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The Cleansing


by Randall



During the Vietnam War this photo was circulated across America in various magazines, newspapers, and war correspondence. It is a picture of pain and anguish that so many of the Vietnamese people went through, during what was called the Vietnam Conflict. It is not my intent to post the numbers of people that were maimed, missing, or killed on both sides of this terrible tragedy, or to expand on how fraudulent war is to feed the machine.

My hitch in the Vietnam Era was all about blowing things up; people, boats, aircraft, homes, villages, oxen, and anything else that got in the way. I was trained for eight months on how to use explosive weaponry to destroy and kill, and was a graduate of Naval Aviation Ordnance School. The hot rod kid from a small Texas town had been transformed from a simple fun lovin’ guy to an agent of death. At the time I was too young and impressionable to know any different.

My one year’s active duty involved working with other men to prepare, arm and make ready, “our birds”, F4J Phantoms, the latest and greatest of the flying death dealers. Our squadron operated on an aircraft carrier, along with other squadrons, and moved up and down the Gulf of Tonkin. Launch and recover, rearm, launch and recover….the cycle of death. We drew pictures and wrote nasty words on our bombs and missiles addressed to “Charlie”, slang for Viet Cong, (NVA) North Vietnam Army, or any other high yellow skinned communists.

When flying off the carrier to go home, I was sent to Da Nang, Vietnam for processing which included psychological evaluation. As our plane approached the coast of Vietnam, I could not believe what my eyes were seeing through that window. It was a total “moonscape”, no trees , no nothing, only endless bomb craters. As we flew low and slow closer to the base, I could see makeshift tents covering some of the larger craters, with Vietnamese people looking up at us. I had never seen a Vietnamese person before. They looked totally helpless in this region of hell that once was their homeland. I was numb.

Today, many Vietnam War Veterans actively honor the GBNF (gone but not forgotten), the MIA’s (missing in action) and some crusade for the Vietnam government to find and recover any and all POW’s, (prisoners of war). It is an honorable thing to visit the Vietnam Veterans Wall. There is an annual motorcycle ride to D.C. every year called “Rolling Thunder” to honor the dead. I will always remain as one of this brotherhood. But something was missing, something lost inside me, a kind of soiled sadness.

In the town I live in today, there was a curio/tobacco shop operated by a Vietnamese mother and daughter. I would purchase my weekly pack of weapons of mass destruction cigarettes and occasional gifts for friends and family. The daughter could speak English fairly well and we would chit-chat about this and that. The mother would usually just glance up and smile, crocheting, and listening to a CD recorded in the Vietnamese language.

One day, I asked the daughter if she ever visited her native country and she told me, “Only twice… to visit cousins”. The shop had no other customers, then from somewhere…something welled up inside me and our exchange happened:

“Did your mother live in Vietnam during the war”?

“Which one”?  the daughter asked.

“Ugh..ugh… the American occupation” I stammered.

“Yes” she named the province.

“I would like to apologize to her” I explained, as I’m gazing at her confused look.

“ I would like to ask her forgiveness, and yours too”. The daughter says something and her mother comes to the counter next to her daughter.

“I fought in the Vietnam war, and I know that I was part of killing and hurting many of the Vietnamese people…they may have been some of your family….I hope that you will forgive me”.

The daughter translates, and mother comes from behind the counter with daughter following. Mother places her hands on one of my arms, looks up into my face, says something in her native tongue. The daughter translates:

“Do not be afraid of things gone away…I am afraid that it will happen again”.

Mother says something to daughter, she goes to the fridge and brings a bottle of cold apple cider and hands it to me. Mother speaks and daughter translates:

“Thank you and have a good life”. They were smiling and nodding as I made my exit.

I avoided their shop for months after that. Maybe it was a guilty feeling, having revealed to them what I had done in my past. Maybe it was because I didn’t want anything to happen that would spoil my shallow feeling of redemption. I drove to their shop not long ago and found they had sold out and moved away.

I wanted to buy an apple cider and ask them their names. I wanted to know if I would feel clean again when I saw their faces.



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    • This one got me big time – still soggy and well up whenever I think about it. I feel so deeply for our dear vets – I can’t imagine having to live with that. That’s why the ones we have the privilege to know on this site are such deep and spiritual people. It drives you to consciousness and awareness, as suffering does with all of us, but theirs is truly a burden no one should have to bear.

      • Big Hug Zen for posting this for me. Can’t even begin to say how much You and all the other beautiful people at this site have enlightened and inspired me on my journey. The spiritual wealth found here is….well, beyond my vocabulary.

