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Donald Matthew Stout


Life, at least mine........

Well, here I am at 76 and wondering how I have lived this long. I was born and raised in Dallas Tx. where I lived until I left for the Army in 1963. Although I attended WW Samuel High School until my Senior year however I did not actually graduate from there. The last semester of my Senior year, I transfered to NR Crozier Tech in downtown Dallas to completed a special mechanical drawing class and that is where I actually graduated from. I have traveled quite a bit since graduating from high school in 1963.

I joined the Army in June of 1963 as I knew I would be drafted soon and I was told you got a better deal if you joined. Right. Besides, I had always admired John Wayne and believed deeply in my country and all it stood for. I was to find later in my life that my country didn't necessarily feel the same toward me. I joined for any kind of training and only wanted to go to Europe and that was in my contract.

Well, my first overseas assignment was to Korea and I landed there in October 1963. I was there when President Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas. When I found out that he was killed in Dallas I just had to open my mouth and say "I'm from Dallas". You would have though I had killed him the way I was treated. That was the first time I was issued live ammunition and spent the night on the berm awaiting North Koreans to attack. Fortunately that didn't happen.

My stint in the Army also included two trips to Vietnam in 1966,1967, and 1968. Seems to be standard fare for males of our generation. I was with the 2nd Bn, 22nd Inf. 25th Infantry Division in war zone C. Seen the movie Platoon? That was my outfit, the 25th Inf. Div. I was there when the first TET offense happened and it wasn't a whole lot of fun. I had a rude awakening about how cheap life can be and how savage humans can be to each other. We in the US really have no idea how the rest of the world lives. We are so very sheltered and live in a bubble.

I was wounded twice in Viet Nam, once on March 18, 1968 and again on July 4th, 1968. How patriotic it seemed to bleed and almost lose your life on your country's birthday. I really believed my country cared and I was doing something that mattered, but such are the lessons of life. I was so naive.

My survival and return home to a country that didn't want me was a pain so deep I have wished countless times that I had been killed instead of having to endure this never ending nightmare. I am now 76 years old and the war is some 52 years in history, but it is ever present in my mind.

Never a day goes bye that I am not racked with torment and the guilt of having survived when so many others perished or were maimed for life. I often feel I didn't do enough, but I will never know. I believe that I will never have peace of mind until I die, and then I wonder.

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