The worst physical effects of the Vietnam war came at the end for me. When Saigon fell, I and two communicators (who volunteered to say with me to the end) were holed up in our office while the North Vietnamese besieged and shelled the city. We were there for the better part of a week with nothing to eat but bar snacks we’d been able to scrounge while we could still get out into the city. And the nearly constant shelling—first rockets, later artillery—deprived us of sleep. The U.S. Marines, commanded by Colonel Al Gray, finally got us out safely after the North Vietnamese were already in the streets. My two communicators went out around two in the afternoon on 29 April 1975. I went out that night under fire.
As a result of the deprivation of those last days in Saigon, I was suffering from severe ear damage, exhaustion, dysentery, and pneumonia. From my time in combat during earlier years, I was subject to Post-Traumatic Stress Injury (PTSI). But once again, my overall health triumphed. I recovered completely from the physical illnesses within a short time. The only lasting physical effect is that I have had to wear hearing aids ever since. The PTSI I will have always with me, but I have learned to cope.
So here I am thirty years after retirement with a comfortable income, living in a house ideal for my lifestyle (magnificent view, next to no upkeep), with multiple published books and stories, with the time and means to write, and still able to do presentations and readings.
It doesn’t get much luckier than that.