A Minnesota PBS Initiative

Michael E. Beagan

Exterior of a journal. In print: "RECORD"; in scrawl: "BEAGAN".

I just wanted to share some pages from my fathers journal that he had while on tour.

These are just a few pages, but when reading the journal I can see his transition from an optimistic teen from Saint Paul into being completely numb at what he was doing and witnessing.

He was a Marine in Vietnam from 1967-1968.

He was just 19 and I read his journal and think about what I was doing at 19, I know nothing of sacrifice.

He was a very brilliant man, but the horrors of Vietnam were never far from his memory.

He is sadly another statistic and died from depression/PTSD in 2008.

But we will always have his words.

Thanksgiving passed unnoticed this year - we were in the field - rain, cold C Rats & an ambush down by the tracks. I saw my first enemy & shot... I don't know if I got him or not.

Handwritten page from a journal.
Handwritten page from a journal.

I thought I knew what loneliness was before I come in the Corps - I didn’t - I never dreamed it could hurt so much or make one draw up in himself and his own mind and dreams.

Bad day today. We went across a rice paddy about 800 meters wide and were fired at almost all the way… No one hit but one dude broke - a bad thing to see but it gives one a little more strength.

Handwritten page from a journal.
Handwritten page from a journal.

I am having trouble writing home. I just can’t think of anything to say. I don’t tell them much & try to make poor jokes and be as cheerful as I can but it’s hard as hell keeping away from facts.

I wonder when I’ll get hit and how bad it will be. I know it will happen and it doesn’t bother me. I just hope I get a couple days rest when it does happen.

Handwritten page from a journal.
Handwritten page from a journal.

It didn’t even make my stomach turn… it feels good to kill & see the dead enemy. People would think I was an animal but they don’t understand.

Biographical Details

Story Subject: Memorial

Story Themes: Children of Veterans, Correspondence, Daughter, Death and Loss, Diary Entry, Family, Memorial, PTSD, Saint Paul, St Paul

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