Just out of school, Martain and his brother Mike head to an Army post in Columbia, South
Carolina. They are resolved to serve their country and help defeat the enemy in Vietnam.
On a plane to training camp, the young Martain is served a cocktail by a flight attendant. In camp, he's stripped down and examined during a physical. And in Vietnam, he hears people speaking in short energetic bursts in a language he's never heard.
His life has completely changed, and now he has to deal with it.
Martain serves three tours of duty in Vietnam,
and while fighting in the wilderness, he usually doesn't know if he'll live to see the next day. He witnesses and engages in horrific battles where bravery determines the outcome. By the end of his final tour of duty, fear and danger no longer mean anything.
After serving in
Vietnam, Martain joins the Reserves, and he participates in the 1989 invasion of Panama. As a result of his experiences,
he suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Join him as he relives his ordeals and helps everyone understand what so many veterans must deal with after the war ends in The
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About the Author
Traumatic Stress Disorder. A resident of Georgia, he wrote this book to help educate people about the condition.
Read an Excerpt
The Battle Rages
By Martain A. Farley
Trafford PublishingCopyright © 2010 Martain A. Farley
All right reserved.
Chapter OneBasic Training
We landed in the San Antonio airfield in the early-morning hours. After the airplane rolled to a complete stop, the exit door opened, and we departed down the portable outside stairway.
Our unit walked in a close group to the terminal reception area. I do not believe that any of us had brought along extra baggage because we were told that the Air Force would supply us with whatever we needed.
A young military man who had been assigned to take us into his custody beckoned for us to follow him to an awaiting transport bus. Most of us were grateful that we had had a safe trip, and the atmosphere among us was one of relief and expectation.
On the bus someone started telling jokes and, after a very short time, the jabber and jocularity among us became invigorating and lively. We drove through the gates of Lackland Air Force Base tired and growing giddy.
My initial observation of this military facility left me with the impression that the compound contained a tremendous network of territories that appeared to be completely autonomous and vibrant.
Eventually the bus came to a halt next to the steps of a large and solemn-looking building. Our chatter came to an abrupt halt as a lanky and weathered sergeant stepped onboard and began hurling profanities at our complement of new recruits.
He told us to quit ******* off at the mouths and not to speak unless spoken to. Our responses were to be: "Yes, sir" and "No, sir." Our next instructions were to follow him into the building where we would draw military-issued underclothing and toiletry items.
We became part of a larger troop that had preceded us to the issue area. Once our task was completed, we reentered the transport with a larger contingent and departed to our dormitory. I looked at my watch and saw that it was close to three o'clock in the morning.
The carrier stopped in front of our new residence, at which time we were introduced to our new drill instructors. The senior-ranking sergeant told us in a gruff voice each to pick out a bunk and that they would be back to talk with us after we had had a short rest.
Like the rest of my compadres, I grabbed a nearby bed and forced myself into an uneasy slumber. My thoughts at this moment were serious. I reminded myself inwardly that I had volunteered for this mission and that my future was now in the hands of fate.
The vast majority of men in our group were draftees who had decided to join the USAF to lessen their chances of being sent into a combat situation.
Mike and I had enthusiastically volunteered for military duty and were required to have a parent sign for our mobilization because we had not yet reached the minimum age (eighteen) for enlistment.
Being stationed in a war zone was of no consequence to us because we had already decided to volunteer for combat duty at the first possible juncture. Carlisle Military School had instilled in us the belief in duty, honor, and country.
Our brief repose ended when, out of nowhere, the dorm was flooded with lights. It was still dark outside, but the hue of dawn was beginning to permeate the sky. As promised, the drill instructors had returned.
Their belligerent words and commands snapped our coalition into an uneasy awakening. The voices told us to get dressed quickly for a march to the chow hall. The last man fully clothed fell prey to a volley of obscenities that caused all of us to cringe. This lesson did not go unnoticed or forgotten.
We quickly assembled outside into a mass of confused humanity. This initiated a new round of profanity that would question our intelligence and cripple our egos.
The final set of communiqués was to march forward, shut the hell up, and for our company of simpletons to follow all the given commands. In this new world, we could hear and see other companies of men and women being ridiculed and berated during their parallel journey to the morning repast.
The chow hall was a huge facility. It had to serve thousands of meals every day. Each of us stood stiffly as we made our way through the serving lines. The mass-produced food served was basic but satisfactory. The milk and juice machines became favorite friends with their never-ending flow of refreshments.
Our instructors warned us to keep the chatter at a minimum and to finish our meals within an abbreviated amount of time. Once finished, we proceeded outside to join again in a crude formation.
With the drill instructors marching alongside barking commands, we made our way to the parade and exercise grounds. This trek would become a daily routine and almost second nature.
