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Thoughts By Joe
Thoughts By Joe Soldier Story Robert Brenner Pete Caldwell


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By Joe Stasikonis

After being discharged from VA-164 and the U.S. Navy in 1969, it took me 20 years to figure out just how much my life had been changed by these four short years and Viet Nam.

I don't talk about Viet Nam much anymore, because I finally dealt with it about 15 years ago.

I came home a very bitter and angry person and I could not figure out why until about 10 years after I got out. My government has a habit of taking young men (17 and 18 years old) and training them to go kill and fight wars on other lands they know nothing about. They tell us we are fighting for freedom and other peoples rights and that we are the only country that has the mighty power to do it.

Then in Viet Nam we heard all about the protests, draft evaders, and men going home and being spat on and called "Baby Killers" and getting into fights with American people about the war in Viet Nam. Well this creates confusion and wonder and you soon ask yourself... what in the hell is going on here.

Also 17 and 18 year old men are seeing things they have never seen before. The horrors of war, friends and people they went to school with being killed in horrible and sometimes stupid ways. Watching a person you just shot die in front of you. The effects and smells of bombs, Napalm, the smell of burnt flesh and death. And hundreds of other traumas that no young man should have to go through... for every young man that served the list goes on and on.

Then they bring this young man home and turn him loose with a few dollars in his pocket and a pat on the back and say "you done a good job son, now go home". No counseling, no support, and no one to understand what he has gone through. He tries to talk to friends and family about what has happened and deal with it on his own. But all he get are replies like "that is some story", they don't understand that to him it is not a "STORY", IT IS REALITY. So soon he stuffs his feelings and words and attempts to deal with his life as best he can. All alone with the horrible memories and anger. If he does not find help, he winds up in trouble. And once again he asks himself "WHY" what in the hell is wrong with ME. And no one understands, not his wife, not his family, not his friends. No one can identify the problem, all they can say is "Viet Nam has changed him". For many of us who served in Viet Nam the real war (the internal war) started when we came home.

But for me to dig up the past and tell you all "THE STORIES" would only be for your amusement. The only thing you could have is empathy for my feelings but even their you could not relate. Because they are so extreme.

At one point in a drunken stupor I thought to myself that Woynarsky was lucky at least he got his name on THE WALL and didn't have to go through the "internal war". Ask someone who was there to tell you the "STORY" about Woynarsky.

Can you relate to being 18 years old and watching 44 young men burn as you struggle to find one still alive and put out fires all around you (not knowing that you have also been badly burned)? Later you find out that you attended grade school with the guy that accidentally started the fire. Only someone who has been there can truly understand what that is like.

Some time back during Desert Storm a young girl came up to me at work on Veterans Day and said "Joe, I would like to say thank you for the job you did in Viet Nam". I told her it was a little to late for that. If she really wanted to thank me, do it by NOT treating the men coming home from Desert Storm like they did me. Don't call them baby killers and spit on them. Welcome Them Back Home.

I'll tell you why this web site is here....

Because it is my way of saying Thank You to the men, families, and anybody who had anything to do with Attack Squadron 164. Job Well Done! Welcome Home!

Joe Stasikonis
Attack Squadron 164
U.S. Navy 1965-1969
Email: ghostrider@VA-164.org

When someone sends me an email like this I smile from ear to ear:

Up jumps the devil.

Stas, you old son of a gun. How the hell are you?

I'm still wondering what O.C.King said to you all those years ago to get you off your ass. I also remember you had the prettiest round eye in Singapore. And you had the nerve to bring her aboard ship to show her off. You were true to your word. I won't ever forget that one. I apologize to your wife if she reads this.

Have you heard from the rest of the wrecking crew?

I hope life is treating you well.

Your friend and fellow wrecking crew member, Mac (Arthur McDowell)

corrosion control

Their is another around here someplace about me dragging 4 mops off the side of the ship on a ropes to clean them. When I brought the mops back in I had 2 empty ropes and 2 mop handles. I hope Davy Jones put them mops to good use.


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