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Report from the World of Men: “How I Broke The World Record For Longest Kill “

In this episode, we sit down with Craig Harrison, a former sniper in the British Army. Craig takes us through his career including his first kill, his most dangerous mission, and how he broke the world record for the longest kill.

You think you know where this is going, but you don’t. In the meantime, “Just say ‘No’.”

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Kevin in PA May 7, 2021, 8:57 AM

    It’s a damned nasty business. Soul wrecking shit to deal with.

  • tim May 7, 2021, 9:08 AM

    Thanks for sharing Gerard.

    There’s another video where he responds to various reactions to the first, which is also very good –

  • Casey Klahn May 7, 2021, 10:36 AM

    Just hugged my dog.

    I never got PTSD and never have been in combat. I can’t say much about it except that, for some reason, guys in the nasty guard who’d been to Vietnam, and even Korea, did find me a good ear to listen. The truck driver who couldn’t hold down a job because he’d been asked if he killed babies in nam. Yes, he had. A kid ran in front of his 5 ton. The guy who’d gone on LRPs alone and killed the enemy for sport. The look on the face of the air medical guy who’d hose out he blood on the floor of his C-141 medevac plane. The guy who threw ARVN off his Huey with big arms as they mobbed it in retreat panic. My roommate at Ft Benning, who’d wake up screaming; he’d been a point man in the buck seventy-third Sky Soldiers. One who shot a charging tiger in the face. Another who fought in the Ia Drang Valley and went in as a spec4 and came out a captain. A guardsman with a thousand yard stare, fresh from Watts. A Cobra pilot who saved a platoon who he could’ve also just as easily killed if he hadn’t calculated the locations of the combatants through the fog on a hillside, and shot the NVA like he meant to.

    Then, there’s the WW II and Korea guys. Stories. Told first hand to me, always with the eyes. I lived with a guy (my father) who went through one of the ultimate war fronts – Italy is legendary for its hardship. It is one the worst war fronts of WW II. I got all of his stories, one at a time, over the course of many years in the 60s and the 70s. He was always humble, and always complimentary of the other guy (even though he was in the most elite unit). Talk it through. Be humble.

    Read a book titled Chicken Hawk, about a Huey pilot in the Vietnam War, and his PTSD. It’s your primer on the subject. Statistically these shell-shocked veterans are not violent, but anger and firearms…you heard the sniper’s story.

    Listen. Ask intelligent questions. Don’t say stupid, denigrating shit. Listen.

    Notice how the sniper would make up stories about the enemy in his scope? That’s inductive thought. This guy is highly intelligent. We call that plunging fire, and american methods for bracketing do not walk rounds, they alternate long and short rounds to find the target.

    The British Army shit-canned him just like that? I know his job performance was probably suffering, but there is a duty to treat. Maybe there’s more to that story.

    Talk to a veteran. A fukn dog does more good than you (just motivating you – take it easy).


  • Casey Klahn May 7, 2021, 10:41 AM

    While I’m on a roll. What’s all this horseshit about “he never talked about the war?” Bullshit! You have a duty as a human, as a friend or a relative, to be an ear. Polish that ear off, clean the turds out, and ask a GD question of your veteran.

    Where did you go? What was your job? I guarantee you those intelligent and open questions will begin a conversation.

  • Kevin in PA May 7, 2021, 12:25 PM

    My Father was a decorated combat veteran of WW2. He went in as a volunteer infantryman. He came out a Lieutenant.

    I can remember some of the stories he told, as sort of world geography and history lessons. He respected the Germans and had none for the Arabs of North Africa. He said when they liberated Paris and the local men would come out to kiss and embrace the victors the Americans would kick them in the balls.

    Two stories I remember vividly;

    The first was about a little Arab boy (7 or 8 years old) that the American soldiers caught stealing a chocolate bar from one of their footlockers. The G.I.s turned him over to the community elders, expecting the lad would get a slap on the ass and maybe no dinner, just straight to bed. Nope. Right then and there they drew a sword and cut that boys right hand off!

