War Stories by Forrest Frields

Posted on March 20, 2013

11


Forrest Frields was a Scout Pilot in Charlie Troop. This is his story.
War stories and PTSD tales are about releasing the demon energy residing within you. In my case and those cases of friends and co-patients of mine – that energy will never go away – at least not completely. Our only salvation is found in capturing it; in encapsulating it in a locked compartment in the recesses of our minds; that darkness keeps it at bay even if only temporarily.
 
And when it peeks out, when it sneaks out for a breath of clean bright air – it manifests itself in different ways with different people. With me its sadness, with sorrow. Still today.
 
I didn’t see atrocities and pain. My experience with fear arrived after my experience with reality. We were young, we were soldiers, some of us died…but most didn’t. At the time fear was masked by the elation, in my case on my first tour in RVN, by FLYING; flying a small helicopter in battle. Alone at the controls with a trusted sidekick beside me – with his trusty sidekick – an M60 machine gun with 1000 rounds of ammo.
 
I soared about the jungle of the mountains and the sands of the coastal plain; not high, unseeing above, just above the tree tops. Seeking, searching for signs of the enemy; finding it; dealing with it. We usually returned to base camp victorious; sometimes only bored without reports of enemy activity – he had succeeded in hiding from my prying eyes. More often with a body count of enemies sighted, often – killed.
 
Nothing compares with combat – unless you lose. The chatter of the ’60 and the multiple radios; the smell and staccato sound of your machinegun. You toss hand grenades; they explode next to the target. Maybe you’re on a BDA – bomb damage assessment – mission. The jungle is thrown around like a child’s playground littered with fragments of former life, now tree stumps, vegetation debris and holes – bomb craters huge gaping mouths of destruction. Maybe a stumbling NVA regular, dragging his AK-47, staggering under the blast of sound and the impact of concussion in his previously hidden jungle world. He’s already dead, he just doesn’t know it. My M60 tells him.
 
I know killing is not right. I did it anyway. The price for bending life’s rules is remembering it. Memories of death, dismemberment,  
 
I know killing is not right. I did it anyway. The price for bending life’s rules is remembering it. Memories of death, dismemberment, inflicted pain and suffering; destruction of “stuff” remain long after the act. The danger, the fear, the excitement of battle – all gone. No glory here only pride in winning; pride in avoiding the hundreds of ways of death-dealing wounds. I hated “the enemy” – not his person only his intent in killing me and mine. I remember his face; I saw his grimace, the fear in his eyes, the smoke pouring from his sub-machine gun as he unsuccessfully sought to escape his pending death.
 
I remember all this shit! Not everyday, not all the time. I’m not debilitated by it. I don’t run from it. I tear up and sometimes cry about those days. Sometimes I write about those days, like now. I tell my story to my friends and family but really I’m telling them to me. The tales don’t make the telling easier nor do they make the memories less but they do release – if only for the time of the telling – some of that suppressed energy. Thank God, if He wills it – for my sense of humor. It has saved me countless times. I trust it will continue to do so.

 

The inflicted pain and suffering; destruction of “stuff” remain long after the act. The danger, the fear, the excitement of battle – all gone. No glory here only pride in winning; pride in avoiding the hundreds of ways of death-dealing wounds. I hated “the enemy” – not his person only his intent in killing me and mine. I remember his face; I saw his grimace, the fear in his eyes, the smoke pouring from his sub-machine gun as he unsuccessfully sought to escape his pending death.
 Forrest
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