Friday, May 11, 2012
Today, 11 May a day I remember
Today, 11 May is a day I never forget. For one,
it is my cousin Jimmy´s birthday; hello Jimmy if
you read this.
But, May 11th this year is 42 years since I was
discharged from the U.S. Marine Corps. I was 19.
I had been to Vietnam twice; not long…4-5 months.
But, I survived the terror of nightly sapper attacks on
Fire Support Base(FSB) Cunningham. I was a rifleman;
a´grunt´ in the marines. I survived.
I was a radioman most of my first time; radiomen are a
sniper´s favourite choice of targets. I wasn´t told till I´d
carried the radio for almost a month that I was ´Okay.´
Three other marines carried my radio in the 4-5 months
before me; two dead and one wounded badly as was the
one before them and me.
I was ´walking point´ one day when ´Chief´ Paul Bowers, Sr.
stopped me for a minute, and noticed a green plastic trip wire
was mixed in with the vines and bushes that I was pushing
through. I was flat against me chest; my next step and I
would´ve been blown to bits. It was attached to two mines
on either side of me; an anti-tank mine on one side, and an
anti-personell mine on my other side. God Bless Chief!
I was blessed to see many places Japan, (especially
Yokosuka), and Mimi who worked at The Honky Tonk in
Yokosuka´s red light district. She taught me by example
that people like her were human beings with lives, hopes,
dreams. She had more humanity, compassion, caring, integrity
and taught me that though she and her friends worked in a Red
Light bar they had dignity. I also saw the awesomeness of
Mount Fuji(Fujisan); and Vietnam.
I met some wonderful people, but none like Mimi. There was
Eddie ´Frenchy´ Merlet, Hill Barnes, (even my drill instructors
DI´s Sgt. Ross, Sgt. Braswell, and Fondau) who pushed me to my
limits, and I held. Also, Jim Nance (where the F*ck are you),
Daryll Ondo, Brother´s Nix and Rielly. And, Ed Munro, Ray Mason,
Frank Montoya, and loads more at Chelsea Naval Hospital.
The whole second Plt. of ´Goofy´ Golf Co. 2cnd Battalion
Third Marines...Hall, Paul Bowers, Jackson, Bo, Ski...
The day I got out of the marines Monday, 11 May 1970 I
went to get my pay on and the clerk told me I was only
due $35. We argued about that, and two years later they
coughed up another $82.00+
The price of a bus ticket from Jacksonville, North
Carolina to Boston alone was $35. I needed bus fare
to the town, and train fare from Boston to my home
13 miles away. And, sh*t it would be nice to eat
along the way.
Friends gave me some as we did for those who
left before with insufficient funds
I faced one immediate problem that I gave considerable
thought to on my way back to Boston. The drinking age,
and how to get around that problem. It was 21, and I
wasn´t going to be deterred; I had a huge drinking
problem, and had been drinking hard for two years.
I got to Medford and decided to try and buy beer in
Martignetti´s package store; that´s what we call an
off-license in the Boston area.
I was in uniform, so I knew they might ask for an ID.
I set upon a way to bypass that sh*t. I went inside in
my marine dress, and said happily “F*ckin A. Finally!.”
They said hi. I returned it, and said I had a bit of
celebrating to do and wanted to look at the beers.
I told them I just got out of the Marine Corps. They
asked me how long I was in. That´s their ID check.
They knew I could join at 17, so if I said 2 years,
then I would be my real age 19. I said “4 long-ass
f*ckin years. I did two tours in the Nam.” They didn´t
ask another question.
They said “Welcome back.” I left with two six packs of
12 oz Budweiser cans. I walked about a mile to a place
easy to hitchhike from, and had drained 3 beers by then.
By the time I got home I was down to a six-pack…and
feeling as ever surly and belligerent as any night in
Yokosuka, Japan´s red light district. Except there
wouldn´t be any beautiful Japanese hookers running to
me and grabbing my crotch and quoting prices.
My neighbours were in for a huge feckin shock.
Paulie Meuse was…well, er, ah, hmm really f*ckin crazy
and could he drink! What happened to him??
My brother, Michael´s, (RIP) life change dramatically
as did the rest of my family, and not for the better!.
He and I had shared a bedroom before I went into the
marines, but this was different.
Michael, wherever you are I apologize…something i´m
good at. He turned 14 five weeks after I got home, but
I wasn´t a nice guy. I would come in drunk anywhere
from 2-5 am, and just like in the marine barracks
where I did crazy things…well Michael was the only
In the barracks I liked to come in and turn all the lights
on no matter what the time...2, 3, 4, or 5 am. Did that piss
off the other 79 marines. And, they got to know who it was.