    The other story was when he was in France and the Germans were in retreat. His squad had ducked into a farmhouse and from the second story they were scanning the surrounding area to assess their situation.

    Suddenly, they heard the front door of the house open and shut. Dad said he looked down the stairs and there was a young (sixteen years or so) German soldier, panicked and started to run up the stairs without even looking. The kid got to the upper steps and then looked up to see the muzzle of the M-1 Garand rifle my Father was pointing at him. He said he chose not to shoot the kid but instead caught him under the chin with a boot that sent him tumbling back down the stairs.

    Dad said it was a decision he made in an instant based on two things; first, was that they did not know how close the enemy was and firing a shot could give away their position, second, he knew that near the end of the war the Germans were conscripting teens and this kid was likely one of the unfortunate. Taken prisoner, the kid could not stop saying Danke, Danke, Danke as he walked past my Dad.

    Dad would be 99 years old this July if he were still alive. I remember about 25 years ago, he happened to mention to me that he sometimes wondered where that German kid was today and what kind of life he’d had.

  • EX-Californian Pete May 7, 2021, 2:02 PM

    A 2475 meter shot. That’s well over a mile and a half.
    No matter who you are, that’s extremely impressive by all means. That’s over 3 times the distance of my best LD shot ever, and I was aiming at paper- not a human being. Huge, huge difference.

    It’s pretty easy to notice the deep hurt and regret in Craig’s eyes, and how it reflects his heart. His words reflect it too, but not quite as well. He’s more than deserving of our best wishes, our sympathy, and our prayers. And he’s a testament to the fact that taking a human life (no matter the circumstance) gouges a large piece out of your soul that can’t ever be patched up.

    I wholeheartedly agree with Jordan about the (unfortunate) necessity of being “dangerous.” The “monster” he refers to is essential in my book- the alternative to being weak, defenseless, and susceptible to harm by others.
    The important part is to keep that monster on a very short leash. And never feed it hatred or spite, lest it will eat you for dessert.

    God bless our Veterans for their bravery and selfless patriotism.

  • Kevin in PA May 7, 2021, 5:24 PM

    I must agree with your central point about taking human life. It is damaging, especially to those of Western cultural upbringing. We are taught that killing is sin…and it’s a big one. Mortal sin. No coming back from that. There is actually a thing known as “Mark of Cain Syndrome” that is commonly experienced by cops and military fighters who have killed.

    Mr. Harrison, if I understand the context correctly, was fighting for Brit forces, but regardless, he is deserving of what Casey refers to as lending an ear. Absolutely, these are damaged human beings and should be treated with respect and dignity.

    Having said that, and I will preface that I am not a veteran, but should we not be asking why men of previous generations were seeming less inclined to be so damaged? I suspect that there is something amiss here. WW2 there was a clear purpose outlined to the nation. While there was some reluctance to enter the fray in Europe, I think most intelligent people understood the danger posed by the Nazi regime and the alliance with the Fascists of Italy. When our troops returned home victorious they were the heroes.

    Contrast to just about every military conflict post Korea has had a lot of ambiguity and corporate/state shenanigans resulting in what? One mess after another. To the degree that the “foreign entanglements” of which Washington warned about were full on reached, sometime around Bush2- into Obama, peak fucking perpetual-war-for-perpetual-peace madness with these globalist assholes. FFS the Obamamessiah with the guidance of Msss Secretary Clinton and Kerry invaded seven damn countries!

    And why is it that the generation of my Father could knock the snot out of the fascist in Euroland and the Bushido warriors of Japan in 4 years, but the greatest military force in the world can not thrash a bunch of cave dwellers in ‘Stan or Mesopotamia in less than two decades. Mind you, I am not criticizing the fighting men. I am livid at the military leadership that seems to have sold their souls to the globalist cabal. Militaries are not for nation building or insuring women can vote in developing countries.

    Perhaps the men coming home from these wars are damaged because they are discovering that prior to their naive enlistment in what they thought was an honorable defense of their country, only to learn through horrific experience that they were pawns in a game way above their pay grade. These men realize that they killed to further an agenda with which they don’t agree. They killed because they were trained to do so, but that won’t save your eternal soul from damnation. Or will it, if God is on our side?

