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F Troop 2/11





Remember the phrase, "It don't mean nuthin''? I don't think it's used much any more. But in Viet Nam it was used a lot. It was a funny sort of phrase. I don't know what you call it when someone says something exactly opposite to what he means, but that phrase proves the point. You could be sure that when a young soldier said, "It don't mean nuthin'," that something had happened that meant plenty. It was something that had to be pushed down, repressed, and denied in order to cope in the context of where he was and what was going on at the time.

So many were so young. The average age of the Viet Nam soldier, as you probably know, was 19. That means there were a lot of 17 year olds to balance off us 30 year olds to average out to 19. Just being "in country" with all that was happening was stressful enough. Going virtually alone into a new and strange culture, climate, and war was a shock in itself. Not knowing who the enemy was was a stressor. Maybe the little kid begging candy had a grenade strapped to his back. Maybe your last patrol was a bummer. Maybe the old man's driver was a VC. So in the middle of all this, you get a "Dear John" from your fiance along with the diamond ring you gave her taped to the letter. Out in the jungle your best buddy, your brother in arms, steps on a mine and blows his leg off. You carry him to the LZ for the medevac to pick him up (or his body). You don't even know his last name, only his "handle," his nickname (Snake, Wild Man, Deacon, or John). You worked like a dog getting your M48 tank or your ACav ready for action and it takes an RPG, completely demolishing it. How do you handle the stress, the traumatic event, so you can survive the next fire-fight, the next unfair assignment - walking point when it's not your turn? You jam it deep inside: "It don't mean nuthin'." You know exactly what I'm talking about. You said it too. Maybe many times.

That's fine. The phrase served a very useful purpose. Viet Nam soldiers were young and needed to cope. Besides, when you said the event didn't mean a nything, your buddies all knew it meant everything. The communication was clear. It also meant "end of subject." It meant you couldn't handle it then and there and that you were postponing dealing with it. Everyone knew that and left you alone because it was the same for them. It hurt too bad, went too deep, or meant too much, and you couldn't handle it at the time. So you pushed it down and everyone respected your space and you respected theirs.

All Viet Nam vets understand these things. Whether conscious or not, it is a gut matter. It's one reason why many Viet Nam vets think, rightly or wrongly, that only another Viet Nam vet can understand where they are coming from. I expect this all applies to vets of other wars equally.

Now it is time, indeed, it is way late, for every Viet Nam vet to deal with these repressed, pushed down matter and get them resolved. It can be done. For many these "don't mean nuthin''" matters are resolved and are pure history. Unfortunately, for way too many, they are still not resolved and are causing too much disruption in present living. There is a way out. The light at the end of the tunnel is the light at the end of the tunnel and is no t the headlight of an oncoming freight train!

Bruce and Wayne, my friends, you did not have to take your own lives this year. I am so sorry you did not see the way out. I grieve for you with your families and with so many who wanted to help, who could have understood and seen you through this. God rest your souls. I will not say, "It don't mean nuthin'" because it means so much. It still hurts deeply that you are gone and we, your brothers, your families, those who were close, could not help enough to get you through the bad times these many years later.

For all of us, brothers and sisters in arms, families and loved ones, may we never again say, "It don't mean nuthin'." Those days are past. Let us all keep on reaching out to each other in healing, forgiveness, helping, supporting, accepting help, opening up, and loving. We know, in fact, that all that happened really did mean something. It still does. It means a lot.

I don't want to close this off, but must for now. There is so much more to be said. Let me just quote from the words of Jesus the Christ, because He is the divine Word of God to us. He knows whereof He speaks:

"Come to me all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." (Holy Bible, Matthew 11:28-30, NIV)

God Bless You. God Loves You. So do I.

Chaplain Larry Haworth - Saint 6 / Battle 11




"It only takes a spark to get a fire going, and soon all those around can warm up in it's glowing." Do you know this warm and beautiful song? It's a refreshing song about God's love and how it spreads like fire when God's people make it a part of their life.

My home is Southern California. During the autumn season of dry fields and hillsides hikers frequently would leave insignificant campfires unattended that would start huge fires burning thousands of acres. Or sometimes kids playing with matches would do the same; small events with enormous results.

In another way, think of a tiny baby born to insignificant parents in an insignificant village that most people never heard of. The mother was young, probably about fifteen. The step-father was a carpenter, an honorable trade, but not one likely to produce anything that would change history. The mother's name was Mary. The step-dad's name was Joseph, a very common name in those days.

