img014It all seems so surreal. I can look into this photograph and see so many memories-I know in my mind today what is behind me-this photo was taken in the ships laundry of the USS Vulcan. I can see the lockers which are not in the focus-and past them are the pressers and then the space works itself around a tight ‘U’ where two huge machines stood,the washer and dryer. Large enough you could climb inside to reach the stubborn damp cling ons that caught in the far edges. Just past the washer was the only exit-a ladder going up to an obscure corridor that dead ended at the hatch where the ladder came through. The only other  part of the memory in this photograph is that in front of me was a desk-at the end of the desk was the bulkhead-another dead end. A very tight space-the desk was built in-it never could have been moved there.

The thing that sticks out in the picture is my uniforms. The shirts were cut at the sleeves-above my pocket in bold lettering it says ‘Little Herron’. The alterations were done by my brother-he operated the ships laundry,it is his desk that is in this cramped room. He took this photograph.

Because my uniforms were mutilated in the alterations my brother had made-my passageway through out the ship was restricted to certain areas. I could not afford to purchase replacement shirts-I could not even be sure they would return from the laundry safe-or join my other shirts. I know I don’t look very happy in this photo. I could not see what was about to be my future. This photo was taken around October 1969. I do know the thrill I had first found by joining the Navy had been diminished by my older brother-I was stationed with him on the USS Vulcan.

Time seems to have gotten stuck for me there in 1969 and 1970. I don’t feel like I’ve grown older. I feel like I’m still stuck at age 18.

In my funny ways of memorializing my life I have kept the ‘World Almanac’ issues from 1969 and 1970  as a compressed history of that time. I am stuck there and want loose,but can’t find the freedom.

I have this peculiar way about me in how I experience God in my life. In the Bible it says we have angels which camp around us-keeping eye,so to speak. I’ve believed that before I even knew it was in the Bible.

Sometimes I find messages in odd sort of ways-like at times it comes in the shape of an actual dime,always finding one in unusual places at ironic times. The other is in the presence of birds at a very special moment in time-a distinctly special moment. A few years ago a hawk flew in my house and the big window at the west stopped it-the bird let me pick it up and carry it to the door…and freedom. That happened on a New Years Eve…my rapes began on New Years Eve 1969-70. There was something very special about that bird and about that timing.

Why things are-I do not know. How come good things happen to you,and bad things happen to me-and yet good happens in my life and the opposite for others. A really strange thing.

I went to reach a peak in the fact that my military time was not a perfect dream come true. I wish I could look in that photograph and reach in there and find good memories. Instead I can only see the memory that I’m haunted to live with every day of my life. I wake each day-every day it seems to never go away….and I see myself as an 18 year old boy on the USS Vulcan and the wrong thereafter.

I finally received a notice from the VA. The process of deciding the level of my disability as they see it. I’ve had several comment that I should continue to ask for a full 100 %. I find the number given me is unique…and probably appropriate,although-not as settling as one would think.

There is a retroactive period which goes back to my filing for the claim-5 years ago! In these economic times-especially for a poor man,the awarded amount is going to help make some changes. Not very many-it is not a large amount in usual circumstances. Looking at it in my head says it is not enough to replace all the memories that could have been. There also comes with it a form of guilt. I can go out now and purchase some nicer things-maybe a new vehicle. But-I won’t be able to do it with out seeing the wounded and dead of Viet Nam. That vision keeps me from having  joy from this.

I was sitting yesterday with my oldest friend-a Viet Nam combat veteran. He expresses his pleasure in my success in taking on the VA and holding someone accountable for the injury the rapes put in my spirit and my life. He knows how I feel-the guilt,and the amazement at the same time. Amazed that after all of these years some recognition of what had happened to me comes forth-acknowledgment that I was hurt badly then,and above all the acknowledgement that the injuries were directly caused by sexual trauma…we know it here as MST  ‘military sexual trauma’.

I do not know why our angels lead us in the way that we go. I don’t know why my friend went through combat with out a bullet wounding his flesh-but the flesh of another was among those casualties that are expected of war,although-not accepted. Yet my friend is wounded by those very bullets that missed him-and killed others that were around him.

Why is it that things are so? I am glad I do not have that answer…I would know too much. My friend does say “we won”….not in the terms of victory where a dance is involved. We won in meaning that there are other MST survivors that need to battle this too…to take on the power to say “I was assaulted too”!!  And find the final part of what happened.

It is not the money-it definitely is not the money. My body is weary from the energy put forward over the last five years. I’m actually recovering from the exhaustion that finally overtook me last week when the papers came. The ironic number of ’70’ being the level of my disability…1970! That is more reward than the dollar amount will ever come to. The spiritual indication of it…that rewards me!

Forgive my rambles…most likely the form of speech I will have for a number of days!

One Response to “1970…70…70…”

  1. laura tattoo Says:

    jay, you had such a terrible time with your cruel brother. i’m sorry you had to live through that too. xoxoxox ~lt

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