I have been an adrenaline junkie for most of my life. I was first introduced to adrenaline to the extreme where it became an addiction my first month in country in the Nam. I was with the 1/5 and it was Tet and as many of you know our assignment during this cluster fvck of a time was Hue City. We entered north of the river and we were tasked with taking the citadel. At first being in the Corps only a year and in country not quite a month, and this being my first real action I was scared ****less.
Marines all around me were dropping like flies being hit with machine gun fire, rifle, rpg’s etc. and it just didn’t let up. I remember a transformation taking place within me my first day or two where it was like the fear just lifted and deep within me I just knew that I had to get those fvckers and stop the killing of my Brothers. All the Marines around me were the same way, it was like we all just knew what to do; like we communicated with each other non-verbally, like we were all in sync, it was a thing of beauty.
We’d be pinned down for 2-3 days but we were relentless and as soon as we made a breach we’d enter the void and fill the hole killing everything within our range. Years later when I was in counseling I was asked by a doctor about my fear and when I said I don’t remember being afraid he said I was lying, that everybody was afraid. I though to myself wtf does he know. There is a place that Marines go beyond fear that I realize today is not well known and I believe that is why a lot of the PTSD programs don’t work for some of us.
After Hue I went to the 3/5 and spent the remainder of my time out in the Arizona. For me this was a different kind of war than I had first know but it didn’t take long for me to get back into the groove. Being in the bush it was the unknown that could be fearful, but I would go back into that adrenaline surge where I learned to not think, to just be aware and to function instinctively, it served me well. I can’t describe the numbness from that experience. Dog tired exhausted all the time, the heat, starving, the humps and just being oblivious a great deal of the time. But when it counted my instincts would warn me of impending danger and I would be ready.
All those operations blur in my head, in between all those ambush patrols, constant thirst, hunger, leaches, miserable. When the heat would finally break we’d freeze to death in the rains. Most of my life I would never go without a shirt because of all the scars from the leaches and the jungle rot and the places where my pack would just rub the skin away down to the bone. We were losing so many fine people and we all knew that we were never going to make it out of there alive, and we accepted that. Our goals were to create payback for when our time came.
There was one place in the Nam where I really thought that I was going to die. It was during the rains and the operation was Mead River. There were 7 Marine Battalions that created a circle in the Dodge City area and we closed in for a squeeze play. We had been running vc and nva for about a week when we hit this reinforced bunker complex.
At first we didn’t know what it was but then all hell broke loose and we were in deep ****. We were in the center (I think) all I know was we were pinned down by heavy fire losing so many casualties for 3 days. Orders were to break through but it was suicide we were taking a relentless heavy fire. I could hardly move. About that time is when the 3/26 Fought their way into us taking many casualties themselves to reinforce us. Together we breached those fvckers and over ran them. That’s why Billy and Jack and I are so close, they were the guys that saved my ass. Adrenaline doesn’t make you reckless, when you learn to use it and go into it’s flow it guides you and keeps you alive, sometimes. I know that without it you’re dead.
I was one of the lucky ones. I was never wounded but there are prices to pay for all those adrenaline rushes. One of the problems of losing the fight or flight response is that you just don’t give a ****. I no longer put myself in places where I might go to jail simply because I don’t know how to back down. I’m in my 4th Marriage (finally found the right one) and I’m 100% PTSD P&T (the VA gave up on my ass a long time ago). Not proud of it but I know that I’m not a weak bastard either as I’ve proved that to myself from the Nam. Ask any other bush Marine and they’ll tell you it wasn’t pretty out there under those conditions that even most Marines can not imagine.
Today when I need that rush I get on my Indian and I ride in the wind. Not quite the same as the Nam, but not bad either.
Re-posted with permission from “Cpl. A”.