Short Changed: Memoir of an American Combat Veteran 1 edition
According to the "Soldiers in Prison" documentary, "Until recently one in every five US. prisoners was a Vietnam veteran."
Short Changed: Memoir of an American Combat Veteran chronicles the life of Eldson J. McGhee, a Vietnam veteran and Purple Heart recipient who suffers from PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). The book tells the story of a soldier who experiences physical and emotional trauma while serving, and after his tour in Vietnam.
As an high school honor student, McGhee had plans to become a lawyer, live a prosperous life, and make his family proud. No one would have guessed the direction his life would take.
Upon his return from war, McGhee leads a life of crime, drug abuse, and eventually, incarceration. Yet McGhee's story is one of overcoming, transformation, redemption, and a second chance at life.
What she didn’t understand was that I needed to stay awake. I was under attack––everybody around me, a potential enemy, including her.
My paranoia didn’t put a specific face on my perceived threat. I only knew danger lurked all around me; hiding, waiting, ready to pounce as soon as I let my guard down. My response, that of a soldier––armed and ready to attack at a moment’s notice.
The sleeping pills the doctor at the VA hospital prescribed made me lethargic. I’d take the pill and fifteen minutes later, I'm totally knocked out. I’d sleep until noon the next day, wake up groggy, sluggish, and unable to work or focus on anything. All day I’d just sit in a darkened room staring into space. After a while I stopped taking the medication.
I know veterans with similar stories. The meds, while helpful at times, often make you feel like a zombie, detached from the world and the people around you.
When the doctor prescribed Prozac, I was mean and ready to pick a fight anytime, anywhere, with anybody. In prison, I had been given Tofranil for hypertension, another condition many vets with PTSD suffer. At one time, I was taking eight different medications for PTSD-related health issues.
Memoir of an American Combat Veteran
June 27, 2011
Tree Hugger Book Publishing
Atlanta, Georgia, USA
Written in English.
About the Book
Review Written by Bernie Weisz, Historian and Book Reviewer, Vietnam War Contact: BernWei1@aol.com October 4, 2011, Pembroke Pines, Florida U.S.A. Title of Review: "Proud Vietnam Vets Ironically Short Changed: Despised For Fighting in this War, yet Simultaneously Fingered For its Defeat!"
For most Vietnam Veterans, there are certain subjects about the war they do not like to discuss, even with the passage of time since the conflict ended. Many memoirs exist that relate when a Vet first came back from the war and was embarrassed by being foolishly asked, "Did you kill anyone and what was it like?" Jim Albrightsen in his book "No More Tears for the Dead" referred to such insensitive people as "Morbs" (short for people that are morbid). The other subject, which has been falsely canonized by the motion picture industry in Hollywood, is drugs. Not every Navy crew on a PBR in the Mekong Delta was smoking pot, nor was every grunt in the Bush dropping LSD and staring at the tracers coming from a "Spooky" C-47's electronic minigun. Sorry, that's only on the movies! Among Vets though, openly discussing or writing about drug usage, particularly of heroin, is considered taboo. Despite government studies demonstrating its existence, particularly as the war drew to a close, the fact that very few memoirs exist that mention this phenomenon lends credit to the sentiment that this is a subject best left to one's private memory, unsuitable for public dissemination. Regardless of this silence, the facts don't lie. A look on the Internet will reveal the severity of this problem, starting after the 1968 Tet Offensive and peaking in 1971 a year that revealed an estimated 37,000 American heroin addicts in South Vietnam. In this regard, Vets that speak out are branded by their peers and the military as a whole as mavericks, stigmatized loose canons, individuals to be discredited.
The author of "Short Changed," Eldson McGhee, could care less about secrets, taboos, Veteran etiquette, or for that matter, muting himself out of fear of being stigmatized. For he was in a situation few others understand the severity of, which is the lethal disease of addiction. Add to that a dual affliction of full blown Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and you have someone that faces only one of two outcomes; speak out and seek appropriate treatment or death. It is as simple as that, and precisely what "Short Changed" is about. Despite a roller coaster of events and situations, you will find McGhee experienced directionless running to escape terrifying flashbacks and paranoid thoughts. This painful affliction could only be controlled by the author self medicating himself, specifically with heroin. Addiction treatment in South Vietnam for those affected back in 1968? Forget it! McGhee sought help when he first came back, knowing he was not the same. His mother, his most significant other, knew something was drastically wrong and told him to get help. However, back in the late 1960's there was no therapy for PTSD nor addictionologists to help a returning veteran. An individual who suffered with either of the two maladies was looked at by their fellow W.W. II Veterans as having character defects and was frequently told to "man up." Look at the facts, as these World War II Vets were short changing their Vietnam peers. The average infantryman during World War II saw about 40 days of combat in four years as compared to the average infantryman in Vietnam, whom due to the availability of helicopter mobility saw about 240 days of combat in one year. Add the age factor, with the former being 26 and the latter, age 19.
