Promises Made and broken
I tend to float in and out of my story and what has effected me and my loved ones
because of my Tour of Duty in Vietnam, As you already know that I was inducted into the
Military at age 16 turning 17. I was brought up on the very important Golden Rule (Do unto
others as you would have them do unto you) This is a great rule to follow.
I was so in love with the Military for it gave reason and rhyme
to life in
I paid attention to the Sergeants Commands and Teachings.
One Lie, was the promise of being well taken care of if injured while in the Line of
Boy what a misconception that was.
I like so many thousands of men and women, got out of the service from being on a
combat search and destroy mission one day and being turned loose on society the next day.
I had one thing working for me I was admitted to an Army Hospital that took almost a year
for recovery. At first I was proud and very happy to be a member of the brotherhood of
combat wounded Veterans. This was short lived because of the protesters of the War.
They had their Collage Degrees and were in Societys main structure as Dentist,
Doctors, Lawyers, and just every job that was known to man.
When I went for interviews I had to hide the truth of my serving in Vietnam. So
many of the administration would put you on the bottom of their hiring list because of
I would lie about my limp and my bad left arm. I told them that I had fallen off the back
of a big truck while serving in Germany. They really didnt want Vietnam Vets due
their being so 'Unstable'.
Yes, Vietnam Veterans of both sexes were committing suicide by the thousands or were in
Alcohol or Drug rehabilitation Programs. We didnt understand why we were so short
tempered and would fight or strike out under the least of pressures of life.
My children were scared to death of me because of my flipping out and hollering at
them and waking them up in the early morning hours while screaming and reliving one of my
Battle nightmares. My wife although scared learned quick on the right buttons to push to
calm me down.
If not for her I would have been Dead many Years ago.
With time and many weekly, monthly visits to the Shrink I was able to understand
the necessity of my needing more control over what actions I had to take in order to make
our life more bearable and happy. At first the only way I might get any sleep was to drink
myself into a pass out frame from the alcohol induced for sleep. This is the first thing
that almost broke up our marriage, along with other service behaviour traits left over from
the many days of Hyper vigilance the one trait left over from learning to stay alive, in
order to return home to my family. Which was thousands of miles away being miss-treated by
what I was lead to believe a loving and caring mother and father, but so far from the
My first of two years after MEDEVAC was spent in the Hospital and the next job was
a Land Navigation Instructor, and Supply Sergeant. The latter is where I really learned
the use of Beer to help control my nerves and help get a little sleep?.
The years would pass on in many ways with many jobs trying to keep my family together for
this above all my teachings was the one that made the most sense.
At times my way of thinking is as right as rain in the summer time, but when I start to
get pressures from people or just everyday life I find I need to stop these pressures
using any method available no matter what the ending it may bring.
When I see my wife suffer day to day keeping care of me I try to take her out for
a meal at a nice quite restaurant but have just noticed after our many trips out to eat I
find my self waiting for the most private table in the establishment, where I have
complete control of movement out of harms way.
Eighty percent of my time is spent in my little room in a different world on my Computer
trying to write this story. I have in the past thirty or so years become wise in many
factors controlling my thoughts and beliefs.
The promises made of being treated for all injuries received while in the Military
is a True/False promise.
Due to the shabby record practice of the U.S. Army a lot of things both good and bad were
never put into your 201 File (This is the file that all your training schools, MOS jobs,
your different assignments of Duty stations, Efficiency Ratings, Rank Achievements, Awards
& Decorations are kept).
Bad would be any discipline brought against you for misconduct.
I have after eight years of service never had any bad remarks on this file, close a couple
of times but no entries. We have moved all over this world me seeking a place to find
acceptance for my being.
In these moves I have visited many of the VA Hospitals, and Out Patient Clinics for
treatment of wounds and injuries received while in Combat and the Service of our Country.
