For My Wife Adena Ė You Are My Strength

 

 

I dedicate this page to all the wives, children and families of Vietnam Veterans.  Here you will find their letters, poems, and verse that express their unselfish gift of love.

For those of us that served in the Vietnam War there really has never been a homecoming.  Weíre still there and fight the war  every day and every night with no end in sight.  Sleep brings us no peace as the war rages on.  The sounds of battle are as real as they were 36 years ago.  The screams of young men dying, the calls on the radios for help, the never-ending din of cannon and gunfire pierce the night air.  The sights, sounds, and smell of the battlefield permeate the darkness.  There is no respite, even though we call out quietly for it to all end.  Tears stream down our faces, sweat soaks our bodies, we try to retreat deeper into the jungle, but the battle is still there.  Itís real, and the dying continues.

Out of the chaos, the clamor, and the gunfire emerges an image with a soft voice that says;  ďItís ok, Iím here, donít be afraid.Ē We slowly emerge from the horror and find ourselves enveloped in the arms of somebody that holds us dear to their hearts.  We cry uncontrollably, our bodyís spasm as the adrenalin dissipates and we find ourselves now at home far away from the carnage that is war.

This is what the wives, children, and loved ones of Vietnam Veterans endure every day and every night.  They are on the battlefield with us. They are the targets of verbal, and sometimes physical abuse.  They are exposed to massive mood swings, which include outbursts of anger, panic attacks, anxiety attacks, and hopeless depression.

Yet, they stay and when asked why?  They quietly say; ďBecause we love him.Ē

For those of us who have been blessed with such loyalty by our families, we must realize that their love helps us keep that fine balance between hope and insanity.   

It was early spring 1965, A Trooper's Wife of the 1st 327th 

Infantry Battalion  remembers;

Dave

As wives we suffered when our men left not knowing if we would ever see them again and it was really hard on me.  I was there when the 101st left for Vietnam.  I new so many of the guys and some of their wives in the 1/327 that I had a bond with them.

I think I told you when I went to my first reunion in 2000 the first question I was ask by one of the wives; Are you and your husband members of the original 1st 327th Battalion?  

As it turned out the Colonel and his wife, David Wayne and his wife and Les and I we're the only ones that were there when the 1st Brigade left for Vietnam in the summer of 1965.  The remaining members of the Battalion had been married, divorced or remarried when they returned.

I guess what gets me every year is when they have the roll call for the ones that never returned. I new them all, some of them were, our closets friends.  They came to our house for cookouts or we would go fishing together.  Les can go to the reunions and be he with the guys, which is something I never can do again.  Weíre not the same young men and women we were then, plus they all have wives now and they don't know me.

But you have taken me back and I thank you for that for letting me do this small thing for you have made me fell a part of the 327th again. Like Les, I will always love the 327th.

 

 

 

 

A Wifeís Prayer

 By:  Edith Montgomery

Lord, I bow my head in your honor to ask you to help me. You gave me a job to do and Lord I donít want to fail.

When I was eighteen you gave me one of your soldiers and I have  loved him all my life.  I loved his smile, and his laugh.  I loved the gentle way he would touch me and hold me.  The way he wiped my tears and always seemed to make the things right when they went wrong.

But Lord, he went into battle then and never came home. Oh yes, he is here in body but not in soul.  He ran from love Lord, he seems afraid to trust.  He is here beside me but so far away.  Help me lord, tell me what to say.

I hold him in my arms when he seems afraid.  I wipe away the tears that fall from day to day.  I listen to his cries when he sleeps at night.  I hear him begging for your help, I guess thatís all right.

He sat out back looking into the wood.  If I had seen what he had seen, I guess I could understand.  Lord, what happened to this gentle man?  When I can hear him laugh, when I can see him smile? I feel Lord he has come home for just a little while. Heís gone again today Lord to that far away land.  I can tell Lord by the trembling of his hand.

His face is drawn and I see the 1000 yard stare.  He starts walking through the house Lord, heís checking for everything, looking for the enemy he fought in that far away land.  Lord, help me bring him back if you can.

With tender loving words, love him forever.  Try to take away his hurts, and mend his broken heart.  Itís a long road heís traveling Lord, one without end.  Until he comes to you Lord, there will be no peace within.