No W.W. II Veteran was ever doused with over eleven million gallons of Agents Orange, Blue, White, and Purple applied up to 14 times the recommended domestic agricultural application rate either. PTSD is said to be one of the major causes of divorce for Vietnam veterans, and it is no coincidence that McGhee was a victim of two dissolutions. If some of the suicide statistics are true, PTSD is also a major cause of suicide among Vietnam veterans. Although government records of this began in 1980, it is a fact that double the amount of the 58,212 American fatalities in Vietnam have died since the war ended by their own hands. All self help programs teach the person in recovery to share their pain, that if one is not part of the solution, they are part of the problem, In Eldson's case, silence over his ordeal trying to please everybody is a formula for relapse. When someone is "clean," they keep what they have only by giving it away, as one is only as sick as their secrets. This book is positive proof that the suffering veteran with either chemical dependency or PTSD cannot afford to subscribe to the cliche of being silent when it comes to PTSD or addiction, as these scourges multiply in those whom take recovery for granted. When in Aril of 1995, the author walked out of prison for the last time, he was determined to never again live in the future or past thereby "short changing" himself of today. His body may have lived all but a few days of the past 20 years imprisoned, but his story was not going to be incarcerated in his mind. Eldson McGhee relishes without any lack of candor telling you his journey!
Born in 1947, Eldon's story is a whirlwind. The author was a Vietnam combat veteran who was wounded in action, a convicted bank robber, and a Black American who suffered the degrading and humiliating effects of racism and rejection. He cites that when he was a teenager his father sadly explained the cruel and inhumane Negro verses Caucasian segregation laws known as "Jim Crow," as well as himself experiencing it firsthand. While in high school, McGhee took a summer job working at a railroad company that had the demeaning existence of "Whites Only and "Blacks Only" locker rooms, bathrooms, water fountains and lunch rooms. He also can tell you what it was like to experience going on a unilateral downward path of destruction and inevitable despair as a consequence of heroin abuse. This can be looked at as his personal consequence of going to the battlefields of South Vietnam. From participating in the killing, being wounded and getting addicted to heroin, to being called a baby killer and spit on when expecting a hero's welcome upon return were all contributing factors to his crippling "combat stress." like many other Vietnam War Veterans that are sick, suffering and in some cases, suicidal. The author points out that almost three quarters of this group will never receive the assistance guaranteed to them as a benefit for risking their lives in a war they were manipulated into believing was a just cause.
After completion of "Short Changed," the reader will comprehend why Eldson McGhee felt slighted, scorned and short changed by forces and events all initially linked to his wartime Vietnam service, thereby gambling with his most precious bargaining chip, his life. Victory at Any Cost: The Genius of Vietnam's Gen. Vo Nguyen Giap (The Warriors) It is most disconcerting to know that others made the identical wager, with 58, 212 being "short changed" of the best years of their lives, never to experience what they risked their lives to protect. There were warnings for McGhee to avoid the dangers inherent in military service. Born an only child to Emmett and Lucy McGhee, the author spent his formative years in the deep South, growing up in Marshallville, Georgia. Although his family liked guns and hunting, violence and killing animals did nothing to excite young Eldson. War indirectly touched him, as he had a relative whose husband had just returned from the Korean War and for reasons unknown murdered her. In late 1966, McGhee was nineteen years old and incredulously advanced for his age. He had a good job, a new car and purchased his own house. McGhee's relationship with his high school sweetheart ended with his cavorting. He did have a daughter out of this affair, and met another woman, marrying her shotgun style. With mounting financial responsibilities, the author bought and operated two taxi cabs. With a wife and new born child, McGhee's fate appeared to be of a domiciled, hard working family man. Worldly events thirteen thousand miles away were to conspire against this.
