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Tony McNally: Watching Men Burn

By Remy Benoit

Those who know war live it not only once in the actual engagement in combat and its immediate aftermath, but know it for the rest of their lives at gut, heart, mind, and soul level.

As so many young do, Tony “Mack” McNally signed up to serve his country to find the exuberance of youth often conflicting with the discipline of life in the military.
But then, the reality of service, the reality of war, became that of Mack and his mates when they were shipped thousands of miles away from the United Kingdom to the South Atlantic to fight a war against the attempted take-over of the Falkland Islands by Argentina.

Mack’s specialty was Rapier missiles – high tech, anti-aircraft missiles that require very careful handling, very careful transport, and constant re-calibration by technical experts.
The missiles did not get the first two all so important types of care in transport on their trans-Atlantic voyage. There would be heavy human cost to pay for that neglect.

Mack speaks to the intrusive question so often asked of Veterans – What does it feel like to kill someone? It is the question he, like most of them, walk away from.

But about the question – What does it feel like when you are the Rapier gunner and the enemy aircraft are closing in on the Sir Galahad which is still packed with troops who could have disembarked hours before – What does it feel like when you push the button to launch the missile and all you hear is the noise that comes with a malfunction?

What does it feel like when men you were there to protect begin to scream as they begin to die?

What does it feel like to watch men burn?

Mack tells you.

Britain won the engagement – took the victory. Her soldiers celebrated; let off tension, sometimes in ways inexplicable to those who have not know war; inexplicable to those who in engaged in post combat acts that they would later not even begin to comprehend their part in; inexplicable behavior then which developed into mental, spiritual, and psychic disabilities. Like many Veterans, Mack and his mates were not even aware at first that their “not normal” behaviors, night terrors, fears, traumas were common post-war experiences that we have come to know as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

PTSD equals tortured lives unless properly treated. It can be diagnosed early on – it too, too often isn’t because many war Veterans are unaware that it has existed since we first picked up clubs; because if it is known there is the feeling that there is a “stigma” attached to having pieces of soul splintered by war; because governments would rather not fund the care of their Veterans.

After the Falklands, Mack left the service, tried civilian life, only to re-up and volunteer for soldiering in Northern Ireland where, once again, he witnessed savage act perpetrated by people upon other people.

In Watching Men Die, Mack tells an honest and deeply personal story of the impact of PTSD on his life and thus, on that of thousands of others. He speaks to horrific nightmares, “aberrant” behaviors; sleeping in outside trenches, overuse of alcohol for release. His experience of PTSD is known by countless others. Mack brings it to the non-military public to taste the horror of.

His story is not unique to the UK; it is a story known to soldiers in all times, in all places that too often falls on deaf government ears; that too often is unknown at all to those who have not “been there.”

But not only does Mack tell his story so vividly, he gifts his readers with entries from his personal journal offering eye opening terror by sharing some of his traumatic suffering. Other Veterans will know the truth there – civilians must open their eyes to the truths there.

He gives us the UK Court ruling that puts the onus of the burden of PTSD suffering on the Veterans, who again, often do not know why they suffer rather than on the military that knows, without doubt, that PSD is often a concomitant of service in the war; that knows, if diagnosed, it can be treated if understood as a normal reaction to not normal, mind-bending, experiences.

Tony McNally gives us a great truth – read it – feel it and then answer this question:
What does it feel like to know, up close and quite personal, that this is what we, no matter our country, allow to continue – lack of treatment; lack of respect; lack of gratitude; understaffed and closed Veterans hospitals; long waiting lists for treatments; and lack of pre-combat teaching of what combat can do to the heart, mind, and soul so that Veterans understand when the night terrors come from whence they come.

What does it feel like to really know this from Mack’s story and to not close ranks with those who have served and demand what is right and just?

What does it feel like to let Veterans minds, hearts, and souls burn?

How much better would you feel if you launched your voice and vote “missiles” and demand what is right?

Read the gift of truth that Tony McNally has given you; learn his truths and launch those voices and votes toward the right targets so we can watch our Veterans heal – all over the world.

Tony McNally: Watching Men Burn.

Join Mack at Rogue-Gunner.


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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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