Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Beyond Beirut: PTSD the Begining

Upon my return from Beirut I went into a deep depression, this led to excessive drinking. What I didn't know was that drinking was a way to self medicate, and medicate I did. I drank every day, lunch a 12 pack, dinner a 12 pack and a large glass of Jim Beam. After dinner I would drink until 2 or 3 am then I would get up and go back to work at 6 am. The drinking and my mood swings were destroying my life and that of my family. One morning I said enough is enough and I stopped drinking, the first day was smooth but on the second I started feeling anger welling up inside. It was on the third day when I took my new car back to the dealer and they didn't want to fix it that all of this came to a boil. I came home and called the owner of the dealership, who was foolishly listed in the phonebook, and told him either he fixed the car or I would drive it through the showroom windows of his Mercedes Dealership. He agreed to have a tow truck pick it up in the morning.
That night sleep was fraught with angst and fears I had never felt before. Death was something I had not even thought about but now as I laid there the thought of my own death was starting to drive deep into my soul.
When morning came and the tow truck towed the car away I decided I wasn't going to work, which is not just a bad idea in the military it is illegal, but I was cut slack for reasons I was about to understand. By noon and the dealer had not called me I was feeling that rage building again, so I asked my wife to take the kids and go visit a friend in another apartment. Well being the loving caring woman she is she left and called the police telling them that I was depressed and a Beirut Veteran. They arrived with a Priest in tow and asked me to seek help, I had ripped a couple of cabinet doors off and was dripping with sweat yet the A/C was set at 65 and doing a good job.
I was seen at the Portsmouth Naval Hospital and promptly admitted, after 2 admissions I was told I had PTSD. Everyday since has been a struggle, one to explain to people I am not violent, I am not crazy I am just someone who has seen the worst humans can do to each other and I was touched deeply and it appears the impact is permanent.
Now I will not go into every detail of my life but I will say this, I do not see things the same way everyone else does, there is very little joy in my life, I don't feel warmth on my face in the sun, I cant remember what love was truly about and the biggest loss I have had was that I cant remember a lot of what happened after I walked off that beach in Beirut 23 years ago.
When I left for Beirut I had a 2 year old son and a 9 month old daughter, today I have a 25 year old son, a 24 year old daughter, a 18 year old daughter and a 9 year old son but they have not had much of a Father. I have not gone back to drinking, but I have been consumed by the memories of those days digging bodies out of the rubble, placing them in body bags and then those bags into containers and shipping them home. I remember taking incoming fire while we tried to dig hoping to find a survivor and I remember the smell of Beirut. To this day I can smell it and I can hear the screams for help, I can feel the dust upon my skin. I am not the only one, there a lot of us who live everyday with these feelings and it is for these Veterans and their families that I planned this walk.
A very wise Veteran once said for those who died the war is over for the rest of us it is only a nightmare away.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Elections and Voters

I sit tonight and watch local TV news reporters interview voters at polling places and I am scared. Not by the reporters poor questions but by the voters who can not form a simple sentence.
Now I believe in democracy and I make mistakes but when the mistakes roll of the tongues of voter after voter then I must question the intelligence of these voters. Is it that people pay no attention during campaign time and just vote for the party? Or maybe they decided at the last minute to vote and voted for the person with the name which sounds soothing to their ears.
I wish that we could test voters to make sure they knew what was going on before casting a ballot. We have all learned over two Presidential Races that each and every vote counts so these blathering fools are making a difference.
Now I know I was a little harsh but our future is the hands of people who don't know what is really on the ballot of who is on it. One voter on a local broadcast explained that this election was less important than the Federal election last year. I swear today I was voting for Congressmen and Senators and I don't remember a big Federal election in 2005, but I said that's one person.
Well the next commented that Morning Doves are just little birds so we shouldn't hunt them, well so are a lot of things we hunt. Maybe we should have looked into another reason to not hunt something besides being little and hatched from an egg.
These are but two examples I switch from channel to channel and hear the same stuff over and over again.
America maybe we should educate each and every person who is eligible to vote instead of worrying about Madonna's adopted child.

