Do you ever talk about your combat experience?

Do you ever talk about your combat experience?

This is a discussion on Do you ever talk about your combat experience? within the Law Enforcement, Military & Homeland Security Discussion forums, part of the Related Topics category; I just finished watching a movie about an old man dying. ( Tuesdays with Morrie . A very good movie for those so inclined.) And ...

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Thread: Do you ever talk about your combat experience?

  1. #1
    VIP Member Array ExactlyMyPoint's Avatar
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    Do you ever talk about your combat experience?

    I just finished watching a movie about an old man dying. (Tuesdays with Morrie. A very good movie for those so inclined.) And it got me to thinking about my father. He is 86 and dying of Alzheimer's. I am not sure why I recall this, but one thing that I do remember as a child is that he would never talk to us about his WWII combat experience. My brother and I asked him on several occasions throughout our childhood, but he always changed the subject.

    I have also seen this in other combat veterans. They just have a reluctance to discuss combat with other non-combat veterans.

    I sort of can understand, but I was wondering if anyone can shed some additional light on this matter.
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  2. #2
    VIP Member Array Tubby45's Avatar
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    Unless you were there, you won't understand. That's the culture of veterans. Things you do and things you see, they are so horrific you don't want anyone to experience the same. War isn't glorious. War isn't even hell. It's worse than hell.

    Combat is intimate. Think of talking about combat experiences as the same as sexual experiences with one's spouse. You can understand that some things just don't get talked about.

    Some don't have a problem with it, some do. My grandfather was a WWI and WWII combat veteran (US Army 42nd Rainbow Div out of Oshkosh, WI) that lived until 99 years old. The things he saw. My father has over 100 hours of his interview with his father about all the war experiences. My father told me when he thinks I'm ready, he will let me listen to them. I'm 27 years old and still haven't heard them.

    I've been in combat. I'd wish paralysis on someone before I wish combat on them.
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  3. #3
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    My father is 87 and is a WWII vet (Europe), and all of my life he has freely talked about his experiences during that time, though I wouldn't say he had combat experience. He was an aircraft mechanic, and their airfields were typically bombed and straffed from time to time. They were required to have weapons with them, depending on the perceived level of threat.

    I know many veterans don't care to talk about their service. IIRC, in "Flags of Our Fathers", the Medal of Honor winner/medic (I can't think of his name) didn't relate hardly anything to his family regarding his experiences.

    I'm no psychiatrist here, but it seems to me that relating those combat experiences can re-open depression issues, nightmares, grieving issues from lost buddies, survivor guilt, reminders of their experiences with fear, stress and anxiety, etc.

    I am sorry to hear about your father's state of health.
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    Its just a part of your life that you dont care to recall, although its always there with you and never completely goes away.
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    Senior Member Array rhinokrk's Avatar
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    At my Fathers funeral I met two men he served with during the Korean Conflict, and they told me things about that time of Dad's life he never let me in on. When we started the remodel of his house a year after his death, I found a small wooden box, tucked way back in a crawlspace under the stairs containing a Bronze Star Medal, and two Purple Hearts with the paperwork, along with other citations and paperwork.
    At that point I realized why he was so concerned when I joined the Marines "You know their job is to die, right". I was lead to believe is enlistment was as a jock, which was a partial truth, as he played a year on the Army basketball team. I guess that's what he wanted to remember.

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  6. #6
    VIP Member Array semperfi.45's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tubby45 View Post
    Unless you were there, you won't understand.
    That sums it up for me.

    I did what the Marine Corps needed me to do and by the grace of God I was able to lead Marines in combat. I do not recount my experiences, but I don't have issues with them. I have found that other Marines do not tend talk about it as well, I feel that's part of the Warrior Ethos.

    If someone needs to talk about them to clear the soul, then by all means, find a professional or at least a loved one to talk with.
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    +1 Tubby
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  8. #8
    VIP Member Array David in FL's Avatar
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    Seldom.

    Like semperfi.45, leading Marines in combat is one of the proudest accomplishments of my life......but most people simply can't relate to the enormity of the responsibility. It just doesn't translate for the average guy/gal.

    Having said that, it is fun to get together on occassion with some buddies who've "done that" and shoot the bull. But even then, it's about the people and all the fun/funny times......the ugly stuff doesn't get mentioned. It doesn't have to be......