I will be here lord, right by his side.  Iíll take care of your soldier Lord until the day I die. Lord, heís been a good soldier; heís done what he was told to do. Iíve seen in his face that he canít wait to walk the streets of gold and be there with you.

He knows there will be no pain, just peace, joy, and love.  Thatís what you promised him Lord, and he has someone waiting here.  Itís his buddies that got killed over there in that far away land.  There in that place he left his youth behind and that very gentle man.

Thank you God for listening to me tonight.  The day has been so long for my soldier; he wasnít here Lord he was off fighting that awful war.  I canít wait till morning; I know he will be back home.  The dreams of yesterday will have been long gone.

He will take me in his arms Lord and tell me how Iím loved.  I am thanking you Lord for listening.  The night will go by fast for I talked to Jesus and I know he cares.

 

 


 

MY WIFE

 For The Love Of My Life

For MY WIFE

Brenda Gibson Griffin

By:  Peter S. Griffin

Co. A, 2/502nd Infantry

101st Airborne Division

Viet Nam, 1965-66

Thank you for being MY WIFE, Thank you for sharing my life....

Many years have come and gone, Both our children, proud and grown....  

From state to state, from house to home, With you by my side, I was never alone....

Standing by me, through thick and thin, No better a wife, no better a friend....

When times were bad and I was quite sad,

Sick or hurt, making it worse.... I always had you, to see me through, Better days, were never far awayÖ

Your constant smile, your attentive ear, Kept me from falling into despair.... Your loving embrace saw me through, Thank you for being so true....

I always tried, but sometimes failed, To do my best, making right prevail....

Beaten down, not knowing why, I always got up, with you by my side....

  To fight PTSD, to carry on, You helped me up, you made me belong.

Now we have a much better life, Only because, I have you for MY WIFE...!

 I want you to know, that I love you so, Thank you for helping me grow.... Thank you for helping me see, But most of all, thank you, for believing in me....

Perhaps now, while we have the chance, Our life will be happy, full and balanced....

I thank God for all you do, For blessing me with a wife like you...!  For blessing us in so many ways,

For giving us grandchildren, to watch at play.... For all this, I'll thank Him, the rest of my days For the love of MY WIFE, God's shining rays...!

 

 

If I Could Love Enough

By:  Clare Koehler  -  July 4, 1999

 


I love a shadow man Ė my husband, lover, friend Ė
Who lives in part beyond this world, this time.

He left, a boy who laughed and cried and knew my name;
our lives were tightly twined together then.

And then a long year passed. The laughing boy who left
Came home with half a heart and empty eyes.

I thought if I could love enough for both of us
And help him learn to trust and make him laugh

My love would give him hope, and bring him into life
His heart would heal again and share with mine.

My love would make him whole; heíd be the boy I knew.
My dreams were very young and tender then.

And now my dreams are old; the man who was the boy
lives on with shadowed mind, but still, I love.

At times, a flash, a spark Ė the man he could have been Ė
A gentle, sweet caress, and then heís gone.

He dwells apart from me, and all the gifts I bring
cannot erase the pain behind those eyes.

He turns toward the dark; I live alone again,
for all these many days, with wistful dreams.


My Private Thoughts Ė February 20, 2001


My thoughts on marriage vows are that I honor myself by keeping them. And
having spoken them before God, I honor Him, as well. And for my husband, I
want to do him good and not harm. That is the role I chose 35+ years ago, and it isn't easy. I've said these things before, and each time it is a review of our whole life together, painful and joyful both. I don't feel that my words can get across what I want to say, but from my own experience is the only way I can speak.

I don't tell anyone else what to do - I have no qualifications for that - but it would seem
wrong not to say that I believe marriage is sacred, and as difficult as it has been at times, I will remain faithful to my husband for life. I look at my Vet Wives shirt, and it says everything: On one side is Patience, Loyalty, Pride, Faithfulness, Love, and Perseverance.  On the other side Understanding, Strong, Always Faithful, and Patient.

We've been through some terrible times when my husband didn't even know who I was or who his children were. He doesn't have the ability to fight for himself, so I do it for him. One of my Vet Wives friends said that she felt her role in life was to save a vet, and I do applaud this. I don't know if I have saved my vet, but over and over I have tried. He dreams of carrying a wounded soldier through fire and bombing, and he wakes up screaming. He is aging now, and his body is no more youthful and strong. He loves me, in the limited way that is possible for him. What else can I say? I do protect myself and take care of myself, but forever I will be his wife.

