I.C.U. was nothing more or less than a long single room with three beds in it. There were no windows, no television set, but, I noted as I was wheeled in, there was the ubiquitous large clock mounted on the wall over the doubled doors that had split down the center to allow my bed through. The clock ticked loud enough to hear across the room and its big second hand clicked from one second to the next. The middle bed was missing so I knew I wouldn’t have to be transferred from bed to bed, an agonizing process.
Corporal Shoot approached the side of my bed and fussed with some of the tubing still running out from both my wrists and my neck. At some point in my hazy drug state, only truly interrupted by the hour or hour and a half when the pain brought frightful clarity back into my life until the morphine deadened it again, they’d removed the I.V. that had been running in my thigh. I could move my legs again, as those restraints had been taken off, as well. Although not painful, the wrist restraints were terribly uncomfortable because I couldn’t move my torso almost at all, and just laying frozen in the same position, angled a little higher or lower by the cranking of the bed, didn’t quite give me any sense of freedom at all.
Shoot stuck a chunk of ice into my mouth without asking me if I needed it. “The cottonmouth thing is a function of the opiates in your system,” he said when he saw my frown, “and you’ve got a load of that circulating around.”
“Letter,” I got out, around the chunk of ice, which I had to attempt to manipulate around my mouth without using my hands.
“Both posted,” Shoot replied with a smile. He then quoted me about what he’d written in each letter. “I made copies of both letters but you can’t read right now, anyway. Kathy’s got one of those Xerox 813 things at the nurse’s station.”
I breathed in and out deeply, not yet needing a shot, and felt some relief from the worry I was occasionally experiencing over my situation. The fact that it did not seem that anyone really knew whether I would live or die bothered me.
If I died, then what would my new wife and even newer daughter do. Neither of us had come from wealthy families. There were no reserves, no calling the parents or any of that if the money I was earning dried up completely.
“My Marines,” I breathed out, trying to understand why there was no place to go to find out what had happened to everyone I’d left behind.
“You have to think about you for the time being,” Shoot said, “and I have to go. I’m not an I.C.U. corpsman, so I’ll see you again when they kick you back onto the floor. You’ll get more attention in here than I could give you anyway.”
Shoot walked out through the double swinging doors, leaving them gently waving as if saying the goodbye he hadn’t spoken. I wondered whether hellos and goodbyes might ever return in my life. There were no real social introductions or goodbyes in combat, and they didn’t seem to exist in the hospital where I’d ended up either. People just came and went. As I turned my thoughts to Kathy, she walked through the doors.
Kathy walked over to check out my I.V. solutions, then turned on a tiny flashlight to look into each of my eyes. She didn’t say hello, so I didn’t either.
“Your condition is critical, still,” she said, stepping back from the right side of my bed, “but your prognosis is now guarded instead of poor.”
“Both good news and bad news in that one,” Kathy went on, moving to the bottom of the bed to pull something from a holder placed somewhere that I couldn’t see.
I had no question for her, so I didn’t reply, simply staring at her and waiting.
“The good news is that you may not die after all, and the bad news is that you aren’t prognosis poor so you can’t have your wife flown here at government expense to be with you.”
“But, I didn’t know,” I breathed out, the NG tube down my nose and throat making it difficult to talk.
“No, almost nobody does, and there’s usually too little time, anyway.”
“It’s like your brother,” Kathy said.
“My brother?” I asked. “How do you know anything about my brother, much less why my wife’s not coming has anything to do with him?”
“The file was just updated here by telegram,” Kathy replied, “since he was evidently notified in the Army hospital where he’s a patient in Yokohama. It appears he’s coming to Yokosuka to see you before going home since he’s being released.”
“My question,” I got out, the pain slowly beginning to edge out from under the morphine cloud that could only contain it for short periods of time.
“Oh, yes,” Kathy said, remembering. “Your brother and you didn’t have to be in the same combat theater. The Army and Marine Corps abide by the Sullivan policy, which means you would have had to apply to the heads of those services for one of you to go home, or someplace else. They always approve those, but neither of you apparently ever applied.”
“But I didn’t know,” I said again, shocked to my core about how little I had understood, and still didn’t understand, about going off to war.
“Yes,” Kathy replied. “I’ve figured out, in my time here, that such things are not taught in any training school you might have attended, but they sure as hell should have been.”
