Veterans Day Message from a Vietnam Vet ’68

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By Bruce Merrin

11/11/2017 I am a Vietnam Vet ’68. I want to salute everyone in the military and all of the vets worldwide. I thought it was appropriate to re-post this emotional message that I posted two years ago. Unless you have been in a war zone, where your life is on the line 24/7, it is difficult to describe what it is like living in a hostile environment. Veterans Day is always bittersweet for me. One of the saddest days in my life was visiting the Vietnam War Memorial in DC, where you see the names of over 56,000 soldiers who sacrificed their lives. Those of us who survived carry INVISIBLE WOUNDS. Please remember: “ALL GAVE SOME….and SOME GAVE ALL!!!!!” One of the most touching songs I have ever listened to was Tim McGraw’s recording: “If You Are Reading This…”

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That’s Bruce behind the machine gun in our army jeep on a desolate road in Vietnam in 1968. This post is about SECRETS! It was my ex-wife Julie’s birthday yesterday. We were married for 24 years. I sent her a birthday package from Vegas to Calabasas on Monday. It was time for me to reveal my secret, which I kept hidden for decades. From everyone!!!! I sent Julie some nice gifts accompanied by my personal letter. I told her that minutes after this photo was taken, the driver of our jeep screamed out: ATTACK!!!! Bullets were flying. The sounds were deafening. The soldier, and my close friend, to my right, was gravely wounded. As our driver gunned the jeep to maximum speed to escape, I held my friend in my arms. I kept telling him, “Stay with us…Stay With us…” In less than one minute, he died in my arms. It was a moment in time I will never forget. Luckily, we made it safely to a small outpost. I had to witness my friend being placed in a green body bag! When I returned from Vietnam, the next day I started my Senior year at UCLA. I was walking down Janzz Steps on campus, and I saw a massive anti-war demonstration being staged. Naively I approached about 200 students, and said, “Hey, I just got back from Vietnam….” Instantly they started screaming at me, “Baby Killer…Baby Killer….” Many of them spit right in my face. They completely ripped and tore my new shirt in shreds. Then they began pelting me with rocks. I ran as fast I could. After I got cleaned up, I bought a new shirt at the UCLA Student Store. From that day on, my lips were SEALED with Super Glue about Vietnam….until I recently applied for a PTSD status…and was interviewed by the Army Psychiatrist. I told the story 5 different times during 5 sessions…of course I was approved for PTSD benefits. I hid this tragic, sad incident…. I did not talk about my nightmares…or the many triggers that take me back to that day…the sound of helicopters overhead….the explosive, percussive sounds from fireworks shows…even the smell of Vietnamese food! Remember legendary radio broadcaster, Paul Harvey. He had a show that he ended with…”And now you know the rest of the story….” I felt it was time to share my story with everyone!

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Sending everyone an AVALANCHE of LOVE from LAS VEGAS. I treasure and cherish your friendship. Not ONE DAY goes by that I do not think about my beloved friend.