Here we practiced marching, close order drill, and strict physical exercises and listened to directives on military protocol. Classroom instructions were scheduled on a regular basis with the exception of the weekends. This allowed a short reprieve and an opportunity for any trainee to participate in his or her preferred religious leaning.
In the first week of our training, we were sent to a very large building nicknamed "the green monster." This facility was the heart and soul of the entire Air Force base. Here, military clothing was issued; individual legal documents (such as life insurance forms) were completed, and specific job classifications and military assignments for every recruit were determined upon the successful conclusion of our abbreviated training period.
On our first visit to the green monster, we were handed out our boots, socks, service caps, and military uniforms that would later be tailored and sized at the base alteration center.
Until this moment, we had been vocally castigated by more senior recruits, who cheerfully designated us as "Rainbows," while marching within a close view of our unit. This moniker was assigned to us new trainees because of our colorful and varying civilian attire, which had yet to be replaced by the regular olive green fatigues of our peers.
A sampling of this indoctrination by the passing cadence-callers was as follows: "Rainbow, rainbows don't be blue; __ more days and we'll be through.
As time marched on, we would be the ones to berate the newbie's gleefully with the many days and hours of condensed training behind us as the sand in our hour glass diminished in quantity.
One irregularity that I remember from this particular period was the caustically harsh manner in which the women recruits were treated. The insensitive female drill instructors yelled and taunted these ladies in a manner that was in every respect foreign to me because of my Southern heritage and upbringing.
One instructor issued the statement: "While under my watch, you will walk and march in a military manner, so I do not want to see any of your pretty ... young ... asses wiggle."
Their poetry in motion was being eradicated from the equation and the first two letters in the word female were being artificially expunged, to my manner of thinking. These basic recruits were expected to eliminate thoughts that had been hardwired into their gender since childhood.
Another one of these instructors issued a command one day that sent the bile in my stomach racing to the base of my esophagus when a company of passing females was told, " When I say halt, I want to hear forty ******* sucking air." I had to restrain myself from making my thoughts public.
Because of the war, our period of basic training had been curtailed to six weeks. At the finish of our first day of training, one of our drill instructors asked those of us with any type of military school training to raise their hands.
The recruits who had met this criterion were ushered into the drill instructor's office. From this group, a dorm chief, assistant dorm chief, and squad leaders were selected. Mike and I were chosen as squad leaders. We were issued title insignias to be positioned above our left pockets, designating our new duties and standings.
This position held many perks. Instead of having to sleep in a double bunk, we had been upgraded to a single bed nearest to the latrines, exterior night lights, and exits. We were now to be addressed as "squad leader" instead of Airman Basic and were less apt to fall prey to the insults and indignities of our fellow boarders.
The Air Force used the word flight to describe the companies of men and women who lived in each dorm. When drill orders were issued, for example, commands would be given as: flight forward march, flight halt, flight come to attention, etc. Each unit had a sister flight. I imagine that this was meant to induce friendly and sometimes fierce competition between rival units and drill instructors.
After a brief period of time, our cadre was expected to have a working knowledge of the procedures and prerequisites of our preparation. At this time, our unit began to be graded by outside inspectors while on the marching field and on any discrepancies that were found during dorm inspections.
Some of the graded items during the dorm inspections included correctly configured bunks, the placement of items in our personal foot lockers, the cleanliness of the living quarters, and-most important-the sanitation of our latrines.
The toilet paper in every stall had to be rolled over the top, and the last individual section of tissue had to be folded inwardly at a forty-five-degree angle. A mop and broom rack were located in the front of each building.
If any of these items were turned in the "wrong" direction, this indiscretion was written up and also charged to the drill instructor's performance rating.
Naturally, after each inspection, the drill instructors called meetings and harangued the entire flight on the noted infractions. After one of these sessions, I was amazed at how dummies like us had managed to survive in the world for so long, given our serious intellectual deficiencies!
Life continued, and the daily rituals became more routine and bearable. Our flight consisted of a cross section of people with varying opinions and enunciations, from different parts of the country. The most noticeable and largest contingent came from the great state of California.
I would have to say that these people were a most interesting and colorful assortment. Liberal and vibrant in their personalities, they mesmerized me with their expressions, the distinctiveness of their speech, and their laissez-faire attitudes about life.
I eagerly looked forward as each new sunrise approached. This "crew" kept me entertained with their demeanor and their diction. I was now viewing the planet with a new set of eyes and hearing descriptions and interpretations that were accumulating in my memory banks.
We were all absorbing new words and terms. I had added to my vocabulary such words as: groovy, foxy lady, roach clip, hanging ten, bitchin' and of course did not realize that the word cock, meaning a rooster and a mascot for my state university, had an entirely different meaning for these animated characters.
On the other side of the coin, they were intrigued by my Southern pronunciation and novel words such as: you-all, y'all, grits, hopping john, and dare (deer) hunting. They encouraged me to laugh at myself in times of stress and to judge a book by its contents rather than by just the outside cover.
