I came home from Vietnam at the end of October, 1968 - thirteen months from arriving. It was like I was never gone for all those I left behind, the family house - same; the family - pretty much the same; my friends - the same; but I wasn't. I had different interests in what my friends (mostly from school and my community) had and once they found out I had been to Vietnam the questions were difficult and the "looks" I got (or felt) were uncomfortable. One particular difficult time with them was a party where someone thought it was funny to shoot off firecrackers and even more funny that I "hit the deck." I found a new group of friends, mostly about ten years younger, and Vietnam didn't come up and I didn't bring it up.
I wrote to my family as often as I could, and I always apologized for not writing more. My Mom and older Sister saved my letters, I wrote home a lot...I guess it just seemed like I didn't. I "sanitized" my letters, didn't go into the details of combat, the horrific sights, the constant fear, etc. But, rereading them did bring back some memories of my tour that I had lost. Lost because of hiding the fact I served in Vietnam for over 25 years - I guess I did that too well. When I searched for the memories of the guys I served with, names were gone (except for a few), battles (for the most part; the details especially - gone). My therapist warned me when I told her I wanted to remember that I should be careful what I wish for. My brain could be protecting me from those details. So, instead of every night nightmares of Vietnam I have some conglomeration of fearful events that make no sense. Maybe the therapist was right - I did have one intense dream of the night I was blown up; I forced myself awake to get out of it.
But I digress from the question posed. It was not a comfortable homecoming, not what we had imagined in the bush of Vietnam. We used to say, "Just make it through the Nam and the rest would be gravy." How little did we know that home, what we called "THE WORLD" was not what we left and not many cared about what we saw and experienced.
More later on the other questions, I guess...