Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Installment 2 of Manuscript

Just a note to all who are reading this, first it is unedited and will change many times. Second if it sells, 80 percent of the proceeds will go to the walk and other Beirut Veteran Charities.

I am going to tell my story out of sync a little, so I will start with December 1983, we had been back a few days and I was getting into the swing of drinking and forgetting.
Sure I was haunted by the death I saw but not as much as the message I found in the rubble. On the third or fourth day of the recovery operation, we were well past finding anyone still alive but we also were not going to leave anyone behind, I was working about three feet from the body we had just found. He was a young Marine, possibly an Officer due to having a .45, he had blonde hair and was clutching his .45 tightly, after we found him, we called Marines and Lebanese Red Crescent Workers to ID and remove the bodies. About day two or so it came down that we were not to remove bodies due to fears that we would become ill from diseases that can breed in the decomposing bodies in the brutal heat of Lebanon. So I went to work picking up what looked like personal effects, one piece of yellow NCR paper caught my eye. I bent to pick it up and could already see portions of the message. It was from Mobile CIA in country, I knew that because I was privy to all the call signs of every unit on the beach and even to those in Washington, D.C. .
I picked up the paper and read all of the message;
Possible Syrian/Iranian hostilities against the US and other contingents of the MNF 10/22-10.24
Reliability high.

After that the message ended and the bottom of the copy had been ripped in half, but I knew that if I was holding the yellow copy that it was sent from this Comm Shack and that would have been unusual, most traffic of this nature would have been sent from the MSSG Comm Center.
I turned back toward the Marine, I knew he thought the threat was real, he had his .45 clutched tightly in his hand, so tightly that he had slept with it under his head and now it was apart of him. That sight along with the message delivered a blow equal to a 300 lb blitzing lineman catching you off guard. The air went out of me and for the first time fear spilled in.
It was this that I drank to forget, the message and the blaring fact that someone in my own government had ignored this warning and now 241men were dead. It filled my dreams night after night, the moment I found that message, reading it, walking to the aid station and weeping with a Marine who had just found his best friend dead in the rubble. These images were to be my hell so I drank more and more but I could not wash them from my mind.
On one of my drinking occasions we were at a shipmates apartment, I drank tumblers of Seagrams with a whisper of 7-up after 5 or 6 I passed out on his couch and I guess I talked about the message in my sleep. Because after that day, he and others called me a traitor. I am told that I asked why we had allowed them to die, why my own country had killed these men. I guess even alcohol can not wash away the truth or stop your mouth from spouting it.
I was not the traitor, the traitor lay hidden somewhere in the upper chain of command. Somewhere in the bowels of the Pentagon, a building I thought existed to protect our country and those who pick up arms in her defense. My innocence was gone in a split second, along with my life. Over the next 6 months I would let this eat at me until it had consumed my very soul, the alcohol buried my feelings but the betrayal buried my belief and trust in almost anyone or thing.
By June of 1984 I had a few friends left and my life was quickly ending, I wanted to die, I prayed for it but now I had fears, something I was not used to. Before Beirut I was not afraid of heights, flying, death or anything really, I was foolish enough to believe that I would live forever and I could beat anything or anyone. Now that was gone and I was finding myself more and more paralyzed with fear each day.
In August of 1984 I knew I had to quit drinking but what I didn’t know was that under the rubble of the alcohol lay my remains. Not a weak after I quit drinking I was finding rage at every turn, I was not sleeping and I had no idea why I was feeling like this.
On one hot August afternoon, I felt the rage building past the point I knew I could control. I asked my wife to take the kids and go to a neighbors house. She looked at me with great concern, she didn’t know what I was going to do and neither did I. I was seated on the cool linoleum of the kitchen floor when she left, next to me a standard apartment counter and cheap cabinet doors. I felt a slight relief when they left, not so much as they were the cause but that if I lost my temper they would be safe.
As I stood to get a drink I caught the open cabinet door on my arm and cut myself, nothing big one of those you would curse a little and get on with your life things. I stopped and stared at the cabinet door and then in one quick motion ripped it from the hinges, I was now out of control. I knew that I had tasted true rage and it would be hard to control, it was like a living breathing creature inside me and it was now in control.
I walked to the other side of the kitchen and started beating the cabinets, I felt no pain in my hands but my soul was in great torment.

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