Tag: military

From my father on Memorial Day

From my father on Memorial Day

Although Memorial Day is almost over, I received this email from my father and it was so profound I just had to share it, despite the fact that by the time I post this, the day will almost be over. First a little background about my father. He was born in Eastern Germany (now part of Poland) in the closing days of the War, under the rule of Hitler and the Nazis. Like many Germans, my grandmother took him and fled to Berlin to try and escape the invading Soviets. He spent the first months of his life living in Berlin while the allies were bombing it into the ground. Like many Europeans of the time, his family (my father and grandparents) moved to the United States with little more than the clothes on their back, trying to start a new life. Having lived through that, and growing up in America at the height of the Cold War, he was-to quote Billy Joel’s song ‘Leningrad’-a “cold war kid in McCarthy time. Stop ’em at the 38th parallel. Blast those yellow reds to hell.” Thus having lost his home land and family possessions to the Russians and later the communist government of East Germany, he wanted to fight communism and thus served in Vietnam from 1965 to 1966 as a “naive young yahoo wanting to do the right thing for [his] country” (his words, not mine). Thus when he sent me this email I wanted to share it with all of you, as it was too profound not to.

A few years ago I did a past-life hypnotherapy via Youtube. During that time I had memories of a previous life, where I too was a Vietnam vet, one who didn’t survive. I specifically recall being in a field of tall grass, seeing a helicopter in the distance taking off and being surrouned by my fellow soldiers, including one to my right whom I knew only as “Sarge”-my superior I’m guessing. I got the distinct impression that I was in Vietnam and the year was 1964. Next I remembered lying in a hospital bed looking up at a wooden ceiling, a post-op room I believe-like something out of an episode of M*A*S*H. Then I found myself floating in the air, looking down at a young 20-something man with short black hair, a rather athletic build, lying shirtless in bed with a bandage around his/my abdomen, a red blood stain in the middle. My head was tilted to the left and my eyes were closed, looking as if I were sleeping. I knew that I had died and this was my spirit/soul looking down at my recently desceased body before I returned home to the spirit world.

I bring this up because all my life, I’ve never been able to understand why someone would willing choose a career in the military, much less go to war with enthusiasm. After going through that past life regression, I now see why I’ve always felt that way. While in this life I have no memory of that previous life (I don’t even know what my name was in that life) that experience did leave a mark on my soul. Having gone through that in one life, my soul said, “NEVER AGAIN!” Because just before the past-life regression ended I asked “Why am I here?”-as in, why did I choose this specific life, why did I choose to write and publish my books. A voice in my head answered, “to create.” Being a soldier in combat in a previous life, I had obviously caused destruction in that life, so in this life my soul chose to create instead of destroy. That would also explain why I like to use my writing to discuss such deep philosophical issues. To help create a world where armed forces won’t be necessary. A world where no one would even consider turing to force to solve their problems.

But enough about me, below is the email my father [Norbert W. Weidhuner] sent me for you to read. His words are in bold and italics, to differentiate from mine, so there’s no confusion as to whom is saying what. The images posted are what he sent in his email. I do not know where the all came from, nor do I claim ownership of any of them, they are there to help illustrate his point, not for my financial gain so no copyright infringement is intended (just to cover my bases for legal reasons). Now without further adeu, here’s his message for Memorial Day, Namaste:

After experiencing combat, you become part of a unique group, and money can’t buy your way in. Combat teaches you more about the human experience than anything else. It’s a profound event that involves feelings like hate, love, God, pain, fear, courage, life, and death all at once.

You learn a lot about yourself: Are you brave or not? What are your physical and mental limits? Are you a good comrade or not? You also confront the possibility of death in a much more personal way than most people. It becomes a part of who you are, and you can’t avoid it.

You might even find answers to some of life’s biggest questions: Why am I here? What’s the meaning of it all?

For some, combat is about being heroic and adventurous, and it’s a way to stand out and prove themselves. It’s a significant part of their lives. A few enjoy it, the thrill, the adrenaline rush. In the end, combat screws up your mind and some never get over it. I was lucky. For me the nightmares stopped for the most part after a year.

 Most veterans are better people because we looked the elephant in the eye and didn’t flinch.

