By James D. Johnson
Chaplain James D. Johnson selected to accompany his males, unarmed, on their day-by-day strive against operations. this is often his chronicle of Vietnam and the aftermath of conflict, of his coming to phrases along with his post-traumatic demons, and his want for therapeutic and detoxification which led him to revisit Vietnam years later.
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Extra info for Combat Chaplain: A 30-Year Vietnam Battle
I have gotten to know him well since I arrived. TUESDAY, AUGUST 22, 1967: I hop a chopper headed for Dong Tam. As soon as we land, I walk to the 3rd Surg and I quickly find Wayne. He is weak, but glad to see me. His leg is gone. “I guess you can see, Chaplain, that I left part of me in the field,” he says. I don’t know how to appropriately respond. “Yeah, I see. I’m sorry,” I say. At least he is alive, I think, but he looks terrible. I pray with Wayne before I leave and as I go, I speak with his nurse.
During times when operations aren’t being conducted, their boats are tied up next to the floating 44 • Combat Chaplain pontoons, which are like large decks. The pontoons are attached to the side of the ships themselves. Interestingly, there’s a “them and us” attitude that shipboard sailors have toward the river rats. ” Fourth are the GI’s in the infantry. ” Some of the shipboard sailors look down on them because they arrive from combat operations covered in mud. The sailors don’t have the faintest idea of what these soldiers have been through.
There’s no sound of outgoing artillery and mortars such as at Dong Tam. In fact, the only sound is the faint hum of the air conditioner. THURSDAY, AUGUST 3, 1967: Turf quickly becomes an issue and it surfaces this morning. Navy regulations state that no alcoholic beverages June 28–August 18, 1967 • 27 are to be aboard a navy vessel. When pressured, he reports that he received his booze from an arriving soldier. A big fuss develops. Yet, when a rear end needs covering today, attempts are made to scapegoat the soldiers.