While Jack was in Vietnam, I was working as a telephone operator, and most of my co-workers were anti-war. It had become the popular sentiment. One other operator was married to a soldier, and she and I held hands at times for support while the others bombarded us with nasty remarks and horrible details from the news, all the while answering calls in as professional a manner as we could manage.

I had told one of the women that Jack was a crew chief, and she, or someone she had told, stuck a magazine picture into my locker. It showed the inside of a helicopter, the bubble red with blood, and the crew chief wounded and screaming. Why? I still ask myself why anyone would do that to me.

Where was the honor of the service wife? My mother and grandmother were wives of servicemen, and they were honored in the community for their husbands' service. Why was that honor not there for me? Didn't I wait and worry the same as they did? I will never understand. I am proud of my husband for going when he was called and doing his best to protect America, and I'm proud of myself for being true to him and sticking it out through the difficult years following his return from Vietnam. I had to learn that my own opinion mattered more than others'. For all the difficulties we have had, I respect my husband more than any other man I have known except my grandfather, and I want to always do him good and not harm.

 


 

VIETNAM

For:  Dominick

By:  Susan Gatteri  -  November 1, 1992

Written To Me From A Loving Woman Which I Share My Life With.

The war has been over for seventeen years, and yet I watch you fight battles.  Battles within yourself, with ghosts I can't see but are very real to you.

Shots I can't hear yet I see you jump. Bombs falling I can't feel, but I watch as you try to take cover.

Bodies, how many?  Are you still counting them?  Are you trying to bring them back to life?

Will your life make them breathe?  When you close your eyes will theirs still be open?  When your heart stops pumping precious blood through your veins will it begin to run in theirs again?

War is hell, thatís for sure, and if I had the strength I would carry you away from the ghosts, the shots, the bombs, and the River.

I wish I could take the smell, the taste and the emotions of the Jungle away and replace your fears with laughter, replace your tears with joy, and replace the hell of that place that "I battle with you over, with All My Love.Ē

I don't want Vietnam to win, with all my Heart and Soul. I Swear to God I will Fight for you to come back from there.  I only Pray Honey that we WIN!!!  

 

 

The Man Of The Mountain

 

  By:  Leslie Hughes

  For Her Father Lester Montgomery

My name is Leslie Hughes, once upon a time I was known to this world as "Little Les." When I get the chance I always venture back to that world that knows me as "Little Les." Linda Berry

I am from the mountains of Virginia. There in those mountains lives a man. When I think of this man, I see a man that's as tall as the tallest oak that rides the back of Elephant Mountain. I see a man, as strong as the waters that pour over the ridges of that same mountain. This man can be as gentle as the wind that kisses each blade of grass upon this mountain. To me he is the king of this mountain and the light of my eyes. This man is my father... Lester Montgomery.

I grew up running the mountains with my father learning how to survive
if I should get lost. I, being a silly girl I thought it was a physical
lesson he taught me.  With each plant he showed me and every test he gave me.

Little did I know these lessons were to carry me through my life not as
physical lessons but lessons of the mind and heart.

Oh don't get me wrong there were many physical lessons he taught me.
One comes to mind immediately. I was pregnant with my son. Nine months to be exact. I woke one night; I had to go to the bathroom as so many expectant mothers do in the middle of the night. I was staying at my parentís home so that they could watch me and be there for me when the time came to bring their grandson into this world.

I opened my bedroom door thinking of nothing but getting back to the
bed so I could lay my weary child heavy body back down. I heard a noise and froze. There laying in front of my door, flat on his stomach, with a rifle in his hand, was my father.

He was dressed in a tee shirt and PJ bottoms. Something was not right. He was whispering in a soft voice I could barley make out. I heard him say, "Do you see him, piece Of shit gook, think we don't see him, ha ha, what do you think? Think we can get him or are there more?"

