As so many others, I left Vietnam with a lot of emotional baggage. My return to Oakland California was met with war protesters waving banners, Viet Cong flags, and cursing. Things were not much better in my home town and I found the easiest way to deal with this was to ignore and deny my involvement.
I would not, and then could not, talk about Vietnam. It was as if part of my life had been erased and I could not fill the vacuum that consumed me. For several years I tried to drown my emotions with liquor, but I was destroying my family and myself. I am fortunate to have a wife that stuck with me through this difficult time.
Eventually, two things happened to change my life. First, and most important, I returned to the Lord. One Saturday night in 1974, I realized I had been running from Him, rather, than to Him. The following morning I went to church for the first time in years and have not missed since, except for occasional sickness. The Lord removed my dependence on alcohol and cigarettes, filling the hole in my life with His love and peace. Today, I am the pastor of a church.
Second, at a high school reunion I met a classmate who served in Vietnam and had suffered the same emotional swings I did. He advised writing my experiences and allowing myself to think about the events in Vietnam. I listened but did nothing until the year of my youngest daughter’s twelfth birthday when we took her to Washington DC and I saw "The Wall."
It was one of the most emotional experiences of my life. When I saw the names of those who died in Vietnam, all the feelings bottled inside me for years came to the surface and I cried. I knew then that I must write. This book is the result. The stories are true, but the names have been changed or omitted to protect the privacy of those involved.
To the thousands of Vietnam vets who missed hearing this when you returned from war,
A Year To Kill © 1989
Other Content © 1999-2001
by Jim McColloch