To You John Oliver

John you inspired me and many others to do what we had to for our fallen Brothers, now I must count you among them and my heart is breaking. I never saw you face to face but I believe I knew your soul, we shared a moment in history and lived with the pain of that time.
I remember the nights on AOL talking about keeping it together and a tear comes to my eye but I know now that you are free and there will be no more nightmares for you.
Those of us left behind will take care of your family the best we can, be at peace John and bask in the light of everlasting love you have earned it, nothing can take that away from you.
You did not want to be called a hero or anyones inspiration but you were and you still are.
Fair winds and Following Seas My Brother.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Beirut The Untold Story Part 1

After 23 years of doing nothing about what happened in Beirut on
October 23rd 1983 I will now stand up and shout to all that will listen.
I was Navy onboard the USS Portland LSD-37, the morning the bomb
went off I was standing on the Signalbridge about 1.5 miles away. The
blast was so loud we thought we had taken a direct hit. Which would not
have been extraordinary due to the amount of rocket fire and radar shine
we received on a daily basis.
When we realized we were ok I looked to the beach and saw smoke
rising from near the airport, at that point I felt my stomach turn. I couldnt
see what had been hit but it was big.

A few moments later a friend who was monitoring the shore net called
me on the sqawk box and told me that the B/L/T was down and they
were asking for all assistance and all body containers in the area.
Quickly after this I asked to be sent in as part of the recovery detail, I
was told no and a friend SM2 Moore was sent in with the first wave.
After I spent hours sending requests up the chain of command I was sent in and spent the next 4-5 days on the beach.
I have been asked why it was so important for me to go, I dont know except these were my friends and they needed my help.
On day 2 I found a message in the comm shack of the building, it was
only a few feet from the body of a young Marine Officer, who had his .45
drawn and in his hand. This message has been the root of all my

It read:

FM: Sharkey
SUBJ: Threat
Possible Syrian/Iranian hostilities against the US and other contigents of
the MNF between 10/22 and 10/24

After I found this I did my job and handed it to the officer who was
collecting these messages and it was destroyed. I didnt know that as we
were on our way home that this very message was talked about in front
of congress and it was described as broad and vague in its content.
A year ago after doing more research I also found that a Mossad Agent
had known the make and model of the truck months before were hit, he
was told to pass along a standard warning so they would not lose their
undercover agent inside Hezbollah.
Isreal sold us out to protect a source, the lives of 241 men were lost
because our own government thought this to be vague and not worthy of
preparing for.
Tim Gerahty was the Colonel in charge of the Marines he had asked
many times to move his men, to allowed to be more defensive and was
turned down over and over again. But when Congress met he and his
aides took the fall, like all good Marines they sacrifced themselves for
the Commander in Chief.
Now dont get me wrong, I am a patriot, I am not against the use of our
military but I am against allowing them to be murdered in their sleep.
Regan escalated the war by resupplying the Lebanese Armed Forces
and this was done out of site of the Marines. Operation Rubberwall was
sold to the media as a mass resupply of our Marines when in fact 3/4 of
what was brought in was taken by bought to the Lebanese Naval Base
north of Beirut. I know of this as I was part of the boat crews moving in
11 million rounds of ammo. We did this under the watchful eye of Syrian
Forces on the hill above us and they saw this as us moving into an
aggressive role in the Civil War. They have not liked us since 1958
when 14k of our troops pushed them out of Lebanon, my Father was part of that operation.
Now I guess you all see why I am so passionate about this and will remain so until I leave this planet.

Because of Iraq?

I am watching these ads on my television and Wesley Clark is telling me that we have terror problems because of Iraq? SO it is because we invaded Iraq that we have to deal with issues of terrorists? Not because they attacked us along time ago and have continued to attack us every time our paths cross? So I guess then I need to be angry at the Iraqi people and not the ones who drive trucks laden with bombs or fly airplanes into our buildings.
So Wesley Clark is this why you retired? Maybe your ability to identify a threat was diminished.
I can still identify a threat and the biggest threat to our security are lies like these.
Wake up America and don't buy into lies like the ones being sold by people who want to use this war as a political tool when it is a life and death situation everyday for 125k of our finest.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Ok I have many requests for my email addy and here it is.