In Thy Mother’s Honor: I.M. Waiting
Costly, filled with armed conflict and pitted the communist regime of North Vietnam and its southern allies, known as the Viet Cong, against South Vietnam and its main ally, the United States. Wars are fought for many reasons but this one was divisive, unpopular and ended in 1973 and the unification of Vietnam under Communist control two years later. So, why was this fought and was were more than 3 million people, including 58,000 Americans killed in the conflict? History will recount that the North Vietnamese government and the Viet Cong were primarily fighting to reunify Vietnam. Wars have many battles and are fought on different turfs or places but what about the wars fought within the bodies, minds and souls of the soldiers, in this case the Marines who gave their lives, their all, hearts and souls for our country and were later forgotten as if the war never happened and they never counted or existed. As you hear the story that the author relates understand that more needs to be done to protect the rights of veterans, give them the compensations due to them and provide them with the healthcare benefits and services needed as a result of permanent injuries resulting from fighting in this particular war both mental and physical.
Asked around 2008 to open up his heart and experiences to the world by writing it all done author I.M. Waiting, decided to take the advice of Trauma Specialist at the Hines VA in Maywood, Rob Smith and put it all down. Respecting his wife and children and realizing that he owed to them to understand his past in order to be able to focus and deal with him in the present, after serving multiple tours in Vietnam in the Marines and the fact that he now has to deal with permanent injuries that when you read them you will wonder just how he survives and lives with all of them and keeps his hopes up that someday he will be pain free, the horrors of his daily memories will come through as you hear his story and honor his words.
Fights, ambushes, deadly experiences, men dying in front of him, firefights, and incursions, none were told in full complete detail, as the facts of the deaths and bodies torn apart over I felt were not needed, nor was all that I lived through dealt with but you will feel his pain, his frustrations and his ability to survive as you learn more. The physical problems, the mental ones and the worst PTSD are all described in detail but none as vivid as those within his mind, heart and soul as he fights to keep his men alive and at one point all alone for two weeks hoping to be rescued.
Prior to Vietnam he begins with his childhood and then moves to his reasons for enlisting and hoping to become part of something that he would be proud of and others too. Smart and acccelerate4d in his classes as a child with heightened knowledge; the author explains how he carried five majors throughout high school. Not finding a proper fit within college he decided to enlist. The chapter Marines and Training you can read for yourselves so let’s start where it all begins Vietnam a place where no one should have ever gone and a war that many feel should never have been fought but the battles described are nothing compared to the ones he is still fighting today.
The first thoughts about when he landed and how he felt even before fighting are described but the reader needs to understand that he was exposed from the start to Agent Orange and the effects once diagnosed are horrific and never ending. He also talks about his PTSD and how that often still plays a role in his life even today. First stop Da Nang as he teals about his first days and his first time on patrols with nine Marines. His job was twofold, as the lieutenant explained to him, first look for tracks, broken branches, even a trail, which would let the team know they were being watched. Second, set up that night for a good spot for a night ambush if we saw tracking for being watched or an I P if not. Third, after a firefight, to be safe when the other side is down: two shots to the head to make sure the enemy is dead. After several nights of no attacks imagine what happens when things move and his first kill takes place.
Things went from quiet to deadly really fast as the author shares many missions some successful and some with deaths. The scenes are so graphically depicted and so well defined that you feel as if you are there right with them and experiencing it along with the author over again. Many moves to different places, short time periods in one and longer in others, even the CO at times realized the author was more aggressive and on edge just waiting for the next bullet to be fired our worse. But, when he is hurt and has broken bones, he refuses to be seen of examined because he did not want his mother to be informed about his injuries and worry. In her honor he took care of his problems himself.
For twelve days and 11 nights he realized that he was alone. When the chopper left and he ordered that the last of the Marines go, he never expected not to be rescued. Always putting everyone ahead of himself and with the weather not in his favor, not able to contact anyone at times and no sign of anyone coming for him, attacks not withstanding, you would be amazed and in awe of how he managed to survive as you hear his words and his thoughts. Even when the sun came out the rain would follow and when he finally is picked up by a major things would never be the same for him as the next trip was home.
Vietnam is just part of the story when he comes home the real impact of what he went through comes through as we learn about his many medical issues, the surgeries that I am amazed he survived, the wonder woman he met and how lucky he is to have a great family and children. Before leaving he was approached by a few Marines that were part of his team and had swept the compound and loaded the bodies and the body parts into the pile to burn. The colonel at this site asked him to keep what happened quiet, as it would embarrass them if it got out. But his final days were filled with more snipers; more deaths and when he left things that he didn’t even realize would come to light. There are veteran groups around the country that could use and welcome offers of help, an do so many veterans need help in so many different ways. As we learn more about what happens when he is welcomed home. Mothers know when something is wrong and his mother never believed that he was not hurt but he never ever told her the truth. The government ignored the fact that many veterans including the author needed assistance and as the author’s name states: I M waiting for them to assist the vets and care and stop disrespecting them. But, till this day it has not changed. The chapter about Family Life talks about his siblings, their children, their lives and meeting his wife in 1970 and having many years of happiness with someone who understood and stands by him till this day dealing with his night terrors, fears and much more. The following chapters tell about how he tried to get medical help from the VA and benefits and the lack of responses. The surgeries he had to undergo and the lack of responses from the VA and how other hospitals and doctors stepped up and errors in diagnosis that were made and could have been more costly. The affects of agent orange, the standard and rating it got based on the affects it has on his mind and body even today, the back surgeries, neck, arms and many other surgeries that are extensive and were quite delicately performed by skilled surgeons will make you wonder just how he kept any sanity and how he had to will to keep going and never give up. When money was tight and he talks about why he had to declare bankruptcy his ingenuity paid off and he managed to understand how to cut down on expenses and he describes how. He even explains what happened when his company went down which is why he declared bankruptcy for money’s owed to him for contracts till this day. The final words chapters deal with the records requested to get aid and medical help, those needed to get the Purple Hearts he never requested because he did not want his mother to know about his injuries and how hard he tried and is still trying to get what is owed to him by the Marines as a vet and other people as well.
Will the Veteran’s Administration, the federal government and the Marine Corp ever show him the respect he deserves? What about giving him the injury ratings needed for his records? What about those two purple hearts? The photos and documents at the end bring it even more to light as the author till this day is hoping, praying and waiting as he and others struggle, endure the pain both mentally and physically hoping that someday to receive the honors and respect they so rightly deserve. This author will talk about his journeys in life and more on MJ network on blog talk radio on November 12, 2018, Veteran’s Day to honor his service and that of all the men and women who lost their lives in that war and are still fighting for our country and our freedom. Told in the first person and told from the heart this book needs to be read by everyone who has a family member that is a veteran, anyone who like myself, has someone in one of the branches of service and every American who wants to help honor our Vets.
Fran Lewis: just reviews/MJ network/MJ magazine