I didn’t want Kathy to leave, but I wasn’t sure I could take any more painful revelations about the stuff I had not gotten or lost because I was so ignorant about it.
“They’re both unconscious,” I said, trying to look back and forth, over at my companions in the room, surprised that the drapes, capable of going around each bed and suspended down with small chains and hooks, were not isolating each one of us in the unit.
“Induced comas,” Kathy responded, “they’ll be out in a few days, but at least you’ll get to see their fathers again if they live. Both fathers are good guys.”
I’d never heard of Marine generals referred to in such casual and familiar terms before and my opinion about Kathy continued along on its steady rise.
I wondered how long I’d be in the I.C.U. and how long it would be before my brother showed up at the hospital, and how long it would be until my next morphine shot. The pain was growing again, like a rising King Cobra in the jungle, with a bite that hurt like hell but didn’t mercifully kill you.
“Too bad they won’t be part of the Marine Corps Board of Inquiry coming here,” Kathy said, checking my I.V. flows, the bag I now wore on the outside of my stomach, and the tube running into my lower body part to take care of my ‘flow’ as she described it.
The phrase she’d mentioned, seemingly in passing, had taken a moment to penetrate through my drug-induced mind. A Board of Inquiry in the Marine Corps was a board to investigate a circumstance or Marine Officer facing less than honorable discharge. It was a court, in reality, but not having as many tools or punishments a court-martial process might entail.
I desperately wanted to ask Kathy about who the board was meeting about and when, but could not get myself together enough to put the right words together before she was gone, sweeping through the double doors as Shoot had done before her.
I didn’t know where my glasses were. All through Marine training, I’d been able to wear contact lenses but the conditions out in the field in Vietnam, especially down in a place so miserable in every physical way, as the A Shau Valley was, had forced me to dig out my emergency pair of regular glasses. Where they were now was probably anybody’s guess. I wasn’t going to watch television anyway – not under the circumstances. If the board of inquiry was for or about me then I wanted to see what was going on, not simply try to make out fuzzy shaped creatures across the room. I could see fine, but only up close and maybe out to ten feet out in front of me without my glasses. I pushed the red button I’d been given in case I needed something.
Kathy appeared through the doors in seconds.
“Anything wrong?’ she asked.
“I need to talk to Corporal Shoot, and I need my glasses,” I said.
“He works on the ward, not down here,” she replied, moving close to the side of my bed, and pulling a drawer out of a small table I could only hear from where I lay.
“I need to see him about something personal, not related to his duties,” I said, after a few seconds.
“Personal?” Kathy said, placing my folded glasses into my left hand. “You just got here, and you’ve been loaded on morphine. How could you have anything personal to discuss with a corpsman?”
I didn’t answer, slowly taking my glasses shakily between my bandaged bad hand and my nearly equally bandaged good hand.
Kathy pulled the glasses gently from my grasp and placed them carefully on my head. She stepped back a few paces, spread her arms out, and said “Voila, how do I look?”
I realized, for the first time, that she was a remarkably beautiful woman.
“You look good,” I replied.
“Well, hell, that doesn’t seem like much, but then good is the best report anyone can get on their condition and prognosis, so I’ll take it.”
She waited for a few seconds, before putting her arms down. I could literally see her facial expression changing, as she realized I was not answering her question about Shoot.
“I’ll get word to the ward, about the corporal,” she finally said, before flitting through the doors once more.
Seemingly hours later, a Marine Corps General, wearing greens and sporting two silver stars on each shoulder, stepped carefully through the double doors.
He walked to the bottom of the bed to my left. He had to be General Masters, I figured.
“How you doing son?” he asked across the short distance to the bed to his unconscious son, his voice low, soft, and not commanding at all.
The general’s son said nothing, of course, the breathing apparatus pushing air in and out of his lungs through long plastic tubes, in both Puller’s and Master’s situations, puffing and swishing to make the only sounds in the room.
“There’s a card, tucked into a small envelope at the bottom of your son’s bed, sir,” I said to the general. “I was condition critical and prognosis poor but just got upgraded to prognosis guarded. You might want to read that card if Kathy hasn’t told you anything for a while.”
“I see,” the general said, looking over at me, and then taking a few steps toward the corner of his son’s bed.
“Condition critical, prognosis fair,” he read, before putting it back. “Fair must be pretty good compared to poor. That’s a relief. Thank you.”
