May 11, 2018
"Although this flashback was traumatic and disturbing for me to relive, I believe there is a reason this memory has stayed with me. In a strange way, I think it is helping me to better understand what happened so long ago. It is giving me another chance to make my peace with myself, with my life and with my God." Ron Mosbaugh
It’s strange how a memory can be lost for 50 years and suddenly, out of nowhere, a flashback can appear and you’re back in Vietnam. I have been writing stories on Vietnam for more than three years, and I thought there was nothing else I could write that would add to those stories.
After all, one battle or one patrol in Vietnam was not much different than another. More than anything, I didn’t want to be redundant in my writing. I think, however, that flashbacks are topic worth covering.
I have always had flashbacks and nightmares from my time in Vietnam. Most of these have been repeats from previous events, but this recent flashback was from an entirely different trauma. It is strange that I haven’t thought about it since 1967.
The sad story is I don’t live in Vietnam, but Vietnam will always live in me.
Before I recount this flashback, let me give you some of my background. I suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, which is a mental health condition characterized by witnessing and experiencing traumatic events — in my case from the Vietnam War. Common symptoms include nightmares, severe anxiety, flashbacks and uncontrollable thoughts. My PTSD was caused by combat exposure, but many of my symptoms occurred later in life.
This particular flashback involved a battle with the Viet Cong in Nui Dat Son, near Hill 55. It was a fierce battle, and we sustained several casualties. I especially remember treating a young African-American Marine. We were in a rice paddy, and the water was covering the lower half of his body. He was in pain because of a gunshot wound in his upper left leg, and he was yelling in agony. It was difficult for me to locate his exact wound location because of the low light conditions, his dark skin and the muddy rice paddy water that covered and camouflaged his wound.
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