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A military man

Published:

Last Edited: August 21, 2005, 1:46 am

 

 

 

The man in this picture is my old friend Richard Sturm.

Richard died in December, 2004, in Port Lavaca, Texas.

Richard was a 100% disabled veteran of the United States Army. From 1964, until his death he spent his entire adult life in and out of Veterans hospitals. When he wasn’t in a hospital he was usually in a café somewhere drinking coffee and being friendly with anyone who’d give him the time of day.

Or he was with me, camping, fishing, seeing the sights, singing, passing the time. That happened less than he’d have liked, probably more than I’d have preferred. Richard wasn’t an easy man to be around.

Before he volunteered for the Army he was a patriotic youth, intelligent, dynamic, from a family of super-achievers. He graduated from high school with honors, well liked and respected by his teachers and classmates. A young man with a future. Then he joined the US Army.

In 1964, he was stationed in Massachusetts with the Army Security Agency. Without his knowledge or consent, he was selected for an experiment by the career military men who were his superiors. He was given a massive dose of LSD. He sustained permanent brain damage as a result.

Richard spent several months in a mental ward of an Army hospital, presumably under observation by the powers-that-be, to see what they’d wrought. Then they gave him is medical discharge, released him from service and from the hospital, and sent him home without confiding to anyone what the problem was and why it happened.

Several years later after he’d been examined, had his thyroid removed, given electric shock treatments, everything the puzzled medicos could think of to try and improve this mysterious condition, his brother, an attorney, came to suspect something of what had happened. The stories of events of this sort had begun to creep out of hiding and into the press.

A formal demand was made for release of his records, and finally the story came out.

Richard wasn’t injured defending his country. He didn’t get his skull fractured on some battlefield by enemies. He was betrayed by the career military men of his own country, officers and enlisted men, whom he’d given an oath to obey and defend. He served in good faith, and he was betrayed by his country.

Some have noted on the threads that I don’t have an automatic high regard for career military men. They’re correct. Richard’s just an extreme example of thousands of men who’ve been killed, injured, disabled by irresponsible, insane, and idiotic decisions by men who make a career of blindly following orders without thinking, weighing consequences, not feeling any remorse so long as they were ordered to do it.

Like good little Germans.

Jack

 

Entry #203

Comments

1.
four4meComment by four4me - August 21, 2005, 12:05 pm
Rip i am so sorry about your friend. My best friend was killed in VN by friendly fire he and some marine buddy's were playing quick draw with loaded 45's 2 days left to go before he was to return home to be married to his most beautiful fiance. He would never have went into the military if it weren't for her father who said no punk kid was going to marry his daughter unless he could prove that he was a man. So like his father in law to be suggested he went into the marine corps and bravely fought and served for our country. Only to be wasted by another punk kid trying to prove that only one of them was the fastest gun in the country.

On another note have you ever read or saw the movie "Jacobs Ladder" i can tell you several stories that are true in nature to this happening in the military.
2.
Comment by Rip Snorter - August 21, 2005, 1:11 pm
Thanks for the reply four4me.

Someday a historian will have enough distance from the 20th Century to write an honest history of it. When that happens, death and maiming of US men by friendly fire and similar matters during the incessant undeclared wars that dominated the last half of it will inevitably occupy a prominant part of the story.

Sorry about your friend, as well.

I've never read Jacob's Ladder. I'd look forward to the stories you'll have to tell.

Jack
3.
four4meComment by four4me - December 20, 2005, 11:59 am
My best friend i wrote about. Lots of good as well sad memories around the holidays
TECCO MICHAEL JAMES LCPL MARINES 10/06/49 12/24/70
4.
TigerAngelComment by TigerAngel - December 21, 2005, 2:59 am
Very sorry about losing your friends this way. This post had a profound effect on me today bringing up memories I haven't thought about in ages. I'm sure these two are in a better place now.

TA
5.
Comment by Rip Snorter - December 21, 2005, 7:07 am
Thanks for the comment, TA
Jack
6.
Comment by Rip Snorter - December 21, 2005, 7:08 am
Sorry about your bud Four4me.
Thaks for the comment.
Jack

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