A Living Unknown Soldier’s Battle for Independence: The Cost of Freedom Series, Pt. 1

03 Jul

This is not your typical, ‘hip-hip-hooray, it’s Independence Day,’ kind of post, but is still a tribute to not only our lost veterans, but also to the living ones. We will starkly look at the continuing cost of freedom for soldiers and how this battle is still raging in the minds of veterans wanting independence from their pasts. In this series, we will explore the causes and effects of PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder): coping with suicidal thoughts from reliving the past daily, loss of contact with family and friends and most of all, the lack of understanding (validation) by others who can never truly understand the non-refundable personal sacrifices made.

When most civilians think of Independence Day, we envision spending time with family and friends, barbecuing and setting off fireworks while celebrating a day off from work. We might say grace for the soldiers lost, but what about the one’s still living, still coping? On an intellectual level, sure, we know what Independence Day is, or do we? Do we truly understand the cost of our freedom?

The inspiration for this series comes from a man who has elected to stay anonymous for many valid and understandable reasons, but most of all, until he can make peace with himself. From candid interviews with our unknown living soldier, we will explore the psyche of a Vietnam veteran who is still trying to reconcile his past, still suffering from a war that many have forgotten and replaced with the ‘war of the week’ headline mentality. His account is a first-hand, in-depth perspective of a Marine who served nineteen months, from 1969-1971, deployed to Da Nang, Republic of Vietnam and operated from the DMZ (demilitarized zone) of Da Nang, Dong HaQuang Tri, Hue, Khe Sahn and Caviet.

Our unknown, yet living solider was part of the famous 1st Battalion, 9th Marines, the so-called, “The Walking Dead.” This title was given to the one-nine (1/9) when Ho Chi Minh declared he would, “kill them all, so just consider themselves dead walking,” announcing over a loud-speaker (in English), just before the siege near Song Nu Yi River in 1966. After that infamous siege, “Di bo Chet” (the Walking Dead) name stuck. As foreshadowed, the Vietnam one-nine infantry battalion suffered the most casualties in marine corp history. Based on a typical battalion strength of 800 Marines and Navy hospital corpsmen, 93.63% (747) were Killed In Action (KIA) and 0.25% (2) were Missing In Action (MIA).

Always Faithful –– ©1997 Doug Todd

Here are those who have borne the battle

Those, in the crucible of combat, tried.

Tempered and turned of the finest mettle,

These were The Sons of America’s Pride!

The First Battalion of The Ninth Marines,

Hammered and forged in the fires of Hell;

Built of their blood and their broken dreams,

A legend for scribes, unborn, to tell.

They fought like Warriors and they died like men

‘‘Till their page of history was stained blood-red;

And they earned from foe as well as from friend

That Honorable title, “The Walking Dead”!

These were the Sons who stepped forward bravely–

Courage and Strength and Faith un-tried;

To fight as the Valorous “Always Faithful”.

These are The Sons of America’s Pride!

The following video contains mature content:

Our soldier, who we will call, LUS (living unknown soldier) to protect his identity throughout this series, started out like many others, wanting to serve his country and protect his and his family’s rights–freedoms. Economic times were hard and the prospects for a seventeen year old then, were slim. The opportunity to help his family through the difficult times and to serve his country by ‘saving it’ from communism, seemed like a win-win. He saw the images of gallantry on TV, along with the ads and was inspired to follow in the footsteps of his father: to make a difference for his family and country. Is there any more noble cause (to an American) than to fight for freedom? Freedom is a founding principle of our country and is a vein that runs very deep in the psyche of an American soldier and particularly, a Marine.

So at seventeen, LUS enlisted September 2, 1968 (his birthday) and headed for boot camp on November 5, 1968 at Camp Lejeune as a demolition engineer. Little did he realize the full impact of that decision, where it would take him or the cost of freedom for which he would be fighting. In the coming few months, we will tell you in detail about his personal journey and hopefully, you will have a better understanding of the impact of freedom on our lives that we now enjoy through a day off, eating BBQ, baked-beans and potato salad.

Please do enjoy a wonderful celebration and as you do, try to think not only of the ones lost in war, but also of those who are still fighting the living soldier’s battle. The battle for independence from personal guilt, the external pressure to justify their experience to those who never served and the understanding of the price veterans pay daily for our freedom. Happy Independence Day and deepest thanks to all soldiers: past, present and future for the freedom we enjoy today.


Posted by on July 3, 2011 in Culture Choc


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5 responses to “A Living Unknown Soldier’s Battle for Independence: The Cost of Freedom Series, Pt. 1

  1. Pys72

    July 3, 2011 at 9:08 pm

    Woaw, tough article to write I bet! A great beginning of a story many times seen on screen but with always some form of detachment from the viewer part… Being in the thick of it is probably (I can only try to imagine being lucky enough not to have had any such experience) a whole different story and one that needs to be told. Told because it is a part of the consequences of keeping the original freedom of the founding fathers. Told because it is also one no one wants to comprehend fully as it leads to nightmares and questions better left un-asked. Told because it stays a hidden cost.
    It is brave of you to try and address this and make it a subject on the 4th of July when all celebrating freedom should also spare a thought for those whom have served to keep it so.
    Happy 4th of July to you and I’ll spare a thought for all the LUS who are struggling out there and wondering if they did good.
    As per usual, a great article although not really on your travelling topics. Keep writing and have fun too.

    • expatriotgames

      July 4, 2011 at 11:12 am

      Hello Pys–
      Yes, I think you are right about trying to tell a story from another person’s point of view, often the ‘feeling’ of what the soldiers experienced doesn’t always come across fully. Maybe it is by design or maybe it is just that the writer, for their protection (emotionally), cannot allow themselves to write the story to its fullest. A good writer is similar to a good actor or musician. You are given something to be communicated, that is meant to embody the intent of its creator. As writers, we are simply intruments of what we are to communicate. To do our job fully, we must connect with that person, that story, that pain, or that joy…to give it the justice it deserves. It’s not about us (the writer), it’s about telling the story and helping the reader connect to the people in it. Again, I agree that it can be the stuff of nightmares…and it is no wonder that these men & women stuggle everyday. I salute LUS’s courage most of all and hope that he can find healing in the catharsis. Thanks so much for your well-appointed descriptions and as always, thanks for reading. Happy Independence Day to you, too!

  2. MemphisNavyVet

    July 4, 2011 at 2:34 pm

    Nicely done. PEACE

    • expatriotgames

      July 4, 2011 at 2:41 pm

      Thank you for the compliment and for all you’ve done for us MNV…peace to you too, friend.


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