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Waging the War Within
By Timothy Farley (reviewer)
Waging the War Within: A Marine's Memoir of Vietnam and PTSD
by Tim Fortner
This is an honest book; if you're like me, you have to get over the frequent profanity. It reads like a novel and to be honest in this review, I have to mention it led me to suspect some of the things didn't happen or were dressed up at times. But who am I to challenge another vet's integrity; we have the same first name, were born in the same year, and served in-country during the same time. He was in the 3rd Marine Division and I was in the 1st, farther south around Phu Bai and Da Nang and he's got to know it. I was safer at times, since the farther north you were, the greater chances of being injured.
His book provoked me to remember those days and I must admit if I was with him, he would have become a target for kidding when he went on R and R in Honolulu to meet his mother to apologize. When he writes about his encounters with women, I can see myself singing that old blues song in his ear "You gotta love with a feeling."
I believe he was involved in medevacs, in harm's way, and far too young at the time to be part of what turned out to be a dreadful wrong turn our government was making in its involvement in a civil war in Vietnam. Despite all the anti-communist baloney, it had little to do with making anyone safer or freer. We signed up believing we were doing the right thing, and we watched out for each other. I'm convinced we should all get together and say "Thank you for your service, welcome home, Brother!"
I don't doubt for a second that he set up a bar inside his hooch and his problems with alcohol began, as I think it probably did for plenty of us. Call it self-medicating, but the military took on a zero drug policy in the '70s, which I believe is too extreme, while totally ignoring the alcoholism, which goes along with isolating young men, far from home, no mixing with girls or their families, boring them incessantly while they continue to hope nothing happens and providing them with all the beer they want to drink.
Tim writes with honesty and wit of his time in-country, as we called it, and after. I was especially moved by his mention of sitting next to a young Vietnamese lady on a jet, hearing her tell him of coming to America at the age of seven and being the first and only person to say "Thank you for your service." For too many of us, coming back to the US was like seeing the war in Vietnam treated like a bad tv show. Too many people had long ago switched channels.
Timothy Farley was with the 1st Marine Division in Vietnam from November 1967 to October 1969.