by Larry Sossamon
I was 19 years old when Army drafted me.
I took basic training at Fort Bragg and then Advanced Individual training at Fort Gordon.
I arrived in Vietnam March of 1968 and had my first taste of combat in Saigon as we were attacked during the TET offensive.
I was trained in aviation electronics and served with 335th Signal Battalion, however after a couple of months I was placed on crewmember status and flew with 20th Transportation and 159th Medivac at Cu Chi, home of 25th Infantry & 12th Evacuation Hospital.
The Vietnamese tried to kill us, being scared does not describe.
The nights were hot, and you had to be quiet.
I had difficulty sleeping and since Vietnam I have difficulty staying asleep.
I am suspicious of people, I avoid people and activities.
My service in the Army and Vietnam reshaped my life.
I have a complex convincing myself and others that I am a nice guy since my service.
The VA has helped me, about 3 years ago in 2016, I was evaluated by VA that I had PTSD, 70% disabled.
The VA has provided me with anxiety and depression medicine, I feel less challenged and comfortable in myself.
I associate with veterans very well now, and I have stayed in touch with several of my buddies of my outfit.
My friend that was my hooch mate and went on R&R died last year of Agent Orange, Leon Graffeo. He was from Louisiana.
I returned home in March 1969 & then my brother, Ed DeCamp Sossamon, (11 months younger) was sent to Vietnam in June 1969. Ed was killed in action while serving with 101st Airborne in April 1970.
I know what he went thru during his 9 months of living in the jungles of the A Shau Valley.
My mom wrote me every day for 365 days during my tour and when Ed went she wrote Ed every day, she had 6 letters returned to her.
Mom and dad never got over my service and never recovered or accepted Ed’s useless death.
I believe my parents deaths in 1978 & 1979 caused by cancer by worrying and coping with a son that did what he was ordered to do by a government that made bad decisions.
My PTSD has grown.
I have a belief that no one cares about the veterans, except for family and other veterans.
Politicians, commercial businesses, benefit from Memorial Day and Veterans Day, by making speeches to enhance their political position, and businesses offer sales on these days.
Only family members and veterans show up at parades to honor.
I think being a veteran is like the demise of religion. Congregations are getting smaller and smaller.
Adjusting to life with those who did not serve is uncomfortable. I don’t blame them, I do feel that they had an advantage to life and success, but I have worked hard to make of my life.
My wife, my 3 children my older brother and my cousins and my fellow veterans have helped and comforted me during my struggles.
I thank God for the gifts he has given me and I wish to be HIS servant.
Memory of horror does not leave you, you cannot escape those events from your mind that were terrifying and the deaths and dying that we witnessed.