Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Scattered Memories of My Military Days

Please forgive me but I am going to do a lot of rambling on this post. So many things have popped into my head that I will attempt to put them down on paper. If you are looking for horrible war stories, those will remain tucked as far back in my brain as I can put them. They only come forth during flashbacks and I would just as soon forget about them.

I started my four-year military career at boot camp in San Diego, California. After boot camp, I went to the Naval Hospital Corps School at the US Naval Hospital in San Diego. I graduated first in my class so I got to choose my next duty station. I chose Pharmacy School in Portsmouth, Virginia. The school was already underway so I would have to wait until the next starting date. In the meantime, I worked in the Operating Room at Portsmouth Naval Hospital and drove ambulance during my duty nights. When the school was ready to start, they said that I would have to extend my tour another year to get into the school. I did not want to extend another year. About two months later, I got my orders to Vietnam.

Before going to Nam, a Hospital Corpsman must go to Marine Corps training to get some education on how to survive in combat on the ground. We carried rifles (I did not in Nam) and learned how to field strip them. By the way, the ones we learned to field strip at Camp Lejeune were not the same ones used in Nam. Not sure why I needed that training.

We learned how to treat soldiers wounds under combat situations, how to care for jungle rot and to take care of snake bits. Did I tell you that I never saw a snake in Nam? We did get a lot of good physical training to prepare us for long patrols in 100+ degree temperatures. They also taught us basic Marine Corps jungle fighting tactics and we got a feel for what it would be like under combat conditions. After this four to five week training, it was off on an all expense paid trip to South Vietnam for thirteen months.

My aunt Blanche (my Mom’s sister) was dying of cancer and that was the last time I would get to see her just before going to Nam. That was difficult because my Mom and aunt Blanche were so close and we were very close with the family. It is tough leaving and knowing that is the last time you will see someone. In Nam, you never really thought about your own vulnerability. You just did what you had to do and I guess I trusted that God would get me through my thirteen months. The only time you really started to feel vulnerable was, as you got closer to your tour end. You tend to develop a short-timers attitude and get nervous at loud noises.

Vietnam was both a beautiful country yet also a run down poor country. The cities were run down but the countryside was very beautiful. It was especially nice out near the jungle and mountains. Some of the old temples were situated in such beautiful settings. Please read some of my earlier posts where I talk about the jungle and mountains.

Guess I did not get very far with this post but I am sure more junk will pop back into an old brain of mine. Have to save some stuff for a later post. Take care.

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