Ever since the end of W.W. II, the Cold War would be the dominant issue in the minds of all Americans. Surely discussions of this must have been in the households of many of Marshallville's residents. Communism was seen as an evil entity, threatening the American way of life. Even worse, it was getting closer to America, and schools nationwide taught a concept called the "Domino Theory." First mentioned by President Eisenhower in the 1950's and later expanded upon by both the Kennedy and Johnson administrations, it was explained to America on television, newspapers and in the school system that the spread of Communism was analogous to the way a row of domino's could be knocked down. You line up 100, knock the first one down, and the rest will invariably follow. Between the 1950-1963 Korean War that 36, 516 American lives, the 1960 Cuban Missile Crisis, and "Bay of Pigs" Incident, the Domino Theory loomed large in the national conscience. In 1964, the North Vietnamese attacked two U.S. destroyers in international waters in the Tonkin Gulf, and L.B. J. got his congressional resolution to legitimize sending America's finest to intervene in Vietnam's civil war. L.B.J would be damned if he let Uncle Ho spread his ideology to the southern part of that country, and the draft boards got busy. The following year, American troops charged into the Dominican Republic to fight the Communist insurrection and a quarter of a million troops were dispatched to Vietnam. Eldson wanted to do his part, as he viewed joining the military as giving him masculine status, being like the other men in the family." He also wanted to go to law school, and when the author received his draft notice in 1966, the G.I. Bill after the war would be his financial ticket to achieve this.
He ignored his mother's warning that since he was an only son and had a new baby, he was entitled to an exemption. He promptly enlisted without telling anyone. Possibly he should have listened, as not everyone is cut out with the ability to take part in or witness violent, graphic violence, and then return to their former life in an unaffected manner. Vietnam changed everyone, from the nation as a whole to the combatants and their spouses back home, and eventually polarized America into two camps, the "Hawks" in favor of militarily stamping out Communism and the "Doves" who wanted America to be at peace and concentrate on its own domestic issues. At the core of this schism was the matter of being in Vietnam in the first place. Why was America involved in a civil war that posed no threat to our national security on the other side of the world? As commercial planes and troopships crossed the Pacific from California to Tan Son Nhut Air Base and ports in Saigon, there had to be a seed of doubt in every combat soldier's conscience as to whether or not they were doing the right thing. There was one in McGhee's as right before his flying war chariot was about to land in Vietnam, he second guessed himself. Reflecting, he wrote: "What the hell am I doing here? Why did I leave my baby, wife and family?" McGhee does quote Martin Luther King's remark that Blacks represented a disproportionate share of early draftees and faced a much higher risk of seeing combat. Knowing his motivation to go to war was weak, you have to wonder what would his reaction be the first time someone whom he had nothing personally against tried to kill him. While he prefaced the chapter of "Arrival in Vietnam" by asserting his neutrality on the political decisions that landed us there, McGhee wrote that as a soldier, there was no room for questioning his superior orders.
In a typical mentality indoctrinated in basic training, McGhee rationalized that the military in Vietnam operated on "faith" in our leaders, trusting that they made the right decisions for us. James Marks, a Marine who also hailed from the same home town as McGhee and was "In Country" during the "Tet Offensive" lamented: Through his story we see how much the Vietnam war cost those who fought. Eldson should have returned to his hometown as the Mayor of Marshallville, not as an infamous bank robber." What happened to the author that made Marks say that? That will require you to purchase and read this book. However, Richard Henry, in his book "Short Timer" will give you an excellent paradigm: "Vietnam was a war where soldiers of all ethnic backgrounds and colors fought side by side. It was a war being fought halfway around the world while at home a war against racism and injustice raged. It was a war where flashing the peace sign was perfectly acceptable while waving a clinched fist in the air, the black power symbol, was a court martial offense. It was a war where back at base camps, whites openly called blacks racial slurs and blacks openly cursed back. This was a war where racism reared its ugly head on far too many an occasion, and in many different ways. The final statistics tell part of the tale. Blacks suffered a death rate that was almost four times greater then their percentage of the American population."
