The Uncles of World War II

I read a post in another bog yesterday by a GI who came back from Iraq with PTSD. He mentioned that World War II veterans didn’t suffer from PTSD. Someone at the VA told him that.

Bull shit! The truth is that PTSD has been around for thousands of years. It is nothing new. The only difference is that we now have a name for it.

Three of my uncles fought in World War II. Two were in the navy and fought in the Pacific. My mother’s younger brother lied about his age and joined when he was seventeen. He worked with radar and submarines and stayed in the navy for thirty-three years. He retired a lieutenant commander.

My dad’s older brother James was on the USS Hornet when the Japanese sunk her early in the war. Along with hundreds of others, he ran along the flight deck and then the hull as the aircraft carrier rolled over. Destroyers picked him up along with other survivors. Uncle James was a drunk. When he was in his seventies, he died a drunk. I’m sure his drinking was caused by the war.

Uncle James came to the house once and told my dad to leave my mother and his sickly son, because we weren’t worth it. My mom picked up a cast iron frying pan and chased him down the street hitting him with it. She told him to never come to the house again if he was drinking. I never saw him again.

Uncle Lloyd was my mother’s younger brother. Since he worked for the railroad, the Army sent him to India where he was put in charge of munitions trains running bombs and ammunition to the Burma Road where trucks carried death across the mountains. On the other side of the Himalayas, the war with Japan raged in China and Southeast Asia.

Uncle Lloyd hitched a ride in one of the munitions trucks and arrived in Burma close to the front lines. At one point, he had to run for his life during a major Japanese assault. To escape capture or death, he waded across what he thought was a rice paddy only to discover it was an open cesspool.


The construction of the Bruma Road

He escaped, flew back to India and came down with a skin disease. His hair, his fingernails and his skin started to come off. He was sent back to the states and spent months in the hospital as army doctors struggled to save his life from the bacteria/fungus that was eating him alive.

Uncle Lloyd lived to be ninety-three. He told me that every few months he had to go to the nearest VA hospital and soak in a tub of purple liquid to control that bacteria/fungus. Most veterans don’t talk about what haunts them. Uncle Lloyd had his combat demons too. He awoke often through the decades remembering wading through that neck-high shit to escape the Japanese.

_______________________

Lloyd Lofthouse, a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam Veteran, is the award winning author of The Concubine Saga.

His latest novel is Running with the Enemy. Blamed for a crime he did not commit while serving in Vietnam, his country considers him a traitor. Ethan Card is a loyal U.S. Marine desperate to prove his innocence or he will never go home again.

And the woman he loves and wants to save was trained to hate and kill Americans.

To follow this Blog via E-mail see upper right-hand column and click on “Sign me up!”

~ by Lloyd Lofthouse on September 25, 2009.

One Response to “The Uncles of World War II”

  1. “I read a post in another bog yesterday by a GI who came back from Iraq with PTSD. He mentioned that World War II veterans didn’t suffer from PTSD. Someone at the VA told him that.

    Bull shit! The truth is that PTSD has been around for thousands of years . . .”

    Read the first page of the “Iliad.” It is about warriors looking back on war “with anger.” The term, PTSD, was not used until 1980, but a look through literature shows there has been a form of wars’ effects throughout the ages. Starting with the first Epic in our English-speaking world.

    (Well, actually, Greek, but that’s besides the point. The Iliad speaks of the anger that men must deal with as an aftermath of a 10-year-long battle. Ten Years, for Christ sake. Who wouldn’t have some PTSD after that?)

    World War II veterans were never diagnosed with “battle fatigue,” because none wanted the ugly psychological stigma. They simply self-medicated themselves with booze. We all knew of the old World War II vets who got drunk. They were among our fathers, uncles, in-laws. Some are still alive in places like the VA Hospital in Coatesville Medical Center, PA, where I got treatment (including courses in mindfulness meditation) for chronic PTSD.

    Over

    And Out.

    Tell that a__hole to stuff it next time.

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