I posted before what happened at Travis AFB the day I arrived back in the world. That was traumatic but not as lasting or as hurtful as what happened later in the day and still haunts me today.

While at Travis, I called my parents; they lived only forty-five minutes away, but the bus was leaving for Fort Ord Hospital in thirty minutes; so, we agreed to meet there later in the afternoon.

My mother, father, and little brother came into my ward at the hospital about three-thirty on that afternoon. I was laying in a bed with an IV in my arm only weighing about 150 pounds. When last they saw me, I was a strapping 190 lb. high school football hero who had passed up a scholarship to San Jose State to go to Vietnam.

I was laying there with forty six shrapnel wounds all sewed up real neat like. I cannot describe the look on my mother's face, but it was sheer horror; my father just sort of grunted and looked in an awkward way. (He and I had never really bonded; he was a very violent and angry man.) My brother at seventeen didn't quite know what to do. (He would be the next to go, two tours back-to-back; he would be the one to get them dirty bastards for what they had done to his big brother.)

We visited, very awkwardly, for about an hour and a half. I had a mobile IV on this tree-looking kind of thing; so, when they decided it was time for them to go, I walked out to the car with them. The time now was about five o'clock. (Little did I know that a cannon somewhere not far from the hospital went off at five every afternoon.)

The cannon goes off; the next thing I know, I am under my mother's feet in the front seat of the car, my IV lies broken on the ground next to the car, my father is screaming GET THE FUCK OUT OF THE CAR YOU CRAZY SON OF A BITCH!

My brother sits in silence and disbelief at this whole scene; my mother is just screaming.

I get up as best I can. The car door shuts, my father lays rubber, my mother looks back with a great sadness in her eyes. What has happened to her number one son?

Two weeks later the IV is gone, and I get approval to go home for a one-week leave. My father does not want to talk about anything except his normal "hate the world" drivel. Mom says she doesn't want to know anything about the war; it is too much for her to comprehend, and that is ok by me. My brother has endless questions that I cannot or will not answer. I can only tell him go to Canada instead of Vietnam.

My father has always had this thing about open doors and waking people up by jumping into their room and screaming "Up and Attem." I carefully ask him not to do this as I may have a very negative reaction to someone screaming at me when I am asleep. He says, "This is my fucking house, and I do as I want."

Early the next morning, I had somehow fallen asleep; Dad comes into my room and starts to scream "UP AN----." The next thing I know, he is on the floor knocked out. To this day, I cannot remember what happened; but have figured it out.

Dad had always hated most everything in the world and just added me to the list of people he didn't want in his world. (A couple years ago, Mom told me he had been given a dishonorable discharge from the army in 1945. She wouldn't tell me what for. I guess he has his own case of PTSD.)

Mom and I have had a very tumultuous relationship -- sometimes good, sometimes bad. When I went into the V.A. hospital in 1991, she just couldn't understand why I couldn't leave Vietnam behind and get on with my life. She did begin to ask questions.

I tried to answer them; but when I did, she said it was more than she could handle and didn't want the subject to ever be brought up again. She has chosen to have no contact with her two children because the army and Vietnam changed us in ways she cannot or will not try to understand. I miss her greatly!!!

My brother and I were apart in different parts of the world until the late eighties. Over the past four or five years, we have gotten to know each other again and are as tight as ticks. It has been a long and hard journey for us both to become close again.

We will not be separated again by family or distance; you can bet on that.

That is enough tears for today.

A very saddened


Copyright 1995 © by Robert A. Hackney Sr., All Rights Reserved

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