Friday, January 01, 2016

The Off the Record Combat Vet

Army Records Request
UPDATE -- A combat veteran with PTSD and crippling injuries - slipped through the cracks. It has been SIX MONTHS since we sent his request for records to the US ARMY in St. Louis.  THERE HAS BEEN NO REPLY -- no contact.  Next step -- Congressman....

Danny Rowell's  story ... He remains lost to the system 46 years later.

Roy Allen (who is blind) has a disabled cousin living with him now. Danny is a big help even though he can hardly talk to be understood. Danny is a Vietnam Vet but he blew off the army after half his tour under fire in Vietnam an in '69 and went AWOL back home with his HOT young bride. His time in Vietnam was intense with combat and the loss of close friends.  His foot was rotted by jungle rot and he was hospitalized in Vietnam and then shipped to Hawaii for treatment.The foot was never corrected. He boarded a plane with is young wife and returned to Florida. He was contacted once by the army but his temper and youth got the better of him (read PTSD) and he went AWOL again after a brief time in an army brig.  He remains a cripple. He intended to come back but it kept sounding like worse and worse punishment so he delayed for years.  His life could have been much different if he had the care he deserved for both PTSD and the foot rot. Eventually the marriage failed - rather quickly.

So his discharge reads administrative (not honorable). This costs him VA help for PTSD - for illness - for injuries of foot rot and malaria plus more recent injuries like about 30 years ago ... two bullets in his head from a 9mm by his old girlfriend (after the divorce - different girl). An earlier story posted in my pages informs the reader that a 9mm held against the skull when fired may not blow off the top of  the victim's head --- and instead weaken the force of the bullet so it only lodges in the brain. I learn so many things hanging out with my blind friend, Roy Allen and his associates.  I could write a book.

Yes he should have gone back to the army - taken his punishment and gone back to die in Vietnam with a rotted foot. But he did not. It would have been hard to make that decision given the HOT young wife and being a teenager still ... and having just made some friends in Vietnam who died early - in front of his own eyes.

 An illegal immigrant now has more status in America than this combat veteran. SO I am trying to get some records out of archives to move him forward toward real VA help. Trust me - this will be an interesting case study to follow.  I am busy trying to find records to support a claim. He was in combat from January 2 to about August 15, 1969 with the 198th Light Infantry BN - a part of the Americal Division. So we are making paperwork applications for ALL his unit and personal records that apply.  We will see how that goes. (so far six months and no reply from the army)

Meanwhile, I have suggested if he would just apply for gender re-assignment - through the VA he will probably be accepted because the VA just set up a new clinic for just that procedure. Another option, I think -- is to apply for immigration to Vietnam where he may be readily accepted for veteran care in their own government program to care for veterans of the Vietnam  War. The initial responses from Danny regarding these options indicate they will be solutions of LAST resort.

Here is a LINK TO SOME 198th Light Infantry BN Web Sources
UPDATE: We have his request in to the ARMY archives for a complete  personnel record. We also had a connection to his old 1/52 Unit - with a combat log for the unit in 1969. Danny was in Co. B and was in a mortar platoon.  The indications are he was in heavy combat.  Roy tells us  that Danny's bad limp is largely a result of a deformed foot from "foot rot" which along with malaria is what got him hospital evacuated to an in country hospital and then shipped to Hawaii for more care. It was, of course, in Hawaii that his young wife came to visit and youthful anxieties overcame them and they returned to the USA without reporting through channels.  His life story began to sour badly at that point in time (well - it already sucked).  (see above).  It is now JUNE 2016, five/six months later and no response from the army.
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