By James D. Johnson
Chaplain James D. Johnson selected to accompany his males, unarmed, on their day-by-day strive against operations. this can be his chronicle of Vietnam and the aftermath of warfare, of his coming to phrases together with his post-traumatic demons, and his want for therapeutic and detoxification which led him to revisit Vietnam years later.
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Extra resources for Combat Chaplain: A 30-Year Vietnam Battle
M. an alarm sounds throughout the ship. Most of us in the army have no idea what the alarm is about. I soon discover that two sailors are overboard in the river. They were in a shuttle boat returning from an evening of drinking in Dong Tam. In the middle of the huge My Tho River, one either was pushed or jumped overboard and the other jumped overboard after him. They’re both lucky to survive. At times, especially when the tide is falling, the current is rapid and treacherous. These two drunk sailors are fortunate that the tide is changing and the current isn’t especially swift.
I’ve concluded that trying to bottle up the VC in the Rung Sat is next to impossible. Like tying to put out a raging forest fire with a bucket—with a hole in it! We are all relieved when we get word that we’re going in. We make our way back to the stream and are extracted. I load up on the aid boat for the ride back to Vung Tau. Still on the boat is the soldier killed in C/5/60th yesterday. I look at him and realize I know him. His name is Charles. He is covered with mud and blood. He looks terrible with so much facial and neck flesh and bone gone.
My mind and heart are on overload. One body in particular makes a memorable mark. The only thing left of his head is the bottom part of his eye sockets. Eyes, forehead, and the top of his skull, and all his brain are missing. I think of a volcano crater. Very few of these Vietnamese soldiers whimper, cry out or make verbal expressions of their physical pain. Perhaps these young Vietnamese soldiers have grown up in poverty and have already experienced a great deal of suffering. Maybe they just accept pain as a part of life.