A Veteran’s Tale by Hugh Turley


A Veteran’s Tale

Guest Column by Hugh Turley


The S & J Restaurant in Riverdale Park, a short walk from Hyattsville, is a step back in time. Drinks at the S & J are cheap compared to the popular Busboys and Poets, where young professionals gather. Customers at the neighborhood bar and restaurant are mostly working class and reminiscent of Hyattsville before it became hip.

One recent Sunday evening, I visited the S & J for a beer before retiring. Instead of the usual crowd, it was nearly deserted, with only two other customers. I took a seat at one end of the bar near a heavily tattooed older man. We both faced a young man seated at a right angle down the bar.

The older man asked the young man, “Are you a vet?”

“No sir, but I worked with the military as a contractor in Iraq,” he said.

“Well then I consider you a vet.  I served in Vietnam,” said the old vet.

“Army?” asked the young man.

“Army Rangers,” said the vet.

“Very cool, Army Rangers are the best,” said the young man.

“I was in the Airborne,” said the vet. “I jumped out of airplanes at night.”

“Behind the enemy lines!” said the young man with enthusiasm.

“I was scared to death,” said the vet.

The young man was apparently filled with the patriotic spirit exhibited during the seventh inning of major league baseball games where veterans of wars are saluted while crowds sing God Bless America.

The older vet felt differently.

“I have demons.  I killed children, women and children. I was ordered to kill them, and I killed them,” he said.

“Well, war is hell,” said the young man.

“I shot a 5-year-old child,” said the vet.

“Sorry to hear that, man,” said the young man.

“My wife and daughter have died.  Now I am old and alone with the memory of what I have done,” he told the younger man.

The veteran’s admission that he had killed children was upsetting to hear. It was like some poisonous bile that he had to expel before it could do any more damage.

I finished my beer and headed home.

A Stony Brook University study found 78 percent of the Afghan War deaths were working-class Americans and 70 percent had no more than a high-school diploma. It’s no surprise: the working class always bears the burden when our country goes to war. As Hyattsville becomes more gentrified, with fewer working-class veterans, there may be fewer conversations about the reality of America’s wars.



This article originally appeared in the July 2014 Hyattsville (MD) Life and Times.


See also “The Wingman and the Village” and “Martial Machismo: At What Cost?”

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8 thoughts on “A Veteran’s Tale by Hugh Turley

  1. My Dad did three tours in Nam (he volunteered). First as a grunt, 2 and 3 as an officer. He became a career officer (retired Lt Col) after 28 years served. His third tour he was an Executive Officer of a body bag detail.

    He is the exact opposite of the old man in the article. He does not appear concerned or sorry for anything he did, anyone he killed, OR anything that is happening now.

    It ruined him. Caused him to leave us (two children and Mother), find a younger woman (and buy the Vette) and give us up for adoption when I was 8. He tried to kill my mother by kicking her in the stomach (which killed the third child she was carrying and almost killed my Mother).

    He will admit no wrong doing and will not apologize for what he did.


        • I have read so many horrific stories in the last few years researching our world’s sordid history, I think I have become somewhat innured. 😦 I get sad, but not shocked. I guess it is a necessary defensive measure.

          It must have been a very hard lesson to learn that there was no protection available from those who should have been the first to provide it.


          • Bet’s on: When I was 26 years old, I went looking for that sorry son of a bitch. I had every intention of stomping his brains out. (There was a confrontation and the sniveling drunken coward blamed my mother and would barely accept any responsibility). He could not understand the harm done to us (especially the kids, which has obviously affected me to this day 40+ years later). The only thing good that came out of the whole deal was that I once again got to spend time with my Grandmother, Aunt and cousins that I had loved so very much as a child.

            Now for the freak.

            Would you believe that my Mother saw him and my Grandmother (his mother) at my wedding. Within a couple of years, my Mother remarried the man when I was 30. Divorced him AGAIN a few years later, then MARRIED the man AGAIN (only to divorce him after he AGAIN took advantage of her care of his sniveling, drunken, dying self… and then divorced him again.) She basically brought him back from the edge of death and he shit on her (and us because we tried to accept him back in).

            (Told you that you would freak.)


            • Okay. You win. The second marriage, hard to understand, but the third time, shocking! Your dad must have been some kind of a smooth talker!

              I can only imagine how hard that was to deal with, seeing that dysfunction play out, and at the same time, trying to be supportive.


