Twenty-FiveNight Ambush: Confessions of a Vietnam Vet
Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creation; old things are passed away; behold all things are become new. 2 Corinthians 5.17
A letter from a Vietnam veteran to a WWII Marine. As surely as Spring follows a bitter Winter, hope can emerge from the pain, tragedy and suffering of war and its aftermath.
It is hard to write my story. I've started many times. But I get going and feel this huge weight crushing down on me. It is very difficult for me to describe this powerful force that bound me for 28 years, but here goes. I had never told anyone about Vietnam-I mean the real Vietnam. The fear, coupled with the boredom was incredible. I was an electronics technician ten miles north of Danang. My tour was about over and the only war I had experienced was on the receiving end of mortar and rocket attacks.
I wanted to be what I enlisted to be, a combat Marine. I trained my replacement and volunteered for patrol duty. I started out checking Vietnamese ID cards in several surrounding villages. Then it was night patrols. This was different. We were told of NVA (enemy) activity in the area. One night we spotted movement, so set up a hasty ambush and waited. I took out the first man. There were tracers going everywhere. Someone screamed to stop shooting. We had ambushed one of our own patrols! Their point man was a friend of mine and I was told that he was hurt very badly. For 17 years I stuffed this incident deep within and then I lost control and my life shattered like a piece of glass. I needed to talk about it. It was all wrong and was something that wasn't supposed to happen. When I returned from Vietnam I discovered my fiancee was eight months pregnant by another man. I didn't know this until she greeted me when I got off the plane. But I was a Marine and I could handle anything–and I did for awhile. She had the baby adopted by another family and we finally married. Over eighteen years, the past continually worked on destroying our relationship. Finally, when 200 Marines were uselessly killed in an undefended position in Beirut, I woke up to the trauma I had suppressed for so many years. I then was divorced. This was wrong, too. We had three children. The scars were opening up that I had hidden. No one understood. I wanted help because I was trained to survive. The pain was incredible. I don't know whether it was the divorce or just my whole life caving in on me.
I only survived because of the faint thought that it would be horrible for my kids to have a father that took his own life. Today I know that God had his hand on me even during that time. No matter how deep the depression, something helped me climb out of the deep, slippery abyss. Bob, all of this is so painful. Then the Lord blessed me with a wonderful second wife. But I had no basis to build a marriage on. It, too, began falling apart. Satan was in control. Then I met Jesus Christ. It was only when I stood with tears running down my face, listening to the son of a friend talk about the forgiveness of God that was freely available to me through Jesus Christ that I came to myself. Knowing Jesus Christ gave me a new strength. I had become a heavy drinker to anesthetize my pain. As soon as I got rid of the pain and guilt, I was able to walk away from alcohol. I always thought a Marine could shoulder anything until I found out that men of strength don't carry excess baggage. People of true strength have help from God. The pain of my second failed marriage does not fill me with anger. It just fills me with sadness. I struggle with human loneliness. It is hard to write this because it's hard to be alone. Satan almost destroyed me with the weight of guilt. But through my Heavenly Father's Word, Christ is turning it into a foundational stone in my life. I didn't understand how adversity could be a gift until I met Jesus Christ.
Please pray that the Lord would bless me with a helpmate, a friend, a lover-the wife that I need, if it is His will. When my second marriage ended it was pure agony, but God has used this pain to truly bless me. This suffering has guided me into understanding the true meaning of life through Christ, a question I have pondered since I was a child. I don't like to write these difficult things because sometimes the story of survival for me during those dark times is something many people find difficult to handle. The Marine Corps trained me well, thank God, and that helped in the survival process. Please pray for my three children and for my divorced spouses. Pray that they also come to truly know the Lord. Thanks so much.
Sincerely your friend,
P.S. I pray that your family's lives stay blessed. If I copy this over I won't mail it.
Thank You, Lord, for Your mercy and transforming power in Rob's life. Please keep working, cleansing and changing my life, too, for Christ's glory. Amen