If you are offended by strong language, please press the home button.
I have kept the language to a minimun, but is wasn't that way.
Sometimes what was said and thought needs to be said that way. So you have been notified.
This is just part of the never ending journey home, another beginning, another story, another step towards healing.
Orders for the world in hand, bags packed and ready to go. No goodbyes. Most of the teams are out in the field and those left are busy training new
Cambodian and RVN soldiers. I had to get a ride from my First Sergeant.
It's an 1 hour ride and we're at the gate of a locked compound for those waiting to go home. We said our goodbyes, got a good luck, and he was off.
I showed my orders to the MP's who wore pressed uniforms and spit-shinned boots. They look at me, unpressed faded uniform, muddy boots with zippers inter-twinned with laces, makes them easy to get off. They tell me I can't come in with zippers in my boots, I ask ask them why the fuck not. Orders are orders they say. Bullshit I'm not taking them out, and I just sit on the curb and wait. After about 2 1/2 hours, and lots of exchanged words, they say fine go in.(short version) I just nod and walk by.
I reported in at the orderly desk and get the same treatment from some green kid that looks like he just got in country. I'm not takin' any more shit, just sign me the fuck in. Again surprised, I'm told to pick a bunk and then sign in for a piss test and wait for my name to appear on the manifest list posted outside. Well that took 2 whole fuckin' days in a locked compound with nothing to do. Oh the joy, I can hardly fuckin' stand it, but finally my name appeared for a 5pm flight out of the Nam with check in at 1pm. Got a new uniform and waited for check in.
Checked in and have to wait again for a fuckin' baggage check. They go through all your bags with no respect and don't care. They take away my old field uniform and my boots, fuckin' assholes. Then you wait again to change your mpc money into real US money. Wait again for a bus to come and then we're on our way to the freedom bird, Flying Tigers Airline. 20 plus hours later we're back in the world.
The plane lands in San Francisco, God only knows what time it is. The plane comes to a stop on the tarmac and we are de-planed. They didn't even give us the courtesy of pulling into a gate! There are Army buses waiting for us, the type like school buses, a far cry from the luxury buses they used to bring us to basic training. Guess we're not good enough for that anymore, we're just a bunch of worn out vets.
As we leave the airport, we pass a bunch of war protesters yelling at us, calling us baby killers and spitting at us as we pass by. Not the kind of welcome home I thought we deserved. It made me want to get off the bus and kick the shit out of them. I did what was asked of me, I didn't run, I didn't protest! Who the the fuck are they to judge me?
The bus enters the airforce base and pulls up to a large auditorium where we enter and are told to sit in the folding chairs provided for our comfort and wait for your name to be called. Folding chairs for our comfort, yea right! Then that typical fuckin' wait again bullshit. Finally my name is called and I'm ushered into an office and asked to sit down. Here I was greeted by a Second Lieutenant who tells me that my country is proud of my service as he hands me orders for my next duty station. He says I get 30 days leave and $200 to get home and then to Fort Sheridan. Shakes my hand and says I'm free to go. I leave and think to myself, what the fuck was that all about! Go where? You couldn't offer me something to eat or drink, oh but they did, if I wanted to wait for the mess hall to open in a few hours. One would just think that someone knew we were on the way because orders and money were ready. So how come no fuckin' food? So now I'm free to go, well how about a ride to the airport. Maybe directions on where to get a cab or bus and just maybe, where the fuck the airport is, not to mention, how do I get off this fuckin' base, where's the gate?!!
Welcome Home my ass! Good job, your country's proud and all that other bullshit they had to say. Just a few days ago I'm wondering if I'll get back to the world in one piece, now everything is suppose to be alright 'cause I'm home and my country is proud of me. I guess they forgot to tell me that my country doesn't include the protesters I'm going to run into when I leave the base, or how my life is going to be different because I left a big part of who I was back in the Nam. My first thought, again, was Send Me Back! At least I knew where I stood with the people I served with and how we cared for each other and there's no petty bullshit about zippers in my boots or I need a shave or haircut. Here I'm just another baby killing Vietnam Vet, a nut case in need of re-training, yea right!
Well I finally leave the base and there's a cab waiting, who would have thought. I guess they need money too. I get in the cab and the drivers says, just get back sonny. Who the fuck is he calling sonny! Then he procedes to ask me if I want to stop and get a round eyed before I leave. You would think I would get a little respect, but that's asking to much. Anyway I just suck it up and say no thanks just to the airport. We get to the airport and he says that will be $27, again I'm pissed 'cause I know I'm being ripped off, fucker never pulled the lever on the meter, and I don't know what a cab ride cost. But it don't mean a thing, so I just pay him and get out.
I get in the airport and look to see who's flying to Chicago first and stand in yet another line to buy a ticket. Ticket in hand I walk to the gate a sit down and wait again. Sitting across from me is a young mother with a little girl that must have been about 2 years old. The little girl started to walk toward me and the mother grabbed her and pulled her away muttering something like stay away from the soilder, he just came home, and went to sit somewhere else. What the fuck did she think, I'm going to kill her kid? People like that have no fuckin' idea of what I went though or did or even care, but they are quick to judge me just the same. Again the thought passes my mind, Send Me The Fuck Back!
So far coming back to the world really sucked, and I'm still waiting for my Welcome Home, but now I'm not sure what that means or if I'm ever going to get one or if I really want one! Now I have an attitude, worse than originally, fuck it, and leave me the fuck alone!
Things have to get better. In a few hours I will be in the arms of my wife together with everyone else who comes. So the plane lands in Chicago, I compose myself trying to get ready for the unknown, and I get off plane. I get lots of hugs and kisses from everyone, and I finally feel safe in the arms of my wife. But all that wonderful feeling would soon disappear, because everyone but my wife, expected me to be the same person I was when I left and I wasn't, and never will be again. Maybe they thought I was on a long camping trip :-) More likely, they were in denial of the whole thing and that's ok. At least Judy knew and sensed that I was different and that I would need time to readjust.
This is not the end. Days turn into weeks. Weeks into months...etc... and still My Country has no welcome home for us vets. Well some 20 years or so later, someone in Chicago finally got the bright idea that maybe we should have a welcome home parade/day for all the Vietnam Vets, and as luck would have it I'm out of town on business and missed it, go figure.
"But it's all good, it don't mean a fuckin' thing...."