One of these days I’m gonna be somebody
Make it to the stars
Drive the cool cars
One of these days my life will count
I’ll make my mark
Come out of the dark
One of these days I’ll make ‘em pay
Figure it out
Use my clout
One of these days I’ll go to the grave
It’ll just be me
And a final plea
One of these days I’ll stand before God
Give my report
Come up short
One of these days I’ll kneel before Christ
See his face
Taste his grace
One of these days I’ll know it’s true
Bust outa my shell
Be free from Hell
One of these days I’ll laugh and play
In heaven abound
No sin around
One of these days I’ll cry and laugh
How a fool as I
Should never die
One of these days I’ll be somebody
Make it to the stars
Without the cool cars
My memoir, The Frog Hunter: A Story About the Vietnam War, An Inkblot Test and a Girl by TB Stamper is featured in Today’s American Catholic magazine.
Click on the photo to view the article.
The book is available in paperback and ebook on Amazon. https://www.amazon.com/dp/B09K4KG6ZT
The sounds of rain
wet and beating
the open pane
Soothing damp melody
falling upon my brow
yet knowing somehow
Things are never what they seem
like me, lying here
in this misty dream
A soul with
troubles and trials
plenty to bear
listening to the rain
without a care
healing as torrents
lightly wash and roll
in wind-blown waves
caressing my soul
No anxious thought
or trouble near
just the sound of pattering rain
falling on my ear
In the morrow
trouble will come and strife arrive
let the morrow be
for this moment’s peace
will keep me alive
Where are my teammates? I’d lost track of their positions. I only knew that they were there, dead motionless in the dark. Soft and muffled voices whispered ten yards away. A metallic click…followed by breaking twigs as more enemy soldiers joined the hunt.
The night was so eternally black; I lost the distinction between sight and sensation, between real and ethereal. Everything around me fell away and dissolved, eaten by the blackness. I drifted. I resisted the sensation, trying not to succumb, but the night was powerful and strangely narcotic, and I lost my bearings. As I lay in the strange heaving blackness, the tiny piece of ground touching my belly remained my only sure connection with the finite. It was my raft, and I was floating through a nightmare.1
Excerpt from the “The Frog Hunter: A Story About the Vietnam War, an Inkblot Test and a Girl”1
During combat, time stops, and the war has its way with us. One scoop at a time. It hollows out the soul. After the battle, when darkness descends, it can take on nightmarish, even fantastical, proportions. Alone and silent, too many of our brothers and sisters have surrendered to the darkness, turning it inward on themselves. Why do warriors who fight fiercely and bravely against all odds give up the fight after coming home?
In the book, “The Red Badge of Courage,” Stephen Crane wrote, “So it came to pass that as he trudged from the place of blood and wrath, his soul changed.”
War wounds the soul. Combat-related trauma is unlike other forms of PTSD, because it involves not only what happened to you but also what you did. “Why?” is the universal, existential question of war and it can drive men mad with grief. By the time veterans returned from the Vietnam war, there were few studies about the effects of combat trauma, and the havoc it can wreak on the mind, body and spirit over a lifetime. The misunderstanding and stigma surrounding the effects of the war on Vietnam Veterans lingered for years.
We now know through extensive research conducted after the Vietnam War that PTSD and combat trauma-related disorders are physiological—it’s how the human stress system works when exposed to fear, death and horror, during prolonged combat, and especially during multiple tours that our younger veterans have experienced in the Middle East.
PTSD is formally on the books as a psychological condition. But the mind and body work together, so PTSD is very much the body’s physical reaction to the trauma of war as well. The emphasis on “physical” is an important point for retired Army psychiatrist Charles Hoge ‘80, who wrote Once a Warrior Always a Warrior (GPP Life, 2010) to help soldiers with the transition from a hostile environment to home.
For returning soldiers, there’s a paradox at the heart of PTSD, Hoge believes. The symptoms that affect their ability to enjoy life back home, have meaningful relationships, or hold down a job are often the flip side of the reflexes that kept them alive in a war zone. “We place unrealistic expectations on warriors in thinking they can just snap out of these reactions when they come home, when, in fact, they don’t stop being a warrior,” Hoge says. It’s not just their minds that can’t let go. It’s their bodies.2
The intent to kill and destroy is what makes combat-related trauma not only a psychological disorder but also a psycho-spiritual disorder. In war, a soldier’s usual sense of morality is turned on its head, and what makes sense in wartime—even is essential in wartime—may not make sense once he returns to civilian life. Morality is the foundation of all other values, and moral damage may affect any or all of the other aspects of the veteran’s life; intimacy and love, the ability to appreciate beauty and pleasure, and his spiritual self.3
It is now recognized that profound healing from trauma can take place through positive life changes and spirituality. But science stops short of fully understanding the mysterious pathways of the warrior’s heart or what goes on in the chambers of his soul.