        Love to all forever

      • I think about that often, Zen. Many people in the armed services are there because they truly believe they are doing something important and necessary. Looking from the perspective of the big lie, it takes courage and a deep caring for people to volunteer to leave your family and the comforts of home and to put your life on the line. Talk about deception… Their deep caring for people has been turned right back on them in such a big and ugly way. It’s not wonder there are so many suicides.

        I had a very special friend who was aware of much that was going on, but I was trying to awaken him to some other things. He is a Vietnam veteran. There were one or two big things that he just could not accept. This big, strong man said, with tears rolling down his cheeks, that if he were to accept these things, it would change who he was.

        It’s hard enough to wake up to what’s being done to us. It must be incredibly difficult to wake up to what you unknowingly did to others.

        The innocent people whose lives, homes, and countries have been, and continue to be, destroyed should not have to go through any of that. There are so many victims in the war narrative. Too many…

        Much love,

        • You’re getting me worked up….

          “it takes courage and a deep caring for people to volunteer to leave your family and the comforts of home and to put your life on the line. Talk about deception… Their deep caring for people has been turned right back on them in such a big and ugly way. It’s no wonder there are so many suicides.”

          wow – and to the rest.

          • Randall, I think we are all facing this, in different ways, and on different levels.

            For years, I was not going to have children. Working with a classroom full of 7 year-olds every day was draining. At some point, though, I was ready, and I was blessed with the two best ones I could have hoped for. I put so much into being a good mother, and while I can make a long list of things I wish I had done differently, there are many things I can say I did well.

            Waking up just shy of two years ago, I must now face many more mistakes, some of them quite important. I could start with vaccines, fluoride toothpaste, vitamins, and dental treatments, mercury fillings, electronics, and junk food, and the list could go on and on. What’s worse now is that they are resistant to the truth, so I am unable to get them to make changes. As a teacher, discovering the education agenda, and realizing the role I played in that… There’s so much more, and I know that each of us can make our own lists.

            In life, we make the best decisions we can with the information we have. Hindsight is 20/20, right? Some choices might be called mistakes; others might be called experiences. They are important and necessary parts of learning. As souls, we are here to learn and grow. When we become aware of new information, it is what we do with it that matters. True learning and growth happens when we take what we have learned and use that knowledge to make a positive change.

            I’d say you passed with flying colors.

            I imagine, too, that your story will inspire others to make some courageous and important decisions. By sharing, you have extended your learning even further. Thank you for that.

            Stay on your path.

            Love and peace,

  1. Well said Scoots – exactly. Randall’s tale is so very deep, and proof of his pure heart is he’s taking accountability. Rare in this world, never mind for something he was virtually forced to do and tricked into thinking was right.

  2. Feeling ya to the core Randal .. Your strength to face your own pain and to understand is beyond cleaning .. Integrity of character; resoluteness of will; mental resistance to doubt or discouragement. when looking from with in your self was a truth is it most purest from is the of your storm . Massive man Hug Pal ..and a ice cold one for that Huge heart of yours that lumped my throat up .. Luv ya Bro .. your a great soul

    • Thank You Doc…..you always reach deep with your words, even if the damned keyboard gives you fits. You have inspired me to open up, even if I’m bit rough around the edges. That means more than I can say.

      As the cold ones click together…..Luv Ya Back!!!!

  3. A Buddhist monk was asked about war. He said “Everything dies.” My husband is a veteran of Vietnam and this made me cry. God bless you all; may we all be so brave and transparent and authentic. Someday seeing these traits will make us happy instead of weeping in remorse.

  4. This story touched me deeply.

    You are clean my brother… the christian tradition has a reference to the archons which they refer to them as the “accuser of the brethren.” This is clearly part of their game. First, to wipe our collective memory of who and what we are. Second, in our amnesia, to get us engaged in activities that defy our nature (particularly affective on the youth, as you eluded). Third and finally, to stand and accuse us of the crimes which they perpetrated. Simply the icing on the cake for them; to crush the already broken pieces into dust.

    What you did was profoundly beautiful and it tears your accusers apart. Peace to you brother.

    • The archons are “Them” a collective mind which directs 99.9% of the nonsense that goes on around us 24/7/365 that we call “reality”. Their sole purpose is to create as much misery, strife, hate, death, fear, etc. as they can because they feed off of it. The more they can get you to hate and kill, the richer and sweeter the food they receive in turn. Aphids and Ants, now do you understand what all this is about?

    • Thanks Scooter. All I can do is give back and maybe if I give enough it will replenish what I took away.

