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Thread: A war hero returns home, 40 years later

  1. #1
    Bite my shiny metal ass! beNder's Avatar
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    Default A war hero returns home, 40 years later

    (CNN) -- Karl Marlantes stared at the young man through the sights of an M-16 rifle and slid his muddy finger over the curve of the trigger.

    Turning toward him, the man locked eyes with Marlantes and froze.

    "Don't throw it. Don't throw it," Marlantes whispered, hoping the man would surrender.
    Moments earlier, the North Vietnamese soldier had been hurling grenades at a group of U.S. Marines. He was cornered near the top of a hill. Blood streamed down his face from a head wound; the crumpled body of a friend lay at his feet.

    Marlantes had slithered undetected to a spot just below the soldier's foxhole. When the soldier popped up, arm cocked to throw another grenade, he spotted Marlantes.

    The soldier's dark eyes widened in fear; he looked around for a way out, but there was none; and then he snarled, showing his teeth.

    Marlantes watched as the grenade left the soldier's hand and tumbled straight toward him.

    'How can you return home?'

    He had a family, a big income, and stayed in first-class hotels while jetting off to Europe and the Far East. When companies faced a crisis, they called Marlantes. He was the Ivy-League educated business consultant, the ex-Marine with the medals.

    Yet few knew that Marlantes was facing his own crisis. Something was happening to him that neither he, nor his wife or five kids, could understand: There was hardly a day when he wasn't thinking about the secrets he left in Vietnam.

    "How can you return home if you've never left?" he once wrote.

    Marlantes is 67 now, with thick salt-and-pepper hair, a scruffy goatee and a calm, measured way of talking, but the fatigue can be seen in the lines under his eyes. He's been sorting through his war memories for over 40 years.

    He first tried to purge them. He took 33 years to write "Matterhorn," his 2010 debut novel about a Marine unit in Vietnam. He released his combat memoir, "What It is Like to Go to War," last year.
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  2. #2
    Goat Roper Shermbodius's Avatar
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    Marlantes now lives in a forest. His home, on a lake near the Cascade Mountains about an hour outside of Seattle, is ringed by 200-foot cedar and fir trees. The area is so remote that Marlantes lost one of his dogs to a cougar.
    He is in my neck of the woods. Great post and will pick up his book.
    Sherm...

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    Μολὼν λαβέ Hollis's Avatar
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    He was in C 1/4.

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    **** you 20122. how goes does gaz type drunk? dricl. man Hellfish's Avatar
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    I've heard him speak, and I picked up his book. Have barely scratched the surface of it. Seems like a good dude.

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    I'm generally not affected by much; however, reading the story on Marlentes sent chills down my back on several occasions. I watch my son and worry without trying to show concern.

  6. #6
    Senior Member KB's Avatar
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    Read both, great reads. Some good suggestions in the second book regarding how our society can better support returning vets...

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    Μολὼν λαβέ Hollis's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by usmcprincipal View Post
    I'm generally not affected by much; however, reading the story on Marlentes sent chills down my back on several occasions. I watch my son and worry without trying to show concern.
    This time of year is a anniversary for a friend who was machine gunner in 2/4 at the battle of Dai Do.

    I was wondering what months Marlentes was in-country. Sounds like we walk some of the same ground. I was on the D in '69. W/3rd Marines.

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    Senior Member KB's Avatar
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    Hollis, he was there at the same time. His Navy Cross citation is from March '69.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hollis View Post
    This time of year is a anniversary for a friend who was machine gunner in 2/4 at the battle of Dai Do.

    I was wondering what months Marlentes was in-country. Sounds like we walk some of the same ground. I was on the D in '69. W/3rd Marines.
    Sometimes the Corps can be such a small world. To read about someone, who allowed others to take a peak inside his intimate world and know that you operated in the same AO must be a little disarming.

    Everybody's had fathers, grandfathers, uncles, sons, friends and neighbors and now mothers and daughters, who have been forced to come to terms or not with their experiences. Ultimately, at some point I suppose it's a journey each man or woman must make alone even with help and surrounded by loved ones. These people deserve so much respect.

    A number of years ago I met a man who had served as a medic on a dust-off in Vietnam. He was one of the most creative and intuitively intelligent men I've ever known. He had been badly wounded, but the real wounds were emotional and he never really recovered. He led such a chaotic adult life. I've often wondered what his life would have been like had he not seen combat. I always sensed he was simply too sensitive and war exacted a toll he was just unable to pay. I was saddened when he passed away emotionally broken. He gave everything he had as a twenty year old kid and he never complained.

    At one time I didn't believe it, although that changed somewhat with age, but I was lucky. Twenty years in the Corps and I never heard a shot fired in anger.

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    just picked up matterhorn on kindle for under £4 at amazon uk.

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    Deserter Soldat_Américain's Avatar
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    Have Matterhorn in hardback...read the initial print that summer, asked my friend the old SGM what he thought and in his circle of Vietnam vets they were unsure of Marlantes and the idea of it taking 30 years to write the damn thing. This SGM spent most of his years after Vietnam teaching and trying to mold young leaders, I've never asked in detail of the things he did.

    I personally think that write by itself is therapy and reading the books that veterans write can always lend to my knowledge. I have yet to pick up his second.

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