America must never forget the price paid for her Liberty and Freedom. These two words I have capitalized because they have
great meaning to me. I, personally, cannot think of how empty I would feel if I had not been a soldier in any conflict with
the goal of defending our country from those who would make us subservient to another nation.
I an grateful for those who can paint, or compose songs like Lee Greewood's , "I Love The USA", or lay down their lives
as a sacrifice in order to keep our nation strong and in Freedom's hand. When I consider my own life, in having PTSD for some
fifty-eight years, I will not complain, for it has been borne in the name of Freedom, and would be done again if need be.
Notwithstanding, I have a fight with the Veteran's Affairs Office, for leaving this veteran to handle this malady alone,
until the present day. The words, "Go home son, the war is over" still ring in my ears and stings my soul! I did "go home"
and found that the "war was not over." I have learned that WWII will never be over, never!
My Psychiatrist is doing his best to lower the intensity of the "Mares of the Night", nonetheless, the Mares know where
all of the veterans reside and never fail to make their rounds. The War, indeed, is not over, though the pact was signed in
Tokyo Bay many years ago. The foe is now a friend, but for some the War has no end!
Veteran friends are quick to declare that WWII has no end because this PTSD malady is never a friend! The "Mares of the
Night" are simply payments being made for something called Freedom and Liberty. Yet the Mares keep charging interest on the
payment... and so the account keeps on depicting a debt unpaid. So it is with a credit card balance of $8,000 @ 18%, if a
minimum payment is paid each month, the account would remain unpaid for 47 years.
In the case of this WWII veteran it has been over 57 years and the payment toward PTSD is still running with its insidious
interest, and yet the "debt" is unpaid. One of these days, when taps is played, the debt will be stamped, in dark red ink,
"Paid In Full"! Many of us look forward to that day.
PTSD veterans are constantly looking to find ways to mount and ride the "Mares of the Night".
A friend, Tony Pahl, a Viet Nam Veteran with PTSD, constantly encourages this veteran to find a way to become a victor
rather than a victim. He has founded and maintained the IWVPA, (The International War Veteran's Poetry Archives) in order
to provide some sense of stability for war veterans for whom the 'War is not Over', whether it be Korean, Viet Nam, The Gulf
Wars, or WWII, or some un-named conflict where machines of war have caused blood to flow, planes to crash, tanks to explode,
and minds and souls to absorb the sights and sounds of war.
There is another Viet Nam friend, a Marine, whose name is Dave Griffith, who now resides in Fort Worth Texas. He resides
in a Jazzy power chair, and has for many, many years. Dave lost twenty-six of his men, sixteen in one day at a rubber-making
site. Bullets through his mid-section took away his ability to walk. PTSD has been his constant companion, ever reminding
him of the loss of his men. Oxygen tanks are a part of his Jazzy machine; they allow him to survive.
Like Tony, Dave has turned to his pen, so have I, because some things must find an exit, lest the pressures become so great
that even dreams dissipate. Dave is forever saying that when he realized that his hopes were not coming true, he turned them
into dreams. In his mind, he rides his faithful horse again through the canyons of time, sees a world before him and behind
him; sees a lover again who once was true, and writes sonnets and such telling of his love, even to the smelling of that fragrance
which once marked her being. But dreaming is not seeing, and the dream must come to closure and reality.
From these two friends, this old veteran has found hope for today and dreams of tomorrow.
With PTSD there is some borrowing on the hopes of tomorrow. There are days when 'tomorrow' never comes, even though the
sun rises in her orb, from East to West, and beyond the horizon of the West, the darkness of night comes, bringing no rest.
The 'Mares of the Night' know when that golden messenger of the day has gone to light the other side of some veteran's life
and to warm his chilly soul for a few hours, and to give warmth and life to flowers, strewn along the paths where some souls
shall walk hand in hand with a lover true!
How much do dreams weigh? Are they subject to the pull of gravity? If not so subject, they are left to float in the atmosphere
and so are attracted to those of heavy heart who long for friends who have died on some battle field in some crazy war, or
whose lives have been taken when their aircraft forgot how to fly in flak filled sky.
Bombs and bullets have no mind and know not friend from foe, and once released they are free to go, never bringing peace,
but forever bringing woe!
Another friend, Emmett Bagwell, top turret gunner on a B-24 J, surrendered his life on 27 April, 1944 when his bomber crashed
in England, and whose bombs, meant for the foe, took the lives of Emmett and nine more of his crew. The B-24, known as Dragon
Lady, exploded killing all plus two more Englishmen on the ground who were manning a radar shack. The exploding bombs knew
not the difference between foe and friend, bringing eleven lives to an end.