Mary gave birth to her baby and name him Jesus, another common insignificant name of that day. However, in the course of thirty-three short years, the course of all the world's history would be changed forever. One of my favorite writings expresses it well. I offer it to you for your Christmas celebrations. Perhaps you already know it. I think you will agree with me of it's power and beauty. I encourage you to share it with someone.

"He was born in an obscure village, the child of a peasant woman. He grew up in still another village, were he worked in a carpenter shop until he was thirty. Then for three years he was an itinerant preacher. He never wrote a book. He never held an office. He never had a family or owned a house. He didn't go to college. He never visited a big city. He never traveled two hundred miles from the place where he was born. He did none of the things one usually associates with greatness. He had no credentials but himself. He was only thirty-three when the tide of public opinion turned against him. His friends ran away. He was turned over to his enemies and went through the mockery of a trial. He was nailed to a cross between two thieves. While he was dying, his executioners gambles for his clothing, the only property he had on earth. When he was dead, he was laid in a borrowed grave through the pity of a friend. Nineteen centuries have come and gone, and today he is the central figure of the human race and leader of mankind's progress. All the armies that ever marched, all the navies that ever sailed, all the parliaments that ever sat, all the kings that ever reigned, put together, have not affected the life of men on this earth as much as that ONE SOLITARY LIFE," Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

God bless you. God loves you. So do I.

Chaplain Larry Haworth-Saint 6




I read recently the story of a 10 year old boy who decided to study judo dispite the fact that he had lost his left arm in a devastating car accident. The boy began lessons with an old Japanese judo master. The boy was doing well, so he couldn't understand why, after three months of training, the master had taught him only one move. "Sensei," the boy finally said, "Shouldn't I be learning more moves?" "This is the only move you know, but this is the only move you'll ever need to know," the sensei replied. Not quit understanding, but believing in his teacher, the boy kept training. Several months later, the sensei took the boy to his first tournament. Surprising himself, the boy easily won his first two matches. The third match proved to be more difficult, but after some time, his opponent became impatient and charged; the boy deftly used his one move to win the match. Still amazed by his success, the boy was in the finals. This time, his opponent was bigger, stronger, and more experienced. For awhile, the boy appeared to be overmatched. Concerned that the boy might get hurt, the referee called a time-out. He was about to stop the match when the sensei intervened. "No," the sensei insisted, "Let him continue." Soon after the match resumed, his opponent made a critical mistake: he dropped his guard. Instantly, the boy used his move to pin him. The boy had won the match and the tournament. He was the champion. On the way home, the boy and the sensei reviewed every move in each and every match. Then the boy summoned the courage to ask what was really on his mind: "Sensei, how did I win the tournament with only one move?" "You won for two reasons," the sensei answered. "First, you've almost mastered one of the most difficult throws in all of judo. And second, the only defense for that move is for your opponent to grab your left arm." The boys biggest weakness had become his biggest strength. We don't often view our weakness in the same way, but we should. I am reminded of the time Paul prayed fervently for God to remove some affliction unknown to us, what he called a "thorn in the flesh." Refusing to remove it, God said to Paul, "My grace is sufficient for you for my strength is made perfect in weakness." (2 Cor. 12:9). That seems to make no sense, and yet we see throughout the Bible how God is able to work despite weaknesses of men and women, showing forth his power--David with his small stature against Goliath the giant, Gideon a man of no significant background leading a great band of men, Jesus taking on humanity in the form of a helpless baby. In fact, the greatest demonstrations of God's power have come when men and women have felt the weakest. Remember that the next time you feel inadequate. "Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities that the power of Christ may rest upon me...For when I am weak, then I am strong." (2 Cor. 12:9b-10) Alan Smith, Boone Church of Christ, Boone, N.C.


27 Oct 1999


Thanksgiving of 1969 was one I'll always remember. I was reminded that being with the armored cavalry had definite benefits. One of them was not having to walk everywhere like the infantry. Another was being able to carry a lot of stuff besides ammo. Like cases of C rations and five gallon cans of water. Everyone got tired of Cs, but we carried them by the case so there was a lot to choose from. So we really are OK. At least we had it better than the grunts. We even had hots for breakfast when sat still long enough for a cook to set up.