The general walked over to the side of my bed. “You’re new,” he said, “what happened to the guy before you?”
“Shipped out, they said, sir,” I replied, looking at the general’s chest full of ribbons, some that I couldn’t even recognize.
“Hmmm,” the general replied. “Tell me about yourself and what happened over there.”
I tried to give a good account of myself but the pain was beginning to slowly overpower my ability to speak. Kathy came through the doors while I was talking about my family.
“Okay, that’s enough for him,” she said briskly, acting more like the general than the general himself.
“Anything I can do for you, just let me know,” General Masters said, patting my left shoulder lightly. “I’ll be back every day until he’s out of here.”
“Pain shot,” I replied, grimacing, meaning the words for Kathy.
“She’ll do that, won’t you Kathy?” the general said, this time using his general’s voice while turning to face her directly.
“Yes, sir,” Kathy replied, responding as formally to the man as he’d been to her.
“I’ll take my leave,” he said, bowing slightly toward me before turning and walking through the doors.
“You take orders pretty well,” I got out between the waves of pain that were building at my very center and radiating outward to even the tips of my fingers and feet.
“Not too difficult,” Kathy said, with a half-laugh. “especially when properly equipped.”
She held up the syringe she’d been carrying all along in her left hand. She grabbed my right arm I.V. tube, punched the needle through the plastic, and pushed the yellow liquid into me.
I felt the drug entering my system almost instantaneously, knowing however that the full effect of its magical presence would not be felt for several minutes. Absolutely knowing that relief was coming was a form of relief all in of itself.
“Corporal Shoot’s outside,” Kathy said, discarding the syringe in her usual manner.
“Junior,” Shoot said, his head the only part of his body sticking through the doors.
“Need a minute of your time, alone,” I got out, still waiting for the drug to allow me to be fully communicative again.
“I’m gone,” Kathy said, going out as Shoot was coming in.
“What is it?” Shoot asked, his brow wrinkled and real curiosity in the tone of his voice.
“Board of Inquiry,” I said, my voice rough.
“Yeah, they’re waiting to talk to you. It’s the buzz of the whole hospital. They flew all the way from Da Nang, apparently. They sure want to talk to you. What happened in that valley you talk of, anyway?”
“What ranks are they?”
“Bird Colonels, three of them, a female staff sergeant carrying equipment and a major probably along for the ride.”
“Court recorder, the woman,” I said more clearly, the drug beginning to do its work. I’d asked for the board officer ranks in hope that one or more of the officers was a lieutenant, but that wasn’t to be. A board of inquiry to dishonorably discharge would not be formed and implemented without having officers all senior to the rank of the person being investigated for discharge. The major would be the reporter, or prosecutor if it had been civilian, so his rank didn’t matter.
“I can have an advocate,” I said, knowing that I could do at least that.
I could demand an attorney when the hearing started if it was a hearing about what I thought it was about.
“I need somebody tough and smart but I don’t know anybody here like that.”
“I sure do,” Shoot said, “and you got it. You have been through hell, you’re still in hell, and this is the last piss poor thing you need to have to put up with right now. I can’t be there but you won’t be alone.”
“When are they coming?” I asked, preparing myself to talk to Kathy so that I would not be in my last hour of the morphine wearing off when they came.
“Doctor’s cleared you for one twenty-minute session,” Shoot said. “As soon as I leave here I’ll get your advocate and have her scoot over here. And, don’t ever forget something sir,” Shoot went on, backing slightly away from the foot of my bed. “It don’t mean nuttin,”
Shoot left without saying another word.
“She?” I whispered to the waving doors, the drug fully taking away the pain and allowing me to seemingly float a little over the top of the mattress I was on.
How could I ever return home or to the USA with a bad conduct or dishonorable discharge on my record? Would I even have to give the Purple Heart back? My wife wouldn’t care, I knew, but I was also sure that everyone else who found out sure would, especially when it came to getting a job, and for the rest of my life. Worse than the future, however, was trying my best not to review over and over in my head the number of times I had committed bad conduct or acted dishonorably. The discharge, if the board found against me, would be unbearably painful but it wouldn’t be unjust.
“She?” I asked myself again. Who might the ‘she’ be?