Every Hospital and Clinic I had to retell all that had happened to me. The fact that
documentation was so poor between 1961 and 1969 by the Army and many doctor reports and
files of treatment, which showed the injuries both combat and in service connected was not
I tried to get treatment through my job but was made to pay for treatments because
they were rated as pre-existing conditions, only activated by my work not caused by.
Once in a while a VA Doctor felt mercy for me and would give me pain medication to help
out a little but they were very few and far between.
I would love add their names to our Honor Roll but not able to because of VA Reactions
against the Brave Men and Women that was instrumental in my relief of some of the pain. I
was a meat cutter, a vacuum cleaner salesman, gas station attendant, Meat cutter again, a
portion control meat cutter, supervisor on production line, meat cutter, Meat Sales Rep,
Meat Market Manager, Deli Manager and for my last eight years of work I returned to being
a Meat Department Manager/Cutter only being able to work four maybe five hours a day and
upon completion of the day was flat on my stomach while my wife tried to relieve the pain
in my back with ice and heat rubs (Ben gay Ointment).
One early morning while re-working the Meat Case the Store Manager gave me some
un-necessary remarks causing me to go into a hostile type reaction to him but was stopped
by the Produce Manager a friend of mine.
I didnt realize what was going on but with the way I was holding my boning knife I
knew deep in my soul I was going to rid myself of this enemy.
I went back into the Meat Cooler trying to realize what taken place, when the friend
walked in asking if I was OK and if he could help. I asked him what was I doing and he
said you were in a crouch like you were after somebody.
I got up from the crates walked out on the floor approached my Boss and gave a five day
I called my shrink at the VA Hospital and told him what had happened. He had me come in on
a Saturday and go one on one with him, and I filed for 100% disability. It took
over a year for them to reach a decision.
My wife went to work in a Hospital Care Unit and I would lie in bed till late morning
not sleeping but was feeling safe as if I was back in the Womb that brought me life.
This has been off and on from 1989 till present day.
Each week I go to the Squirrel Cage (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Clinic) and sit with
my brothers who are as screwed up with life like I am. We have a Doctor there that helps
us understand why we are like we are but we still are not secure for even as good as she
is it is virtually impossible to understand our pain that was brought on my our Government
sending us into combat without proper backing from the people of the United States, the
lies to be treated for our problems both mental and physical.
Each time we get a new Shrink we must start all over because there again we go into the
stage where they act as if they dont believe us, and old memories sneak out of the
cracks and crevices of our memory.
Memories of death and pain of worrying if this was your last minute of your life.
To have a man beside you who you dont know catch a bullet and die in your arms or
while your trying to comfort him by saying "Help is on the way" when your over
twenty miles from a Aid station and in a Hot LZ.
When he calls his girl friends name or maybe his moms or dads name. With time
their names sometime disappear but their faces will always haunt you.
Every day of your life will be spent wondering why you were spared.
This is especially true to the severe injuries where the pain can not be stopped
by medication alone these Vets sleep with and wake with pain that is maybe a 7 on the
scale , 1 being the best and 10 being the worst.
When every move you make it hurts when you must lie to everyone and say I feel great but
deep down you want to scream, Make it stop.
When your childhood friend tells you how bad he would have been if he had gone there to
fight and how many Viet Cong he would have put in their graves.
I could have been, I would have been, and I wish I had been only count in Horseshoes and
Hand Grenades. At night or really in the early morning when I lay down after taking a
Velum (Narcotic for Sleep) I say my prayer to God (which I hope exists) telling him to
please forgive me and I am grateful for the day he gave me and I am ready to join him as a
whole man again with out pain and the memories of war.
Then I have my Dreams of long ago and depending on the days events they may be
happy dreams or they are the dreams of terror, death, pain, and the stench of the rotting
jungle I left so many years ago.
