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Altering Life by Pat Shine

By Remy Benoit

Yesterday I asked that you comment on the article from CNN Scientists at work on a pill to fade traumatic memories.

This response came to me this morning from a Veteran of the 22nd Artillery. I asked Pat for his permission to run this here and he agreed. I would like to hear from more of you.

From Pat Shine - Altering Life

I’ll get right to the point. I think it is nonsense, at least in an application for a soldier in combat. Maybe it would have some value in a particularly horrible occurrence in civilian life, but the last thing a soldier needs is to forget anything that has happened to him. I would refuse it. Now having said that, some soldiers would be in favor of it possibly, but not I.

Not only if the soldier stayed in would his memory need to stay intact, including every nasty detail, but even after the combat ends, at least in my mind. It becomes a moral thing at that point.

Maybe that doesn’t make sense to you, but I carry every day in my gut the memories of my buddies that haven’t enjoyed the last 37-38 New Year’s celebrations. Maybe there is a part of my psyche that wishes it would all go away, but that facet of my soul is not in control. It never has been and it never will. At different times since I left Nam (July 19,1968) I have had many mental struggles, but the thought of “forgetting” about it is inconceivable, and more importantly it is repugnant to me.

Remy, I have told you in past times that it is a combat soldier’s load, his mantra, to carry things that a “normal” person can never know about. No good could ever come of it, at least for me. I have accepted this as part of my walk on earth. If we had had this conversation 35 years ago, I may be saying something very differently. Don’t really know for sure. But now,,,,,,,,,,Remy, erasing my memory of the horrors of war would more than likely eliminate my memory of several dozen fine young men that I still tear up over. I can live with the memories. The first six years I was back, I was a basket case with a severe case of survivor’s guilt. The VA did not even know what that was back then, as well as PTSD. I had to work my way through that as best I could with nothing but my inner will power and believe me, I am still working on it.

The very idea that I could “forget about it” or maybe that “it wasn’t all that bad”…no thanks.

Who the hell ever said being an infantryman in Vietnam would be easy? For sure in 1968.

Charlie company lost FIFTY men that year. That famous company of the 101^st Airborne featured in “Band of Brothers” did not reach that total. We got no pats on the back, no recognition, no glory (whatever that is)……….just the memories. I’ll keep them. They mean so much to me, because they represent young lives that were snuffed out way too soon. Our motto – “Deeds not words”….

Well, likewise,…”memories not drugs”.


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This item is part of historian, author, editor, and educator Remy Benoit's ongoing weblog for Veterans, writers, students, and others who believe in learning from and making history; including thousands of articles and posts and the free writing seminar, Using History for Healing and Writing.

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