During the evenings, after the drill instructors had gone home, those of us living in the dorm had time to intermingle to form bonds and alliances that rendered a safety net of reassurance and security.
The dorm chief and the assistant dorm chief had been allotted a separate room together because of their status and ranking. As I strode past this room one evening, I noticed an aroma that was foreign to me. My interpretation of this event was that someone was burning a special type of incense that had been chosen to create an atmosphere of serenity and inner peace.
Boy was I wrong! I later discovered that some of the California boys had sequestered themselves in this safe haven to smoke the marijuana that loved ones and acquaintances had sent them through the U.S. postal system.
They had also acquired the necessary skills and techniques to make hallucinogens out of common items purchased from the Base Exchange (BX). These guys were definitely marching to the beat of a different drummer. A unit member came to me and brought this information to my attention. He wanted me to turn these guys in for their illegal actions. As a squad leader, I considered my duties and responsibilities and took them seriously.
I had a very difficult choice to make that could end the careers of people whom I had befriended and with whom I had sweated and trained.
My resolution was to make it known to these people through an anonymous message that their actions had been duly noted and that if another occurrence of this type of misbehavior took place, it would not be tolerated.
Fortunately, this warning was heeded, and we had solved the issue in-house. This action actually created greater bonding between people of different philosophies and strengthened our resolve to respect one another's opinions while upholding the legal limits and obligations to which we were bound.
My brother and I had been almost inseparable since birth but our personalities were not always congruent. This was not a bad thing, because one day we would have to drift into the outgoing tides of life independently, searching for answers to the questions that Providence and circumstance would place in our separate paths.
Our acquisition of knowledge was starting to increase exponentially with each new day of existence. Carlisle Military School had done a magnificent job in building a reliable foundation, having prepared us with consistently tough training.
Assimilation into this new venue was natural and familiar to us. Other recruits who had not been as fortunate to be taught as we had, found basic training to be arduous and challenging.
We were all eventually granted passes to go off base, but we had been cautioned to present ourselves in a positive manner that would not reflect negatively upon the Air Force.
In my opinion San Antonio was and still is a sparkling jewel in the crown of Texas. It is deeply involved in the history of our nation. The cultures and colorful lifestyles that flourish there create a unique standard that makes one proud to be an American.
Naturally most of us had to visit the Alamo, whose history of heroism exemplified self-sacrifice for the belief that eternal freedom was worth the price paid for it.
Upon my first visit to this distinguished site, I was in awe and felt a sense of pride as I took the tour though this place of wonder and glory. This minuscule time capsule took me back to a special time where, in my mind, I could almost sense the courage and fear of those who had fought a gallant battle, where freedom would rise from its ashes.
The tour ended, and our small group entertained itself by visiting the surrounding stores and parks. The historical San Antonio river walk was both beautiful and enchanting.
Lunchtime was approaching, so we decided to go to a nearby seafood restaurant to taste its delicacies. I had never eaten any large prawn shrimp, so that is what I ordered. I talked one of my Hispanic friends into ordering a Lone Star beer to sate my curiosity about this local brew.
The minimum age for the intake of an alcoholic beverage in this state was twenty-one, and he met the requirements, while I was still considered a minor. Before departing the base, we had all received a stern warning that, since we were still recruits, drinking was not allowed off the installation.
Our food arrived, and I was totally amazed at the gargantuan size of the crustaceans before me. The food was exceptional and plentiful. The guy who had ordered the beer for me was somewhat uneasy about the consequences of his actions.
I was urged to ingest the brewski immediately. I complied, with a giant gulp of anticipation. Unlike the scotch and water that I had practically gagged on during my incoming flight, this beverage had a smooth and mellow taste.
I was also left with the sense that I had survived a small act of a youthful indulgence without consequence and had taken one more step through the doorway to adulthood. Mike and I celebrated our eighteenth birthdays at boot camp.
My comrades had chosen me to be the cadence-caller, and, in this capacity, I loudly called out marching ditties that I had remembered from Carlisle, as well as those that I had learned during my short stay at Lackland.
The rationale behind these songs was to keep the cadre of troops marching in unison, and it gave recruits a chance to vocalize a spirit of unity.
The following is a sample of the tunes that echoed throughout our complement of men. Cadence-caller: "You had a good home and you left." Response: "You're right." Cadence-caller: "You had a good wife and you left." Response: "You're right." Cadence-caller: "Sound off." Response: "One two." Cadence-caller: "Once more." Response: "Three four." Cadence-caller: "Bring it on down." Response: "One ... two ... three ... four ... One two-ooh three four."
Excerpted from The Battle Rages by Martain A. Farley Copyright © 2010 by Martain A. Farley. Excerpted by permission.
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Table of Contents
The Last Chapter....................95