Saturday, August 11, 2012

37 years later, Marine killed in last Vietnam war battle is buried

37 years later, Marine killed in last Vietnam war battle is buried
LA Times
August 7, 2012
Tony Perry in San Diego

Photo: Robert Rivenburgh wears an identification tag bearing a picture of his brother, Richard, at Richard's funeral Monday at Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery in San Diego.

Credit: Rick Loomis / Los Angeles Times

For all U.S. military personnel ordered into a war zone, there is an implied promise: If you fall in battle, you will not be left behind.

And so for 37 years, the family of Marine Pfc. Richard Rivenburgh, who was 21 when he died during the 1975 rescue of the U.S. merchant ship Mayaguez, waited.

"There was a promise unfulfilled until today," Navy chaplain Cmdr. Jim Peugh said Monday at Rivenburgh's funeral at Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery in San Diego.

"Holy God, we welcome home our brother."
read more here

If you look on the left sidebar of Wounded Times, you'll see a section that says, Christ Prayed too, For a friend in need and then Matthew 25. Many know why it is there but it has been a long time since I talked about it. The reason it is there is because of a Vietnam Veteran, told he wasn't one because they had never heard about what happened with the Mayaquez.

This "job" comes with a lot of responsibilities. Some, very public, like what you're reading right now. Other times it is filming events in Central Florida. While both are public, no one knows about the veterans I talk to all the time. I can't think of a better way to spend my time on this earth.

Then there are the emails and phone calls. I could go weeks without hearing from a veteran or a family member but then an email comes and I know someone is being torn apart.

One of those emails came a few years ago from the Vietnam veteran mentioned above. He had a career, a live in girlfriend of many years and thought he was over it. He took a trip to Washington to see the Wall. He was never the same after that. They say the Wall heals, but there is another side of this that comes with an awakening of the pain some thought they had put in the past. It brings it all back.

Well, he contacted me because he didn't know what happened to him. He was crying, having nightmares, flashbacks and the shock of the sudden change was just too much for him.

I have a rule that I will get them to understand what PTSD is, stay "with them" until they to the point where they want to go for help, then let them go to people trained in psychological counseling. Usually I won't hear from them again but once in a while I'll get updates about how their lives are going afterwards. My job basically is to talk them off the ledge and help their families understand so they can support them on the road to healing.

In this veteran's case, I broke my own rule. Hundreds of emails later, I had to give up because he needed a lot more help than I could give him but as long as I was there for him to communicate with, he wasn't willing to get better help than I could give. There is a reason for that. The Mayaquez is the reason he couldn't find help in his area.

Too many didn't know what happened and they called him a liar. He was refused help more than anyone was willing to help him. His girlfriend left him then took almost everything he had. He had more people turn their backs on him than were willing to help him. It broke my heart to cut off contact with him because I knew he needed someone able to do more than I could and then I blamed myself for not being what he needed.

I told him that as long as he saw this passage on my blog, I would be thinking of him. Every now and then I get an email from him to let me know he's still around. When a report comes out about the Mayaquez, he is the first person I think about and how there are so many stories out there no one knows about.

If you are a psychologist think about giving up some of your time to help veterans like him. They need help, someone to listen to them, show them they matter, but keep in mind they cannot pay. They have been abandoned by everyone else in their lives, so they may come off as if they are taking it out on you but you need to understand you are just part of a very long list of people they asked to help them. They need help getting paperwork done so they at least get some kind of income to live with from Social Security or welfare until they are able to have a VA claim approved. These untold stories are veterans all over this country with nowhere to turn to, so they won't find you. You have to spend some time to find them. Take out ads and let them know you care about them when no one else does.

Vietnam war deaths 1956-1975

Mayaguez incident on May 15, 1975 little known part of Vietnam War

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