Wednesday, July 23, 2014

A Friend's Journal

My friend Bob Keefe was a combat helicopter pilot in Vietnam.  He kept a daily journal for most of his time in Vietnam......he has put this journal into a book.  I am very honored because Bob let me read his book this week.

From the time I was twelve years old until the Vietnam War ended, a family member or friend was sent to Vietnam every year and some did not come home.  During my early teen years I stopped watching the evening news because  the sight of all those body bags made me sick and frightened.

As I read Bob's journal this week, I have wept more times than I care to count.  When I finished his book today, I wept more........for the loss of life, for all the soldiers who came home fighting an even greater enemy, PTSD, for those whose lives have never ever been "normal" again, the innocence that was stolen from every person who lived in this country during that period.

I wish that the leaders and business who thrive on war would read this book......but you know it probably would not touch their hearts at all......for they are so removed from the heartbreak, the ugliness and pain of war that Bob's journal would not cause a blink to their greedy little eyes.

His book is filled with raw honesty......and for many, well maybe for most.....they don't want to remember, they don't want to know what an average soldier saw or felt........I am not one for living in the past......but I know that our past teaches, that our past offers lessons to be learned......and I don't think those who lead this country learned much at all from Vietnam.

Bob is struggling with having his book published, after all it is his daily journal from 1966-1967........I think he worries about the feelings of his friends and family......and this Marine is a very gentle loving soul.  So whether he chooses to publish or not, it is his choice......but for me, I am grateful......I am honored that he allowed me to read it.  I am proud to say that Bob Keefe is my friend.


  1. It is tragic that we cannot allow ourselves as a society to listen to and understand what soldiers sent to fight our wars have been through and what they continue to endure. I'm a registered nurse and when I do hospital admissions, one of the questions we ask every patient is whether they have had thoughts of hurting themselves with the intent to die. I'll never forget one patient's response to that question. He looked me squarely in the eye and said, "Man, I'm a Viet Nam vet -- what do you think!? Of course I have those thoughts every day!" He then took a deep breath, relaxed and continued, "But no, you don't have to worry, I'm not going to kill myself. It's just that when you've been in combat, you never get over it."

  2. My brother Greg is Vietnam Vet...he served in the Marines as a gunner from 68/69...I admire him so much. He also is a kind, gentle soul. I'm so grateful he survived and has gone on the have a successful business and a wonderful life. Not necessarily one without challenges. He's had a kidney transplant due to some of the environmental issues during that war. I'm sure he would love to read that book. He's so proud of his service but doesn't talk about his time in Vietnam. We don't ask either, so maybe he would if we just asked. But I respect his privacy and his way of dealing with that part of his life. I do hope he writes down his memories. Perhaps I should "nudge" him in that way. Your friend did a great thing in writing that journal. Whether he chooses to publish it or not, perhaps he'll leave it for his family to read some day. I think he's a hero and would also love to read his thoughts. Would you tell him thank you for his service to our country from me?