The gunner mans the machine gun on one side of a Huey gun ship, the crew chief mans the gun on the other side. We had a crew chief who would have the pilot turn around so he could take pictures of his kills. He would boast and brag about his kills. A total psycho. Except for mob hitman, there aren’t too many job openings for a killing machine once he returns to civilian life.

Our commanding officer gave us an orientation speech when we arrived in Vietnam. He was a combat helicopter pilot. He told us “you never get used to it, even after a year of combat. When you get incoming fire, your knees turn to water and your asshole puckers”. I have to agree. Only psychos aren’t scared. But you do your job. You protect your comrades. That’s what counts.


I know some just don’t get why we as Vietnam veterans or any combat veterans speak of ‘dark days’ and ‘sleepless nights.’ There is just no way to explain it to anyone who has not been in a hostile war environment.

There’s not an explanation in the world to bring to light the loss of a friend who has died on foreign soil, In an instant a life is removed from us. And in a lifetime, we can never forget that loss. 

We were kids planted in the middle of a war, and as kids our loyalties ran deep. We were still innocent and unknowing when we stepped into war. We were unprepared for what would be required for us to survive.

In a sentiment that’s often shared by many other combat veterans, The darkness we speak of is not the darkness everyone else sees. Ours is more of a dusky haze that clouds our emotions. It’s a spirit that can take us from contentment to sadness in a heartbeat. It can be brought on by most anything. And it often is.

So, when I speak of this, I speak of memories and a broken spirit, a darkness that seals our souls up for a time. Sure—I will snap out of it and return to what we call ‘normality’ for a while. But what we have been through is a life-changing experience. When you see the blank look or the tear, when you see the silence that has overtaken us, just realize that this is the darkness we speak of.”

People will ask, “When were you in Vietnam?” No matter how many years have passed since my service, the answer always feels like it should be, “Every day.”  

Please don’t think that the things I say are just a robotic reply to gain attention, I’m not looking for sympathy — just understanding. And if you can’t understand what I mean, then just walk away. That’s a privilege that we as veterans don’t have.

Every one of us reacts differently in the face of life threatening danger. Some people indeed get excited, some depressed, but most people I met, including myself, are just scared.

Do soldiers get scared going into battle? If soldiers don’t get scared in battle, then something is seriously wrong. There’s nothing wrong with being scared. Being scared is not cowardice. Being scared makes you careful and cautious. Those who aren’t scared usually get careless and get themselves or their buddies killed.

Anyone can die anytime in combat. The important part is to not freeze and do your job.

In honor of all the men in my unit who didn’t make it back home like I did. Especially my replacement. When my tour of duty ended, I had 6 months of active service left. They offered to let me out 3 months early if I were to extend 3 months of duty in Vietnam. I said, “No thank you, I’ll take my 6 months stateside”. Much as I loved my country and as much as I wanted to fight commie pinkos  since Russians were occupying my birth country  (East Germany), I had enough of combat and didn’t feel we were really helping the Vietnamese people by propping up a corrupt government so that the military industrial complex could get rubber from the rubber plantations, that and pilots bragging about shooting a rocket up a water buffalos ass to blow the farmer riding on him all to hell. A couple of weeks after leaving Vietnam, I got a letter from a buddy stating that my replacement while sleeping in my old cot, took a direct mortar hit early in the morning and got wasted. Had I chosen to extend my tour, that would have been me and I wouldn’t be here today.

We won most of the battles, but somehow our country lost the war.

The 173d Airborne Brigade took part in 14 designated campaigns in RVN. It remained in combat longer than any other American military unit since the Revolutionary War. It earned four unit citations, had 13 Medal of Honor winners, 1601 Sky Soldiers were killed in action and another 8,435 were wounded in action. The 10,041 casualties incurred by the 173d Brigade were:

♠ Five times greater than those suffered by the 187th Airborne Regiment in Korea,

♠ Four times greater than those suffered by the 11th Airborne Division in the Pacific during WWII,

♠ More than twice those suffered by the 101st Airborne Division in Europe in WWII,

♠ Two-thirds of those suffered by the entire 82nd Airborne Division in WW2.

The poem below by a veteran pretty much says it all

And finally…