  2. I have received this email about the article:

    If someone says they did a parachute jump in Vietnam they are almost certainly lying.

    Best regards.


    My response:Hi Gus,

    Maybe not. See http://www.socnet.com/archive/index.php/t-48083.html, http://www.history.com/photos/vietnam-war/photo7, http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/south-vietnamese-forces-and-us-advisers-conduct-parachute-assault, http://home.hiwaay.net/~magro/173abn.html, and http://www.britishskytours.com/site/sealion/airbornethree.htm.

    Parachuting might not have made a lot of sense there, but a lot of really strange and horrible things went on in the Vietnam War. Did you see Turley’s “The Wingman and the Village”?


    Later I got this email and forwarded it to Gus. No reply yet from him.

    I had a good friend who was an 82nd Air born vet. He juumped out of a plane
    in the middle of the night. Then spent 41/2 mo. on a seach and destroy
    mission.They met the helecopter evavc and their sargent told they could take
    the helos bot he was was going to walk out and anyone that wanted to come
    with him could do so. My friend and some of comrads do. they surived. Those
    that took the helos didn’t. After 5 years of working, drinking, and spending
    time with this man,he asked me over a beer at a VFW hall what I would have
    to do if I was required to kill women and children.I now knew the terrible
    secret he had been carrying. I gave him the appropriate answer.”You did what
    you needed to do to surive” (end of email)

    It was hardly ever the case that the killing of women and children was necessary for the soldier’s survival. The old vet at the bar is the typical case. He was just following orders. Maybe disobeying orders would have hindered his survival chances, now that I think of it. On the other hand, I knew one Marine lieutenant who probably greatly increased his survival chances by flatly disobeying a suicidal order from a colonel who was safely in a helicopter high above the lieutenant’s squad.


  3. man Bman,
    seems that there are so many sad stories from real people who are in no way being blessed
    for worshipping and serving the “Jewish” dung god and their administrative agencies
    in ZOG…

    but let’s not overlook from whence this insanity arises…The “Jewish” claim that
    the PROSELYTES to Talmudic Judaism are “Israel”…G*D’S Chosen People…

    It is all too easy to become inured to the horrors of war. What at first shocks us soon ceases even to arouse our attention. After decades of violent conflict, TALMUDIC PROSELYTE / Israelis have become tragically accustomed to violence. Operation Protective Edge is just the latest in a long line of military operations and wars that ZIONIST TERRORIST “Israel” has fought since its
    ZIONIST TERRORIST “establishment” by of all things ZIONIST TERRORISM…relentless TERRORISM..

    Even in the breaks between these conflicts, the violence has been relentless. Infiltrations, suicide terrorism and now rocket attacks have ensured that violence is a recurrent, almost habitual feature of life in…dig this Chutzpah… ” Israel”.
    The result of this has been a deeply traumatized and desensitized population…..hmmmm?

    More than anything else, it is this constant exposure to violence that explains why so many Israeli Jews seem unmoved by the massive violence their army has unleashed upon Gaza. They are convinced that this violence is a fully justified and necessary response to Hamas’s rocket attacks and tunnel infiltrations. Polls show that Israel’s military operation in Gaza is hugely popular in “Israel”…..
    But a popular war could still evoke sympathy for its innocent victims. There are many such victims in Gaza. Palestinian men, women and children trapped in a war zone, terrified, and increasingly without access to basic necessities. Yet their plight, not to mention the hundreds of Palestinian civilians killed, seems of little, if any, concern to Israelis determined to
    inflict a punishing blow on Hamas.
    In my conversations with them, Israeli Jews view the deaths of innocent Palestinians as collateral damage. Their violent deaths do not elicit much anguish or remorse. At most, there is a cursory expression of regret before the blame is quickly placed elsewhere — on Hamas’s shoulders.
    This ability of some Israeli Jews to so easily dismiss Palestinian suffering is a byproduct of their long conflict with the Palestinians. Palestinians have long since just become the enemy, an object of fear and loathing. As they have been almost completely dehumanized in the minds of many Israeli Jews, their deaths have become all too easily disregarded.
    Read more:


    I remember watching Huntley & Brinkley back in ’67 in Black & White…
    the images…Vietnam, the middle east…curiously they didn’t report on the
    we all have a lot of healing to do…

    seen any trauma based mind control operations lately…


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