Following is an excerpt from my book, Reconciliation, A Son’s Story.
“When Dad completed his shore patrol assignment in Hawaii in the summer of 1943, it had been almost two years since the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. He was able to return home briefly for a few weeks before returning to war in the Pacific. He was promoted to Chief Petty Officer (BMC) early in 1943 and subsequently assigned to the USS Belle Grove (LSD2). He was on the commissioning crew of August 9, 1943. Dad was one of three Pearl Harbor survivors on the BG. He was held in high esteem. The BG would become one of the most decorated war ships in the Pacific Asiatic Theater serving in 7 campaigns, included the now famous Iwo Jima battle. LSD means Landing Ship Dock. These mighty ships were cleverly designed as a sea going ship repair station deployed in the campaigns to repair damaged ships at sea, land marines on the beach, and to recover the wounded and killed.
These men, heroes to be sure, who landed on the beaches of places like Iwo Jima, knew they were given a 50% or less chance of survival. My dad carried marines onto shore and risked his life as well, but never felt he was a hero or was doing what his fellow marines had to do. In other words, he wasn’t exactly on a suicide mission like the rest, so he as well as most sailors felt guilty most of the time for being alive. This kind of guilt lives with men following the war for the rest of their lives. It is one of the symptoms creating the conditions for PTSD. Interesting but tragically, the feeling of guilt also lives with the abused spouses and children of surviving combat veterans. Guilt is evident in most cases of PTSD whether from combat, surviving an accident where others were killed, or from living in a toxic family culture as a survivor of long term abuse.
This subject requires much more research to determine why the conditions of abuse cause guilt similar to the guilt experienced by survivors of war and other tragedies that cause trauma to minds and body. There must be a connection in the mix that relates back to the “I’m not deserving or good enough” mindset. This kind of feeling happens to me all the time, much more so as a younger man. And this kind of guilt feeling can be destructive and cause a person not to manage success very well. We deserve failure but not success so to speak. But we who suffer with PTSD work hard to be successful and to prove our worthiness.”