I blogged a while back about a WWII LST which I toured here in Alton, IL. At that time, some of the comments asked which LST my Dad served on and I've finally received his records. My Dad's ship was the LST 898, the USS Lincoln County.
He boarded her in Pittsburgh as soon as she was launched and took her down the Mississippi River passing within 15 miles of his hometown of Sledge, Mississippi.
He told me he was tempted to jump ship as they passed Helena, Arkansas because he knew he could walk home from there. He was 20 years old.
I was 20 when I went to Vietnam. We never talked much about either of our "adventures" and I regret that so much.
In my interviews working on this PTSD book, I've talked to so many veterans who have similar regrets. There are too many fathers who never tell their stories to sons and daughters.
Locking those "memories" in that dark place where we keep them is such a devastating and destructive behavior and so many stories are lost forever because of that trend.
I interviewed another PTSD counselor here in Illinois last week. We discussed how so many never talk about those "things" because it is too painful. I told him what a shame it was for those stories to be lost. He asked me a profound question: "Have you told your son EVERYTHING?"
Wow! That really hit home. He smiled, looked at me inquisitively and nodded.
I've told my kids several times over the years that I would leave a written record of my life for them. In some ways, maybe these blogs are the beginning of that but I still have yet to put one word on paper to keep that promise. I'm going to do that before this year is over if I live that long.
Another discussion I had with Lewis, the counselor, was how many self-destructive tendencies PTSD causes. I told him what I've told other veterans when this subject comes up: "I'm not nearly as stupid as some of the things I've done in my life." That's my joking way to avoid following through on a conversation I don't really want to have.
I'll get into some of the suicidal/self-destructive things veterans have told me about during this research later but according to Lewis the latest fad for returning vets is to get one of those "rocket" motorcycles and see how fast it will go. Subconsciously hoping for a blowout or a deer to do what they can't contemplate consciously.
I've never had a car or motorcycle I haven't had to its top speed. I know what he's talking about.
More later. I just wanted to put the link to my Dad's ship up. In the past couple of days since I found out which one it was, I've looked at the picture many times and thought about that 20 year old looking over the rails wondering if a Japanese submarine or Kamikazi pilot might find them in that vast Pacific Ocean.
He made it back so I was born. I made it back so my kids were born. So many weren't born because their fathers didn't make it back. That is a tragedy beyond description.