On this day, November 25,2022 I received a message from a Brother Vietnam Veteran Thanking me for writing my stories. It was a sincere message from the heart; making me look back on my stories and how my tour of duty affected my life. After reading his message, I felt compelled to write this note:
I did not have an infantry (Grunt) MOS, I was "in the rear with the gear" as we say. I cannot imagine what our grunts endured, the things they saw, or the things they did. They spent 90% of their tour of duty in the jungle or on the front lines. They killed, saw their buddies killed, and faced the possibility of death each day and night. Every soldier in a war zone is affected and while things I did and things I saw pale in comparison to the infantry soldier, I paid my dues and I have paid a heavy price. They are my heroes, along with the 58,000 names on The Wall and I will not let them be forgotten. I remember and honor my Brothers of the 6th Battalion, 14th Artillery who made the ultimate sacrifice for freedom.
I joined the US Army in 1967 and stayed in until 1970. Many times, I wish I had made a career out of it. I loved the Army, hated the politics, but still believe I should have stayed in.
I arrived in Vietnam in the middle of Tet Offensive of 1968, and served with HQ Battery 6th Battalion, 14th Artillery (Artillery Hill) in Pleiku. The battalion’s batteries were located in Dakto, PleiDjerang, Ben Het (Battle of), and Kon-Tum. The field batteries were where we kept our "big guns"; 175mm and 8 inch self-propelled howitzers. As battalion armorer I spent a lot of time at each of the remote batteries and traveled by convoys through enemy infested areas; as well as hitching rides on many helicopters or “bird dog” aircraft. My penchant for chopper hitch-hiking nearly ended when the chopper on which I was hitching was shot down; my comment, “What a Ride!”
I participated in a small number of search and destroy patrols as well as many other duties required of any soldier in a war zone. Things that were done and things that were seen will not be visited in detail in any of my stories.
After separation from the Army, I attended Pennsylvania Gunsmith School in Pittsburgh and, after graduating as a Master Gun Builder, moved to Martins Ferry and Steubenville, Ohio. I began a very satisfying career developing custom handguns with J.D. Jones of Wintersville, Ohio. During this period, I did a lot of competitive shooting and traveling. After retiring from that field, I moved back home to Georgia and worked as an Environmental, Health, and Safety Professional for Georgia Pacific Paper Corporation in Rincon, Georgia until my retirement in 2012
Author's Note: Some of my stories were published on another Veteran's site from 2005-2011 and some were never published. They have all been re-copyrighted to reflect the current year.
When I came home from Vietnam, I was not the same but had managed to put Vietnam in the back of my memory and move on with my life.
In 1992, my youngest daughter; Erin passed away. Not long after that, the visions of what I had done and what I had seen started coming back slowly and as time moved on, they came back as terrible nightmares and flashbacks.
I began seeing a civilian psychiatrist and he told me that the loss of my daughter was such a traumatic event that it triggered all of my most horrific memories of my tour of duty in Vietnam.
Over the years, I struggled with nightmares, flashbacks, and two suicide attempts. With help from the VA and a very loving and supportive wife, I have managed to "get everything under control" to some extent and moved on with my life with my wife always at my side.
All of this led to writing stories of all these life-changing events. Some of the stories are about some people that had a profound influence on my life. I have not written my stories to receive sympathy.....I have written and shared my stories to make people aware of the realities of War and the effect it has on all veterans.
PTSD and suicide is real, not some manifestation of a Hollywood director and people need to realize that. My stories are part of a healing process for me and I would hope that reading them will help someone else with the healing process.
To all veterans....Thank You for Your Service.
To all my Vietnam Brothers and Sisters...Welcome Home !!
Phil "Country" Crowley 2023