The Heal of a Walk

The Heal Of A Walk

Vietnam Veteran shares his reflections about visiting the Vietnam Wall Memorial, writing, and healing.

VetWallWe walked with a purpose, my friend and I beneath the clouded Washington sky.

The earth seemed to open as we approached from the east. We entered a world of tranquility, a world of peace.

At first it was hard to grasp the feeling. There was no indication of instant healing.The names were all there on the blackened surface. They were waiting for us to fulfill our purpose.

We made ourselves busy at tracing and such. A name to remember…. A soul to touch. Without knowing, as we made our way, our hearts were swelling with pride that day.

Tear did not fall as one might expect. It was a scene of resolve, love, and respect. The wall was black and all too complete. The wall was a reminder of what not to repeat.

Most names were unfamiliar, but not unknown. The seeds of war so long ago sown, has made us as one in another life. As one in good times and one in strife.

We moved on to the statue of three young men. They looked as we did, way back when. They were real in all ways but one….Frozen in time, a job well done.

The power of feeling is hard to express. Soldiers of combat, faces of distress. They looked to the wall in a peculiar way. Is it surprise or danger their eyes display?

I am a young man of 20 once again. If I touch them they will come alive, as if to say, “I also can survive”.

They move from the trees, and enter the clear. They move with caution, not hiding their fear. They have returned from a duty known only to them. They look to the wall, these three young men.

We return at night to share the peace. Our memories of this visit will never cease. The calm of the darkness brings a lump to the throat. Thoughts of another time are no longer remote.

There is a time we need to heal. There is a time we need to feel. Those names on The Wall and those three young men, Renewed my conviction to survive again.

Galen Gregerson (June 13, 1986)

Reflections

“Reflections are important when one is trying to ascertain solutions to challenges. Where have I been and how did I get here? What do I need to make a decision? Who do I seek out for input? How many options do I have? Which options are most reasonable for me?What are my liabilities? What are my assets?

As a Nam Vet, do I revert to survival tactics for this challenge, this treating it like a mission? Or, do I incorporate feelings into my decision process? Perhaps I do need survival tactics initially, gaining strength through anger. However, that will not prevail over the long-haul. To remain “living life” rather than simply “surviving life” requires more thought, feeling, and determination.

Survival is automatic for the well-practiced Vietnam Veteran. Living life to its fullest with a sense for feelings is more difficult. The choice is mine, as is the reward. I choose to live my life. To survive life is too incomplete and too unforgiving”.

(excerpts) Galen Gregerson

October 25, 1994

*No blog is meant to substitute anyone seeking professional assistance or other support if needed. Each post are by individuals merely sharing their experiences, reflections, and hope.

Advertisements

Goodnight Saigon………Powerful Moment with a group of Vietnam Vets

Watch on the clip starting at 1:41 for Garth’s Brook’s Tribute to Billy Joel and his song honoring Vietnam Veterans called- Goodnight Saigon. Very powerful performance and surprise. Check it out and share.

Vietnam Veteran returns to Vietnam to put the past to rest

George in vn sitting as soldierI was first in Vietnam in 1969-1970 at Camp Evans. I returned in 1971-1972 and was stationed at Camp Holloway Pleiku. This is where I met my girlfriend Phu late 1971 where she worked in the camp mess hall. We were together when I left Camp Holloway to return to the states. She told me she was pregnant when I was leaving. My mom and I would communicate with her and sent packages and she would send post cards through a GI in the compound. I didn’t know they had closed Camp Holloway and the Americans pulled out soon after I left. I lost contact with Phu thinking the worst of two things- either she didn’t care anymore or she was a casualty of the war when the north gradually took over the south. For 40 yrs I was always thinking about her, but being active military and trying to keep my career going I had to move on with my life. I couldn’t turn to focus on the past even though in my mind it was making me crazy.

Article for search vn paper
Article in Vietnamese paper, Click to enlarge

At first I was going to various sites and searching on my own. I eventually found a site where I was engaged in a deep conversation with a person who had helped some Amerasians in the past. I was asked various questions including did I know if my former girlfriend had the baby or not. I wasn’t sure. I started looking at Amerasian women around the age of 39-40 to see if I could see me in them. It was suggested I place an ad in the paper in Vietnam with her picture.

In the meantime I started talking to a man who served with me in Vietnam during my first tour with the Ghost Riders A company 158th Avn assault helicopter Co. He shared with me about how he brings veterans back to Vietnam all the time to face their past. I wanted to finally try to go back and face some of my demons in life, but did not want to go alone. So my niece and her husband that have always supported me said they would go back with me. In September of 2012 we arrived in Cambodia and then we crossed into Vietnam. After being in Vietnam for only two days, I received an email stating Phu may have been found. I couldn’t believe it. About two minutes after the first email I get an email from another Vietnamese woman stating, ” I think the woman you are looking for is my mother”. She sent me a picture of Phu back during our time together. I was so in shock, happy, and excited. If you can only know that for 40 years I thought Phu and the baby were no longer on this earth. We communicated through webcam. Phu was dancing, jumping up and down, and yelling that’s him! It was so emotional for both of us. For me it was like a million demons had left my mind. The ad was in longer than usual. A woman, friend of Phu’s, by chance had seen the ad. She called Phu to inform her that she believed an American soldier was looking for her. Turns out Phu didn’t have my baby, but she does have eight kids and a good husband. I talk to them often and plan on visiting them when I can get the money together again. We have not yet seen eachother in person.

George return trip to VN
George’s return trip to Vietnam

My return trip to Vietnam was to try to visit places I had been during the war. I was there to rid war demons, never did I expect to get any response about Phu. The trip was not based on finding Phu because as stated earlier, I thought she was possibly a victim of the past. I will say this to my Brothers and Sisters from this War, the visit back to Vietnam is eye-opening and you will be shocked at just how you feel when you arrive there. I really didn’t think the trip would do anything for me, but it has helped me a lot. No it did not and never will rid all those demons, but it’s a way to start dealing with it.

Yes I had all those names and thoughts in my mind of the Vietnamese People, but if you only know how peaceful it is and how polite and so warmly accepted American are. Also no ruck, no steel pot, no weapon, just calmness and relaxed. I want to return so badly to actually meet Phu and her family. I will get there if time is on my side.

George today
George Today

Vietnam Veteran struggling to reconcile his experience as a warrior and a pastor

al cutterThe Letter of Paul to the Beloved Warrior

When it so roundly condemns war and its attendant destruction, how can the christian faith, or any faith, speak to the warrior? This “previously unknown” letter from the Apostle Paul provides a possible answer. Conceived in the imagination of a Vietnam Veteran who is also a christian struggling to reconcile his two different and difficult life experiences, one as a warrior and the other as a pastor, this short book offers an opening for discussion of a healing journey.You can purchase this at Amazon.com and it is available for kindle.

Alan Cutter served in the US Navy from 1960 to 1975, five years on active duty- as an enlisted man in the Naval Security Group, then as an officer- first as an advisor in Vietnam then as a teacher at the Naval Academy Prep School.  

Alan Cutter with beretAlan presented some of his perspectives at one of our events in 2012. See footage and other writings:

War as a Prayer

From Post Traumatic Stress Disorder to Post Traumatic Spiritual Disorder

The Journey from Hell to Hope