Richard Henry truly sums up the bottom line with his fitting conclusion: "Black Marines whose military occupations were cooks, drivers, supply personnel, etc., were routinely assigned to infantry combat duty. While on the other hand, Whites that were highly trained combatants were routinely given choice jobs in the rear which greatly increased their chances of returning to the real world. Yet,when it counted most, in the heat of combat, there were no racial insults, just young American men barely past puberty, fighting, and dying together while hoping to survive the nightmare of war." "Short Changed"unfolds as McGhee explains his role in being placed in one of the toughest, savagely fought areas of the war, Dak To, and specifically "Hill 875." As a member of the famed 173rd Airborne, the "Sky Soldiers," he chronicles being part of a combat infantry force that was inserted by helicopter into places of heavy combat, taking on endless "air assault" missions." However, his exposure to events that few people would not become unglued from began to accumulate. The first time he shot and killed two North Vietnamese soldiers, he didn't know whether to be proud or horrified when his commanding officer congratulated him. His comment was: "Shooting a human being is a totally different experience from shooting an animal." Chinks in his patriotic
zeal increased. McGhee remembers listening to "Hanoi Hannah" on a fellow Sky Soldier's transistor radio. She was a woman similar to the W.W. II Japanese version of "Tokyo Rose." Cleverly manipulated by the NVA, she was used as a psychological ploy to foment Black dissension within the ranks by saying the following spiel: "Black man, this is not your war."
The NVA had other methods as well. Samuel Black edited a book entitled "Soul Soldiers." In it he has a picture of an actual North Vietnamese leaflet found in an NVA camp in the A Shau Valley in 1969. The leaflet says: "How Democracy Operates: 11 percent of the U.S. population are Negroes. 30 percent of the G.I.'s in Vietnam are Negroes. 40 percent of G.I. deaths are Negroes. If you're reading this. you're one of the 30 percent. Stay out of the 40 percent column! Go Home!" While McGhee concedes there was truth in these propaganda messages, he was so consumed on preserving both his and his unit's survival that these messages went by the wayside. He also trusted what he saw; the NVA and VC would massacre in the most gruesome style Black or White soldiers with inhumane indifference. The worst was yet to come. His initial belief that America was "In It to Win It" began to wane after seeing incidents such as a Buddhist Monk self immolating himself to protest the war, and saw bobby trapped babies with grenades strapped to them, designed to be set off when an American came close. McGhee asks the reader, what you would do if you saw a child coming toward you loaded with a bomb?" This would explain his oversensitive reaction to one of the lowest of all taunts the peace protestors taunted returning Vets with, calling a Vet a "baby killer." After the "January, 1968 "Tet Offensive," McGhee came to the realization that all of this mayhem was for nothing; there was no clear cut U.S. strategy or timetable to win this war.
In March of 1968, he recounted being wounded with multiple shrapnel wounds. He was medevaced to the rear, where a Medic attended to him. McGhee described the following; "I don't remember the first injection of morphine, whether it was when I called the medic for my platoon leader who had been hunkered down beside me and in an instant blown to pieces-his blood and bone fragments splashing in my face, or when I was evacuated." This just happed to coincide with the April 4th , 1968 Memphis, Tennessee assassination of Martin Luther King. Not only did the author have to deal with the pain of his wounds, the endless madness of the war, but now he watched Black and White soldiers attacking each other. The author's father, whose nickname was "Lit."was an alcoholic. If you keep in mind that a genetic predisposition to addiction exists, then it makes sense when McGhee wrote: "Although I'd been allowed a regulated number of morphine injections, I was addicted. My request for more injections was denied." After being released back into combat, he realized his addiction was calling him Besides the physical cravings heroin will cause, Eldson had a lot on his plate. His wife back home stopped writing him, he had watched friends die and he had a close call himself. The worst was yet to come. It is well known how anything could be bought in Vietnam's black market. Naval swift boats and PBR's in the Mekong Delta could trade cigarettes for blocks of ice with sampans, with any commodity being available in this peculiar wartime economy. One of those was heroin. What was heroin doing in Vietnam?
The most convincing theory of why heroin appeared all over the place right after the Tet Offensive is revealed in a book called "Smack" by Frank Browning: ""All of a sudden, in the summer of 1968, large quantities of heroin started appearing literally out of nowhere. Like magic, overnight heroin was everywhere. It wasn't a chance happening, like a natural process of any kind. It was well planned-logistics and everything. It is so obvious that when there's no heroin in Vietnam for years and years and then all of a sudden, in a month's time, its everywhere, that somebody made plans to deliver it in large quantities and at cheap prices. Other things have happened. In a week's time this one type of vial the heroin came in, little plastic vials with brand names on them showed up everywhere from the Delta to the DMZ in a week's time. Some large supplier had turned loose this new type of vial filled with 98% pure heroin in a matter of a week all across the country. It is a large operation. The Communists are unable to defeat us militarily so they've turned to psychological warfare and propaganda, disseminating the heroin to destroy American troops, not with bullets but with drugs, and at some given point the supply will be cut off and large numbers of American G.I.'s will be incapacitated and unable to fight or do anything and the Communists will have a chance to move in and do some heavy-duty killing. Either that, or on a large scale intentionally sending thousands and thousands of junkies to the U.S. to further add to the decay of the fiber of our society."
