Peter L. Meadows
Rank at end of Service: L/CPL E3
Enlistment Date:25 August 1964
Specialty (MOS):0351 (3.5 Anti-assault Rocket Launcher)
Dates in Country:24 Aug '65 to 30 Dec '65
Organization:Golf Company 2/1
Areas of operation:Quihnon, Phubai, Que Son Valley
Here's one rough, tough, stomp-ass 20-yr old Marine, fresh out of ITR in 1964. Get me to the 'Nam and give me a crack at those Commie bastards. I'll kick ass from Saigon all the way to Hanoi and take no prisoners.
Fresh out of Boot Camp at Parris Island, our utilities still had that high-gloss look that told everyone that you were still a "Boot". And the suspicious look of fear in our eyes for anyone over the rank of Corporal further announced to the world that we were fresh meat.
But no matter, We were Marines now. We had earned the right to be the toughest kid on the block.
As rumors of action in Vietnam came fast and furious, we relished the thought of joining the fray to do what we had been so meticulously trained to do. All of which came at no small amount of pain to our young butts.
We rushed into War full of fire, full of piss and vinegar, full of our mind's image of what the Marines were about. Actually, what we were fullest of was our naivete. We had no sense
of own mortality. We all would discover that quickly enough, but on the trip over, everyone thought they would live forever and bring glory upon ourselves and our Corp.
Alas, such was not the case for me. My time in Nam was to be short as I took several rounds in December of 1965 after only four months in country. A lot of awakening took place in that four months. Marine or no Marine, I learned how humanly frail my body was. I could be hurt easily when there were people around who were trying to shoot my ass. I guess I also learned how much punishment the body can take, although that was a lesson I would have preferred to have learned from listening to someone else's tales from the Crypt.
Most of all, I learned that combat wasn't anything like it is portrayed in the movies. It took me years to build a mythical respect for John Wayne's accomplishments in his movies. Vietnam washed all that away in a New York minute.
- Here I am in Chelsea Naval Hospital after eight months of surgery and rehab.
- The Boston Globe took this picture for a puff piece they were doing after somehow discovering that there was a war that America was engaged in.
- L. to R., That's me, lower left, Mark Bradford is in the bed, I think the next man's name was Goodwin.
- The other two Marines I draw a complete blank on.
Present Day: Here I am today standing before a very famous
painting of the Wall. My wife bought this for me on my birthday and it's my favorite.
Today, I am a Sr. Cost Analyst with a global manufacturer. I look back on my service with pride and I'm thankful that I did nothing to disgrace myself or the Corps. Though I wasn't allowed to fight for a longer time, in my mind, I upheld the highest traditions of the Marine Corps. That remains a source of great pride to me.
For eight or nine years, I wrestled with some demons that I never talked to anyone about. To this day, they remain a privately fought struggle in my mind. I always felt it was something I had to deal with myself and I never sought help from anyone or any agency. Perhaps that wasn't the best
decision I ever made. Maybe help was what I
needed and should have sought. Maybe I'll still seek it out one day.
I went to college at age 31, when other men my age were already established in their careers. I earned a BS in Accounting and a Master's in Finance.
I belong to the Chelmsford, MA Lodge of Elks, where I serve as their Treasurer. The thing I like the most about the Elks is the kind of brotherhood and esprit de corp that I have found in only one other place...The Vietnam Veterans of 2nd BN, 1st Reg., 1st MarDiv, Inc. I'm honored to be associated with you guys and I'm thrilled to serve as your Treasurer and a Trustee.
Perhaps the greatest accomplishment in my humble life was to pursue and marry a wonderful woman who has given me three fine children; Brandon, 23, Blair, 21, and Kyle, 17. They are what it's all about for me now.
Here's my 2/1 hat. All who have seen me around the reunions know that I never fail to wear my hat. At home, I wear it on Casual Fridays at work. It has become my signature garment and, when in a crowd, my family and friends can always find me. They just look for the red hat. I wear it with pride!
Oops! I almost forgot one member of our family, a big, old pain in the the butt named Dylan. How'd you like to feed three squares a day to this Marine?
Most vivid memories of Vietnam:
Of course, the horrible pain and shock of being shot three times overrides all my memories, but there were other images and sounds and smells:
- Seeing two dead men lying in the road shot through the head. I never knew who they were, but they were the first dead men I had ever seen.
- Because of problems getting re-supplied with water some times, I developed a fixation on watermelon. I would have killed for a piece of watermelon.
- I remember flying in helicopters and noting the patchwork beauty of the rice paddies below. Even through the ravages of decades long war, Vietnam maintained a wondrous beauty.
- Even today, if I concentrate, I can smell gunpowder. I hated the smell then and I hate it now. No, General, I do not like the smell of Napalm in the morning!
- I remember the feelings of helplessness when given warnings by crew chiefs as we entered the helicopters. They told us to sit on our steel pots so we wouldn't get shot in the ass from below. That, and the paper thin aluminum of those choppers always made me feel like a sitting duck in those birds.
- I remember the stark and frightening image of my friend lying face down on the road, as still as an artist's canvas.
S0, Brothers, that's me in a nutshell. Then and Now. We'd love to show other Vets in the same light. Many people would like to know what you were like in Vietnam and what has happened to you since. Send me photos and a narrative. I'll help with the narrative, if you like. This will be your forum, and what you tell me goes on the page the way you want it told.