Anyway, Thanksgiving of '69 was one to remember. It went like this: being the chaplain, I got around the whole AO pretty well. I had picked up some intel that we were going to have a real feast for Thanksgiving. That is, a feast out of mermite cans in the field, but a real feast, just the same. The troops, being skeptical by nature, didn't really believe me, chaplain or not. I guess they thought I was just trying to make them feel good or that I didn't really know what I was talking about. Anyway, about mid-afternoon here came the daily resupply Chinook. It landed within the perimeter, of course. Once the dirt settled the guys went up the ramp of the helicopter and carried off mermite can after mermite can. They lined up in a serving line. Then they opened them up and voila! There was the Thanksgiving feast: turkey, mashed potatoes, beans, salad(I think), gravy, cranberry sauce, egg nog, at least two kinds of pie, nuts, candy, fruit cake (I think) and I don't remember what else. What stands out, even after these thirty years, is the pleased surprise of the troopers when they saw all that food. No matter that they sat on logs, Acav ramps, ammo boxes, or wherever they could. No matter that it wasn't Mom's home cooking with all the family around. We had our combat "brothers" all around. (These guys often became closer than brothers.) That evening at dusk a Charlie team must have been passing by because a couple of RPGs went flying over the FSB and landed on the other side. Naturally, the whole perimeter opened up which took 10 minutes to shut off. But no one was hurt.

That was a Thanksgiving to remember. It was a Thanksgiving to "ponder" on the goodness of God who birthed us into America, a land that stands for liberty, freedom to worship as we believe and opportunity to excel and to provide for our families and each other too. So much does God provide for us that we even had a real Thanksgiving feast in the jungle half way around the world that day in 1969. We are, indeed, of all the people of the world, most abundantly blessed. Even when we were in Viet Nam.

Mostly we are blessed, along with all the people of the world, to have a feast for our souls which has no limit. Indeed, we have available from God Almighty, "soul food" that will cleanse our hearts, forgive all our sins, and satisfy for eternity. Jesus talked about it when he said, "Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me"(Revelation 3:20).

Something to ponder for Thanksgiving. All year too.

God bless you. God loves you. So do I.

Chaplain Larry Haworth


Sep 1999

I'm 62!

