I’m currently about half-way through reading On Combat: The Psychology of Deadly Conflict in War and in Peace (Warrior Science Publications, 2008) by Lt. Col. Dave Grossman with Loren W. Christensen. The book is a study of human behavior in a fight to the death. I’m reading the book because I experienced fighting on the battlefield repeatedly during my years in Vietnam as an undercover signal intelligence operative in support of army and Marine combat units in Vietnam between 1962 and 1973. After U.S. troops were withdrawn in 1973, I headed the covert National Security Agency operation in Vietnam and escaped under fire when Saigon fell on 29 April 1975.
I suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Injury as a consequence of my combat experience and the unspeakable slaughter during and after the fall of Saigon. To cope with that ailment, I must face my memories head on. So I want to know as much as possible about combat and the effect on combatants.
Grossman’s portrayal of combatants before, during, and after the fight to the death astonishes me. I’m stunned to read of psychological, physical, emotional, and spiritual conditions to which combatants are subjected—the author is describing me and what I went through.
More next time.