The following is an excerpt from my book, Reconciliation, A Son’s Story. I was in my teens when PTSD symptoms started to kick-in and become worrisome.
“I believe all of the mental and physical abuse discussed in this story begs the question of how it affected my own disposition as my teen years advanced. I was feeling more and more in-secure as time went by, wondering about what was next, and who our new friends would be, and how we would fit in, and what my parents would end up doing, and where we would live. There was some excitement about returning to Southern California at that time, getting back to school, and meeting new girls especially. I had lots of goals and my thoughts were often of the future, leaving home and being on my own. I wanted out of this chaotic and unstable toxic home life. I was nervous very nervous most of the time. I believe the early stages of PTSD and unstable behavior started to kick in at that time. At age 14 or so, I felt exhausted and confused, without direction, and not knowing whether my parents really cared about us at all.”
The following excerpt from my book, Reconciliation, A Son’s Story, reminds me of the wonders and excitement of romance in Hawaii.
“I was having fun, too much fun and working 12 on 12 off, 24 off, 12 on 12 off with a 72 hour break. Living in Waikiki with 5 other sailors was great too. I would stay on the base during my 12 hour shifts; take off to the beach for romance and surfing during the long weekends. I loved the girls who came over for spring break or after graduating from high school. It was love at first sight just about every other two weeks or so.
My big emotional challenge during that memorable experience back in the summer of 1964 in Hawaii was falling in love with a beautiful young lady, named Sheryl. She came over for an entire month for her HS graduation. She was tall and slender and very sexy. I met other girls during my stay, but Sheryl was the one that really got my attention. We fell in love right away, and spent the next 30 days or so experiencing a wonderful romance in Hawaii. I loved every moment of her company, and couldn’t wait for my next time away from the base to be with her. It was difficult staying on the base while working. I unwisely used my short 24 hour break and took off for Waikiki even though there wasn’t a whole lot of time.
More often than not I raced down to Waikiki to be with her for a few hours during 12 hour breaks. I didn’t want to miss a moment to spend with Sheryl. She was absolutely the best thing that happened to me during my Navy experience in Hawaii. Even surfing took a back seat for awhile. Sleeping became less of a priority as well. Love clearly releases an abundance of energy in a young man. I was already a skinny dude and probably lost another 10 lbs during this high energy period. This experience simply took my breath away.”
The following excerpt from my book, Reconciliation, A Son’s Story demonstrates how a traumatic condition might wipe out a person’s memory of certain events.
“It is very scary for me to find out over 40 years after the event that my 30 day cruise and experience aboard the USS Coucal (ASR-8) in 1965 had been completely blocked out of my mind for the most part. I do remember bits and pieces like in a dream of being on the ship looking at the shore off Makaha Beach and the surfers feeling very sad about not being back on shore duty enjoying the benefits of surfing. My experience aboard this ship was completely wiped out! I can’t remember anything of any substance at all. I am very anxious to find ways to remember this experience and what happened on board the ship for the 30 days out at sea. I hope and pray my memory of this experience returns and helps me heal from what must have been a highly traumatic time in my life. I had hoped that my Naval medical records from that time would reveal the experience, but there were no references of a medical condition or accident requiring treatment during my USS Coucal training cruise.”
Following service in the Viet Nam War from September 1976 to September 1977, Coucal operated from her home port at Pearl Harbor, mainly supporting submarine training. Coucal was decommissioned at Pearl Harbor. In April 1990, ex-Coucal was sunk in the first PACFLT test of a Tomahawk anti-ship missile, fired from USS Chancellorsville (CG-62). reference: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USS_Coucal_(ASR-8)
Following is an excerpt from my book, Reconciliation, A Son’s Story. The stories of family history came together mostly from discussions with my father, Vernon H. Sparks. So far, few records have been located to develop the stories further and to verify facts.
“My dad talked fondly of his childhood, especially times on his grandparents farm in the Red River Valley in North Dakota. He loved this time as a child the best. His grandmother was Native American, and grandfather was from the old country. He rode horses, hunted, fished, and worked hard. His grandparents were highly respected and well off at the time. Their three sons, including my grandfather Art, all had their life challenges and success eluded them for the most part. Except for Uncle Harry, who took his inheritance and bought a farm in Ascov, Mn. Uncle Bob Sparks died of alcohol poisoning, alone and mostly homeless. Grandpa Art passed away in his mid 60’s of a heart condition and alcohol, basically a poor and unhappy man. My grandmother Mildred lived well into her 80’s and had mostly close relationships with her children and grandchildren. I didn’t see much of any of them after joining the Navy. I have recently reconnected with my cousins and surviving aunts from both sides of the family while doing research for this story and to retrace my roots. My daughter, Bianca, and her family recently moved to Eden Prairie, Mn giving me more motivation to find my way back and to share family roots with Bianca and grandkids, Joey and Jordan. Another effect of my own PTSD condition was to ignore where my family lived and roots, sharing hardly anything with my children until recently. Discussions about my own parents have been limited to negative references for the most part, leaving my kids with a feeling that they didn’t want anything to do with my family. I take full responsibility for this behavior, and intend to make it up by writing this story and sharing my family history with my own family for the rest of my time.”
An excerpt from my book, Reconciliation, A Son’s Story to honor our heroes on this Memorial Day 2011. My Dad, Vernon H. Sparks, along with several hundred shipmates, were aboard the USS West Virginia as it is shown bombed and sinking in the below photo. He fortunately abandoned ship and survived on that terrible Sunday morning, the beginning of WWII.
“It gives me pause to think about this “surreal” event in the minds of men who were mentally unprepared for the attack. I can imagine when the first explosions were heard that one would not make a connection to torpedoes or bombs being delivered precisely to their targets with the intent to surprise, destroy, and kill in what was considered a “safe harbor.” Looking out “open portholes” during an attack or even having the portholes open was neither an acceptable practice nor how sailors were trained to respond. Watching a fellow seaman get his head literally blown off his shoulders would create a shock to the body and mind that would forever be implanted in a person’s psyche. This surprise attack had to be an “Armageddon” for those either with religious or non-religious beliefs. How would any of them who survived get the experience rationalized to the extent that they could go on to fight another day? How would their lives be affected, and how could they even discuss the event with family members who would not understand? Would they decide not to discuss it at all? We now know the answer and subsequently became victims as family members and paid a price ourselves, but not even close to price our dear heroes and my father paid.”