Visit Your Local PBS Station PBS Home PBS Home Programs A-Z TV Schedules Watch Video Donate Shop PBS Search PBS
POV Regarding War

Stories

My Brother Returned, But Still Became a Casualty of the War

by R Vannatter | Permalink
December 04, 1996

My brother served in Viet Nam during 1968-1969. His name was Douglas Gene Van Natter, and he served with C Battery, 2nd Bt, 4th Arty and B Battery, 2nd Bn, 9th Arty. I was too young to really understand what was occuring at the time, but the long-term effect still manifests itself today.

He left home a robust, yet insecure child ...and returned a lean, gaunt and haunted man. He had hair on his chest, where none had existed before. And a far-away gaze that never seemed to focus. He tried to carry on with life as it should have been, but it seemed to elude him. At the age of 28, with a wife and two little girls, he committed suicide. Finishing what had started in the desolation of Viet Nam.

I still long for the guidance he could have given me. I mourn for what had been a strong family, that has eroded to nothing since his death. And I still cry like it happened yesterday, and not 18 years ago.

He will never show up in the casualty figures for the war. He isn't on "The Wall".

He will never be honored by his country. He will only live in his mother's heart, in his brother's heart, in my heart, and in the memories of a few of his fellow battery-mates.

He is one of the countless young men who gave, and who simply disappeared.

Douglas Gene...

Mom thinks about you every day

Her little baby boy who's gone away

She'll never lose the pain

She'll never be the same

She'll never stop loving you

Douglas Gene...

Pop finally did break down and cry

And you know he never was that kind of guy

But what else could he do

The emptiness broke through

He'll never stop loving you

Douglas Gene...

Our brother always wants to take the blame

It's in his eyes each time he hears your name

But we both know it's true

There was nothing he could do

He'll never stop loving you

Douglas Gene...

Your little girls are doing very well

And when you look it's awfully hard to tell

That all that they've been through

They've been through without you

They'll never stop loving you

And, oh how much they miss you

And, oh how much they cry

And, oh how hard it is

To carry on...

Douglas Gene...

I never knew how much you meant

A brother's love is heaven sent

And if it had to be I wish it had been me

I'll never stop loving you

And, oh how much I miss you

And, oh how much I cry

And, oh how hard it is

To carry on...

Are you aware of our Comment Policy?

Share the Site

Share Stories

Share your story

Links on Delicious

Funded in Part By

My Source Corporation for Public Broadcasting

Press Room

Support Independent Programming. Pledge Now »

POV is a production of American Documentary, Inc.

Copyright © 1995–2009 American Documentary, Inc.