two or three people were killed. Garin probably was wounded by the radio operator who was behind me, was shot in the butt and they missed me. So you go from that. You don’t mind being out of the field when you’re not looking for it. I just mentioned that because it’s when you get a little bit concerned about this for real.



[09:50] While in Vietnam, how were the conditions? 

Well, mine was with feeling conditions all the time. I was out in the field basically very rarely back in and headquarter for the first Cav a couple of times for a couple of days. You get to go to the officer’s club and have a few drinks and do. But most of it was in the field with the infantry. First Cav is a lot better than a lot of the other divisions because it’s got so many helicopters, the smoke we could get supplied, and maybe hot meals a little more often see rations. I mean, you start up on a thing. You’re going to get two weeks of sea rations – you’re going to slop with you. But with the first Cav, you were a little bit better because you could get supplied with ammunition equipment a little more often than some of the others. Everybody had helicopters to supplement. We had more stuff. So we could get access to things that we needed.

You know, conditions where I was a city boy and I lived. You lived in a field in the woods, in the jungle, and rain. So I’ve slept on an air mattress with the water running up all over the side for water, just running on. I feel like I’m at the beach almost every day. And when you are with the infantry, you have to put two parts of letters together, make it a little bit of a tent, put a couple of sticks up and try to do it that way. Where was the artillery? A medium tent because I had all the keep charts and a bunch of stuff. So much more comfortable in the sense that I was protected, covered meals were better supplied, and so it was more genteel. I was busy all the time, so keeping busy kept you. I was out there not too often. That was easy. You get to go. You take your work one time where you get to go to Japan or something for eight or nine days.

And I went to Hawaii because my future wife was going so I did that. But back then, in those days, mail was just mail there was no internet and texting and all that. So you live by three at least a week to get it mail. You send it about a week later, maybe they would get it, then write another. So it’s two weeks to get an answer to a question. I, Sergeant Major, was good and I told them I wanted to go. If one opened up to go to Honolulu, I’d take it and he was able to get me one. So I had to tell my future wife that I was going there, but I had to go cold. I said to get airplane ticket money from my mother and flight. Oh, I’ll see you there. I didn’t know she would be there when I got away because I had to go. I had to take one of his real quick ways, “Hey, somebody just dropped out. Do you want to grab it? I can get it for you.” It was really hard to get those because that was going back to see girlfriends and wives and, you know, you go to Tokyo, Cambodia, or whatever those say, those trips. If you want to go back to Honolulu, you have to grab one if you can. So I actually left. She did show up, but I didn’t even know when I was playing. I didn’t know if she was going to be there or not. That’s how because there’s no communication. It took two weeks to get something back and that was already going to be going through as well as the last one. So it’s a little different in today’s world when you can talk halfway around the world by pushing a button. It didn’t work that way back then and strictly letters. It was the communication mode and so my position was such that I could keep pretty busy when I was with the infantry because I would be shooting defensive firepower.

And when we stopped for the night, I was working for another half hour firing in missions and I was also involved right, with the Capitol or whatever about where we were, because sometimes it’s a little bit tough to tell, but I would be the key man. I had all the maps I had. I could fire smoke around someplace on a hill that you could see and take announcements and get some ideas about something. I wasn’t far from what was going on and was aware of what my support was as far as artillery, the rage they had, and what kind of other things I had going for me. So I kept busy, it was a way to keep sort of getting to Goofy. I didn’t have time to sit around and goof off. It wasn’t a goof-off job.


[14:41] The Equipment used during the war 

Well, personal equipment. Now things are different, too. You have to take the first part. When I was infantry, I had to keep it pretty thin, you know, carry a lot of extra stuff with you. But I was carrying, like, there to carry a lot of ammo, maybe 20 magazines. I’m carrying 10 for my own protection and a 16 and I don’t have anything. I got a map case also and I would get my future wife to send me Playboy magazine. So I had one out. Very popular because I had a playboy. Yeah, that’s what it used to be like. I carried it because I could. I personally carried an air mattress. Some people just didn’t and I always carried, oh, when I was sick with malaria, they blew up pillows in the hospital. Somehow, one of mine got in my backpack when I came back. So was the only one who had a blow-up pillow. Not these other guys. They roll up their fatigues and that’s the pillow. I had a blow pill – I was a Cadillac. You know, I was.

