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A Long Way Home

by Sgt. Dave Krueger (B Co. 4/3, 11th LIB, Americal), now retired

My freedom bird is a little different than most, but then it's really not, others came before me and others would came after me.

On April 29, 1968 I was one of the six (one of the no names) that were listed on the daily sitreps at 0849 hours, for B Co. 4/3 11th LIB, Americal Division (23rd). SEE S2/S3 daily staff journals To make a long story short, I received a head injury. In today's terms it is called a Traumatic Brain Disorder. The injury left me partially paralyzed on my right side, plus I lost hearing in both ears. I also lost the ability to talk. I suffered a broken leg and frag wounds all over my back. I was a mess. Over the years I have found out the names of the surgeon and one male nurse, that saved my life at the 95th EVAC hospital, in Da Nang but that's another story. I'm still digging for my line company names as I lost them all when I got injured. So here's my story as to how I got home.

The Army would not move me from the 95 EVAC until I came out of a coma which lasted three weeks. They then waited until I could somehow understand what was happening to me. They asked me to write my name on a pad of paper, which I did somehow. From that point on things started to slowly come around for me. And I mean slowly.

The Army then had we wait another two weeks for a stretcher slot on a C-141 Starlifter to Japan. In Japan I waited for another stretcher slot to the good old USA.

During that wait I got an infection in my leg wound that had to be cleared-up before I could fly. I had to wait Another three weeks. By the way, that's about the same time the Army would take to notify my parents that I was injured. A total of eight weeks after I was wounded.

My mother was up in arms about that mess-up as any mother would be. I'm now starting to understand what is happening around me but I am still confined to a bed. My total vocabulary is, 'YES' and 'no'.

With the infection now somewhat cleared-up it's back in another stretcher in another C-141 for the flight home. That one was Japan to Alaska with a stop-over to refuel. Then it was on to an air force base near Sacramento, California. I stayed another week in Sacramento before getting another stretcher flight on a four engine prop plane to El Paso, Texas (Ft. Bliss). That flight was from Sacramento to Salt Lake City to Denver to Albuquerque and on to El Paso. At Ft. Bliss the Army started my medical treatment and rehabilitation to retrain me to walk again.

The first day at Ft. Bliss is also the first time I saw my mother. After about a one and half months it was time to move again. This flight was on another four engine prop plane was Albuquerque to Denver to an air force base near Springfield Illinois.

After four days it's another move, this time to the Detroit, Michigan and the VA hospital. You would think this would be another short move, wrong. How about in a two engine prop plane on once again on a stretcher by the way of Springfield to Minnesota to Wisconsin over to Michigan's Upper Peninsula than down to Selfridge air force base Southwest of Detroit.

At the Selfridge VA I worked another twenty-two months on my problems from that war the best I could, just as the rest of us that have returned have also done. During all the moves the Army lost my records (not the medical ones) so they could not discharge me in the two year time frame dictated by my enlistment. So they had to retire me.

Sometimes with all of my problems in life, I think I was really one of the lucky ones that came out of that war because I have very little memory of Viet Nam. Sorry this story is not as not funny as others but it's my story.

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