The Battle After the War

Good Luck By Good Luck, 30th Jan 2014 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Writing>True Stories

What battle was fought after the war? This is a short but true story written by Buffy Babbitt for English class. Its about his daddy. I hope you like it. Feel free to comment. Sorry its so long.

Bloodiest battle in world history

In 1966, President Lyndon B. Johnson sent 360,000 U.S. Troops to Vietnam. By definition, there was a war going on there that was most definitely part of the on-going Cold War. However, if you ask the united States government officials, Vietnam wasn't a war. In fact, they will tell you that it was merely a "police action." In other words, our troops were stuck in the middle of a war between North and South Vietnam, "policing" them. There were nearly 60,000 American deaths and nearly two million Vietnamese deaths. My daddy, who was just turning eighteen-years-old, was drafted by the United States Armed Forces and was sent right in the middle of the entire thing.

I was extremely close to my daddy growing up. I remember as a little girl wanting to marry him. I don't remember when the exact moment was that I knew my daddy had been in the Army, or even the moment I knew he fought in the Vietnam War. To look back at it now it seems as though I just knew. I do remember asking him questions about the war sometime around Junior High School, and being refused any answers. "Those are things little girls don't need to know about," and "Stick to what's in the history books, Buffalo Butt," were the two most common replies to my questions. (Buffalo Butt was my daddy's nickname for me, though, to this day I don't know why.)

My daddy was a very handsome man. In his younger days he stood every bit of six feet, four inches tall. He was just the right amount of muscular, dark complected, had eyes as blue as the bluest water, and milk-chocolate colored hair. He was devastatingly handsome in the face; that stern, chiseled look as he watched his favorite football team, the Houston Oilers, play is one of the fondest memories I have of my daddy. It was second only to his smile; the smile that would melt the heart of even the coldest person. I remember being at his mother, my Granny's, house when I ran across a picture of him in his Army Greens. he was so breathtakingly handsome! What I wouldn't give to have gotten to see that in person! After seeing the picture, I couldn't help but ask again about the war. "I saw things over there that no one should ever have to see," was the only answer I received.

Daddy worked as a truck driver by trade. He had always been a truck driver or a charter bus driver my whole life. He was the best at it that I had ever seen. When I was fourteen years old, almost fifteen years old, he was at work tying down a load when a cheater pipe popped out and hit him in the face, crushing it. As you can imagine, a reconstructive surgery followed, and with that came a feeding tube. At that time, I thought seeing him with tubes coming out of him was the worst thing I would ever see.
He came home from the hospital sooner than the doctor had expected he would. He was healing great! The only problem he was having was some throat pain. The doctor said this was normal after having a feeding tube, but after a few months of this, he realized it wasn't normal. He lost seventy-five pounds in just a matter of months. On most days he couldn't talk, much less eat. I begged him to go to the doctor, and finally he did.
I'll never forget the way I felt that day. It was March 12, 1996, my parent's anniversary, and mom and daddy had finally gone to the doctor. When they got home that evening, they called myself, my sister, my brother, and our "Aunt Joanie" to the kitchen table for a "family meeting." I knew something was wrong. The next hour of my life is a blur. I remember the word "cancer." It sounded more like "Satan" or "Hitler" to me. The only other thing I remember about that "family meeting" was looking up and seeing my daddy cry. I had only ever seen one other tear come out of his water-blue eyes, and only one, when his grandfather died when I was just a little girl. That's when I realized the cold, hard fact that I was going to lose my family because my daddy had cancer.
In April of 1996, daddy had a total laryngectomy. A total laryngectomy is defined as a surgical procedure in which the whole voice box is removed, and the stoma opening into the larynx is permanent. The definition of stoma is an opening into the body from the outside created by a surgeon, and in this case it was in the throat. The cancer had attached itself to his vocal chords and voice box. The surgeons removed both, and because of that they had to build a wall separating air ways from food passages. The only way to do this was to make an air passage through a tracheotomy in the neck directly to the lungs. This meant that he no longer used his nose for breathing or for smelling. He could no long smell my mother's homemade cooking, her hair, her perfume, or anything else. His nose had become nothing but decoration. He was now called a "neck breather" and he talked with an electronic voice box. The doctors said they had gotten all of the cancer, but also advised him to take chemotherapy and radiation. He refused. We thought he was in remission. He had gained all of his weight back; thanks to coke floats. We decided to move from Houston, Texas back up to Paris, Texas.
My daddy seemed to be healthy again. He couldn't work anymore because when they did the laryngeal they cut all his shoulder muscles. He piddled around the house here and there, but I could tell he was depressed. Soon after we moved back to Paris, my parents separated and divorced. Daddy moved to Picayune, Mississippi, where he was originally from, and we stayed in Paris. My parents divorced in November of 1996. Daddy made frequent trips to see us while they were divorced, but I was angry at him for leaving us, and looking back now I don't think I've ever gotten over the precious time lost with him. But, he had convinced himself he was dying, and he wanted to die in Picayune, he said.

