"THE THOUSAND YARD STARE"
By Cpl. Douglas C. Maier
In Memory of Hillbilly (M/3/5) KIA in Vietnam
How would you be mentally if you had seen what I have, and had to do what I have done, and how it has made my life harder and harder to deal with, the memories of doing things that I'm not proud of? The coping and living with those haunting memories, and awaking at night from so many different dreams reliving those terrifying times, and feeling so all alone.To know the real meaning in those eyes, you would have to be looking FROM those eyes. But if you insist on knowing, I will try to take you in an IN DEPTH SEARCH INTO THOSE EYES. Look close then, look closer into those eyes, get in there and really search them out. Dig in there really deep, and youíll find Death & Destruction, the painful mourning, the unwanted memories, and the body parts of your buddy who was just standing in front of you and in the blink of an eye his body parts are everywhere.
Yes, those eyes have seen and witnessed some of the most terrifying and shocking events time and time again, and fights his way through them keeping his sanity in each and every one of those events or become one of those statistic events. So while on your search inside of these eyes, push aside the terror, fear, death and destruction and you're still not there yet. You must go deeper into those eyes, much deeper to understand that hidden on the back shelf covered with rags and such to put out of the normal memory to keep it hidden and forgotten. What is it? you might say. Itís death my friends, and the brain like a computer, never forgets it no matter how hard it tries. That is what causes that hard and distant stare that is so noticed.
In Vietnam the Fear of Death was an obstacle, it was the one thing you had to over come, or it would surely happen to you while in that frantic firefight or missile and mortar attack. Instinct takes over, and thoughts are secondary, and is probably why I'm here today. If I had been thinking about Death during those many firefights, missile and mortar attacks, I would have died in them. That I'm sure of.
We were taught the fundamentals of Combat and Tactics, the fear of death is a stage you must learn for yourself and had better learn it QUICK as possible as your life depends on it, to look at death hiding your fears and laughing at it when you are looking at it eye to eye.
But when itís all said and done, itís AFTER that frantic firefight, missile or mortar attack the shakes and fears set in for knowing just moments ago you could have been killed, never to see your loved ones again, never to do anything again, total nothingness.So the next time you notice that hard distant look known as ďThe Thousand Yard Stare,Ē remember in those eyes of that X Combat Veteran, donít ask him if he ever killed someone over there or how many did he kill, because it removes those rags that are on that far back shelf and wants to be forgotten about, and that it was so very hard to be put there for a reason (to forget it). SO, just walk up to him and say, Thanks. And on Veterans Day give one a call, I promise you this, that it will mean so very much to him.
Douglas C. Maier