But I had room because I’m not carrying all this other stuff. I had a punchline for it to keep for the night. It got a little bit chilly. I always carried, I was able to carry like extra socks, their spare underwear, and something dry. A lot of people didn’t. And there are days when you just went wet and I learned a lot about living out in nature bloodsuckers up your pants and your crotch and lots of crazy stuff food that sometimes get you sick from bad food or whatever. But that was one – when I was with the artillery, I had a tent. I had, you know, it well because of my I had a little, I slept right next to the charts. We had about five radios because I’m talking to all kinds of people. Up and down and out, I got FOs. I got so many FOs that I’m dealing with. So I was awake a lot, but I was comfortable where you’re basically got a tent on over. You see, you don’t get in the weather, but it’s 24/7.

So I felt. I mean you’re in a situation of being out a while – it’s not like being back in base camp and you finish at 5:00, you go to the officers club, then-NCO club, and you go out of town basically every day. We allowed them during the day to go out to the bars or something like that sort of thing. Then the babies there, of course. I just didn’t have that opportunity literally in six months because those guys never left the field. They never came back because there was a lot of stuff going on. Usually, they would come back. So but they were so important that the guns got moved to different locations, depending on where we were. But we never got back the whole base in six months, except I think about a day or day and a half to have Christmas. I went in for one and that was it.

Then the first three or four months I was with the grunts and wherever they went, I went. The only peace that I had was the month that I had malaria because if you’re in a hospital on the coast every other day, there was time to go to Tokyo for the month. I missed that day. I got it the other day so I could stay there. But what you’re better than you, the officers, they you know, you just had curfews, that sort of thing – a little bit of freedom. You could go to the local bar to sort of be what you’re good at and they let you get out of there because I had no assignments until I got released from the hospital.

So that was probably the best couple of weeks. You know, you’re no responsibility, no nothing. But malaria wasn’t funny, you know, a fever of 105 and under cold showers trying to reduce the fever. And all that stuff up. I was basically living it most of the time. But it wasn’t bad – The infantry part, you’re more concerned. You never know what’s going to happen to you. That’s it. Every day. You don’t know. I used to like to go to sleep. Is in time to go by that I didn’t have to think about it. But you always know. I saw a lot of people get hurt. My sergeant got shot. Yes. I mean, of the four of us, we had three Purple Hearts and one wastin me.


[19:23] How did you find peace throughout the war?

I had just said it was two different factors: the one when I was with the infantry, there really wasn’t sleeping. Sleeping was about peace. Because you’re awake and in trouble. And that’s part of being an officer. Once you set up your defensive positions, everybody, every five Fox one wasn’t going to stay awake. One doesn’t. I’m not, I’m not have not looking for them. I can sleep. I’ll hear it if they come. So I could fall asleep and that would be it. And I don’t have to worry about it until the next morning. So. But once you’re up, it’s perpetual. You’re out looking for One time we did an ambush on them. We saw the one time I saw them first. Every time else they fired first. You could be 15 feet from you if you could walk right bottom. You can’t see who is thick enough to walk. There are some open areas. Now, if you’re in the thicker stuff, you know, you could be you could just walk right past me you wouldn’t even see. And so they picked the fights – there’s no peace.

The other time, once I was in the field with the artillery, the routine was pretty much the same. I was awake doing something. Most of the time, there’s very little time to just sit there. There are always fire missions. I was working a lot and that kept me busy making me feel secure because I knew that the likelihood of getting hurt was almost minimal. There could be a sharpshooter some month in the woods. Should, but that is unlikely. They could make an attack. But they would be hitting our defensive people before me. You could get comfortable enough that you just do a job in a combat zone and there are things that come up. Things happen and crazy stuff, and you got to do to try to help somebody out, to support somebody. There’s always something going on, but I think as long as you feel for me, it’s all you felt that personal safety was the thing that was concerning. You could be okay, you would get mail – mail was a big deal. About three times a year for that they bring out two beers for everybody like Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s. They’d bring a few cases of beer and everybody gets to and no more.