The Dragon Lady, of the 705th Squadron, 446th Bomb Group, 8th Air Force was no "lady" at all to those named below, for
whose loved ones we pray:
Wayne Case, Pilot
Roswell Mayer, Co-Pilot
Joe Boulos, Navigator
Amuel Canant, Bombardier
Emmett Bagwell, Top
and Flight Engineer
Louis Phillips, Radio Operator
August Kendall, Tail Gunner
James Rachal, Gunner
Charles N. Douglass, Gunner
The photo before this veteran now, is of those named above, who sit beside a former B-24, known as the "Plastered Bastard",
which may have been shot from the German sky, or crashed on landing back at home base. But one thing is sure, the Dragon Lady
and her crew, and Pilot, Wayne Case, leave not of life, a trace. The photos before the eyes of this veteran show wreckage
in which a B-24 cannot be imagined.
How can all this carnage form a B-24 and her crew? War does that to a human mind. No bodies to send to their homes whence
they came. I have thought of Emmett thousands of times before the truth of his demise was known. Now the truth is known as
to the reason his body came not home. His blood and flesh and bones were scattered on England's sacred ground, yet his friends
of the 705th marked the spot and sounded TAPS all around! The word "TAPS" has three of the same letters as "PTSD" and the
missing letter is "D" which stands for me, "Douglas", that is!
Back to my friends with PTSD.
When these two friends are remembered, Tony and Dave, considering what each had to bear via of that malady, I, too, must
chose not to be a victim, but a victor. Shadows cannot hurt us and these 'Mares of the Night' are but shadows, our own shadows,
which are part of us in some cruel war. We choose not to have an empty space where there are now nightmares, marking the time-table
of some war of which we were a part. We must deal with the memories which are our own. Soldiers are not non-entities; we are
soldiers; still soldiers though we wear not the uniform of former years and our memories are a part of what we once were,
and strangely enough, still are!
This old veteran will no longer deny the malady which was denied for fifty-seven years, but chooses to face it head-on
and believe that some day "We shall overcome". Some glad morning in the sweet by and by, some glad morning when we look upward
to the sky, The God of The Universe, shall call us up higher, where all the "painted" rocks are jewels through and through;
rocks that are jewels of sapphire, ruby, emerald, diamond, pearl, and aqua-marine; such beauty that on Earth were never seen.
Heaven, where the streets are pure gold, and the waters thereof are life-giving, with their banks lined with all manner
of trees, bearing fruit which are free for the taking, and where angelic bands sound forth music which no mortal has ever
heard. Yet we shall hear without impairment, shall see without the aid of corrective lens, according to God's Holy Word!
We shall be able to look beyond what the Hubble Telescope now sees, that being billions and billions of light years, and
there shall not be a single 'Mare of the Night' with which shall emanate the past element of fright. Nor shall ever be heard
the sounds of beating hooves, with the cadence of their Doppler effect, which, on Earth we once knew.
It may be that God will reverse our dreams, turn them inside out, the result being scenes of which we never dreamed! God
can do that, for He has said, "Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither hath entered into the heart of man the things which
He hath prepared for those who love Him."
Not only can He do that, it is believed that He will do that, for He keeps His Word, and always shall keep His Word.
On that Grand Day, Believers shall pick up their heavenly pen with never-drying ink, and shall write with words never learned
on Earth. Rhyme, meter, application shall flow as living water, giving exuberance to the writer as well as to the hearer.
Those of IWVPA shall write with new vigor and gladden the hearts of all soldiers who, upon the Earth, fell to mix their red
blood with Freedom and Liberty. There will be no MIA's in glory; no POW's to tell their story in minor key, for all shall
be free in that Heavenly Scene.
Not only shall poets write, but singers shall sing with a new voice and pianists Hector John and wife Brenda shall compose
music which only angels sing.
A host of present friends, who know The Lord, shall gather in one Heavenly amphitheater and together shall write and sing
and shall proclaim , that indeed upon the Earth, the half was never told; friends such as Nancy Meek, Faye Sizemore, Marilyn
Ferguson, Martha Carpenter, Dave Griffith, Ron Bliss, HJ and Brenda, Francine Pucillo, and surely our dear poet friend, Anthony
Pahl, affectionately known as Tone, and many, many more. All shall rejoice and shall know each other's hearts, which could
not be perfectly scanned while on Earth we pitched our nightly tents. God will reveal the souls who cared for others, as mothers
and brothers, while upon this Earthly Camel-Ride!
A painted stone in rural Iowa brought all these things to focus in the mind of an old WWII veteran of seventy-seven years.
What views shall come forth when one, for the first time, views The Living Stone, The Rock of Ages, The Chief Corner Stone,
The Rock Cut Out Without Hands, Who is The Son of God, even Jesus, The Christ of God!
And so, Lord, this old veteran now lifts his eyes beyond the hills to Heaven's bright land, where he sees an angelic band,
ready and willing to receive all who confess that Jesus is the only Hope of those with PTSD, who from sin hath been set free.
Lord, I want to see Eagles, not Buzzards!
ęCopyright January 21, 2004 by C. Douglas Caffey