A War In Which We Did Leave Men Behind

pow Vietnam

Today, with our troops in the far East being wounded, captured or killed, we hear more and more about honoring our wounded warriors, in fact honoring everyone who serves. And for the most part we as a country are doing that. And we hear also that no man is ever left behind.

I pray this is true today, but there was a time when that last statement was not true. For when I was young and our youth were being thrown into the wicked maw that was Vietnam, the country ended in leaving a lot of men behind. I remember it well, and it was one of the things that prompted me to write BEYOND THE MOON. That and so many books and movies that portrayed the women who were left to deal with men traumatized by the war as everything from bitches to disloyal, impatient, unfaithful harridans.

As my friend Pamela Foster says often enough, it takes a lot of courage to remain with men so damaged, sometimes it takes more to leave them.

I wanted to write a story about a woman who, like Pam, was an angel who did not leave her man. Who loved him, who protected him, who kept him safe, and in the end saved him from the worst that could happen. I understand that today three of America’s hero/warriors commit suicide every day.

The research I did lasted more than six months, back in the day when computers and online research were the dream of some, but not yet a reality. I dug long and deep and found much more than was released to the general public. Facts hidden in short obscure reports found in the back pages of magazines like Newsday and Time and local newspapers.

I based much of my story of Glen Thomas, a navy pilot whose helicopter was shot down over Laos, on that information. This is a man who spent nine years living in bamboo cages in Laos, Cambodia and North Vietnam, daily tortured almost beyond endurance.

But the story is not his, not really. My story belongs to Katherine, who bonds with this damaged man. It’s not a war story, but a love story about two people who rebuild their shattered lives and how they do it.

The following is an excerpt from an article published online which you can read in its entirety if you’re interested in this dark period of our history.

“Following the Paris Peace Accords of 1973, 591 American prisoners of war (POWs) were returned during Operation Homecoming. The U.S. listed about 1,350 Americans as prisoners of war or missing in action and roughly 1,200 Americans reported killed in action and body not recovered. Many of these were airmen who were shot down over North Vietnam or Laos. Investigations of these incidents have involved determining whether the men involved survived their shoot down; if they did not survive, then they considered efforts to recover their remains. POW/MIA activists played a role in pushing the U.S. government to improve its efforts in resolving the fates of the missing. Progress in doing so was slow until the mid-1980s, when relations between the U.S. and Vietnam began to improve and more cooperative efforts were undertaken. Normalization of U.S. relations with Vietnam in the mid-1990s was a culmination of this process.”

“It’s kind of hard to hang in there, day after day, in my case, 2110 days, you’ve just got to have absolute belief that someday your country’s going to come get you. When I went to Vietnam, I was prepared to be killed, to be wounded, even to be captured. But I was not prepared to be abandoned by the country that sent me there” – former American POW.

Katie and Glen at the Vietnam Monument:

She pretended not to hear for fear of what she would say, raised her gaze, and saw herself and Glen reflected beyond the names like beings sucked into its ebony essence. Their faces stared back from the jet mirror, expressions bewildered and tightened in mourning. She had a wispy vision, a fearful thought that each visitor was somehow captured in the reverse image and stored away within the pure stone slashed from some faraway mountain. It would forever hold the names of the dead and their tortured souls as well as a piece of all who came to lament their passing. The fury of the place burned like a fire, names of the slain marched forever across the black headstone against which lay flowers, pictures, letters, and medals, all spotted by salty tears. It was as quiet as if the world had ended.

This is probably the lowest point in the story once she gets him home. One reader, the wife of a Vietnam Vet who suffers from PTSD, wrote about this book: “Wow, you wrote my story.”

gargantual moon

Go to: http://www.amazon.com/author/veldabrotherton to find this and my other books. Please do me the favor of writing a review if you like any of my books. All are available in ebooks and soft cover. Beyond the Moon is also available in hard cover, which would make a marvelous gift.

Go here: http://www.pinterest.veldabrotherton.com and check BEYOND THE MOON Board to see a large collection of memorabilia pinned by veterans and others interested in this era as well as photos representing my idea of the Glen and Katie characters.

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About veldabrotherton

I'm primarily a writer, but I also speak and teach workshops and co-chair a large critique group. My brand is SexyDarkGritty and that applies to my western historical romances, mysteries, women's fiction and horror novels. After almost 30 years in this business, I still have something to learn and attend conferences to network with other writers, publishers, editors and agents.
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