    Not being snarky. These men need support, but let’s look at why the hell we continue to elect people willing to send our young men to act as world policeman and to kill in the name of American values…or well, I am not sure what they are sent to do in far off lands anymore. I’m also unclear about what American values are anymore. Looking around I’m not seeing much recognizable America anymore.


  • Alexandria May 7, 2021, 6:58 PM

    “The meek shall inherit the earth.”

    “Those that have swords and know how to use them but choose to keep them sheathed shall inherit the earth.”

  • ghostsniper May 7, 2021, 7:09 PM

    Kevin sed: “We are taught that killing is sin…”
    But that’s the wrong way to look at it.
    I don’t plan on murdering anyone, but I do plan on killing anyone that attempts to murder anyone in my presence.
    Killing does not = murder.
    Will I be damaged after defending myself or others?
    Probably, but less than the damage I would incur if I didn’t step up when required.
    A coward dies a thousand deaths.
    You have to start with the right frame of mind.
    When a lion charges you you are not killing a kitty.
    When a human enemy is charging you you are not murdering him.
    You are defending yourself.

  • H (science denier) May 7, 2021, 8:19 PM

    Irish Driscoll, Randy Cunningham’s back seater when they shot down all those North Vietnamese MiG’s, did some studies on some things and one of the guys he interviewed was a WW-One ace. Driscoll asked him if he ever had nightmares. The ace said he did. Driscoll asked him when was the last one. The ace replied, last night.

  • Rob De Witt May 7, 2021, 9:23 PM

    Thanks, always, for your tales about your father. I’ve told you this story before, but…

    My dad was orphaned at age 2 and kicked around from one household to another as a caretaker and kind of au pair, I guess until his older siblings got him free and raised him from there. He started as a window-dresser and ended up managing Woolworth’s stores around Illinois. When he was drafted at age 26 in 1944 he had a 3-year-old daughter; his response to being called to war as a private was to have another baby. In all my life I’ve seen one letter he wrote to my mother where he was really looking forward to having a son and a good life together when he came back. She really didn’t survive his loss despite living another 50 years, and she let her man-hating mother move in before I was two. I was a convenient target.

    He was killed fighting across France with Patton, 3 days before his 27th birthday. I was born 5 months later. I was never allowed to ask about him so I found out who he was on my own, after years of shrinkage. He was a good guy, and a gentle soul with his own darkness, it seems like. I’ve spent my life, 76 years so far, trying to live up to him. I’d give anything to have had the chance to hear his stories as you describe.

    What psychiatry taught me is that there are other ways to experience PTSD besides combat. Child abuse and having my baby taken from me left me rattled for years; suicide was not acceptable because I could never do that to my daughter, y’know? Marriages didn’t work because I was so fucked up, despite women liking me so I had plenty to choose from. I did it all alone because no option; eventually getting down on my knees and giving it up 40 years ago started to shine some light, but let me tell you seeing the caverns behind that soldier’s eyes opens it all up again.

    Peterson’s philosophy talks are always the real stuff, aren’t they? I must say it never really occurred to me to be a well-behaved citizen; mostly I mind my p’s and q’s because it’s wasted energy to contend with stupid people, but it’ll be my own footprints I’ll follow. Nobody’s ever had anything to threaten me with that was worse than my own nightmares.

    So….excuse the self-indulgence. I’m facing some new ugliness and there’s a lot of processing going on. I admire your art and I appreciate your writing.


  • ghostsniper May 8, 2021, 4:46 AM

    @Rob, I finally took your advice from about a year ago. I purchased a pair of “My Pillows” and over the past 3 nights I have had the best sleep that I have had in more than 20 years. As side sleepers my wife and I have been plagued with neck issues for the past few years. We’ve purchased various pillows and gimmicks but nothing worked. In Feb I ordered the My Pillows and waited, and waited, and waited some more. They told me there was a nationwide foam shortage. Finally got them last Wed, threw them in the (unheated) drier to fluff them up and installed them on the rack. For the rest of the day I was anticipating hitting the sheets.

