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Lance Johnson - U.S. Army

My whole life, I never considered myself special or anything but ordinary.  I entered the army by way of the ROTC program at the University of Idaho.  That was okay with me. You see, the Vietnam build-up hadn’t started yet, and public opinion of the armed services was still positive. 

We lived in a different nation then.  The post-WWII glow still fueled our sense of moral superiority, and Cold War fears fired our patriotism.  Right or wrong, Americans believed in the institutions of America, and if you had doubts, John Wayne, Gary Cooper and Randolph Scott would set you straight.  In those days, a young man swore his allegiance to God and Country with pride.  All that came naturally to me, and I enjoyed the ROTC drills, the uniforms and the camaraderie.  I received my college degree and was commissioned a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army on the same day. What could be bad about that? 

My earliest memories are of my father, the classic, old-fashioned military man.  He went on active duty the day of the attack on Pearl Harbor and served six years as an infantry officer and military policeman.  Dad wasn’t a big man, but he stood ramrod straight, carried himself with authority, and people listened when he spoke.  As a youngster, I recall he seemed always in his pinks and greens and Sam Browne belt and always in charge.  To my young eyes, my father looked ten feet tall.

  • Lance describes his father in terms that present not so much a close, nurturing paternal figure but an officer with a rigid military bearing, often absent for extended periods of time.  Lance likely did not have the intensity and extent of paternal involvement necessary for optimum personality development.  This dearth of paternal role modeling and support may have rendered Lance less emotionally resilient in later years. 



1. Ordinary
2. Dating the class secretary
3. Artillery training
4. Special Forces Camp
5. Firing at anything that moved
6. You're not going ot believe this
7. Asked to accomplish the impossible
8. Welcomed by war protesters
9. Anger
10. Like a trapped schoolboy
11. Dissociative flashback
12. Still in love