I'm 62! 62 years old, that is. Not 62 IQ.(No opinions to the contrary accepted). It's a major milestone in my life. Now I can collect Social Security (who cares that it's at a reduced rate). I can get into movies with seniors discounts (I've gotten Denny's discounts since I turned 55 and I joined AARP at 50). I'm part of what everyone's calling the Age Wave. I'm a "Seniors", I guess. I think that's good, considering the alternative. There were many times I wasn't sure I'd make it this far. So far, so good. You see things in a different perspective when you become an official "senior". Whatever that is. I'm not 30 any more. That's obvious, you say? I know. Who could disagree? I see life differently than when I was 30. Although 30 was a memorable year. Why was it a memorable year? It was a memorable year because that's the year I went to Vietnam for my first tour. I was at Soc Trang in the Delta. With helicopters. There weren't any America ground troops stationed that far south. We were 85 air miles south of Saigon; about 50 or 60 miles south of My Tho where the closest U.S. ground units were at the time. And 35 air miles south of Can Tho. I say air miles because you couldn't travel by road, except in convoy, for reasons you already know. That was the year of the Tet Offensive. I went back again later for a second tour. That was with the Blackhorse. We went into Cambodia that year. My life hasn't been the same since. Just like your life hasn't been the same since your tour in Vietnam. My life and your life have been better or worse, richer or poorer or whatever since then. We came out different. But at age 62, my life would be different anyway, one way or another. Same for you. Vietnam was a defining time for me, a defining event. It proved something. I don't have it all figured out, but I sure know I learned a lot about life and meaning. I learned the hard way so did you. Whatever else it was, it wasn't the easy way. Now I'm 62. Then I was 30 or 32. Thirty years in between. I've learned a lot during those years too. I went from Vietnam to Germany, Blackhorse in Vietnam to Blackhorse in Germany. Cav in Vietnam to Cav in Germany. Blackhorse along the Cambodian border to Blackhorse along the East German border. Those were the days of anti-war protesters, race riots and inter-racial bashing, beads, hash, LSD, and all sorts of things I could write a book about. This isn't a book. It's an article. I'll keep it short. Going from Vietnam to Germany in those days, I wasn't sure which was the fire and which was the pot (the kind you cook in, not the kind you smoke).That was a defining event too. I wound up staying in the Army because I liked being a Chaplain. I eventually got married and acquired two grand kids (without ever having kids of my own! figure that out). That was a defining event for sure! I will let you in on something: I know the pain of divorce too. Married at 40 . Divorced at 41. That was a defining event. A hard defining event. All wasn't hard. Some was great and not hard. I got married again. At 50. That was when I became a grandpa. (That's how you become a grandpa without being a pa. Marry someone who already has kids! See what I mean?). That was a defining event too. Sure was. I'm still married. Not always so easy, but definitely a defining event. My point is that life keeps moving. Nothing ever stands still. At 62 I am keenly aware of that fact. Now I'm a chaplain for a retirement community where the average age is 81. I look around and realize that's where I'll be someday. The way time flies, it will come sooner rather than later that is, if God wills, the creek don't rise, and I should live so long. Thirty years ago I wouldn't have counted on making 62. Now here I am looking at 81. You may not be 62, but your time flies just the same as mine does. No exceptions. Why am I saying all this? I'm not saying happy birthday to myself (we did that at Al Capone's old hideaway restaurant near Chicago). I'm saying it because it's so important to live where you are now not where you were 30 years ago. I don't always do it so well but I've learned the importance of living my life in the present, looking to the future, and learning from the past. Of course, you can't forget the past. Especially a time as powerful as Vietnam. I did say it was a defining event, didn't I? That means an event that is so powerful that it goes a long way toward determining who and what you are. But there are other defining events in your life too. Living life at a point of time in the past is getting stuck there. It impedes progress. It ignores other defining life events. I'm perfectly aware of the sorts of events that happened in Vietnam and other places of war like Korea, Desert Storm, WWII, etc. I know they were traumatic, which is a gross understatement you know that better than I do. I've talked about some of these things in other articles. In case you're interested, look up past Thunder Runs or write to me . You have to keep your life moving. If you're stuck at Vietnam or some other trauma event, get help. There's plenty of help available. If your life is on the move, congratulations! Keep on moving. Use your defining event to make your life better, richer, making progress. Help a brother while you're on the move yourself. It'll make your life much better. Remember to bring your family along. Don't forget the kids. Mostly, don't forget your wife as you move along through life. Or your husband (if you're female, of course makes sense, doesn't it?).If your not married then don't forget whoever you're close to. Or could be close to if you don't let them in. There's another defining event to life. Actually, it's the most important defining event there is, Vietnam included. Matter of fact, this defining event can give sense to the other defining events of life. This defining event can provide renewal, forgiveness, and perspective. It can bring all these other defining events together, even the traumatic ones. Even the ones which some old troopers are trying to resolve by moving to the woods. This defining event is God in action. Now here is where some will automatically go into a thousand yard stare. This is where some will put this paper aside. There are a very few who may even puke. They're the ones who've become comfortable with their misery and don't want to hear a way out. OK. It's a free country. Anyway, this defining event is God in action. Since it's God, I guess I should shut up and let Him speak for Himself (I sometimes capitalize the "H" out of respect for God. After all, He's God. And, like the kid said, if there's anyone you want to make happy, it's God). So here's what God has to say about this defining event, the most important one there is: "If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! All this is from God, who has reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men's sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation." This is from God's word, the Holy Bible, 2 Corinthians 5:17-19. I know a lot of vets who think they're locked hopelessly in their Vietnam defining event. I know a lot of vets who have moved way past Vietnam and kept up with life but have missed God's defining event for them. I know a lot of vets who think this is all a lot of stuff. I know a lot of vets who have accepted God's defining event for themselves and it has changed their whole existence! God gave them direction, purpose, relationships and cleansing. The cleansing part came through forgiveness which we've talked about before. Purpose and meaning came partly through atonement, which we've also talked about before in other articles. I hope all this is clear to you. Personally, I hope and plan to live a lot longer, God willing. At 62 I've learned a lot of things that I sure didn't know at 30 (or 20 or 40). I assume I'll learn a couple more things before 81. Whether I will actually live that long or not, I don't have a clue. But, if I do, I know there'll be a few more defining events along the way. Some will be traumatic, unless I get killed or something. Then the defining event or trauma will be for whoever loves me. Assuming that someone does love me, like my wife or brother and sister, for instance. Now, at 62, I've affirmed what I learned in my youth, that the big defining event to life isn't Vietnam, it isn't a lot of money or education, and it isn't getting divorced or anything bad. It's accepting a personal relationship with God Almighty through Jesus the Christ who came just for that purpose.

Something to think about.

God bless you. God loves you. So do I.