In one barracks...K Co., 6th Marines in North Carolina
I came in ´piss drunk´ but had an idea for a laugh. I
turned on all the lights about 5 am, and while everyone
was yelling to ´shut the f*ckin lights out you asshole´
which only made me laugh louder (inside) in anticipation
"Listen up, the Lieutenant just told me to pass on a message
to everyone in the platoon." Some would say "Hurry the f*ck
up, just shut the f*ckin lights out!" Or, "it´s him again." And
then I said "the Lieutenant told me to tell you all it´s 05:00
(Zero Five Hundred), and you only got an hour of sleep till
reville (wake up) so get back to sleep!"
They didn´t like me after I did stuff like that, but the
next day I was just trying to think of ways to top that
I apologize to Ed Munro for waking you up many times just
for a kick; I was drunk. I quit when I was 28. Ed, I
apologize for that time we were in a Jacksonville bar and
you heard ´Bad Moon Rising´ by Creedence Clearwater Revival
(CCR), and said how you hated that song; ya, it was me...I
put five quarters in the juke box while you were in the
bathroom and played ´Bad Moon Rising´ five more times:-
When I woke up with an awful hangover I liked to go to
friend´s bunk and do exercises in front of them...´jumping
jacks,´ and say "Come on let´s get with it." I felt awful,
but that made me feel a bit better. I was a prick.
But, when I came home that´s who my brother Michael had for
a roommate. One night, after a long day and night of drinking I
came to our bedroom, and I started to pinch his nostrils closed
shut while he was sound asleep. Soon he was gasping for air,
and would begin to awaken. I made the loudest snoring sounds
I could, and when he was back asleep…I would do it a few
Poor Michael, he studied hard, played sports and had to get
up for school by 7 am at the latest…about the time I started
Finally, my mother asked me not to do it. I tried to play
dumb and innocent, but dropped it, and said okay. I probably
did other things to make up for it after a while.
My dad had a problem, he was an active alcoholic, and all of
a sudden had a son who was drinking up to 2 cases of beer a
day, and it wasn´t nice for my family. I was afraid not to be
intoxicated because of what I lived with from Vietnam. No
amount of alcohol could suppress the emotions and feelings
that tormented my soul.
I felt like as the saying went of Vietnam veterans with war
trauma “an old man in a young man´s body.” I felt like a 50+
year old man, and now that i´m 61…50 may have been too young.
One day my dad felt he had to confront me and tell me what I was
doing was unacceptable. I came in the door in the afternoon for a piss
stop, and my dad was on a kitchen chair near the entrance to the sitting
room I was coming into. He stood up, and pointed a finger in my
direction, and said “Listen Mr. you can´t be coming in here like this!”
He was right, but I was full of fury biting for a fight, and before I
turned left towards the bathroom him I said “Why the F*ck not? You
been coming in here drunk ever since I´ve known you! When did the
f*ckin rules change?” My father´s finger hung in the air for a few seconds,
and he sat down. And, I went into the bathroom and left the house.
My dad came out of the house and just before I got into Tommy´s
car (we had joined the marines together) my dad came outside, and
started to say something, and I blew up in a rage and said “Listen
here c*cks*cker, you shut the f*ck up.” He was stunned.
My neighbours were in a state of shock too.
Some nights when I came up my street I saw a few, well more than
a few upstairs window curtains part, and when I saw that I would stop
and look up and say “Hi Mrs. so and so, are you just trying to see if it´s
me coming home drunk again? Or you just can´t get to sleep? I´m okay .”
When I used to come up my street some of the neighbours would get
out of the porch chairs and go inside their houses...even after I had quit
One neighbour had a big Great Dane I think, and that dog was outside
when I walked up the street; my neighbour took the dog in after he saw
me stick a pistol in the dog´s mouth.
We did crazy things once back home that weren´t crazy to us; just fun,
but crazy to everyone else. My friend Tommy Lizzotte drove, and we had
a case and three six-packs of beer on ice in a cooler in the back seat.
Once we drove up from Cross Street and over by McDonald Field; I don´t
know if that was the name then. Two Little League baseball teams were
playing a game, and I thought it would be great fun if Tommy drove across
the field from the Third base side to First base, and then round the base path.
Tommy looked at me for a few seconds,. I kept saying "come on." Finally, he
looked at me and said "What the F*ck." And, we both laughed.
As we drove across the coaches were screaming for the kids to
get off the field. We thought it was the funniest thing we´d
done in a while...and Tommy went through second base into the
outfield, and we were gone.
To show how crazy it was some nights we´d drive down South
Border road from the Winchester side into Medford with no lights
much of the way. One night we came up from the Medford side and
headed north through Winchester on Rt. 93. Tommy drove headed
towards Woburn while I tried my best to shoout out the highway lights
that were at least 20 feet high.. We didn´t make it out of Winchester.
A cop car pulled up behind us. The cop, was K; a nice fella. He came
over to the passenger side where I was. He sounded really happy to see
me and asked how I was. Then, he asked if we´d heard of any gunfire?