      Peace to you

  5. MANY on both “sides” died in that damned, stinking war. Many times many more will die in those yet to come and the same people who started it all will sit back and laugh and profit from it.

  6. If you haven’t ever gone to a VA hospital, you need to- if it doesn’t make you want to vomit there is something wrong with you on a base level.
    I have seen these guys go out the door with a sheet over them and a toe tag, not a pretty sight.

  7. Blubbed like an abandoned orphan. Been doing that a lot these last few years.
    What makes me do it?
    On the face of it; a very cool and brave story. Underneath; A deep desire to heal, a desire to be healed.

    We wind up reading so much horror these days. Articles filled with the failure of the human race. I’m almost sixty now and grew up in the days where massive deals, be they on the schoolyard or the business sector, were done on a handshake. A sense of honour prevailed that was rarely broken. Men were still in touch with the hero within and almost always acted accordingly.

    Now, all we can do is remember those times and emote when someone displays a simple sense of honour, integrity and shows their true self. All the great things are simple, and many can be expressed in a single word: freedom, justice, honor, duty, mercy, hope, love.
    Honour is simply the morality of superior men.

    Thanks Randall.

    • Yes Patrick….you are so right. A man was only as good as his word…if he didn’t have that what did he have. Thank You for your words that take me back a thousand years ago just yesterday.

  8. No one seems to have noticed or commented upon the Vietnamese woman’s dignity, compassion and forgiveness. What she had to endure, along with the memories of this experience, surpass Randall’s pain in many, many more ways. There’s more to learn from her than Randall in this.

    • Forgiveness of the offender and forgiveness of one’s self are equally important, and both are poison to our enemy.

    • You are right, and while I didn’t comment on anything specifically, that did not go unnoticed. I imagine most people didn’t miss that, either. Randall’s story really wouldn’t be a story if the woman hadn’t responded the way she did.

      It’s nice that we can let Randall know how we feel about what he did. It’s too bad we can’t leave our thoughts for the Vietnamese woman as well.

      I agree with you. There is an awful lot to learn from this story.

      Much love,

    • You are greatly mistaken. You read and accept without question- a foolish mistake. How do you know any of this to be true? This is cyberspace and what happens here is sometimes partly true, sometimes all true, sometimes completely false. It is designed to measure and sample reactions to input stimuli, then record and catalog same, nothing more. Welcome to the lab fellow mice!

      • Are you referring to the story posted here?
        First of all, Randall is a regular here, so it’s unlikely that he’d suddenly make up this story.

        Beyond that – so what? This type of story, whether true or not, can only serve to inspire people to do something good. If it’s disinfo, it’s the best kind.

  9. Thank you for your story Randall.

    Before our awakening, we have all unconsciously followed the indoctrination system we have been force-fed since birth It has led us to do bad things to other people. There is no one here to judge you.

    But always remember that the pain associated with what you once unknowingly served was what led to your awakening.

    The Source of life knows what is needed for you to awaken. Perhaps there was a stubbornness in you that made this experience necessary (I can certainly relate to that).

    May you continue to do the good you can.

  10. Randall,

    Your willingness to acknowledge your part in the suffering of others is courageous–many are unable to face that reality. Your humility in asking forgiveness was touching–I dare say few would do it. Your decision to tell about it here–well, you may not view your military service as making you a hero, but this story does. May you have peace–you’ve done the one thing we’re required to do in this life: Learn.

  11. * It’s just as simple to understand…as the look in mama’s eyes…you had the courage & impetus of your own personal intestinal fortitude> to confront the demons & Wake Up!…no harm or foul since…cheers amigo.

    • Yes Alex…..never forget their smiling faces. Dwelling on that remains my mind’s picture as a cool drink of tonic when some days just plain stink.

      Cheers to you amigo…and Thanks for the PS.

      • Peak chants…. Randall Randall Randall!!!!!!! Thats what i am talking about Bro from the heart Pure and truthful

  12. I was about to be drafted in ’71. I got number 25 on the draft lottery (out of 365), and they were taking up to number 100. I was a math-science major and was planning to be a doctor or do medical research. I didn’t go to college because I knew that within six months I’d be in ‘Nam. I was very patriotic, the senior patrol leader of my boy scout troop, elected president of any club I joined. I’d started playing folk guitar at 11, so naturally was playing all of Bob Dylan and Donovan’s anti-war songs. Being the son of the great white hunter, I was taught to kill deer, birds, rabbits….and became a vegetarian at 17 because of all the pain and terror I witnessed as we hunted (which ended any chance of my dad ever respecting me). He an atheist, me forced to become a true spiritual seeker at an early age. I once hoped for some little sign that God existed. Now, I see him everywhere! My life has not been easy, but I have the joy and bliss of having a relationship with the Great Spirit.