    The pillows were taller than I had ever had and was concerned but the foam is such that it some how collapsed just right to cradle my skall perfectly. Amazingly, I fell asleep almost instantly. That is rare! And I hardly ever woke up the whole night. Or, if I did, to change position or whatever, it didn’t even enter my consciousness. I did have to get up to go to the bathroom a couple times but immediately fell back asleep. I’m impressed. I’m not frequently impressed, with anything.

    So, as with all things I purchase and like now a days, I’m going to wait a couple more weeks then purchase 2 more of the exact same thing and keep them in the box for future use in case they ever become unavailable. So, Rob, I thank you!

    (My only regret is that you didn’t give me that advice 10,15 years ago and I didn’t take it.)
    To anyone else. If you are suffering from poor sleep or painful neck or shoulder issues give My Pillow a try. At about $30 each they ain’t cheap, but in my opinion, they are good. https://www.mypillow.com/

  • John Venlet May 8, 2021, 5:33 AM

    The pillows were taller than I had ever had and was concerned but the foam is such that it some how collapsed just right to cradle my skall perfectly. Amazingly, I fell asleep almost instantly. That is rare! And I hardly ever woke up the whole night. Or, if I did, to change position or whatever, it didn’t even enter my consciousness…I’m impressed. I’m not frequently impressed, with anything.

    My Pillow isn’t just hype, though I thought it was. I just purchased one in March of this year, and the experience you note, here, mirrors my experience almost to a T. Who woulda thunk? I recommend Lindell’s My Pillow, too.

  • Bear Claw May 8, 2021, 5:52 AM

    Bought a book a year or two ago and sat on it called On Killing by an Army Ranger psychologist Lt. Col Grossman I think Dan or Dave finished it a not to long ago. Turned out to be something completely different than what I thought. I recommend reading it there are a lot of things we don’t know about war. I buy books like these based on someone making an intriguing comment about them and reading the blurb. Still have a few in my stack to get to.

  • Snakepit Kansas May 8, 2021, 8:13 AM

    Kevin in PA,

  • Snakepit Kansas May 8, 2021, 8:19 AM


    Kevin in PA,
    The difference in war during WWII and what we have had in the past ~30 years is the difference between total war and limited war. In WWII we would carpet bomb Japan and Germany, civilians and all. Folks back home were afraid the Axis powers would invade the US. Afraid for the American way of life. Now most folks don’t think twice about the Marine or trooper on patrol in Afghanistan or some other shithole that are fighting with an ever changing set of rules for engagement. Soccer mom’s do not have fear for their children. But once they do, the gloves would come off.

  • Casey Klahn May 8, 2021, 9:36 AM

    Rob, thanks for the encouragement because I get tired of my own voice. But, it is a sacred duty, for those of us who had veteran fathers, to tell the stories. At some point in time, and I don’t know exactly when it was, I started to have to fill-in the historic context to the stories. The young won’t know the outline of a given war, even WW II, unless it’s told.

    I get the other ways to have PTSD part. I had mild stuff after infantry school. A billboard edge would slap in the wind, and rub; that sounds exactly like a tear gas canister going off. When I was in the guard, my friends and one girlfriend in particular, would reflect to me the intensity that would build up, and then subside after drill (I was a mech infantry officer).

    When I went to Italy, the last time, I laid up with jet lag all night, and wept. I wept much of the night. I think I mentioned once before, how my ultra-lib art students, all in their 50s and 60s, told me up front – every one of them but one – that my one mention of the war was too much, and that they did not want to hear about WW II in Italy. It was a STFU topic.

    Your story is important to tell. Never mind that it isn’t combat. Your father did that for you, and so that you wouldn’t have to experience that particular hell.

    God bless.

    Topic/Why have I put off the Lindell pillow this long? I want to order one today.

  • EX-Californian Pete May 8, 2021, 10:13 AM

    Kevin in PA-

    Well said.