The door opened and the Marine Staff Sergeant entered, pushing a cart with electronic equipment atop it before her. Shoot came in after her carrying a stack of folding chairs.
I breathed in and out deeply as if preparing for another charge of the North Vietnamese Army or getting ready to launch one on our own. I wondered as I waited, whether I would ever come out from under experiencing one terrifying event after another. The morphine helped reduce more than the physical pain, I realized. Although I was breathing deeply in preparation for coming combat, I was not feeling the core constricting terror I’d so often experienced down inside the A Shau Valley. The morphine would only allow me to feel fear. It blocked the stupefying terror that combat demanded, however.
The three Colonels walked through the double doors and Shoot departed. He turned slightly as he left, giving me a thumbs up with his right fist held close to his side and winking with one eye. Shoot was telling me that it would all be okay, but I couldn’t find any foundation for his having such a belief.
The colonels were all bird colonels, as he’d described. They sat down, arranging their three chairs in a straight line against the wall just out from Master’s bed. The Staff Sergeant sat on the other side of the doors, between my bed and that of Puller. I watched her bend down and plug a cord in. I realized she was there, away from the colonels, because of where the only plug outlet was located.
I looked at the colonels, but none of them would look back at me. Another bad sign, I thought. I wondered if they would start with a reading of the charges, and tried to think of the specifics of things I’d done that might be the ones that they would use. The major entered last, after everyone else, bringing his own folding chair and carrying a thick briefcase. He placed the chair exactly in front of the swinging doors and then sat down on it. There would be no interference while the supposed twenty-minute hearing was taking place. He placed the briefcase down by his right side and then opened it to pull a thick file out and set it across his lap.
I looked up at the clock on the wall, memorizing the time. Twenty minutes of more hell, I thought. “Can I do twenty minutes?” I whispered to myself.
“Lieutenant?” the major asked, looking up from what I presumed to be my file.
I shook my head, afraid to say anything. I wouldn’t whisper to myself I instructed myself, knowing that even having such thoughts was a function of the drug I was on. How could they hold a hearing and convict me when I was so totally out of it, I had no idea, but I was still a Marine and by God, I would go out like one.
There was a push against the double doors, jarring the reading major, and when the doors did not immediately open, a hard, insistent knocking against the wall behind where the three colonels sat.
The major came to his feet and moved his briefcase and chair before easing the doors open a bit.
A tall woman piled right into him, physically moving the major before stepping to the bottom of my bed, and then turning to face the tribunal.
I recognized the woman and was shocked.
“Alright, let’s get something straight here,” she said loudly, pointing over at the three colonels. “I’m this patient’s advocate and that pulls a lot of weight in this Navy facility. If I determine, for any reason, that the patient cannot or will not continue then this hearing is over. Does everyone understand?”
There was a silence in the room, only the respirators swishing away, as before.
“I’m sorry ma’am,” the colonel on the left side of the three replied, keeping his own voice much softer and lower than the woman’s. “You have no authority here.”
“My husband is in command of this entire facility,” the woman said. “He’s waiting by his phone. If I call him, then, without delay, all of you will be holding your so-called hearing in some Japanese restaurant in downtown Yokosuka.”
The colonel swallowed once and then looked at his fellow colonels, who did not look back at him.
“Out of consideration for your current position, we’re going to make an exception, off the record, ma’am.” The colonel pointed toward the Staff Sergeant and then slashed one finger across his neck. “We’ll begin this meeting, from the beginning, when the sergeant is ready.”
I waited, while everyone else waited, for the sergeant to get her machine ready.
Somehow, I felt better, even though I knew I was probably steaming full ahead into very rough and dangerous seas.
Edit – – were not isolating each one of us in the “until” ?? Should read unit ?? IDK..
What a crock having an inquiry like that, but I guess i get it that they wanted to get it from you while still a breathing & semi-coherent Marine.
Glad the COs wife was stellar !!
Barbara remains in my memory to this day, the Captain’s wife. I still see her as older than me but there was no way as I am so old now.
She, Kathy, Puller, Masters and Shoot were my lifeline, not to mention Johnson too.
