This is my farther’s Story
But it can be any Vietnam veteran’s story. I’m writing this on veterans day to salute all the vets who gave us freedom, and made America great. My dad did not want to go to Vietnam, and kill people. His story is almost the same as many veterans who went there to fight a war that had no purpose. I love America and our veterans i’m not here today to talk about the politics of the war. I’m writing this to tell a story of one man, and his 30 year struggle with the war. Even after he came home the war stayed with him for many years while the government did very little to help the veterans of Vietnam. Also when they arrived home they were treated as killers, and mutants with no respect. It took 20 years before we showed them the respect they deserved.
Born in a small Indiana farm town in the year 1947. He ran away from home at age 16 from an abusive father then came back in 1968. That is when he got his first draft notice. He did not want to go so he ran to Houston Texas in august 1968 where he got his 2nd notice. He ran again to Bakersfield, California when the police showed up at his door. They told him jail or Vietnam so off he went to basic training in Ft. Sill Oklahoma. That’s where he first discovered marijuana from other soldiers on the base. After boot camp he went to Fort Knox, Kentucky for training as a Cannoneer for 30 days. He was in the 8th army artillery division.
After training he went straight to nam pin Vietnam. He made the rank of corporal, and his duty was Inventory, and when they were firing the cannons he would carry the rounds to the cannons for firing. He also went out on occasional patrols that’s where he found his brothers Mamasan. In a small village 30 miles north she walked up to him saying Ringler, Ringler she thought he was his brother Jerry Ringler. So he played along with it. His brother Jerry was there 3 months prior to him arriving, and left. One night back at base they had a weekend party, my pops was involved in selling thirteen 55 gallon drums of gasoline for $70.00 so they could hire a band. The 1st lieutenant, and 1st Sargent were in on this scheme they wanted a band. So they 1st lieutenant called everybody to attention while my dad drove the gasoline out behind them to the village to sell.
He has many other stories like this, and some worse but i would rather not discuss them here. But you get the picture of his life there. He made the rank of buck sergeant for just 1 a night. Then went down to the village to celebrate, they had in coming that night, and he was not there with the keys to supply. So they had to kick down the door to get ammo. The next day he was busted back down to corporal. This is when he got hooked on drugs during this part of his story. Heroin it was everywhere he told me, and some not all men were doing it. Mind you before Vietnam he never even heard of marijuana let alone heroin. He would spend his whole paycheck on this evil drug. He got 30 days rest and recuperation in a place of his choice so he went to Thailand because he knew there was plenty of heroin there. He continued doing heroin until after he left Vietnam.
Volunteered for demolition, and wounded purple heart
One day they were looking for volunteers for the demolition squad, go out find land mines and defuse them. They said you Ringler now volunteer for this. That’s how they did it back then, and maybe still do it. The only training they gave my pops was going out with another guy 4 times then let loose on his own. It was my dad and 3 men with him they had m16′s to protect him one of those men was his best friend lance Christopher newton. Lance was a black cowboy from Philadelphia and my pops best friend. Lance never did heroin just marijuana but lance knew about it. It was the 15th time defusing a mine when something went wrong, remember my pops had very little training for such a dangerous job!! He cut the wrong wire, and when you do this you’re supposed to fall on It’s chest first, they had a steel chest plate. But animal instinct is to turn and run. The land mine blew my dad up really bad. The Viet Cong was coming in fast they were taking ground fire from all sides, and the medic shot my dad with morphine then told lance just leave him no time the enemy is coming. Lance said no way grabbed my dad, and carried him wounded under fire 2 miles to a helicopter. Then lance went back out, and was never seen again he is labeled MIA. This is my namesake after the war dad went to Philadelphia to visit lances mom and promised to name his first born after lance, and that is me lance Christopher Ringler.
Recovery in Okinawa, Japan and discharged
After he was well enough to be moved from the field hospital they flew him to Okinawa, Japan for recovery. At the hospital he continued to use heroin, the nurses would shoot him up with it. From a small indiana farm kid now a full blown heroin addict in just 2 short years. He holds no blame but himself but with lot’s of veterans like him it makes you wonder why. After he was fully healed they discharged him with a purple heart sent him to Seattle for a 30 minute debriefing August 18th 1970. Then with no other after care set him free to the world with just $510.44. He stayed around Seattle for 5 days looking for heroin, and being treated like shit. He went into a bar told the bar tender im just back from Vietnam how about a free drink? The bartender said so what get out of here BUM. How can someone treat a veteran like that? So after he could not find the drugs he got an old car then drove to the VA hospital in Houston, Texas to get rehab treatment.
After the war
It took him 20 years to get better after the war. He struggled with PTSD , and heroin addiction until he lost his mind in 1989. That is when his PTSD showed up in full force. He thought the Viet Cong was coming to get him so he made some bombs, and locked himself in his house alone with a rifle. The only one who was able to talk him out was his VA doctor. Finally he got the help he needed from 1989 to 1991. Now he is better off the drugs, and his PTSD is under check. He still has nightmares sometimes of the war so does all of our veterans from every war. So on this veterans day stop and thank a veteran for his or her service to this country. Not just today but every day of the year. We need to start helping our veterans more than we do. It’s a shame we treat out veterans as 2nd class citizens when we should be holding them at the highest levels in our society. This is just one of the many stories from that war remember there was so many more just like it. So i say thanks to all the veterans for my freedom and everything I hold dear in my life.
In Memory OF Lance Christopher Newton And For all The Veterans Out There We Thank You For Our Freedom.
The man who saved my fathers life in the war, is still classified as MIA there for his name in not on the Vietnam memorial wall.
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