    And my father was also a decorated WW2 Vet- a Sargent with 5 bronze stars and a bunch of ribbons that I haven’t looked up yet. 7th Infantry division, and fought in some of the bloodiest and most treacherous battles of that war. He rarely talked about it, and when asked if he ever killed anyone, he wouldn’t say. But I could see the “haunted” look in his eyes whenever it was brought up.

    I have mixed emotions about the USA being the “World Police.” I don’t like us getting involved with other countries’ BS squabbles, but seems it might be necessary sometimes, and we ARE the most powerful and just country on Earth, (Well, we were until Democrats took over) so that would deem we are the ones that are the most qualified. It’s a tough call.

    I seriously doubt I’d fight on foreign soil if drafted- especially nowadays when most of the “news” is lies and manipulative editing. But if we were attacked on our own soil, I’d be front & center, with nothing to lose.

    Side note- to those that bought “My Pillows”- you’re all a bunch of white supremacist RACISTS! RACISTS, I tell ya! Don’t you know that Mike Lindell is a Klansman who uses slave labor, and makes those pillows out of dead baby parts bought from foreign tyrants?

    That HAS to be true, because CNN said it, right? (just kidding)

    OK, seriously now, I heard the pillows are great.

    I had minor neck problems a while back that my masseuse always fixed easily, but then she moved away a few years ago, so the neck stuff returned occasionally after that.

    When I found a pretty good sparring partner who had about my same reach, the neck problems disappeared completely- I know that sounds weird, and you’d expect the opposite to be true due to taking head impacts and rapid, random body movements, but it actually worked great.

    Unfortunately, lately my only “sparring partners” are an 80# heavy bag, and a Wing Chun dummy that’s probably contains more Gorilla Glue than wood.

    Then I bought one of those gravity inversion tilt tables. Holy cow, they are nothing short of freakin’ miraculous. I got the $200 version (Health Gear brand) that had good reviews, and that thing is worth 10 times the cost. Neck, back, knee, shoulder, hip pain & problems GONE.

    BUT, it’s not for folks with high BP or metallic joint replacements, according to the warning label.

    Between using the inversion table and my memory foam mattress, I sleep like I’m in a comfortable coma. Now if I could somehow “re-program” my kidneys to NOT demand that “exactly 8.25 hours of sleep is enough,” I might be able to sleep in a little longer on weekends.


  • james wilson May 8, 2021, 1:08 PM

    My dad ran the crew of a 5″ gun turret on a destroyer in Halsey’s fleet. He never spoke of the war and didn’t appear eager to do so.

    I once asked him what he thought of Halsey. Very poorly. Halsey was a greater menace to destroyers than the Japanese were, apparently.

    He spoke once of the ship’s doctor, who was too old for this duty. He lost his mind in the Kamakazi attacks and they sent him home. My brother thinks he changed his duties from artillery to fire control because he couldn’t bear the ever-present possibility of being the cause of friendly fire in the island invasions.

    I was a kid watching Hogans Heros and he volunteered that he just didn’t understand why anyone would find that funny.

    Later, as a teen, I’d read Catch 22 and recommended it to him. That is the only period in his life I ever saw him laughing out loud. This was war that was very familiar to him.

  • Missy May 8, 2021, 3:37 PM

    I witnessed a wide range of PTSD in VA waiting rooms when accompanying my veteran husband on his neurology clinic appointments while he could still walk. Some PTSD cases seemed profound, some not so much.

    I may be the only Gold Star Wife posting on this site. I hope so. It is an awful fate. My late husband was assigned the MOS of Army petroleum lab analyst (after graduating from Cornell and being drafted shortly thereafter.) He tested JP-4 daily during his Vietnam-era tour. JP-4 was very, very bad stuff and neurotoxic. He developed ALS years later and died two years after diagnosis.

    His last months of life, when he could move only a hand and an eyebrow, were spent in a nursing home with a roommate grievously stricken, mentally and physically, with Parkinson’s from Agent Orange. My Veterans Service Officer (I get DIC as a survivor of a 100% service-connected disabled vet) counsels me, reviews my benefits annually, and insisted that I join Gold Star Wives (as of 2008 wives of ALS stricken vets qualify for membership), get the license plate, wear the pin when appropriate and TELL people about the sacrifices of our troops and military families.