So many mornings I have woke up hiding in a closet, or crouched by a window resting my
head on the window sill, I have jumped out of bed at night while hearing the rockets going
off while banging my head on the night stand. I even woke up once in my back yard at 5 in
the morning after the sprinklers doused my naked body with water. I dont think
anyone ever saw me if they did I have never heard about it.
This is the life of a Vietnam Vet.
I carry the pain of my un-grateful citizens ever-resting heavy on my mind, soul, and
well-being. I have been called a looser by WWII Vets, and hell when I left we were
Then come the baby and women killers.
This all said by people who have not got the foggiest idea what the hell we were up
If you were on ambush and civilians were in the presence of the enemy and they
were killed that was war. If you have to shot at flashes of gunfire coming from hooch you
have no control over the flight of the bullets coming from your weapon, you are in the
'Stay Alive Mode of Combat'.
To this day whether I like it or not I when moving about doing chores either at home, or
in a store my wife always tells me that I stop and stare if something was going to happen,
and this may be for a few seconds or many more seconds.
Very seldom does my mind rest completely.
If the radio stops at night due to power outage I am up checking the perimeter out. (Home,
Motel, Hotel, Camp Sight) it doesnt matter where I am.
There is so much to say to try to justify our being alive.
I have this opinion I have learned from talking with many Vietnam Vets and some of us
agree and some of us have our on beliefs.
Here goes, Heaven is the state of thought when your life ends? You bring back
your most loving and peaceful thoughts and have an easy Death of being able to see this
peace you hold dear in your mind and soul, Like your Mother or Fathers Love, or it could
be what ever thought you hold that takes the pain away. Well Hell is just the Very
opposite. If you have led a hateful and difficult life then you are going To pass on in
fear and pain thus your last thoughts will be of your very worst Deed or action".
Now you are going to call me crazy but I must use this belief in order to make it through
the day and I am quite comfortable with it. I have spent my whole live since April 27,1963
with pain very mild in the beginning but with time my pains have been added to and
increased in severity but I am alive and maybe by writing this some Veteran from either
England, Canada, Korea or here in the United States, but really no matter where, will read
this and gain a little peace of mind.
We fight for freedom us Yanks as we are called, but we are the most misunderstood Soldiers
in the world.
All men from the beginning of time have fought each other, and the elements to protect
what we truly believe is our rights to act as we want. This is where we the Yanks believe
in the pursuit of happiness, free speech, Religion, and rights to govern ourselves to be
right by the teachings of the Holy Bible. But when the change comes about by writing into
law, or scripture to justify your very own ideas and beliefs you have to be wrong
especially when it cost your people to starve, be sick and not be able to maintain
happiness within their boundaries of life and the pursuit well being.
Me like so many other Vets have watched the war we are to have won in Iraq with the Help
of England and other countries. We fear the returning warriors will be inflected with
unknown ailments combat wounds and most of the worst Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
The few good things about this war are people are going with time to be able to
govern them to a happier and more bountiful life. Gone will be the worries, of death or
torture from the hands of a tyrant. They will be able to raise their families to worship,
teach and live lives of ease without pain mental and physical.
I praise all the soldiers that won this fight for freedom and their deeds and good will
are being marked in the books of History never to be forgotten.
If we could I know all of us from past conflicts of War would like to shake every soldiers
hand and thank them for all they gave up to keep Freedom at our door steps. There is not
one day that passes that I dont thank you with a prayer and tears for the fallen
that will never be forgotten and like the names on the Black Granite Wall in our United
States Capitol Your Deeds as Patriots will never be forgotten.
This is the closing chapter I can write about War, for it depresses me to the point of
self worth and wanting to lay my head down in eternal sleep and in doing so take my soul
and memories back to when I was a Young fit Warrior from one of the Greatest Armies to go
into Combat with.
I remain ever dedicated to the Freedom of Mankind and Justice for All in the Name Of God
and Our Saviuor.
Staff Sergeant E-6 Charles B. Maskolunas Jr.
101st Airborne Brigade 1961-69