The disparity between me and Dave, the protagonist of The Trion Syndrome, hinges on our judgment of our wartime experience. Dave regrets his time as a soldier and is ashamed of what he did. While I am subject to a sense of guilt for what happened in Vietnam—why did the guys standing next to me get killed and I didn’t?—I am nevertheless proud of my years in the service of my country. I know my work saved lives. And during the fall of Saigon, I rescued others who would otherwise have died.
In sum, Dave and I are different, but I share enough of his pain that I was able to write the story of his downfall and ultimate salvation.
So despite my tortured memories, I have found an imperfect peace by taking on my soul damage and working through it by writing about it. Dave’s not so lucky. His salvation comes through the help of a son he didn’t know he had.
Despite our differences, Dave and I are brothers. I experienced enough of what he went through that I could tell his story. And writing The Trion Syndrome was cathartic. It helped me come to terms with my own devils and find peace, however flawed.