That is not a lot, but you don’t have a lot of choices because you’re always in the position as an officer. You’ve got things going on, especially like fire direction. I mean, every fire mission and there are fire missions going on all day. I’m working, so that was actually good because I kept busy and I’m the guy who’s responsible for what’s going on out there. That for me was my way of keeping pretty much everything under control. Otherwise, I don’t know what I have time to do. Oh, you know, one thing it’s interesting because I know that later in the war there was a lot of talk about marijuana, drugs, and all that, when I was there, I never saw it once. I can say honestly, I never saw it once. Some of the years may have had a few, too, but drugs were not a lot. A deal that this is 60, 67. It’s early. It’s the very first part of the war. I never heard about it or never saw it. Little of these guys and I can’t say that nobody ever had a marijuana cigarette when I was there, I would know, but I never saw it or heard it. That was a lot different than well, later on when drugs were coming more into it, literally, there was no none of that artificial stuff to keep it straight or goofy or whatever.


[23:01] Explain the difference between the officer and enlisted

Well, is the command in you know, or the rank? I mean, you had to rely on them, but you didn’t. They knew who liked the rifle company or the three officers. Captain Exactly. It’s me and I’m not artillery and I’m actually not every so I can’t say Joe go cover that. You know I can’t do any of the maneuverings I’m there to support and they come to me and say, hey, we need help here. We need this. Or, you know, what do we get? I am the one that’s doing what I can to help in the mission. But I got to be up there with them so I can see it in a value, but I don’t my you know, we live together, you know, In fact, the one thing I will say I did I’m not sure I’m sure the other people were to you knew where they’re going to shoot at you. They’re shooting at certain specific items. They’re sniping. They’re shooting at whoever’s on a radio pick 25. So they would shoot the radio operators and who’s ever talked to on the radio, because that’s gotta be somebody important. I didn’t know much if it didn’t matter because the radio operator knows exactly what’s going on.

And there’s a lot of times you can’t be you could be walking, I don’t know, never walk with the radio. He was behind me, I say, at 158, you know, I mean, and he just called it in. So I don’t want to be on the other end because they do. I’m important. Also, the brass you have is black. It’s black. You, I was like this private. I don’t have to tell them that. I got pressed and there’s nobody to quit. You had to wear your nametag and there was a black lieutenant thing, you know, or, you know, you have to wear your rank. But no, he says, you know, like this. And I’m just next to the guy who’s talking on the phone radio and I’m saying, I’m going to go, here I am. You know, I got, I think by chance, with everybody else. But they’re not going to say, look at me. I’m important. And it is because as I said, any time I get it, I can say to him he’s already got it to his ear. Is it at 100? He’s at 100. You know, he for one day to, you know, identify himself, but it’s no sense going back and forth then. He’s also complicated by tubas. Why? I tried to walk together. So it’s not easy if you’re slippery, what are you? You know, it’s better if one person is just doing it. He’s got it all right here. He doesn’t have to try to get people to want it. That’s what I did 99% of the time.

I would just be for the time, as with everything. Otherwise, I got six phones. I’m doing stuff all the time. And we had radio operators to help. But that’s how I handled the equipment. It was pretty much I never had to fire my 16 itself. I never was in a position where we had to. I know I’ve done a lot of damage that hurt a lot of people with my weapons of artillery rockets. So what was leftover of what that cause? I mean, I know that I did damage to people, but personally I didn’t. I would only be using that in a if it was self-defense and I’m not supposed to sometimes have other people defending me because I’m doing other things. But you have to have it in case. So I never had to pull it. There were times when not many of us left that I had it ready, but I was busy doing a whole bunch of other stuff, so I never had to fire on anybody. So I was unique in that situation.

But that’s my job. I shouldn’t be fired. That means I’m not doing what I am supposed to be doing, those others. So that turned out to be okay as far as not even one time we all carried six days. We all carry chambered round and on safe. Now, the guys made that point. Do you have to say provide the safety you just some right there. So we know it’s I’ve got it here I could tap it down and fire and it’s just chambered. They were coming down a cliff kind of thing. You can still walk down rocks and if something happened very sharp drop the 16. It was bouncing about 100 feet down. But, Bob, I know it’s loaded and I’m thinking the sun is going to hit. So I’ve got an automatic. It’s coming right down towards me. This M-16 bounces down off the rocks and we go, Man, it’s shot with a 60. It did go off, but I mean that yeah, crazy stuff happens too.

I mean, you know, like, I can tell you another crazy story because I would have to go out and fire a defensive, defensive crouch. If physically you fire, you bring them in close. So in case of an attack, you can say AC one or two fires, you know that that’s a point that you set up as you set up different defenses And I got him on my map so I just can call in what I’ve named it and they would have it ready to go. They would just so and sometimes too, because you’re fired very close to within. Listen, sometimes 100 meters. I mean, you can hear shrapnel. You have to be really careful. I was in front of them and it was dark and I said, “I’m going out here.”