I was scared stiff. I did not move for fear my father would think I was that gook that he was seeing in his mind. In the dim moon light spilling into the living room from the windows I could see my fatherís eyes. They were not the kind, tender eyes I had grown to seek out as a girl. They were the eyes of a man I did not know. In those eyes I seen years of fear, years of fighting, years of loss. I stood at that threshold of fear with my father that night for the better part of 3 hours. I stood rigid, not moving, sweating, heart beating in my chest, while the child inside my body kicked and protested its confinement. 

I realized the comparison, the link between my son in my body and my father on the floor that night.  My son, like my father was trapped in a world known only to him. Wanting out, kicking, living and seeing things only they could see. Protesting against the confinement they lived in, my sons being my body my fathers being his nightmares.

So I stood, not moving, watching my father head down on rifle, eyes
seeing the past, fingers on a trigger, mind racing. My feet after an hour I
could no longer feel, the only thing I could feel was the child moving in my body and the tear making their gentle way down my fear stricken face. My back ached with the weight. Still I did not move.

My father called names of men that were with him. He talked of a plan
to deal with the situation. His body spoke volumes to me of his fear and regret. Muscles tight, flexed to move in a way only a man trained to do so could. Finally he relaxed, slid back on his belly across the furnace grate. I heard it scratch his stomach up, heard it tear his shirt. He did not notice the blood from the scratches on his torn shirt. Instead he continued to moves slowly like a snake backwards into the trees that his mind had created near his bedroom door. He stood on bent legs dropped his gun to his side and walked into his bedroom.

I think it was at this time I breathed. My body relaxed and I quietly
stepped into the hall where only moments before a gooks death was being contemplated. I walked to my fatherís bedroom door and there he was. Lying in his bed, no covers on his body, dressed in his tee torn tee shirt and bottoms. I walk up to him; stare down at this man of the mountain. 

I see his chest rise and fall as if sleep is all he has known for the past 3 hours. I see that little boy his mother use to see when he slept. I see the man in green with ribbons adorning his chest, I see the man that held me when my heart was first broken by a boy. I see the man that spent a week in his wood working shop laboring over a cradle he had to get made in time for his grandsonís arrival.

Until that night I had never seen the man that lived in a distant land while I was learning my first words. That night I lived as he had that long ago night. That night I learned the lesson of physical endurance. That night I lived where my father lives when he closes his eyes.

I reached down for the covers and gently covered up this man. I kissed
his cheek and drank the smell of my father in. That deep rich musk odor that screams ďDADDYĒ to me. When I leaned up I noticed a tear on his cheek. My lips were damp from his tears where I had kissed him. I turned and finally went to the bathroom and made my way back to the bedroom. I laid my body down.

I remember my mother telling me my whole life; "Daddy wakes up at night and walks around, so don't let it startle you if you should see him OK? And, don't wake him up girls." I climbed back out of my bed, went to check on my Daddy. He was sleeping as I left him and I sat up in front of my door the rest of the night. Waiting, watching, I wanted to protect and guard him as so many times he had others in the past.

As you can see this man of the mountains to me is forever the man I
look for in my life. He is my father Lester Montgomery. The man I respect more than another living thing or otherwise. The man I look for and look to.  He is my mountain, my wind, and my rain. He is forever.  

 

 

ABOVE THE REST

"LITTLE LES"

Leslie Montgomery Hughes

Born to Lester and Edith Montgomery

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Linda's Story

 

 

My name is Linda Berry and I am the wife of a Vietnam Veteran, Bernard (Bernie) O. Berry. He was drafted into the military and left December 3, 1967. He had his basic training at Ft. Campbell, Kentucky. From there he had to go to AIT training at Ft. McClellan, Alabama. From there he went to Vietnam, May 3,1968 through May 3, 1969. When he came home from Vietnam we were stationed in Ft. Riley, Kansas.

We met in September of 1963 and got married in February of 1966. Bernie received his first draft notice and then we found out we were going to have a baby and he got deferred. I lost the baby at four months and Bernie had to report again. He got his notice to report December 3, 1967.

During the three years before he left for the service we had a wonderful carefree marriage. We would always do things on the spur of the moment, even if it were to just take a trip to Dayton, Ohio to visit his brother and wife. We would end up spending the weekend and then coming home.

He was the breadwinner for us and had a great job when he got drafted. Fortunately, they held his seniority for him until he came home.