Is Browning's theory credible? Consider that in January of 1968, the NVA had lost almost 100,000 Viet Cong troops killed in the Tet Offensive. The American press falsely portrayed this as an American defeat, but it was actually the reverse. Cecil Curry reported in his book: "Victory at Any Cost: The Genius of Vietnam's General Vo Nguyen Giap" the following opinion stated by Giap, the NVA supreme commander: "What we still don't understand is why you Americans stopped the bombing of Hanoi. You had us on the ropes. If you had pressed us a little harder, just for another day or two, we were ready to surrender! It was the same at the battles of TET. You defeated us! We knew it, and we thought you knew it. But we were elated to notice your media was definitely helping us. They were causing more disruption in America than we could in the battlefields. We were ready to surrender. You had won!" The North needed another way of defeating American military might., and according to Frank Browning, they found it, a masterpiece of subterfuge: heroin. If you've ever seen an addict in the throes of withdrawal, there is truth to the aforementioned. Needless to say, there is nothing more upsetting in this book than the treatment that Eldson McGhee received after completing his tour. As Frank Browning predicted, the author was one of many that came back to the U.S. with a full blown heroin habit, minus any treatment or therapy, readjustment assistance or assistance. McGhee writes of his December, 1968 ignominious reception at Fort Lewis the following shameful memory: "I returned to thousands of Americans angrily protesting the war I had been sent to fight. The protesters were mean with their words, and vile in their spirit."
What McGhee wrote next about the protesters taunts was the straw that broke the camel's back: "They yelled out, "Baby Killers....Lackey's, while throwing bottles, sticks, anything and everything within their reach. You could see fire in their eyes, and venom seeping from their lips. Then, a protestor spat on me...I went crazy." Is this an isolated incident? Read a few memoirs, particularly ones written after 1968 and you will find out. One particularly poignant incident is in Stephen Perry's book "Bright Light." Perry was in an elite, secretive unit called "SOG," which was an acronym for the "Studies and Observations Group." Perry chronicled the following upon his return from Vietnam: "On August 23, 1968, I climbed on a big bird and headed west to the land that I loved and to the family I left behind the year before. My 17 hour flight home made stops in Australia and Hawaii and eventually landed in Oakland, California. I was processed out of the Army and left for Huntington Beach the following day. En route, I was confronted by some long haired hippy dinks at the San Francisco airport that shouted obscenities and called me a baby killer. What happened to my country when I was away?" That is painful, and hurts. Still not convinced of the pain Vietnam Veterans experienced upon their return? John Ketwig, in his book "...And a Hard Rain Fell" wrote of a similar instance, where fresh from Vietnam, he was on his last leg home of a long, two day airplane trip. The year was 1969, and with an open seat next to Ketwig, a yuppie settled in next to him. The author had all his medals on and was in full uniform.
Consider Ketwig's account: "The plane is smaller, the isle more congested. A guy settles into the seat next to me, Joe College. Open neck shirt, cardigan sweater, jeans, brass belt buckle. I look up from my paper to say, "Hi." He responded, "Listen, I want to get one thing straight. I got nothing to say to you, and you got nothing to say that I want to hear. Understand?" He opens a textbook forcefully. I lower my head to the newspaper, but my eyes don't comprehend the words. Why? What had I done to him? I'm the same person I always was. This never happened before. It's the uniform, Stinking army! When I get to the airport, I'll get my suitcase, and I'm gonna..." A Casualty Of War, The War On Drugs, The War Within He sat silently next to this man the rest of the flight, and after the plane landed, Ketwig was joyfully reunited with his family. Before he went anywhere else in the airport, he stepped into the restroom and wrote: "In the cool tiled men's room I lay open the suitcase, and push back the overflow. I strip the emblems and badges and ribbons off of my uniform, and walk to the basket. I speak to the clothing, inanimate objects that suddenly symbolize my 2 years and 9 months of agony. Quivering, I am looking at a shirt and pants but seeing only Fort Dix and Pleiku and Dak To and Korat. I say my final words to the army, "Screw You." And I throw them in the basket with the soiled paper towels."
