Day 17 | Dry as Elbow Macaroni | I’m THIRSTY | STARVING | Jesus, Give Me a Beer and a Slice of Pepperoni
Did people actually think that a man could go through this fucking insanity and be unaffected? Did they really expect him to be the same man he was when he left the States? Or, did they think about us at all? Did they even care?
I cracked open a new book in bed last night, Mark Garrison’s “Guts and Gunships.” I read an account out loud of an acutely wounded soldier and Husband closed his eyes [oh, Ginny], cupped his hands to his ears, and rolled over.
[Garrison manning a Huey chopper in ’69] “In my dazed and confused state, I somehow managed to dial in a radio frequency to tell we were coming in with wounded. Just then, something softly touched the left side of my neck… I had flight gloves on and I reached up to feel it and when I brought my hand back, it was covered with blood…. I thought I may have been shot… I glanced over my left shoulder and saw a wounded soldier lying in the middle of the cargo bay. His booted left foot was up around his head, because his left leg had been virtually blown off, mid-thigh, and was only held on by a few strands of twisted muscle, tendon and skin. His femoral artery was severed and it jerked back and forth with each heartbeat and squirted streams of blood, sometimes hitting me in the neck and shoulder. He appeared to be no more than 18 years old. I was 21….
With the whine of the jet and the beating of the rotor blades, you couldn’t hear what he was saying. But the expression on his face was easy to read. The poor kid was terrified. As I screamed at a crew member to tourniquet the leg, I read the kid’s lips as he stared blankly forward, with vacant eyes and a bluish cast to his face.
He was saying, “Mom, Mom…Mom.”
[Ginny] I have often wondered, well before reading Garrison’s account, wasn’t anyone thinking about the indelible psychological impact on these boys?
And what if ‘Mom’ had been there? Sensory overload doesn’t even begin to touch the extent of horror, the panic and chaos, the utter grief.
Mom would have spent the rest of her life drinking herself silly.
When I could no longer keep my eyes open deep into the tenth chapter, I closed the book and turned off the light. I woke this morning to Charlie giving me kisses on the chin and Sabrina’s head tucked into my armpit. I am fortunate I’ve never been expected to serve my country in a capacity that is so extreme to the human condition and I’m incurably sympathetic to those that have.
[Footage provided by Garrison]