Served in Dco,4/31 196th LIB fro 68-69. We were sent to Camp Evans in 68 to perform camp security outside the base while 1st Air Cav left the camp to operate in Asha Valley. I was aware at that time of the horrors already met for those who entered or flew through that valley. Gods blessing to those who died and those who survived that hell hole. Viewed rocket attacks on Camp Evans from the Asha mountains and had some incomimg while our company sat on the tarmack awaiting chinooks to take us back to our AO in the Que Son Valley. Happy to leave that part of I Corps. Much respect for you and your fellow Marines. Immensly well written trilogy.
While nothing like this ever happened to me, I ran into an old high school friend not long after I got back. He told me a story similar to what you have talked about. They got hit real hard one night and it got down to hand to hand. He wound up getting stabbed, in a bad place I believe, and in short got a meeting like you without representation. It did not turn out well. Thank God for Shoot!
We used to have the same saying he gave you as he walked out. Only a little more descriptive. It got us through every day and night. It’s all we had. I have a feeling it will work for you also.
I, along with the rest, will be patiently waiting.
I have never read anything written about war like this…
Thank you, Jim.
Share with friends, please
Thank goodness for your continuing to write your story in the Cowardly Lion. I had become so riveted to what was happening and so amazed at your brilliant ideas to fool the Vietnamese, that I couldn’t bare for the story to just end. Thank you for going on and finishing. How dare they even think of reprimanding such heroes? I so want to know what happened to Gunny and Nguyên. How lucky you were to have them along with Fessman, Zippo and Cowboy. You were all such heroes. Thank you for all you endured. It was too much to ask if you brave men.
Thank you for your support, Marilyn.
There will be more coming shortly regarding Nguyên and Gunny.
You may have sent that Gunny’s son has been commenting here. (Dwayne Herberich)
Chuck Bartok mentioned you were friends. I was fortunate meeting him in 1970
Summer after high school I started the Summer term on college. I was a SSG with 2/502 “Strike Force” 101st Airborne, 1970. Made two combat assaults in to the heart of the Ashau. Was nicked in June and took a dust off trip to the 85 Evacuation, then to Guam, then to Walter Reed, was released from the Military March 4 and limped into Va Tech on March 12 to finish up my degree. It has been a long and winding road. Am proud to be here. I was a college boy Shake an Bake E-6, and they gave me a medical retirement.
James, your three “Thirty Days” books brought back a whole host of memories that were probably better left buried, but they are part and parcel of what I am today. No regrets.
And now your hospital stay, and the golden aura of the morphine reaching and enfolding you. Too many memories sometimes. THOSE I really wish I’d been able to keep buried.
BTW – those scars? At Bethesda NH, we called them “zippers and belly buttons”.
Truly enjoying your writings – you are extremely gifted, and have been fortunate to have had a very interesting life. Sure not tucked away on a farm someplace out in the countryside.
Once again, I am pretty much speechless, and that is saying something for an old gabber like me! God bless you, you and others have already been to Hell, didn’t find it to your liking so came back. I can’t compare the difficulty in writing about this vs the thirty days series but this, to me, is much more difficult to read and realize the depths of despair you must have felt at times. True , unflinching grit!
Sir, when you described how the morphine allowed you to not ven feel the sheets you were lying on- it’s exactly the feeling, or non-feeling, I felt in the hospital in Da Nang. My wound wasn’t anywhere as serious as your’s or others, but the relief of the morphine wS similar. I received a round through my groin and 10” of my right leg.Lucky! Anyway, this book is on par with “September.” Keep it coming.
Thank you for the support, Richard.
Semper fi, Jim
“were not isolating each one of us in the until.” (unit?)
These memories have got to be almost as full of trauma for you as the actual combat which got you there.
Still not knowing how your troops fared has to be difficult as well.
I can feel that this book is going to be just as tough for you to get through as “Thirty days” had to be, but also have the feeling it is good for both you, and all the vets invested here, to get it out.
I thought the Cowardly lion would be easier, but it really isn’t to write. You see, the memories stay buried deep until I begin the litany of recall for the
story and they come cascading back. You are a great judge of your fellow man, and of me.
Thank you for all you went through serving our country. Your writing reminds me that bullets are real and so is the damage they bring. My father was a Marine in WWII, 1st Marine Division. He took a machine gun up his leg. As a kid I would run my fingers over the scars & ask him if it hurt? He only said Now it doesn’t hurt! He died when I was 10 years old… so I never really understood how serious wounds & rehab are.
Again, thank you for all you’ve given in your service. I am deeply moved.
