Monday, 18 July 2011

The Story of a Marine Who Served in VIETNAM.

My husband finds it very hard to speak about his painful experience.
Bit by bit, I have gleaned his story...about the Vietnam War.
I feel it is only fair to him, that it be told and shared.
You see, it's not just his tale!!
It also belongs to every other young innocent who have been sent to fight for their country.
Who willingly gave away his/her youth for what they considered an honour to serve.
Only to return and be neglected and forgotten....

THIS IS HIS STORY: put together in puzzle pieces until it completed an understandable rendition.

I grew up in east TN, the eldest of two sons.
We lived on a farm and my father made his living delivering milk.
We weren't rich, but we got by.

When I was thirteen my life changed almost overnight.
My brother R aged ten, got badly burned on his legs and was put into hospital.
My father aged thirty four died from leukemia.
And my mother had a nervous breakdown and was also admitted to hospital.
I was alone at home.
 Aged fifteen.

Life didn't get easier, so I got tougher.
I rebelled and began missing school.
My mother had to go out to work.
Eventually she married again to a widower.
He and I didn't get on, so I went to live with my father's brother and his family, in the next town.
At eighteen I decided to join the Marines.
I was fit and strong, always having been a keen sportsman.

Here in Boot Camp. 

After training....
In 1969 I was sent with the 1st Marine division to An Hoa, Vietnam.

We marched from Alligator Lake up into the mountains in sweltering heat.
Agent orange had been sprayed over vegetation to kill it and assist our progress.
The going was rough and the mosquito's ravishing.

The second day of arrival on that mountain the fighting began.
I was a private firstclass rifleman.
I saw one of my friends shot in the chest on the first day by the Vietcong.

I knew it was bad because there was so much blood.
I helped to load him into the poncho to be Medi-vaced out.

I wanted to vomit when withdrawing my arms, as they were covered with his blood.
The smell, the red pouring from him. 
He was my friend and his name was Jim.

I will always remember receiving the news not long after the copter took off.
Jim had died!
It was no surprise?
There was no delay in our day, no silence in remembrance, NOTHING!
We just kept on walking to the top of the mountain.
We needed to move and not think. This was war!!  Revive and Survive.

That night gunfire was heard from across the river.
Next day I learned Giovanni Campbell and Thomas McStoots were killed in Action.

On the second day while searching for a North Vietnamese Base Camp, I was hit in the wrist by a sniper richochet bullet.
A short time after that a mortar round landed about ten feet away.
I was hit by shrapnel in the chest and stomach, POW!
A fellow marine in front of me took the brunt, much worse than me.
He survived, but he was a bad mess.
When I saw him in hospital weeks later, I didn't recognise him!!
At the time we were air lifted out to Yokosuka Japanese Hospital.

In this hospital they dressed my wounds and applied a plaster caste.
After about three days the pain was persistent, unrelenting and sending me wild.
No pain relief helped and the agony was beyond belief.
My temperature soared to over 103degrees., and I was placed in ice water for two to three hours until my temperature began to drop.
That ice water was as much torture as the pain!
I was then taken to surgery and the caste was cut down one side for removal.
My arm was so swollen it burst open.
It was then I was informed I had a staph infection and my arm needed to be amputated. 
(Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) is a bacterium responsible for several difficult-to-treat infections in humans) ...
I was terrified!!
My arm stank!
The pain was excruciating and I could not move my hand or fingers, it felt like I was paralysed.
A terrifying fear gripped my heart!

They couldn't take my arm, not my arm! and I told the doctor 
"No!! I won't let you take my arm!"
My weight on entry to this hospital was 205lbs.
After one month of not being able to eat due to constant nausea my weight plummeted to 125lbs.
My only sustance life line was the intravenous feedings. 

Lying on right side with
left arm showing wound.
Photo taken approximately
two weeks after admission.                     HEAD >


  1. Ray,
    I am so glad you were able to save your arm. You have quite the story but, from what I know, you have a story now, a life with Crystal Mary. You have one very sweet, loving wife.

    I am glad to get to know her other half. :)


  2. OOps, meant to say a better story now. :P

  3. Thank you, Ray, for giving your life for our country. No words to express my gratitude. I had a good friend and a cousin who both served in Vietnam. My prayers are with with Chrystal Mary as she gets medical help this week.

  4. I'm glad you're sharing Ray's story with us. It sad for sure. It is a story that needs to be told. I have nothing but admiration for the boys who went to Vietnam. They were treated so unfairly.

  5. Thank you RAY for your service and I pray that God will keep you in his loving care! My husband also lost a friend in Vietnam! We visited the WALL and found his name! I remember him standing there crying when he found his name! I pray that you will get someone to help you in the VA! You certainly deserve help to live the rest of your life peacefully and healthy! Thanks again for your service and sacrifice!

  6. Ray,I am so sorry for your sufferings. Thank you so much for your service . I will praying for you & your wife too .

  7. Ray,
    I am glad that you were able to save your arm. Now, you have a loving wife, Crystal Mary who takes great care of you. God bless you both!!
    I follow your blog, Ray. I read your stories, and I let you know that I have many US. Veterans who survived. It is good to be alive.
    Poet Starry Dawn.

  8. This is so amazing. I'm overwhelmed and touched. Thank you for your great sacrifices. I'm so sorry for what you have endured. My husband is a Vietnam Veteran, having served in 68-69. I would love to share your story with others, with your permission of course. I know it's been a long time coming for all Vietnam Veterans and you all need all the recognition you can get and it would never be enough.. May God Bless you and heal you.. I'll hold you up in prayer.. I am a follower of your blog and will be back often.. You are not forgotten or never will be..Susie Swanson

  9. Ray, sometimes there are no words that can be said for those of us that were there. God's blessings, comfort and peace. Lloyd

  10. above alligator lake i walk the line


I am very interested to hear your comments, both in regards to the Veitnam War and to the V.A.'s handling of veteran's compensation. Thank you.