One issue that differentiated Eldson McGhee from the other two authors is the fact that he was about to face even more pain. The one common denominator that they all had was a condition that few at the time were knowledgeable about, a condition then called "combat stress" His cup of pain tolerance had, as the Bible says, "runneth over." Not only was McGhee about to find out that his wife was having an affair and no longer was in love with him, but his addiction had not stayed in Southeast Asia. Frank Browning's words were true. The Eldson McGhee that stepped off the airplane in December was not the same one who left a year earlier. Everything that followed would be a result of judgements made by a tormented person impaired by Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Simply, the author had witnessed too much violence, too fast, and too soon, without any decompression. Only a week later when his soon to be ex wife gave him a coming home birthday party, he had heard explosives from a nearby construction site. Already suspicious of his wife and paranoid that her lover might be at this party, McGhee was instantly back in Vietnam, with a SWAT team needed to defuse this situation. The rest of his story demonstrates the severity of his symptoms. Just like the previous examples of disrespect shown to veterans upon return, there are countless memoirs of Veterans exhibiting similar PTSD symptoms, with only the names and situations being different. Bruce Lake was a Marine Chinook pilot. He wrote in his memoir entitled "1500 feet Over Vietnam" that any loud or unexpected pops would cause his adrenalin to surge. Years after his tour ended, he still heard pops as bullets going through the metal skin of his helicopter.
Mr. Lake had other issues, elaborating: "I learned not to believe half the things that I had read or heard, and therefore learned not to trust governments or people. As my immediate family will tell you, the war changed me. I had aged many years in the 13 months that I was overseas, and I had certainly lost a large portion of my sense of humor. Things that had been funny a year or two earlier weren't so funny anymore. The inner sense of happiness was gone." Other Veterans were more severely affected. Jim Albrightsen, a Huey door gunner in 1967-1968, saw so much violence and became so inured to it, elaborating that even today he still has flashbacks and can't be around people. In his memoir "No More Tears For The Dead" he legitimized Eldson McGhee's symptoms by confirming his own. He stated the following: "I only had good memories about the 'Nam, or at least that was what I thought at the time. You see, killing became such an everyday experience, whether you did it or witnessed the killings or the aftermath, it became a part of you, and since it was a part of you, it couldn't be bad, right"? I actually believed that upon return all the nightmares and flashbacks, the anger, pain and even in some strange way, Vietnam itself would all go away and the world would be back as it was in 1966. Inconvenient Stories: Portraits and Interviews with Vietnam Veterans While all this was going on. I can't say when or why or even how, but whatever trust I had in anyone was just gone. The only remaining trust I did have was for those I had fought with. I stopped watching television, especially the news. I couldn't stand hearing the lies or the reports of my brothers being killed or wounded.
This author decided to hide his past: "When asked if I had been to Vietnam, I began to say no. Somewhere along my vacation to hell, maybe lost in the jungle or it was lost watching friends and others die, I lost all forms of compassion and caring of and for humans. It was if a black void had taken place of what was once feeling." Albrightsen also had a substance problem and describes his experiences with heroin, an attempt to self medicate from the severely disabling effects of PTSD. If you care to read Jeffrey Wolin's "Inconvenient Stories: Vietnam War Veterans," you will be able to read ex Army Specialist Charles Brown's lament. He was in Vietnam from May of 1970 to April of 1971. A Black Veteran that received a Purple Heart, Brown came very close to meeting his maker when caught in a murderous NVA ambush. He is pictured in his bedroom, and alongside him is his dresser and a pill bottle collection that would make any pharmaceutical salesman jump for joy. Mr. Brown's views are quite revealing, as he wrote: "We Vietnam Veterans are unique. We are the only vets that have been tossed eggs at and spit at, the only war veterans that have been treated like a piece of crap. For what reason? We don't know. We were just doing what we were supposed to do. I try not to think about my wartime experiences. I've got enough medicine to keep me that way. I am the finished product of a war gone bad. All my whole life has been about a war and I'm just now coming to terms with it and I'm over 50 years old. I just pity these guys coming back from Iraq now. They're in a lesser war than we had, but I wonder if they are going to end up like us." Order a copy of Eldson McGhee's book, and upon reading it, compare his remarks with the aforementioned anecdotes.
