Barbie Perkins-Cooper, Author

Living Life in the Country As A Writer, Photographer

Dearest Readers:

Recently, my husband and his ‘band of brothers’ celebrated another reunion together. Held in Charleston, South Carolina, the 9th Infantry Division, Commo Platoon, were united in an unpredictable, volatile war zone in Vietnam. After the war, our troops came home to face another emotional war as they fought their emotions and pain while America shunned them. On one occasion, a neighbor shouted at my son after he stated that his dad fought in Vietnam. “Your daddy’s a baby killer,” she spat at him. Phillip burst into tears. He was only seven-years-old at the time and when he came home and told me what happened, I rushed to ring the woman’s door bell. At first, she wouldn’t answer, but for those of you who know me, ignorance of the doorbell was not an option! When she answered the door, I confronted her, telling her she was ignorant. She judged the Vietnam Veterans by the media, the stories others shared. She pointed her finger at me. At first, I wanted to shake my finger in her direction, but I decided it was best to be diplomatic, telling her to ‘judge lest she not be judged.’ “You weren’t there,” I said as tears rolled down my face. You’ve never held a war veteran while he is trapped in another mental flashback. You’ve never shared his pain.” Much to my surprise, the neighbor listened. She wanted to hug me, but I refused. She apologized. I left her entrance and we never spoke again.

I thought about that day during the reunion and I listened when a few of the war stories were shared. A tear dripped down my face; I got up and moved away so no one would see. After all, according to the Veterans Administration, it ‘hasn’t helped my husband that he is still with his first wife…His only wife.’ They said it was hard to believe that he had PTSD if his first wife is still with him! When my husband shared that, quickly I asked for the name of the person who stated that. Of course, he failed to get a name, so I could not confront the person. How dare they! What is a wife to do? Walk out? Divorce? It isn’t in my character to give up on someone, and so, even though we’ve had more than our share of difficult times, we are still together. He refused to admit he had PTSD until he played golf with another Vietnam Veteran who suggested he had it. That afternoon he asked me if I knew anything about PTSD. My reply, I know a bit. I’ve researched it since 1982 and I know you have it.” Let’s just say my husband wasn’t too happy with my comments.

Phil is a bit apprehensive about reunions. In all reality, Phil is not exactly a sociable person. He is most happy having me attached to him at home. Believe me, that will not happen! I believe we both need social outlets where we can be either a couple, or have friends alone. That is one of the issues with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. The party who suffers with it does not like social outlets and that has created much controversy between us. But today, is not the day to open up and share those experiences. Today, while writing this story, it is a day to give thanks and to share with other veterans how thankful I am for the freedoms we have in America…the freedoms that our Veterans fought so hard to keep within these United States of America.

During the reunion, we toured a bit of Charleston. How I wish there had been more time so we could visit more of the historical aspect and events of this beautiful city we live in. Friday, we had a wine tasting and luncheon at Irvin-House Vineyards. From there, we drove to Angel Oak, a gigantic live oak that is reportedly over 1400 years old. This breathtaking tree reminds me of a giant spider with creeping arms. One person described it as an octopus. I’ll let you be the judge. Angel Oak is a favorite landmark for me since when Phil was in Vietnam and I was staying in Charleston briefly, it is the place I came to simply to pray and cry. I was so young…so frightened…and I followed my wise grandmother’s advice…to find a significant place to look up to…to pray…to find the faith that all would be OK. I occasionally touched the tree, speaking to it, praying that the branches would embrace me and give me the faith I needed to be a supportive wife during this time of fear and war. I prayed that God would protect Phil and bring him home just like he was before. That prayer wasn’t realistic. No one who has fought a war and seen the many tragedies of war can return home the same as they were prior to the war. No One! Phil returned to me a different man. Fearful. Unable to trust. Quiet…much too quiet. Jealous…

As a wife of a war veteran, it is hard to cope, especially when the loved one appears to withdraw from life. That is what happened to Phil. He wanted me with him every day…every moment. It was impossible. After he sought help – in 2002, he began to heal. I credit much of the healing to the veterans he speaks with. His best friend in Charleston, Jerry. When they play golf they can laugh and talk about whatever is bothering them.  Jerry has told Phil how blessed he is to have me so supportive. Others have said I deserve an award. What do I say? I simply believe in Phil and what we have built together. I am not the type of woman to walk out on a man. Enough of this, I say. Together we can move mountains, and we have moved and crossed many mountains within our life.

I feel blessed that we have connected with these special veterans . This amazing band of brothers were over there during the same time and they share their experiences, only this time – they laugh. The healing process has begun. God has blessed all of us within this amazing group. When we are together we hug, we laugh and I never hear any derogatory comments made. For that we are blessed. It is like we join together, not as a reunion group, but as a family. A wonderful, accepted extended family. It is no wonder I look forward to attending these reunions. Sometimes we are not able to attend since Phil works still and must travel, or other events in life kick in, but when we do attend these reunions, there is a healing process happening.

To those who are a member of the 9th Infantry Division, Commo Platoon reunions, I say thank you. You are helping Phil to heal from the emotional scars of war.

Author’s Note — For reasons I cannot detect, the photographs I attempted to insert would not process. Perhaps another day…another time!

17 thoughts on “A Band of Brothers From the 9th Infantry Division, Commo Platoon Reunite

  1. Tammy Wright says:

    Enjoyed reading this today! Thank you for sharing! You are an AMAZING woman and your devotion to your husband is a perfect example of God’s love. If only everyone in America could love each other that way!

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