I’m not sure how any had the chance to watch the Ken Burns documentary on Vietnam that was on PBS recently. I watched a few episodes, but haven’t gotten through it all yet. It’s powerful.
If you did watch it, you may recognize the name John Musgrave. In 1967, John was a member of the 1st Battalion 9th Marines, an infantry unit that took such heavy casualties in Vietnam that it gained the nickname of “The Walking Dead.”
His time in Vietnam, especially in Con Tien, is a big part of the documentary – his time in country, being near mortally wounded in an “intimate ambush”, coming home, going to college, becoming a poet and now fighting to halt the devastating escalating rate of veterans who commit suicide.
“They called Con Tien the ‘DMZ’,” John said. “The Dead Marine Zone.”
John spoke on a Veterans Day panel this morning that I had the opportunity to photograph. His commitment to reducing the veteran suicide rate is unflagging. He’s got a leg in a brace and almost died last year from a strange illness. He still takes medication. He wears a silver bracelet on his left wrist with the name of a man still missing in action (MIA) from his unit.
He’s still fighting. His words were insightful, thoughtful and inspiring.
A number of servicemen and women were in audience. Since today is the 242nd birthday of the Marines, John and his fellow Marines there exchanged some “Happy Birthdays” to each other.
Theirs is a tie knotted by brother/sisterhood, resolve, valor…and fear.
It was an honor to photograph him, today of all days.
Watch an “extra” clip here that wasn’t included in documentary.
Every day, we lose 20 veterans to suicide. If you can, be there for veterans. They may need you. If you’re on social media, use the #BeThere hashtag to raise awareness and help.
If you are vet, and things are tough right now, and you feel like the only way out is the way out, wait. What you want to do can always wait until tomorrow. And then wait another day. And talk to someone.
You ain’t alone.
That’s what John taught me today.
© Mark V. Krajnak | JerseyStyle Photography | All Rights Reserved 2017