    I do. My father fought in the Fifth Army in N. Africa and Italy and was emotionally damaged by a series of horrific events although he was silent about all of it, and he died at 47. My college beau enlisted, became a Huey pilot in the Air Cav in Vietnam, flew resupply missions every day for five months and was KIA (DFC, PH, and 15 OLC) in 1970 at age 21. When I met my husband (when I was 23) I was so happy that he was unscathed by his military experience and right as rain. Wrong.

  • Mike Seyle May 8, 2021, 7:01 PM

    Lord, but these comments are sad.

    I spent 3 yrs in Germany during the Vietnam era. My short-timer’s calendar (begun about year 2.5) noted that if I went to ‘Nam on a certain date, served my 13 months, and returned with 3 months left, they’d discharge me. So, I counted back and volunteered for ‘Nam since I had visited the gasthouses and knew what the cobblestoned streets four towns over had. I had seen the cathedrals, the museums. And I was cold. Always cold. I’m still cold from Germany.

    I wanted three things from Vietnam: (1) combat pay (even though my MOS was postal, so no worry), (2) early out, and (3) to see what war was all about. I mean, why join the Army and not see a war? So I came down on orders, spent my 30-day leave at home, returned to my unit in Germany to head over, and found my orders had been canceled.

    I was disappointed because of all the above and had to spend the rest of my time in Germany. Older now, I suspect my first sergeant (Sgt. Cabasag, a Hawaiian), had pulled a few strings to cancel those orders. I was company clerk, and we got along. He knew what to do for a young guy, and I likely owe him my life, or my sanity (what that it is). Sometimes, the old, wise guys have to look after the young fools. I haven’t done anything noteworthy to have earned his support. But I’m not dead yet.


  • ghostsniper May 9, 2021, 8:26 AM

    Mike sed: “I spent 3 yrs in Germany during the Vietnam era.”
    Me too. At the tail end. Oct 74 – Nov 77, 37 months non-stop.
    Wildflecken, Germany. Airborne Combat Engineer.
    It got very cold there, all the time. Cept for about 3 minutes in July.
    Good brew, good guzz, good friends, hard work. Still converse with a couple friends from there weekly. 40+ years later.

  • Dirk May 9, 2021, 8:33 AM

    Killings a mechanical response, a physiological trig problem, angles and lines, distances and environmental measurements, fun to work out the finite details.

    At some point even the hardest of-hard men have to deal with it mentally. May be as innocent as a box in the street blind corner, ones mind flips gears to survival mode. Amazing what the mind will do, the involuntary reactions.

    In this application a warrior sits stopped in the vehicle, hyperventilating crying and praying at the same time,,,,,,,sometimes feeling silly after realizing it was a dam box, not the dreaded IED. Apologizing to the home owner for driving across their lawn. Not sharing the real reason why, is it out of shame, or-pride??

    My our God bless these men, for going into harms way for what they believe in.

    Village Idiot

  • Roscoe May 9, 2021, 9:05 PM

    It’s not just veterans. I graduated from high school a year after the war ended and they weren’t interested in signing me up, so I decided to figure out another way to make a difference in the world through a career in humanitarian aid. For 25 years, I work in many of the shitholes: Haiti, Sudan, Somalia (I watched the Americans walk up the beach at Mogadishu), Zimbabwe during the Gukarahundi, Mozambique during its civil war, Bosnia, Kosovo, and a couple of the post-Soviet republics that are still killing each other. For years I couldn’t figure out what was wrong with me and I finally stopped wanting to live. One morning, I sat watching a clock and decided it would end at 9:30. A handful of pills later and I headed for a peaceful place along a local river where I could sit down, die, and not leave a mess for someone to clean up. I figured it was my final way to make the world a better place- because without me. . .