When I was seventeen years old I asked him again about the war. I suppose he thought I was old enough to know about it, so finally I got my answers. "Well Punkin (yet another pet name)," he started, "if you really want to know, I'll tell you." He paused just long enough to let me see the expression on his face change. He went from my daddy to a man I didn't know. At this point there was absolutely no expression on his face, but his eyes changed. They were the eyes of a scared little boy watching a massacre. Then, all at once, daddy came back from his little mental trip to Vietnam so many years before, and he took a deep breath.

"I'm not gonna tell you every little detail, now, but I'll tell you what you need to know if you promise never to ask me about it again," he said, sternly. "I promise, daddy," I replied. "Well, then the first thing you need to know is that anything I did, I had orders to do," he solemnly said. I nodded in agreement, and he continued on. "I was the sergeant in charge of the gun jeep. It was my job to make sure everything was as it should be. I had to make sure my men," he took a short, meaningful pause, "my friends, were taken care of. One of my friends was blown to pieces by the Gooks. I saw it right in front of me. I felt helpless, baby, and you don't want to know what that kind of helpless feels like. Then, my best friend in the whole world was bitten by a snake and died. There weren't many of us left in my Platoon, but we fought anyway. We were fighting for our lives. I saw women and children raped and burned alive. I never did that. It wasn't in my orders. I was there to follow orders. I was laying in a rice patty, on more than one occasion, ducking and fighting them off, and planes were flying overhead. They were spraying an insecticide called Agent Orange on the patties. That stuff burned like the hell fires!" Then he paused, as if he was reliving it again, and finally he said, "Well, there was just a lot that you wouldn't understand, and I don't want to talk about anymore of it." I had so many more questions, but I promised, and I never broke a promise to my daddy.

When I was eighteen years old, my parents reconciled. My daddy had a really bad "episode" and had to be rushed to McCuistion Hospital Emergency Room. The oncologist on call was a doctor by the name of Singh. He ran tests on daddy. and when he came out of daddy's hospital room the look on his face said it all. "Mrs. Walters," he addressed my mother formally, "your husband's cancer is back. He is in Stage 4 non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma. It's very progressed." After that, all I heard was, "blah, blah, blah." My world was spinning out of control.

Daddy was in and out of the hospital. On February 4, 2000, my nineteenth birthday, I found out I was pregnant with my first child, a boy, to be named Jordan Ray. (The Ray was after my daddy, Billy Ray.) Around this same time we found out that non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma is directly related to the Agent Orange they sprayed on so many people during Vietnam. We also found out that everyone from daddy's Platoon was dead, all from non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma, except the two that died in Vietnam. Daddy was the last one left.

On May 2, 2000, I was four months pregnant with my son, and while this should have been a happy time, it could never be that way because my daddy was in the hospital for what would be the last time. He was in a coma, lying in the hospital bed, a skeleton of the man he once was. He weighed less than one hundred twenty-five pounds. My mother and I left the room to go to the nurse's station, and someone, I don't remember who, called down the hall for us to come back. We ran as fast as we could, but it was too late. He was gone. I crawled in the hospital bed with him and cried.

First battle of the Vietnam war!

Daddy was buried two days later on May 4, 2000 with the graveside funeral he had wanted. As the representatives from the American Legion folded the U.S. Flag atop my daddy's casket I thought to myself, "The war did it. He died in Vietnam." As per my daddy's wish, they presented me with the flag and said the words i'll never forget. "On behalf of the United States Armed Forces, and the President of the United States, I present to you this flag. We are deeply sorry for your loss." And just like that, it was over, and I knew daddy died in the battle after the war.


Battle, True Story, War

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author avatar Good Luck
I am a freelance writer who love to write about current issues around the world

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