Taylor: Coping with death
Student: Did you ever have one of your close pals get killed?
Taylor: Yes, quite a bit. I saw a friend of mine...I was the last person to see him alive. He was a guy I went to high school with. I was going to show you the rubbing about him, but it's not there anymore. But, I saw him about 2 days before he got killed. We were sitting there talking and next thing I knew, he was dead. There's no way they can train you for that in basic training. You learn how to be a soldier, how to do maneuvers, and how to fire a weapon, but to pick up dead bodies and see people blown apart, you can't train for that.
So your real training is the first time you have to do it?
Taylor: Yes. And your heart is beating real fast and your body is very hopped up - a lot of adrenaline flowing. It's like you're about to jump out of your skin because you've seen this stuff and you're so afraid, but you know you have a job to do and other people are counting on you to do your job. So, what we used to say in Vietnam was things like, "It don't mean nothing." We would tell ourselves that, so we could continue to do our job. But, all in all, we knew it did mean something, and we would just bury that. In the job that I'm in now, we work with veterans who had to bury that stuff, and now it comes back to them in the form of nightmares, flashbacks and intrusive thoughts of memories about what they went through. Many of these veterans numbed themselves with drugs and alcohol, so they wouldn't have to think about what they had just seen.