David, a king and warrior, reminds us in Psalm 139:8 that we were not alone when we “made our bed in hell,” and Matthew 10:29 tells us that not one sparrow falls to the ground without the Heavenly Father knowing. God was there when we made our bed in hell, and He was there when our buddies hit the ground like fallen sparrows.
During World War II, when the Germans were bombing the United Kingdom, Britain ordered blackouts of entire cities to prevent the German aircraft from visually identifying their vulnerable population centers. Citizens were required to cover all windows and doors with black curtains and extinguish all lights whenever the threat of an air raid presented itself. It was illegal to even strike a match to light a cigarette out of doors. It was understood that the light of a single candle could penetrate the darkness so deep it could be seen by an enemy pilot as far as thirty miles away. This verse of scripture illustrates the relationship between light and darkness. “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it.” John 1:5
I know what it’s like to sit in the middle of a vast jungle beneath a black sky, praying for the morning light. I know what it’s like to sit beneath a black blanket of depression, praying for a pinprick of light to come and dispel the darkness. In both situations, God came and brought the light I needed. And I did what a man wanting to find his way out of darkness would do; I rose to my feet and followed him into the light.
In John 8:12, Jesus said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
To be clear, I am not talking about becoming religious. Religion is only man’s attempt to find his own way out of the darkness. It won’t light your way and chances are, it will only lead you further into the darkness.
I am talking about God coming to us with His light; a promise found in the book of Luke 1:78-79: “Because of the tender mercy of our God, by which the sunrise shall visit us from on high to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.”
I can tell you firsthand, God keeps his promises.
To any of my veteran brothers and sisters who might contemplate the idea of ending it all because you can’t find your way out of the darkness… please don’t. Hit the pause button. Trust me, the world will NOT be better off without you. Neither will your loved ones. There are many who understand, who care about you and have your back. You know the code. We never leave a warrior behind.
Contact me via soulranger.com.
“God, your God, will restore everything you lost; he’ll have compassion on you; he’ll come back and pick up the pieces from all the places where you were scattered. No matter how far away you end up, God, your God, will get you out of there and bring you back.” Deuteronomy 30:3 The Message
1. Stamper, TB. (2021). The Frog Hunter: A Story About the Vietnam War, an Inkblot Test and a Girl. Milton Barn Press
2. Flecker, S. (2012). The Long Journey Home. Sarah Lawrence Magazine.
3. Langer, R. (1987). Combat Trauma, Memory, and the World War II Veteran. International Journal of the Humanities. Retrieved from http://www.CombatTraumaMemoryWWIIVet.pdf
Photo by Horst Faas
“In keeping silent about evil, in burying it so deep within us that no sign of it appears on the surface, we are implanting it, and it will rise up a thousand fold in the future. When we neither punish nor reproach evildoers, we are not simply protecting their trivial old age, we are thereby ripping the foundations of justice from beneath new generations.” ― Aleksandr SolzhenitsynThank you fallen brothers, for your sacrifice.
Dear Soul Ranger Subscribers and Friends,
I am pleased to announce the release of my new book: The Frog Hunter: A Story About the Vietnam War, an Inkblot Test and a Girl.
It took me twenty-five years to finish the five-pound book, and twenty-five years to whittle it down to something you can comfortably hold in your hand and read. A true story, it chronicles a tumultuous three-year period in my life—before, during, and after Vietnam.
The story begins in the summer of 1968, and a perfect balmy night at the Scotchman Drive-In. At seventeen years of age, my life is good—cruising the circuit with the other hot cars in my cherry ’41 Ford pickup.
It was our Friday night ritual, and my best friend Port Tuley and I are looking for a date or a drag race, whichever comes first. While we munch on our hamburgers and drink our sloppy malts, we casually contemplate the war. Should we sign up or wait for the draft?
Nine months later I am an Airborne Ranger in Vietnam. Our five-man, long-range reconnaissance teams (LRRPs) run intelligence gathering missions deep into enemy territory in the mountains of the Central Highlands, crisscrossed with a vast network of NVA supply lines from the Ho Chi Minh Trail.
While in the VC’s backyard, anything can happen. Marinating in adrenaline, straining against the incessant tension and the nonstop threat of harm, I live in a state of overload, with the war assailing my mind like fifty thousand volts running through a twenty-amp wire.
We flew home one by one from the war on a commercial airliner—forty-eight hours from the battlefield to mom’s kitchen table. I took off my uniform and put on my blue jeans, but my mind and heart didn’t adjust so easily. I came home but remained at war, and I knew there was no road back to normal.
And then things get really crazy…
The book is available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle version. You can find it here: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B09K26D5
As the story goes, in the winter of 1914 during World War I, on the battlefields of Flanders, one of the most unusual events in all of human history took place. The Germans had been in a fierce battle with the British and French. Both sides were dug in, safe in muddy, man-made trenches six to eight feet deep that seemed to stretch forever.