While he was in AIT he was sick and they made him go out on bivouac anyway only to end up in the hospital with pneumonia. I had not heard from him and started worrying. I called his Sergeant and was told he was in the hospital. I flew down to be with him and stayed in guest housing until he was well and graduated. We came home together.

We had the most wonderful month while he was home before leaving for Nam and we didnít let any grass grow under our feet.

After he was gone for six months I meet him in Hawaii for R&R. There was something different about him but I just could not put my finger on it at the time. I made the mistake of sneaking up on him and he lashed out at me, just drawing back in time before he connected with my face. When we went into a place to eat, he would always sit where he could see everything going on around him. When we walked he was always looking up. At the time I did not realize what was happening and of course he was not saying.

You see, Bernie holds me up on a pedestal and I am his princess, he would never do or say anything to hurt me in any way. He is very protective of me but letting me have my own space too. He would not talk to me about his experiences in Vietnam, Keeping them to himself.

When he left Hawaii, he left first and that was one of the hardest days of my life.

On February 14, 1969, I received a package in the mail from the government. It was a Purple Heart for being wounded in action. This is an example of how he was so protective. The date was the 23rd of September and I seen him in December and he never told me about being wounded.

I counted the days for his return safely.

As the time was getting close I was marking the days off on the calendar and finally I got the call that I could pick him up the next day. He had just flown into Washington.

He was home for a month and we had to go to Ft. Riley, things were different in his actions, always being on edge.

Three months out of Nam he started breaking out with nodules on his back, there were three and he had them biopsied at the base hospital. Since then, he now has thousands of these and is self conscious about them.

When he got out of the service and the years went on, he drank and was very short fused He went to the doctor on numerous occasions about his violent moods and they would try him on different anti-depressants, this would just make his moods more violent. These wouldnít work so he drank more.

He had road rage, even to the point of getting out of the car to attack someone he didnít feel was doing something right.

He would prefer to work by himself so he didnít have to be around anyone. He was having anxiety.

During all of this time, we tried to get pregnant again. We went to fertility specialist only to find out Bernie had low sperm count, I had no idea at that time that exposure to Agent orange could cause low sperm count. We got pregnant in 1971 and at three months I had to go to bed to even continue with the pregnancy. We had a daughter in 1972 that is now having female problems and has miscarried. As she grew he was getting worse. Very paranoid and accusatory always felt as if people were stealing from him.

During all this time we could never talk about Nam, could never watch anything to do with war, stopped going to the movies. Airplanes and helicopters bothered him. I thought when he would run outside, he was just looking to see what kind of plane it was, but all this time, I found out after the fact, that they really bothered him.

In 1999 he started missing a lot of work and when he did come home from work the shades had to be drawn so no one could see inside the house. We had motion detectors in front in back and on the sides of our house. He would be up most of the night on guard duty and when he did lie down it was with a knife or gun beside him.

In 2000 he really started getting bad and since our own physician hadnít found a reason why I called the VA clinic here in Toledo and they said they would send some papers in the mail. I said NO we would come there. We went to fill out paper work and he could not fill it out. This is when they had him go to the VA facilities at Battle Creek, Michigan in the PTSD clinic.

I took him there and I thought it was all my fault that he was this way, not that I did anything wrong, it is just when you love someone so much, you want to find the answers and I guess I wanted to take the blame.

Little did I know after him being in the program it was not me that caused it but it was being in Vietnam that did. I never knew what PTSD was, but soon to find out.

It would have been so easy to just run away but that is not what our marriage is built on. You have to face the problem head on and deal with it the best you can.

Since that time we have had to deal with lung cancer. The question I ask myself; is this cause of Agent Orange that was so heavily sprayed in his area? He just had a brain tumor removed on the 27th of November 2001.

We have a wonderful therapist that has helped us out a great deal. I have learned through therapy that PTSD does not end with the soldier and can spread throughout the family. My daughter has been diagnosed with depression and learned PTSD and is taking 50 MIL of Zoloft. I am now waiting for evaluation for learned PTSD and am on 50 Mil of Zoloft.

He has a bad sleep pattern, always on watch and checking the perimeter. I have found that only 3% of the marriages survive of Vets and that most if not all are alcoholics, which Bernie hardly ever does now.

The question is why did I stay with him?  Why, because I love him.  

Linda M Berry