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Sidney Alvin Lee - U.S. Army Airborne Ranger

At that point in my life, the PTSD symptoms really kicked in.  Prior to working as an air traffic controller, I’d declared a guarded truce with my anger, excessive drinking and running from job to job.  I believed I was the cause of my problems, and bitter disillusionment was somehow native to my personality.  But now, closed in a radar room for hours looking at little green lights on a screen presented a whole new set of problems.  Flashbacks. 

Sitting before a screen in a darkened room gave me the jitters, and I found it difficult to maintain concentration.  Two hours into my shifts, I heard the sounds of combat in my headset, and when I talked to an airline pilot, I flashed back to talking on the radio in Vietnam.  Sometimes, I believed I was calling in artillery or guiding a medivac chopper into an LZ.  Then, I found myself concentrating more on the imaginary communication than on the aircraft flying through my airspace.  The red lights on the walls and the green lights on the screen reminded me of red and green tracers, and I fixated on them.  As time went on, I had memory problems and struggled to keep track of the aircraft in my sector.  On many occasions, I made repeat calls to pilots and sometimes gave conflicting instructions.

  • The closed-door environment of Sidney’s new job was filled with an assortment of auditory and visual stimuli that for a man with PTSD was like walking through a minefield.  Each time he communicated over the radio and experienced auditory flashbacks, figuratively, he stepped on a mine, and the lighting in his work environment triggered visual flashbacks. 


1. Racism in the Military
2. Tossed into a River
3. Dad's Death
4. MLK
5. Jump school
6. Rosie Marie
7. A lot of action
8. The world turned to shit
9. Attacked from three sides
10. Green tracers
11. The last day
12. PTSD symptoms kick in
13. Too petrified to move
14. No support from Uncle Sam