FORT WAYNE, Ind. - (WFFT) John Lumpkin is a Vietnam War veteran with the United States Army. Last week we shared part one of his story and we last left you as john’s father told him some of the most important information he would need to know during his time at war.
Vietnam was different for different people. For John Lumpkin, that meant doing two jobs at once. One as signal support, the other, carrying an m14 rifle as a perimeter guard.
Lumpkin said, "Perimeter guard is set up to where you’re not on it every night. Reason for that was, in the event something happened, horrific, they didn’t want that person there again."
And his encounters with the enemy were at the worst of times.
"Dusk to dawn is the worst time on a military base camp as well as those out negotiating fire fights...Fortunately for me, in God’s own way, my fights were at night. I cannot tell you, honestly, that I killed anyone. I cannot tell myself, honestly, that I didn’t," Lumpkin said.
And the Vietcong, always close by.
Lumpkin recounted one specific instance, sayinf "We had a chopper go down, right at dusk on the edge of our perimeter. We got the 2 pilot and co-pilots out, got them back in the perimeter, but by the time the next morning come, the chopper had been dismantled."
After his time in the military, John would return home and try to go to college, but was harassed so much by those against the war that he only made it 30 days.
John did some radical things.
"So I walked from savannah over to Santa Cruz, California, back towards Chicago, up and down the coasts different direction and at that time I just kept, I got that music thing going and that’s how I actually ended up here over in Indiana," Lumpkin said.
And along the way. John got into the music industry. He worked with lighting, sound, wiring, checking with artists and such, then became a backup singer, But John had troubles along the way.
"It got to the point where I was literally drinking sitting on the floor in the corner, so I wouldn’t have so far to fall."
John would get sober in the 70s, but PTSD would rear it’s head, on a day that would change the United States as we know it.
"9/11 just took my breath away. I was downhill from there." Lumpkin said.
He’s been struggling with thoughts of Vietnam since that day.
Lumpkin said, "When it gets to be nightfall, it’s my turn to be awake. When it gets to be daylight, it’s my turn to rest. Those coincide, mainly, when my wife is at home or I know where she is and she’s in route to home because that’s my safety net now. If I know she’s secure, I can be secure."
Nowadays, John is still involved with music, but more and more he’s reaching out to other veterans, talking to them, exchanging stores, hoping they get help.
"Once you start exchanging information like that, you want to get them in a program. I go to groups, i’ll talk to anybody, i’m just that type of guy. I just want them to be able understand that there is more in your lifetime than this."
If you’re someone struggling with PTSD, Lumpkin says there’s one vital thing you need to do.
"Friendships and relationships is something you need to surround yourself with."
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