  9. #9
    VIP Member Array goldshellback's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by Tubby45
    Unless you were there, you won't understand.

    I came home after a deployment in the gulf during the first gulf war and while visiting with my great uncle he began opening up about his experiences in the Pacific theater during WWII. I was enthrawled, I knew he was there but he never discussed it til then. When he died last year I got the diary he kept during his time in the war, it's a treasure of information I never knew about.

    It wasn't until after my grandfather died that I heard he was the Crew Chief of the Enola Gay, the bomber that droped the first Hydrogen Bomb on Heroshima.
    My grandmother worked as a telephone operator for the Army Air Corps during the bombs devolopment. She hated Gen.Dolittle, but the stories she told me (after I joined the Navy and a combat deployment) are as scary as they are funny.

    My wife's uncle was also in the Navy during WWII, in the Pacific theater as well. After I first met him and talked with him a little about my (very limited) experiencies, he pulled me into his office (read: man cave), shut the door, poured the whiskey, and began telling me the stories of his 'island hopping' experiencies that concluded, for him, at Iwo Jima. He was there when the first flag was raised at the top of the mountian (I forget the name) and he also was there, AND snapped a couple of photographs (at distance) when the Marines raised the second flag (the famous photo that we all see, know, and honor)! Amazing stuff......he showed me all the pictures he took, and he took quite a few. He was a landing craft coxwian in support of all the landings, but remained on Iwo Jima for an extended time while his ship continued on. He continued that tradition with me, sharing stories of the war and his good whiskey, right up til his death three years ago. I was deployed at the time and my wife told me he asked if I was doing good and staying "outta trouble". I regret I was not part of his honor guard when he was laid to rest. His wife later told me he never talked about his war experiences with anyone after his last buddy' who was in the war as well, had passed away.
    This stuff I never heard until after I 'went in' and came back with a few stories of my own. Even though I wasn't 'there' for some reason they 'shared' those experiences with me. Now I understand a little better and hold the stories and memories with reverence and honor.

    Our country's veterens and hero's are disappearing much to quickly.
    Last edited by goldshellback; July 4th, 2008 at 02:53 PM.
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  10. #10
    VIP Member Array Tubby45's Avatar
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    My step dad's father was in the Pacific Theater during WWII. He started on the bridge as a navigator but then was a corpsman. He was on Iwo Jima, Midway, et al. Never ever talked about it. I can understand, especially that job.

    He died a few months ago.
    07/02 FFL/SOT since 2006

  11. #11
    Senior Member Array Sky Pilot's Avatar
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    My grandmother (rest her soul) was a young schoolgirl and thought to get a Jim Dandy report from her grandfather on his time in the Civil War.
    His gruff reply was, "Vast badt nuff beink dere mitoudt talkink aboudt idt."
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  12. #12
    VIP Member Array David in FL's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tubby45 View Post
    My step dad's father was in the Pacific Theater during WWII. He started on the bridge as a navigator but then was a corpsman. He was on Iwo Jima, Midway, et al. Never ever talked about it. I can understand, especially that job.

    He died a few months ago.

    Iwo as a corpsman.......do you know if he knew John Bradley?

  13. #13
    VIP Member Array Tubby45's Avatar
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    Don't know. His name was Ken Huebbe (hyOO-bee). Never mentioned names. All anyone ever knew was he was in the Pacific as a corpsman and island hopped around there. He was at Iwo, Midway, Marshall, and a few others. I'll try to find out what ship he served off of.

    ETA: During WWII, I believe he lived in Grand Rapids, MI. He also lived in Naples, FL but I think that was during the 70's (my stepdad got his degree from college down there). He retired in Fond du Lac, WI in the mid 80s.
    07/02 FFL/SOT since 2006

  14. #14
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    no.
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    Ex Member Array jahwarrior72's Avatar
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    my father served in vietnam; he only ever related one combat-related story to me, and he told a very sterile, matter-of-fact version of what happened. it was the only time he ever talked about it, and i never pressed him for any other stories. the closest he ever gets is to give commentary while watching war movies: "they would have never done that in real life," "wow, that did it right, there," "wow a bunch of bull**** that is." his favorite fictionalized war movie is "saving private ryan"; in his opinion, it's the most honest war movie ever made.

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