On January 16, 1968, my father Ed St. Clair, left his home and family for Vietnam.
The next line of this introduction used to read, "My father was one of the fortunate ones. He came home safe and sound, without obvious signs of the Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome so many others had and are still dealing with."
Recently, some 30+ years after Vietnam, my father was in fact diagnosed as having severe PTSD. For as long as I can remember, he's had problems sleeping more than 4 hours a night, loud unexpected noises make him want to dive under the table, and fighting anger has been his constant battle. In hindsight the signs were obvious, but he's never been one to see himself as a victim and the rest of us didn't know any better. When I look back at the stress and health issues, and the nagging question of whether or not agent orange exposure had anything to do with my younger brother's disability, it's apparent that my father has left Vietnam, but Vietnam has not left him.
My father has never really spoken much about his experiences in Vietnam, and when I was finally old enough to wonder, I was old enough not to want to ask.
Just recently however, he has started to put in writing his daily journal of his experiences in Vietnam. I learned some things about my father from reading these journal entries. I had thought most of my adult life that his time in Vietnam was relatively safe and uneventful -- I was mistaken. This web page collecting these writings is my small tribute to my father. I think he did a hell of a job raising a son he first met at 5 months old. Thanks for being my dad as well as being my father. I love you dad.
I want to say one word about my mother. While my father was off in Vietnam, she was at home keeping the family together. Already a Holocaust survivor, this war had affects on my mother as well that you can read within. I've been blessed not only with two parents who loved and cared for their children, but also that managed to put the most horrible parts of life behind them to give us a happy childhood. It is my hope that one day my mom will put in writing some of her experiences as well. That which we do not remember we are doomed to repeat. At any rate, whether she chooses to or not, she as well did a hell of a job raising her family in circumstances I can't image. I love you mom.
Warning - the content within contains occasional profanity, and is sometimes disturbing and heartbreaking. This is the real life of war. It's neither glorious nor the stuff of movies. May we one day live in a world where such things exist only in our memories . . .
To the journal