    Someone apparently found me, called for EMTs, and I was taken to a hospital. When I awoke I don’t know how much later, I was strapped to a bed, i.v.s in my arm and someone sitting in a chair next to my bed to make sure I didn’t try for Round Two. As I came to understand what was happening, I was filled with rage and shame. Why didn’t they just let me die? A social worker came by to ask me questions I didn’t or couldn’t answer. Later, they brought a doc from the local VA hospital who talked to me for a long time, told me and my wife I was in the same boat as the vets she worked with (except for pulling a trigger), but there was nothing more she could do for me other than suggest I find a counselor and a group of people with my kind of experience to talk it out with. Another shrink had me admitted to a local “behavioral care hospital” where they took my belt, shoe laces and assigned me to a room with three other inmates, one of whom smeared his shit on the walls.

    I begged them to let me out, because along with the anger and the shame, I felt like I was being punished in the most cruel way imaginable. The shrink hammered me for trying to do something so selfish and without any regard for those who loved me. No one seemed to understand that there can come a time when it feels like the most loving thing one can do is to off oneself. It can come to that.

    Eventually I was allowed to leave and I began a course of intense tri-weekly counseling, meds, and constant oversight. One day, I learned that guys from my local church came by when I was in the looney bin and help my wife move out my gun collection. Again, shame and anger. At some point, I began a therapy called EMDR, which seemed to help vets with PTSD, but after each hour session, I’d sit in my car for God knows how like before I finally felt I was safe to drive. It helped a lot for the shame and anger I felt, but the depression, anxiety, and nightmares didn’t go away. I can’t begin to remember how many times I’ve had to talk myself back from the edge but at some point it became a habit. At some point, things started to get better.

    The day I decided to die was twelve years ago, and most of those years were a struggle, but I tried to fight back as I could. There were days when all I accomplished was to sort a box full of bolts, nuts and washers at my shop. At some point, I started to make the bed every morning no matter how hard it seemed. (This was before the famous commencement speech about what the speaker learned from Navy Seal training.) Progress was slow and sometimes it was tempting to crank the steering wheel to the right and be done, but I chose not to do it, very consciously and very deliberately. I always tried to visualize my family’s faces if I did it. Eventually it became a habit. When I was tempted to skip the meds or the counseling, something inside kept pushing me to keep on with it. One day when I was determined to stop trying, a big Ford diesel pickup pulled up along my left side at a stop light. I looked over and right at eye level, I saw a sticker on the fender that said “The Strong Get Help.” I haven’t skipped a session since.

    Two years ago, my wife figured out a way to send me to a program in the Golden State where I spent about three weeks learning to live again. I was assigned to a doc who, during my first appointment with him, listened to my whole miserable story. When he finished, I saw a tear in his eye and he said, “R, thanks for your service.” My service? Service was what vets and first responders do. I wasn’t one of those; I just went to places where I tried to do what I could to fix what was broken. What he said did more for me than anything else I had tried, even though I didn’t think I deserved it.

    At the end of that session I was starting to feel almost human again. I even started to think that life could take a turn for the better and I felt a twinge of optimism. It scared me, but at the same time, I wanted to feel it again. On my way home, a friend talked me into traveling via Paradise, on the first anniversary of the Camp Fire. I was afraid to go, because I didn’t know if I could handle what I knew I would find there, but he insisted. It took all my courage, but I went.

    I won’t go into the details about what happened to me there, other than to say that it transformed me. As I’ve poured myself into helping relieve the suffering of others, I can transform my own suffering into empathy and action. A few weeks ago, when I was talking to my counselor, I realized I actually love the life I now have. I really love it. I still suffer anxiety and depression, and sometimes there are still nightmares, but I realize every day that my life is worth living. I can’t ask for more than that.


  • Mike Seyle May 10, 2021, 3:57 AM

    Well, Roscoe. That did it. You made me cry; thank God it was the silent type – tears rolling down the cheeks kind of thing, so my wife wouldn’t know. But it did salt my coffee. Happened right at that mark where the truck pulled up next to you, driven by an angel. Thank you for writing.

  • Rob De Witt May 10, 2021, 9:16 AM

    Thanks, Roscoe.

    Whatever the basis for PTSD, you paint the picture of that darkness beautifully. I’m particularly glad that you mention EMDR, which made a difference for me after years of therapy.