Full Circle is based on actual events as I remember them while serving side-by-side with the 26th Marine Regiment as a Navy Corpsman (Medic). These events are forever etched in my memory. I wrote Full Circle for my parents and family members who asked me what I did in the Navy during the Vietnam Conflict. At that time, I avoided answering them. Rarely would I say anything to anyone about what I had done or seen. I tried to put memories of Vietnam and the demons bouncing around in my head behind me, and move forward with my life.
In my mid-thirties, I had several concerning health events--chest pains, shortness of breath, and depression. I was referred to a psychologist to discuss what the doctor referred to as "panic attacks. The doctor told me I had classic symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). I knew I was not the same person I was when I left home at the age of 19 to join the Navy. Now I am in my senior years, and still, there is not a day that goes by that I do not think about my life Vietnam. The sound of a Huey helicopter brings me to attention, and I start looking for it in the sky. The fresh smell of rain makes me think about another night of being wet and miserable. The sound of a mosquito flying close to my ear makes me grab for a towel to cover my face, ears, and neck. Sudden loud sounds still make me jump and look for cover from "incoming". There is a saying, "Those who died in Vietnam died forever young." When I look in the mirror today, I see myself as an old man getting older. When I think of the Marines I knew who died in Vietnam, I can only remember their faces as young men never to be older. I think those who died early in their tours in Vietnam were the lucky ones because they did not have to suffer as much as we who made the "Full Circle".
Full Circle is about the time I served in Vietnam. It covers the period from when I left my family and returned home making the "full circle" of my tour of service. If you feel scared, tired, dirty, hot, wet, cold, hopeless, and unworthy, when you read this book, then I will have gotten my point across. There were times of sheer terror and sheer boredom. The heat, rain, bugs, leeches, and snakes made daily life a miserable hell. The stink of burning barrels of human waste, cooking of foreign foods over an open fire, and the smell of dead things were always present. The sound of a Huey helicopter overhead immediately brings me back to Vietnam. I still remember the feeling of helplessness when someone yelled "incoming" and the gut wrenching feeling when I heard the call, "Corpsman up."
We Vietnam veterans are now old and will be passing on soon. Coming home from Vietnam was hard for some of us. It is still hard for me today. This book is about my fellow Marines and my own experiences as a Navy Fleet Marine Corpsman in Vietnam. Everyone who served there has his or her own story, but this is my story.