I said K I thought we left that behind us (Vietnam), and he
said some neighbours reported hearing shots fired. I said
Geez, we´ll be careful...and something about better to go
home. Then, K leaned down and looked in the car and said "Is
that Tommy?" And he asked how he was doing. Just then he
stuck his hand in as if to shake hands with Tommy. I leaned
back against my seat so he could do so.
And very swiftly K reached down and pulled out a pistol from
under my crotch. He shook his head. I said "K we wouldn´t hurt
anyone I was just trying to shoot out the highway lights...there´s
nothing to do here...we wouldn´t hurt anyone."
K said "You can´t do this." and I asked "Why, K we wouldn´t..."
And, I saw his eyes were moist, and He said "You can´t do this
because your not over there; you´re back here." He took the
pistol and that was that; I got off easy.
Two years later I was walking to my factory job andsaw a big
commotion outside the factory. A lot of people were standing
around. The canteen truck was there and people were drinking
coffee, eating donuts. I also saw the police car there and K
was standing outside talking to people.
Then, I noticed the A-Frame glass truck (after I got out of the
Marines my second job was with a glass company). I got a sinking
feeling in my stomach the closer I got to the factory. It´s one
of those ´Oh shit what the f*ck did I do last night.´ And, I
didn´t want to remember it...but clues were coming in.
Then K turned around and saw me. He was genuinely very happy
to see me; it must´ve been almost two years. He asked how I was
doing, and I said okay. Then I asked what was going on and K said
to me "you wouldn´t believe it; someone drove by the factory several
times last night and shot out almost every window. Whoever it was he
was a good shot."
Then, a look of horror came across his face; he turned a
bit white, or pale, and said "Oh Paulie tell me you didn´t
have anything to do with this." I said "K this is where I
work...geez I walk home from here at night...I coulda been
I didn´t feel genuine. F*ck!! How could I after he took a
pistol away from me two years before, but I tried my best.
I could tell he knew. I offered to buy him a coffee, but
he wouldn´t take anything from anyone when he was
investigating a crime.
We talked about how I was and how this or that cop I knew was
doing. K had know me like many policemen from when I worked at
Brigham´s Ice Cream shop from 14-17+ before I went into the
Marines. I was Paulie; a really nice kid who wouldn´t do
But, now I felt like I was suspect No. 1, and I was trying my
best to act as innocent as a baby lamb. But, I didn´t feel it,
and sh*t I had good reason not to. After K left we went into
work. My boss Kenny came over to me, and said "you didn´t have
anything to do with this did you?" Kenny was a real nice fella
in his 40s, and I tried to looked shocked; really shocked that
he would ask me that.
I said "Kenny, this is the place I work; if I find out who did
that I´ll slap the shit out of him before the cops get him. He
could shot one of us!" Kenny nodded, but he smiled at the
corners of his mouth. I pretended to not notice it. He knew.
Two hours later Kenny pulled me aside at a break. He waited till
after everone went by, and then he said "Look, management reversed
themselves, and decided to give you the $0.25 cent an hour increase."
They had turned me down the previous morning.
Kenny was watching my face, and I spontaneously said "Kenny, I
didn´t know what to do when they said no, so I came in today with
a counter proposal." He said whadda ya mean?" and, I said, ´well
they said no to $0.25 an hour so I thought maybe I should ask
for $0.12 or $0.15 cents instead, but there was so much going
on with the windows that I thought they don´t have the time for
anything else today.´
Kenny just smiled. I reassured him that when I got out of there I
would ask my friends and anyone if they saw anyone around the
building last night. He jsut about laughed, and said ´okay.´I just
didn´t ask one friend in particular, and as for slapping the shit out
of someone if I caught them...I smacked myself in the shower for
going way over the top:-
I kept thinking I´d feel a tap on the shoulder, and worried
that somehow my pistol my match the BB pellets that went
through the office windows no matter how crazy that was...
but just to be sure I dumped them in a pond. I don´t remember
which one because one of the symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress
is...´short-term memory loss´ ;-
Eleven years later I would have to get rid of more. Quickly!
The police weren´t interested in finding out who did it. Well
they had a good idea. But, the company was moving out of state
in four days and the employees were out of jobs, unless they
wanted to move more than 1,500 miles south in four days without
compensation, and a cut in pay. We didn´t know that.
Somehow, I survived all the craziness; friends died from
overdoses, suicide in a number of ways. Somehow I survived,
and I wasn´t sure why.I was not the same when I came back,
but I didn´t know how to say what I felt was wrong with me.
And, the American government refused to recognize post-traumatic
stress until 1980.
But, I´m alive, and hope those I hurt will forgive me, and
bless those of you who helped along the way, and still have.
War is Criminal it strips your innocence first, and then
it´s just brutality and barbarity and a struggle to survive
each and every day.