My grand kids have done the same to me, when they were younger. I said about the same thing, as your dad.
They call my wound scars things like ‘war bumps’ and ‘battle holes,” which is kind of entertaining.
Thanks for such a heartfelt and openly emotional comment.
Man! Another cliff hanger ending. Not sure which way this story is heading, but…. You survived and are here to tell it. What matters with survival is what you do with your life after. I would guess that you hung in there and continued to lead a productive and successful life. Congratulations.
I remain unaware that I write some cliff hanger endings to chapters.
To me, they just end where they are supposed to. Sometimes I would like to apologize for a life that has not been truly believable.
How the hell could I land in an ICU bed between two world famous general’s sons? Oh, come on! But there I was and I have to write it as it
went down. Why did God do this to me, or for me, or about me….I have no clue, but I much appreciate your comment
Jim, I continue to enjoy your writing and look forward to reading each segment as you release it. I served with L 3/26 and my first duty station was at Khe Sanh beginning in December 1967. I was there during the siege and the hill fights. Today I also watched your interview with Peter Wright and Kathleen Beauvais. A great job by all and very interesting. During the course of that interview you mentioned some facts about the number of troops who actually served in combat and experienced combat. I do not remember the exact numbers but you mentioned that of the million plus persons serving in Vietnam only about 375,000 served in combat and that 362,000 of that number were either KIA or WIA. I am not disputing your numbers but I was very surprised by these facts. I would have thought that many more would have been engaged in combat. What is the source of your information. Looking forward to the next episode of Cowardly Lion.
Go on the Internet Charlie. It’s all there. 2.7 million were there in the Nam. 375,000 were in ground combat. 362,000 were killed or wounded.
How many guys like me came back and recovered they wits about them, the memory of what they’d been through, the talent to lay it down? i don’t know,
but I think I am in pretty rarified air. God gave me something, and I am still, after all these years, trying to figure out wha it is he gave me and
intended. I much appreciate the acceptance so many vets, like you have given me. I will sleep better at night, but will never be a regular citizen about that.
Thanks for being here for me. I know you are here…
Just when I thought that I would never find anything as riveting as Thirty Days… you come out with the Cowardly Lion. Thank you.
I had no idea. I really didn’t. I thought, after 30 Days, that nobody would read Cowardly.
I keep telling it but sometimes I feel totally alone as so many passed out of life around me,
first in the Nam and then later on.
You, and those like, fill me with life and re-invigorate me.
Thank you so very much.
2nd para “Although not painful, his wrist restraints” referring to yourself in the third person? is that what you meant?
“Shoot walked out through the double swinging doors, leaving them gently waving as if saying goodbye, he hadn’t spoken. ” how do you mean, “he hadn’t spoken?”
“especially down in a place so miserable in every physical way, ” extraneous comma there? seems to read better without it.
“suspended down with small chains and hooks, were not isolating each one of us in the until.” did you “unit?”
“another charge of the North Vietnamese Army of getting ready to…” “or?’
Thanks for your sharp eye.
Noted and corrected.
Wow, another riveting chapter James. Looks like a desperate case of C.Y.A. for the boys at command. I go back to your first night in country where you had the balls to tell it like it was. High command living in comfort and guys just coming in from the field living in a hovel. Your were fortunate to have an Advocate who appears to know right from wrong.
The gift of the few. The Gunny, Zippor, Tex, Fusner and so many more in combat, and then Kathy, the captain’s wife, and Shooter.
So many good people that helped me to survive. Mary Straus; That generally unnamed wife and Julie that daughter I sought so hard to
get back to. I later felt great remorse for the men that did not have that. Thanks for the great comment.
“Two gold stars” should be silver, these recollection have to exact a tremendous toll on you, but they must be cathartic as well. We readers of much less experience are grateful for your story and admire the grit needed to bring it to us. Semper fi, Jim!
I am sorry about that apparent mistake, which is obviously was, as so many have told me. I draw almost all my work from
memory. I saw the stars that way at the time and that stayed with me even when I saw only silver ones afterward through
the years. Thanks for the heads us so I can fix it on edit.
Semper fi, my friend,
Summer ’66 moved from Ohio to Texas, prepared for college
Summer ’67 Navy Boot camp between Freshman & Sophomore year, back to college
Summer ’68 Began Active Duty aboard Ship
Summer 69 Yankee & Dixie Station Viet Nam
Thank you for another riveting chapter. You are one tough cookie!
