Memories can be a good thing and they can be a bad thing that ruins a person’s life. In this episode a story will be featured that tells how bad memories spoiled a Vietnam Veteran’s life and how the curse of Alzheimer’s Disease is providing some relief from soul crushing memories of something that happened in the Vietnam War many years ago. The featured story comes from the Billings Gazette. It is titled: The world wasn’t young in those days. I was and was submitted by Darrell Ehrlick firstname.lastname@example.org.
The veteran described in the story is Gordon Cormier, a native of Billings, Montana born there in 1943. He served as an artillery forward observer with 9th Infantry Division in Vietnam. Prior to his departure to the war zone he was meandering around downtown Billings and by happenchance went into the local FW Woolworth Store where they were having a sale on pocket dairies. Cormier decided it might be a good idea to record his experiences in his upcoming combat assignment. He bought not one but two just in case he had heavy days of writing. He liked to write.
He did a good job of recording his Vietnam memories. In 2006, he used those diary entries and letters he had written to his father and brothers from the war zone to published his memoirs and diaries of Vietnam, “Everyone Had His Turn: An Odyssey Through The Vietnam War and Beyond.” The 699-page book describes the challenges of being an officer in Vietnam and living with the memories. It is a good thing he did that because today those memories are quickly fading away due the onset of Alzheimer’s Disease.
Cormier’s life changed forever on Feb. 2, 1968 during a firefight just north of My Tho City, a town about 50 miles south of Saigon. He called in artillery fire during the action and apparently there was a short round that landed close to their friendly troops. Six were wounded and six were KIA. Cormier assumed personal responsibility for the unfortunate occurrence and lived with the self assumed guilt for the rest of his life. Here his story on the podcast.