One can only hope that one of his parting comments will not come true when the troops in Afghanistan return. He succinctly pointed out the following contradiction: "I am proud of my military service, the faith in which we served, and the pride that fueled our service. Yet it was the Vietnam Veteran who was scorned and ridiculed for fighting the war on one hand, and blamed for losing the war on the other-a paradox that will continue to draw debate." You want to find out about his bank robberies? Buy his book. The drug dealing, swat being called on him, the pain of withdrawals? Buy his book! Even more interesting, Eldson McGhee would face a defining moment in his life, a near death, out of body experience. Prior to this, he could not stop relapsing, gambling, robbing, blowing relationships. They say there are no atheists in a foxhole. Nor in a forlorn jail cell when you are facing life without parole. This is especially true when one is a patient in an ambulance, their heart stops, and in their final seconds of electrical brain activity, before the big nothing. This author was in all of the aforementioned situations, and for him all that was left was his last house on the block. His happened to be his version of "Good Orderly Direction" a/k/a God. This book will not leave you with Eldson McGhee screaming hallelujah and lecturing the reader with a religious diatribe. His religion and belief in God is a private one. However, whatever this author experienced when he was declared DOA, dead on arrival, it changed him. Eldson McGhee was paroled from prison in April of 1995, after spending almost all of the last two decades in prison. He has never relapsed nor been back. What changed? Let's rephrase the question. What brought him back to the person he always was and destined to be before Vietnam? Find out by reading this highly recommended book!
Table of Contents
|Chapter 1: Childhood||3|
|Chapter 2: The Brown Family Farm||17|
|Chapter 3: Rite of Passage||23|
|Chapter 4: Lucy McGhee||25|
|Chapter 5: Emmett McGhee||28|
|Chapter 6: Civil Rights Movement||35|
|Chapter 7: Working at REA||39|
|Chapter 8: Good Credit||42|
|Chapter 9: Love and War||44|
|Chapter 10: Basic Training||51|
|Chapter 11: Arrival In Vietnam||57|
|Chapter 12: Report To An Khe Via Cam Rahn Bay||59|
|Chapter 13: Charlie Company and the 173rd||63|
|Chapter 14: Combat Paratroopers and Tigers||66|
|Chapter 15: Point Man||68|
|Chapter 16: Ambushed||71|
|Chapter 17: The TET Offensive||77|
|Chapter 18: A Known Kill||79|
|Chapter 19: Agent Orange||81|
|Chapter 20: The Vietnamese Propaganda Machine||83|
|Chapter 21: Wounded||85|
|Chapter 22: Final Orders||89|
|Chapter 23: Returning Home||91|
|Chapter 24: Back Home||95|
|Chapter 25: The Homecoming Party||99|
|Chapter 26: Marriage and PTSD||103|
|Chapter 27: Funeral Detail||106|
|Chapter 28: Return To REA||110|
|Chapter 29: Suga Bear and My First "Lick" 114|
|Chapter 30: Another Baby Girl||117|
|Chapter 31: Trying To Step Out of the Life||119|
|Chapter 32: Out of Control||122|
|Chapter 33: Chocolate||124|
|Chapter 34: From Soldier to Bank Robber||127|
|Chapter 35: Robbery in Marshallville||131|
|Chapter 36: Terre Haute||137|
|Chapter 37: A Change in Life–A Change in Direction||141|
|Chapter 38: A Change in the Law--A Change in My Life||145|
|Chapter 39: Married and Living With PTSD||149|
|Chapter 40: The Birthday Party||198 152|
|Chapter 41: No Where To Turn||198 157|
|Chapter 42: "The Light"||198 161|
|Chapter 43: "The Darkness"||167|
|Chapter 44: Leavenworth, Newsletter, VVA Chapter||169|
|Chapter 45: Leavenworth and the Aryan Brotherhood||174|
|Chapter 46: Back at AFP||179|
|Chapter 47: No Jailhouse Religion||181|
|Chapter 48: Release From Prison||183|
|Chapter 49: Therapy for PTSD||187|
|Chapter 50: The Veterans Administration||191|
|Chapter 51: Veteran Disability Claims||198|
|Afterword: VVA Chapter 883||203|
|Glossary Of Terms||222-224|
|Resources and Websites:||225|
|How To File A VA Benefits Claim||226-231|
The Physical Object
Number of pages
|8.5 x 5.5 x 1.5 inches|
Betty Reedy Gunn