Wow, you were busy.
Thanks for your support, John
Good grief, Lieutenant
My opinion is that the Inquiry should have convened after you regained your full senses , and ability to understand what was going on, and the ability to answer those question’s head on and truthful . You had already more than earned that consideration !
I figured later, that they convened because i was dying and they wanted the data.
You will see in the next chapter what I’m talking about. Thanks for the great comment.
I have to believe that God was looking out for you. You are truly blessed!
I did not believe that God was looking out for me at the time. I now do. I am not sure why I was
required to write the 30 Days trilogy, nor the books that detail what happened after. But here I am.
Self publishing stuff that no publisher will ever pick up, but the real deal guys and gals do.
They get it.
Ok, now please explain this to me LOL. How do you make this chapter every bit as tense as the in-country ones! Incredibly well done!
I Have no clue as to the effect of what I write will be received. None. I just sit out there in coffee shops writing and then edit as best as I can and send it off to Chuck, my great friend. to be published.
Thanks for helping me know that the writing has impact.
Hanging on every word..even more than 30 Days. Great work. Why is it that a**holes are almost always in charge?!
The brass covers it’s ass! Unbelievable for them to have a Board of Inquiry while you were still in ICU. That’s a pitiful bunch!!
Why do we assume the board is interested in you It might be some one higher up You die no need to do anything you live they have plenty of inquiry time You weave a great tale Of course you have done this all through the first three books They are very insightful reading Keep up the good work
Holy Shmoly! I can’t believe ( yes I can I guess) the Birds would do that to a guy. I’m dying to know if Chesty comes in. I bet he’d dress those pogues down.
Fascinating…court of inquiry…while you are in such a condition…! Waiting in anticipation for the next chapter!
Figured out later Walt that they thought I was going to die and rushed to get my testimony before I passed.
How else to explain that kind of seemingly cold behavior.
From “30 Days” and the knowledge that Division doesn’t know or care, I would be surprised if they behaved in any other way.
Is it just me or can I , in my mind, see the three colonels shrinking down in there chairs, and is that a smirk on that Sgt’s face!
I figured later that they had to get my testimony before I died. I didn’t think of that at the time.
I don’t recall their demeanor as the drugs dimmed so much into the distance.
Thanks for the great comment.
Can’t believe the court of inquiry with you in this state. My summer after high school i went to work full time and ate like crazy when i finally had a little extra money. my brother and i were living in a small garage apartment as both our parents were deceased and we were on our the last 3 years 9 school. gained 50 lbs and grew 7 inched taller in that summer. in 1963 my brother was drafted and i was drafted the next year. Spent 2 years after basic working for a 3 star general gen Fisher and a 1 star gen keith ware. I was not originally assigned there but worked couple weeks in the AG office and saw the opening at post hq and went over at lunch time and talked to maj dean and told him i wanted the job. He said private E1 you dont apply for jobs in the army and I said i am applying FOR this one. Monday morning i was working there and spent my 2 years there at fort hood. went in e 1 and left e5. my rule always make them tell you no. Just ask if you want the job. You got to take care of your self.
WOW again Jim, the CO’s wife, this is gonna be a doozy!!
I was somehow gifted or damned to meet so many important and powerful people in my life.
As with the generals here and their sons, I had no control over anything. The C.O.s wife was an enormous asset.
Gee whiz Lt. you couldn’t even get shot without being in trouble? I felt bad enough for you before you were wounded, now I feel horrible for you.
I know it all worked out because here you are, but “insult to injury”, doesn’t do it justice.
Can’t wait for your next report.
Well LT, you keep stepping in the shit without even putting your feet on the floor. Don’t mean nuttin.
how could they hold a board of inquiry when you are unable to think in a lucid way military BS!
Great chapter, James.
I think I like her already!
I just realized I never have really understood how a drug addiction worked. Your very vivid holistic description of the pain and relief must be the essence of what it’s all about. I understand a little bit as an aviator with multiple missions over the A Shau and Laos, what that was about. I still say we all empathize with the “Cowardly Lion” because we all came home wondering, “who we were” and “ What the hell happened”.