    When I went in for the army physical, the doctor found a little hernia that didn’t exist before or since. God saved me from having to decide whether I was going to go to Canada or let them jail me for refusing to go. But I always felt ashamed when hearing vets talk about the war. All I knew was that I would rather face the wrath of my country than that of God, for I knew he would not want me to go my yellow brothers.

    I honor and respect all those who were tricked into being cannon fodder, and someone else may have gone in my place and died. But thank God that I was awakened early enough to see the sick trap.

    Your story brought tears to my eyes. Bless you for having the courage to bare your soul.

  13. Randall, What a great story of redemption and forgiveness. You received a great blessing from the woman and her daughter. It feels, to me, like anyone who reads this story and is moved by it receives that blessing too. Thank you for sharing your cleansing!
    Hugs! Carla

  14. The comments from all of you wonderful people lift me. The cleansing is not an event but a process and each of you have helped to move that along. The worth of your understanding cannot be stated in words.

    Love to all

  15. I am a vet and live in San Antonio. The streets are full of homeless vietnam era veterans. They come because of the climate. Many, if not most live on the streets because they can’t or won’t be enclosed in shelters and places that put so many restrictions on them (and anyone else) that they cannot live and function. Many have serious illnesses, mental issues, missing limbs, etc…, but they prefer to deal with the street than to have to deal with the system that they feel is responsible for them being where they are to start with. I can’t say I blame them. It is very sad to see how people that have given so much, should have so little and be treated so poorly. Bless each and every one of them! Bless ALL Vets.

    • ” Many have serious illnesses, mental issues, missing limbs, etc…, but they prefer to deal with the street than to have to deal with the system that they feel is responsible for them being where they are to start with.”

      Right on Sunny. The street has a freedom all its own, and most can more or less take care of each other.
      A deputy sheriff told me that some college kids were putting an open case of cheap whiskey out on the street for the vets on Christmas Eve. The college boys told her they just wanted to help, and noticed that each one only took one bottle….no hoarding. She didn’t write them up because it wasn’t against the law.

  16. Years back I crossed paths with a guy who was a medic in the Vietnam “War”. After his tour of duty was over, he returned to the U.S. to “pack”, and as far as I know, never returned.

  17. God bless you Zen! My following comment might seem very inane in regard to what you have written in this article, but it absolutely moved me to tears. I was never in the Vietnam war, nor am I an American, in this life anyway, but I feel such an affinity with this subject even though I was born a little after this time. I have felt, right from an early age, that I was indeed involved in this war somehow and my emotions are always stirred when anything is said or shown about what happened. I know, deep within, that I was involved in some capacity, and my love & healing thoughts go out to all involved.

    Always remember this: You do what you feel is right at the time, and if somewhere down the line you regret that decision, then that is penance enough, as you have realised the right way of doing things further along the way because you have accepted LOVE into your heart and LOVE is the only thing that matters when all is said and done!

    With Much Love to you from all sides, as we are all in this together.xxx

  18. i remember going to school in south africa and we had to do a project on the (terrorist threat) against the white people,and they tried to get us to go into the army saying we would be fined heavily if we didnt sign up the whole thing was a con,thank god i didnt go i now think in my older age that the same thing is happening in the so called war in iraq etc

  19. Randall, I eventually went looking for a father and I found that I had had a brother Rick Lane.
    A medic and Helicoopter gunner.
    He, I was told, did two tours of duty so someone else would not have to go.
    He came home then, he grabbed a first class ticket with a well aimed bullet to the head.
    His name is not on any memorial wall. I never got to hug him, I was not told about him.
    Daily a helicopter flies over my home from an area hospital but I always look up and send a prayer for my brother Rick.
    I sobbed while reading. Thank you Randall.
    You touched my heart so deeply and my brothers spirit feels like it is here with me while I sob.
    Blessing to you sir.

    • Hi Terry….Your brother is not alone…he is with us. I have Rick Lane’s name inside my fist…I hold him. His name is noted on a big chief tablet to travel to the wall. Many hold prayers and names on the paper. Thank you so that we know he is not forgotten. Talking with the fallen…helps me…I hope that it will help you too.

      Love to you Terri

  20. Oh for goodness sake. I wasn’t prepared for that. omfg! Thanks Zen, I say through bawling. Man oh man, I’m a grown man…whew…

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