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Ted Englemann: Objects for Deployment

By Remy Benoit

Engelmann, a Veteran of the American War in Viet Nam and an embed photographer in both Iraq (2008) and Afghanistan (2009-2010), with a great-great grandfather who fought in the Civil War and a father who was in the September, 1944 invasion of the Philippines, presents, in these richly full 114 pages, a devastating history of those costs of war that are never immediately apparent. The author states his purpose in the Preface, telling the reader that “This book is about the invisible wounds of war that affect us as individuals, families, communities and as a nation”. Indeed. You need only look at what is happening to combat veterans returning from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan for the evidence.
We follow the evolution in understanding of war trauma beginning with the Civil War when it was called ‘Soldier’s Heart’ to the post Viet Nam War Era when in 1980 the term Post Traumatic Stress Disorder was adopted. We get a concise study of each war illustrated with photographs either from the author’s vintage collection or from his own expert lens. This is both a study of big events that have profound ramifications at an individual level, and a deeply personal story; a father who never talked about his war experiences and a son whose own trauma derailed a life by intergenerational transmission of behavior that suppressed his ability to deal with his demons. The final chapters take us on Engelmann’s embeds to Iraq and Afghanistan. Remarkable photos and the unique perspective of a Viet Nam veteran give us a different view of these conflicts.
But my favorite chapter takes us along for the author’s return to Viet Nam two decades after his tour of duty. These stories and photographs are beautiful and moving and ultimately tell of the healing that comes from replacing dark with light and despair with hope. And that is the point. By facing the true nature of warfare, how it damages the warrior inside even if he or she doesn’t show a single external wound, and facing the truth we can start the journey to the creation of a future with a world at peace.
Fmr Sgt. Christopher Gaynor
Republic of Viet Nam ’67-‘68

The book is available at Lulu. Just type in Ted Engelmann in the search key. There is a free download too!


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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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