So, you know, because I’ll see something’s moving out there, I told the guys at the front line that they’re around and they set up trip lights and stuff. I couldn’t see the trip right away. I tripped off a flare and stood up. I said, “It’s made me at times.” Yeah, I could see some hair trigger. It just opened up because of that. Because that trip lights up and that’s where I was. I had the nature of the train. I had to get out there to verify where my shots were going because I want to get him tight, but not too tight. So I was in front of the one who didn’t need to walk and then had to do it very often. I had to do it at that particular time. So this is to me guys, I’m out there, don’t overheat so that you can get hit. Those are kind of crazy things that happened isolated weeks but I never had to fire them to defend myself which is why I was carrying that weapon.


[29:27] What Kept you striving to stay alive during the darkest times of war? 

I would say communications, looking for male, a couple of buddies that you can talk to or, the officers talking to the you. it’s just not that I’m a big deal, but it’s just you keep some segregation and know, some best buddies with the private. I mean by my radio opperator, here and I, we lived together practically. He’s right next to me. But there’s not too much you can do. You are concerned about your safety. And for me it was staying busy, and there I could stay busy.

Other people could be sitting around. I’m always involved in doing something that I don’t know. I was in a position ahead of others knowing very well because I just came back after that time with my record Sergeant. I didn’t really operate. They both got mortared and were getting mortar every day. The colonel came off his helicopter about 15 feet from me and we were holding the ELC down and he made about three feet and got shot. We threw him back right on his own helicopter. There was stuff going on. And then my radio got shot. We had a big ceremony afterwards with the boots and the helmet and the ceremonial  I couldn’t go. And I went to the office.

We have a chaplain with was an infantry battalion chaplain. And he saw me and his forces, his guys, they all know they want you. He said, “They’re looking for you. How come you couldn’t know, you weren’t at the ceremonial thing?” I said, “I’ll tell you what, I couldn’t think about anything except I’m glad I’m still breathing, so I couldn’t go.” He understood. You know, you can only take so much of that and you just got to. I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t do the ceremonial thing. I knew those people, and I just had to walk away so that’s the only time I did that. But I mean, there’s a lot of people who got hurt and hurt badly, died or whatever. So it was a you get when it gets real ugly, you just sort of say, “I’m glad I’m still breathing.” That was hard because you know what happened. And other than that, you know, I kept under control pretty much you you’re just thinking about every day and it’s one day off the calendar. And don’t try to think about it too much.

But artillery was a lot easier to do than the infantry could introduce. Always a surprise. You could go for a couple of days. Nothing except your walk around or in the woods and jungles and nothing’s happened. And then all of a sudden it opens up. And they were the first to pop it almost every time. So that anticipation was what was difficult to expect.


[32:25] Does the war still have any effect on you today 

Well, that’s going to answer in a whole bunch of ways. The answers. Yes. Oh, I’m telling it because it does. And I was disappointed at the time. They do things a lot better than they did back in Vietnam. I came back straight out of you to fly over the coast. You get a rent. They read these things, their civilian crew. But you’re being fired. And they had to stop in Tokyo. They wouldn’t listen in Tokyo because we are combat armed. But because we were combat troops, we sat on the plane for about 5 hours. They’re doing stuff because we’re on military patrol. You know, we had no we had no guns or anything. But they had to go to get to San Francisco, and come back the next day. Here’s your ticket, here’s your cash payment for all your less than 90 days to go and they don’t reassign you. If you have less than 90 days on your requirements. I had probably 50 or so. They’re not going to send you to someplace for 50.

You know, you’re done. You’re outed right there at the airport. It was the military part of it, but they gave me a ticket to go home to back Pittsburgh and my final pay, not one question, but there was nothing about, post-traumatic PTSD or nothing. I just did 12 months of legitimate combat and he just walked off and nobody knew about PTSD at that time. The VA and the military do much better now about talking to people as they leave and, you know, find out what to think then what’s your ticket is your cash for your earned income. See it and bye. I had an over and off time where I had no reserves requirement. So literally that day. See you later. I will never talk to the military again. It was it, it was it, you know, no backup, no nothing.

