After Vietnam: Okinawa, Home, and Camp Lejeune

Marine Corps barracks in Camp Lejeune, North Carolina

Looking back at my Vietnam experience, there is one thing that I keep thinking about: the fact that God was watching over me and keeping me from harm. As I previously wrote, I put in for a transfer from my first infantry unit to go to a village unit, because I thought I would have a better chance of being involved in battle. Well, as it turned out, I was in no battles at all in the village unit. And I also found out from a friend that the unit I had transferred out of, at hill 52, had been almost overrun by the Vietcong, and many of the Marines there were killed. So, as it turned out, all the action I took to put myself in harm’s way, God seemed to turn it around to put me in a safe place. That has made me wonder what God has in store for me. What purpose does He have for me?

After Vietnam I was to be sent home for just a week; and then, after that, I had 6 more months to serve on the Marine base in Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. But my first stop was Okinawa. I had a large duffel bag full of clothes and uniforms locked up safe in a storage ben there—so I thought. As it turned out, after looking for a while, the supply clerk told me that there was no duffle bag there with my name on it. Of all the luck. I had a brand-new set of dress blues in that bag that I never got a chance to ware. I wouldn’t have felt so bad about it if the clerk would have been just a little sympathetic toward me. He didn’t seem to care, nor did he seem the least bit interested in trying to recover my stuff. Well, so much for that. I put it out of my mind. Next stop, Minneapolis.

When I arrived at the airport in Minneapolis, I didn’t bother to call home. I just took a taxi home. It was about noon and my mom came to the door. She was quite surprised and glad to see me. For some reason I don’t remember too much during my week off at home. Things were a little different with my mom. She had recently divorced my dad, and so, I hate to say it, but everyone was feeling relieved and more at peace. I suppose the only thought my mom had about the divorce was that she probably wished she’d divorced him sooner. I think we all had the same feeling.

I don’t remember clearly how things were with me and Joy, but I think during this week was when I saw her one last time. I did love her, but I knew the relationship was wrong or would not work. Yet I kept praying for her salvation.

My week off at home went by fast and I was back with Marines again, in a new Marine unit in Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. I had only 6 more months to serve, and I was a little surprised by what they had me do: more combat training. Why? Why was I put in a training unit when I just got back from Vietnam? Well, I can’t remember if I ever asked any of my commanders that question; but I reasoned…what else would Marines do? A Marine trains for war and goes to war. That’s his purpose. Possibly they may have expected that I would re-enlist. In fact, at the end of my two-year enlistment they offered me a promotion if I would re-enlist. I said no. I had been to Vietnam so what else was there for me to do?

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