Hey Lt. Again, I have a notion that from what you have been through up until now, that you will read this situation quickly and be out front as you have been since you were sent to the jungle when you first arrived. I don’t know you other than what I have read, but you have certainly become a hero of mine. I have one other, who was wounded (severely) when he had less than 30 days left in country. So I await, with all the humility I can muster, to see how you comport yourself through this next ordeal. And as I said, I’m sure you will be more than OK. Sounds like you have a tremendous advocate on your side now. Peace. Michael
I couldn’t quite understand this passage: “ Corporal Shoot approached the side of his bed and fussed with some of the tubing still running out from both my wrists and his neck” Areyou talking about your bed?
Seems like an extra letter in here: “ You have been through hell, you’re still I in hell,!
Should “of” be “or”? “ I breathed in and out deeply as if preparing for another charge of the North Vietnamese Army of getting ready to launch one of our own”
Another chapter that keeps me riveted in my chair. But I have to say I think it’s BS to put you before a board of inquiry. The decisions you made saved many Marines lives, in spite of the lack of leadership from your HQ. They’re just looking for a scapegoat. As a platoon leader I made some good decisions and some poor ones….but always bases on what I thought was the best one given this circumstances. You did the same. If the BOI actually happened to you…that really pisses me off.
Hudson, 101st Abn
Thank you for the kind words, Bob.
I corrected your edits.
Really appreciate your continued support
Barbara to the rescue! Although from what you said in ’30 Days’ it’s Battalion that will be
the subject of inquiry. My stomach is still tight from reading this.
I’m surprised to read of your brother visiting you. I seems to recall your saying he died in
hospital in Japan.
Sullivan policy. My brother knew of it and declined a tour in RVN. The rest of his class
went. Eventually he ended up in Thailand.
Some minor editing suggestions follow:
Corporal Shoot approached the side of his bed
“his”? maybe “the”
Corporal Shoot approached the side of the bed
still running out from both my wrists and his neck.
“his”? Maybe “my” or just skip it?
still running out from both my wrists and my neck.
still running out from both my wrists and neck.
if saying the goodbye, he hadn’t spoken.
comma seems extra
if saying the goodbye he hadn’t spoken.
A Board of Inquiry in the Marine Corps was aboard to investigate a circumstance
change “aboard” to “a board”
A Board of Inquiry in the Marine Corps was a board to investigate a circumstance
“Okay,” that’s enough for him,”
Not sure about the quotation mark after “Okay”
“Okay, that’s enough for him,”
OR maybe make it two sentences
“Okay.” “That’s enough for him,”
“Pain shot,” I replied, grimacing, I said, meaning the words for Kathy.
“I replied” and “I said” seem redundant
“Pain shot,” I replied, grimacing, meaning the words for Kathy.
You have been through hell, you’re still I in
The uppercase “I” seems extra
You have been through hell, you’re still in
Vietnamese Army of getting ready to launch one of our own.
“of” or “”or” after “Army”
Vietnamese Army or getting ready to launch one of our own.
Glad to hear the medical staff were providing good care.
New subject: Is Chuck Bartok OK? I’m hoping he is not in danger from forest fires.
Blessings & Be Well
Wow…Took a long time to answer this and the wonderful corrections were made.
As always your support is so appreciated.
The fires have abated for Chuck and he has been seeing blue skies recently.
In the second paragraph you state his neck when I think you mean my neck and his wrist restraints when you mean my wrist restraints.
Brilliant writing as usual. Richard
Thanks for the notice.
Jim/James: didn’t think things would be as stressful for Junior once he cleared the Valley. To my reading delight, I was wrong. Thanks for everything you do, say, and write. Nick Bollo.
I hope that the people I recommended this story to have read it, and continue to follow it. Besides the last 10 days, this part of the saga will be on my “must purchase” list when it’s ready.
Thank you for your lasting support, Arnie
Nothing like an ass-kicker for an advocate.
Man: This chapter flew by! Another stunning read. Thanks.
Now when can I expect my copy of the 3rd 10 days?
As exciting and suspenseful as the combat !!!
Fuck them LT. After what you went through what can they do to you? Send you to Vietnam?
Damn Sir out of the frying pan and into the fire. It gives me a much deeper understanding into the depth and power of your writing and my respect for your service thank you.
Well fuck LT. Getting the shit scared out of you in a month of combat and getting blow to hell ain’t enough.
Please re-read the second paragraph, you mix who is what a couple of time.