Only because later I got prostate cancer and they were talking. It took years before they started realizing about cancers. And there were things in Agent Orange. Well, right now it’s all different, but it’s been more recent. I had prostate cancer. It’s Agent Orange related, but I took care of it on my own because nobody even tells you that at the time there. So now they admit it right away. So I cured myself. I mean, doctors cured me, but I did. I did it. So when they finally realized, I got a $100 token because I cured myself. My VA benefits were like $100. But then I wound up getting triple bypass surgery. That was a sarcoma or that was different, but it was all about three or four things that are Agent Orange. It is related later in life and lasted four or five years. Then I had a triple bypass about six or eight years ago. That was age related all through the VA. And then things start coming up hearing this for umpteen years.

For the first three years, I had no nothing to do with it. And then I got a sarcoma that was age related. I was at 100% for over two years and now I’m back to 80% because I haven’t had to do anything with. There hasn’t been a reoccurrence. I get CT scans every three months. I get you know. I get the picture. So it’s always a matter of if it shows up a lot and goes back to 100. But I’m at 80 right now for other things that are going on.

PTSD was recognized and it’s not easy. In while I was the last guy. I said I better be living. So one of the courses I took was one medicine elective. It was taught by a psychiatrist who was a lawyer and a doctor. He had a psychiatry, an M.D. and a degree. And I got to know him really well. And I saw him because I was having some horrendous dreams this couple of years and dreaming these crazy war dreams. I was having the nightmare, the stuff that PTSD is all about. I paid for it for about two years, some once a week, talking about how they should have been taking good care of it. But they didn’t at those times. But now that all the sarcoma stuff and the other stuff, it’s all been related to Agent Orange and I put it in. So now I’m at 80% with 100% possible again if something happens to me. So if you say anything, a lot of medical things.

I don’t mind saying that PTSD is real. I mean that it’s not just you, weak sister. You couldn’t help pushing it if you could do what I went through. I had it. I saw a psychiatrist for two years about crazy dreams and my first relationship then was about what? You know, you get all hung up on different things. And I don’t mind telling you that because that’s real.  That’s not bullshit. If you’re in Saigon passing out ordnance for 8 hours a day and then having way too much pressure, I could handle that for about three years. But it depends on what you’re doing.

If you’re out, there is a big difference between. A big difference if you’re a truck driver. Yeah, you know, but if you’re out there, it’s legitimate. And I think I think the V.A. has gotten a lot better. I think the Army has got they would never do that anymore. They don’t do that now. They come back from Afghanistan, they interview, they talk to them and they check things out back literally off the plane. Here’s your trip home. Goodbye. And never heard from again, ever. Nothing, that’s it.

So, I mean, you can see how things have improved over the last 50 or 60 years. It was a little different back then. A lot of connections. So, yes, the question is it does have an effect on people. Yeah, it does. And that’s for real. And I might even tell you, I saw psychiatry being a first of all, can’t tell anybody. I mean, that must mean I’m crazy. You knownobody says, “Oh, I don’t I don’t give a shit.” I know exactly what it is from because I thought I was going to die for about a year. That gets to you after a while. I’m not bragging, but I was stuck. A good suck at a better job. That’s supposed to have been fine. I could have handled that. But I think in three years that it would be no big deal. But when you’re it’s just the luck of the draw as far as how exposed you are and what you feel.

Then Agent Orange, it was legitimate. I remember at least two occasions when the planes were coming over, the helicopters before the 80. I felt the mist coming down on me, literally. Some people in it, because it doesn’t matter where you are, they know they could prove anything. I literally had it at least a couple of times right on me. So these are things you don’t think about, DDT, whatever. You don’t think about it at the time. But then that was a bad shape. So that’s when you find out those things. Anyway, yes, I did. It does affect me today. I mean I became a lawyer. I was able to work. But you know there is stuff that it’s not easy to just to forget.


[40:25] How difficult was it to adjust to society? 

To me, I wanted an education and the colonel said, “Stay in and I will get you a job whenever you want.” I said no and I decided to go to law school. I had a whole different attitude than the young kids. I was at the University of Pittsburgh, and had all these protesters and mostly kids were 22 to 23, just out of the military, and five or six who were still in the military. I never cut classes. You’re paying money, you should get what you can get. I had a whole different attitude – I wanted a degree. So, I didn’t have too many troubles other than crazy dreams. That’s why I went to the psychiatrist because of the crazy dreams – I was just going crazy. I was working and doing stuff. I mean, you know, performing in school. Therefore I had to get that stop. There were some problems, but I was motivated to advance my life. That’s what I did. I had a purpose.

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