Saturday, July 25, 2009


Not all casualties in a war can be counted at the time one side declares victory and the other hauls down its flag. Not all casualties fight under the standards of the various nations. Civilians are often the most grievously maimed both body and soul as they flee the fighting.

This is a follow-up to a previous posting and it deals with a friend of mine whose service ended two years ago, but who is today a casualty of that service. It doesn't always end with a bullet. It doesn't always end with shrapnel or a missing limb. Sometimes it comes later in the form of psychosis, alcoholism, and other problems that manifest themselves years later.

The war is over. We won. But the forgotten veterans do fight their own private battles long after the last bullet has been fired. We put my friend (who had been released) back into the hospital. (Not the V. A.) He can't join society in his present condition.

Shifting another veteran I'd like to mention...

Colonel Gregory H. (Pappy) Boyington USMC, flew with the Flying Tigers in China, and with the Marine Corps in the Pacific, won the Navy Cross, the Medal of Honor and spent 20 months in a Japanese Prisoner of War camp when he was shot down following his 26th air-to-air victory.

I first met Colonel Boyington in Newport Beach, California in the mid-1980's. He was an old man, suffering from severe alcoholism. Consider this: He couldn't buy a drink. Everyone bought for the legendary Colonel Boyington, commander of the Black Sheep Squadron (VMF214). He also had no problem finding female companionship because of his fame.

War hero? Absolutely. War casualty? Without a doubt. Marine Corps veterans tried for many years to have his home town airport in Couer d'Alene, Idaho named after him. There was a serious fight with people in the town who thought him a womanizer and a drunk.

Colonel Boyington died in Fresno, California on January 11, 1988 (age 75) and was buried in Arlington National Cemetery. He was a casualty of war, of sever post-traumatic stress, and to some extent of his fame.


Opus #6 said...

Our fighting men deserve better. It is sad at times we are not able to fix things up for everybody. :-(

LL said...

Opus #6, it's important to remember that all who gave their utmost aren't resting beneath the sod at Arlington National Cemetery. Some are still among us.

darlin said...

I agree with Opus. Alcoholism is not prejudice as we are all aware of, it will sneak up on anybody, anywhere, anytime and it kills. I have two girlfriends, or had, who have now been laid to rest due to their alcoholism, one a mother with two young boys. Sad, sad state of affairs.

I believe that Veterans should be given more help and first class help at that! Post traumatic stress disorder is a tough enough one to deal with and mixing addiction on top of that... well we all know the consequences, too bad the individual does not see it themselves.

I am sorry to hear about your friend LL and will keep him in my prayers.

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