The Marine Corps Years
Rick Swan

Feb 99 - Dec 99

 Marine Home

I  left my sales career shortly after the Welcome Home parade and completed a transition to the world of Training.  Around 1988 I began to recognize that an ideal career for me should I never have to work for money would be teaching middle school kids how to solve puzzles.  Not how to solve a particular puzzle, but how to think about solving puzzles when faced with them.  Sounds like life, doesn't it?

I spent many of the last months teaching at a volunteer organization, ProMatch, in Sunnyvale, California.  I learned a lot about myself from my "students".

To my surprise, I also learned about Vietnam through my first and only flashback which occurred on July 29, 1999.  Somehow I had taken on responsibility, more like blame and guilt, for my friends and fellow warriors who did not return from 'Nam as they had left it:

I had unknowlingly, even unconsciously, laid a path of recrimination for myself.  Why did I get to fly home and have an active life instead of returning home in a body bag?  How come them and not me?  Just because I scored well on a boot camp test so was ordered to an intelligence school?  Well, yes; however, I see little justice in that and keep working to unload the guilt of surviving.

Reading about my fellow Vets helped a lot - "The Etiology of Combat-Related Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder" by Jim Goodwin was a life saver for me.  It helped me discover and answer this very basic question: "Why am I driven to be hyper-vigilant for danger to anyone around me, even when they a) did not ask, and b) somehow got through the decades before we met without my assistance?"  The "Mayday" flashback guided me to seek help from wiser people than I and enabled me to lift a great weight from my shoulders.  Now I can walk with people instead of 2 to 10 feet ahead of them constantly alert for an ambush (rare in these United States.)

I'm not yet in that position to work for no money and begin my paid training career December 6, 1999.

Best wishes to all.

Semper Fi


Marine Home