All of a sudden, German troops began to put small Christmas trees, lit with candles, outside of their trenches. Then, they began to sing songs. Across the way, in the no-man’s land between them, came songs from British and French troops. Incredibly, many of the Germans, who had worked in England before the war, were able to speak good enough English to propose a Christmas truce.
British and French troops, all along the miles of trenches, accepted. In a few places, allied troops fired at the Germans as they climbed out of their trenches. But the Germans were persistent and Christmas would be celebrated even under the threat of impending death.
According to Stanley Weintraub, who wrote about this event in his book, Silent Night, “Signboards arose up and down the trenches in a variety of shapes. They were usually in English, or from the Germans, in fractured English. Rightly, the Germans assumed that the other side could not read traditional gothic lettering, and that few English understood spoken German. YOU NO FIGHT, WE NO FIGHT was the most frequently employed German message. Some British units improvised MERRY CHRISTMAS banners and waited for a response. More placards on both sides popped up.”
A spontaneous truce resulted. Soldiers left their trenches, meeting in the middle to shake hands. The first order of business was to bury the dead who had been previously unreachable because of the conflict. Then, they exchanged gifts. Chocolate cake, cognac, postcards, newspapers, tobacco. In a few places, along the trenches, soldiers exchanged rifles for soccer balls and began to play games.
It didn’t last forever. In fact, some of the generals didn’t like it at all and commanded their troops to resume shooting at each other. After all, they were in a war. Soldiers eventually did resume shooting at each other. But only after, in a number of cases, a few days of wasting rounds of ammunition shooting at stars in the sky instead of soldiers in the opposing army across the field.
For a few precious moments there was peace on earth good will toward men. All because the focus was on Christmas. Happens every time. There’s something about Christmas that changes people. It happened over 2000 years ago in a little town called Bethlehem. It’s been happening over and over again down through the years of time.
Lord willing, it will happen again.
“Hell is empty, and all the devils are here.”
William Shakespeare, The Tempest
On this Veteran’s Day, November 11, 2021, I want to honor the Veterans who served in uniform for the last two hundred and forty-five years and stood against evil.
If you ask John Mearsheimer, an American political scientist and distinguished Professor at the University of Chicago, he will tell you that, “In the anarchic world of international politics, it is better to be Godzilla than Bambi.” The Godzilla nations are the empires and super powers with their mighty armies, unparalleled wealth, and resources. Bambi nations are… well… we hope the Godzillas are merciful and benevolent to them.
Here is a list of the greatest empires in history:
• The Persian Empire, under the rule of Cyrus the Great, stretched from Iran into Central Asia and Egypt.
• The Mongol Empire, led by Genghis Khan and one of the largest land mass empires in history, stretching from Central Asia to the Sea of Japan.
• The Ottoman Empire spanned portions of three continents: Southeastern Europe, Western Asia and North Africa.
• The Roman Empire, unmatched in military might at the height of its existence.
• The British Empire, the world’s largest Empire ever in terms of geography, covering a quarter of the earth’s surface—so large that “the sun never set on it.”
• Egypt, the Han dynasty, and the Spanish Empire, among others.
When we look back, history tells us that neither Godzilla nor Bambi live forever—just an average of two hundred-and-fifty years. All the great empires fell and are now in the dustbin of history. The United States will reach its two hundred and fifty-year birthday in 2026, less than five years from now. But why did the empires fall? What is it that defeats a wealthy and formidable empire? What can we learn from this?
Interestingly, the Chinese are asking this question, too. An article written by Zbigniew Brzezinski, and John Mearsheimer, in Foreign Policy Magazine states, “The Chinese Politburo invited two distinguished, Western-trained professors to a special meeting. Their task was to analyze nine major powers since the 15th century to see why they rose and fell.” Brzezinski, Z, and Mearsheimer, J (2005, January 1) Clash of the Titans, Foreign Policy, Carnegie Europe
In the book The End of Christendom, Malcolm Muggeridge, an English writer, journalist, and satirist, speaks to the fate of the nations, and points to the fact that all of man’s work, including nation building, is flawed because it is an outgrowth of a flawed creature. In his twenties, Muggeridge was attracted to Communism and went to live in the Soviet Union in the 1930s, but the experience turned him into an anticommunist and eventually a Christian.
After this experience, Muggeridge wrote, “I conclude that civilizations, like every other human creation, wax and wane. By the nature of the case, there can never be a lasting civilization any more than there can be a lasting spring or lasting happiness in an individual life or a lasting stability in a society. It’s in the nature of man and of all that he constructs to perish, and it must ever be so. The world is full of the debris of past civilizations and others are known to have existed, which have not left any debris behind them but have just disappeared. Whatever their ideology may be, from the Garden of Eden onwards, such dreams of lasting felicity have cropped up and no doubt always will. But the realization is impossible for the simple reason that a fallen creature like man, though capable of conceiving perfection and aspiring after it, is in himself and in his works forever imperfect. Thus, he is fated to exist in the no-man’s-land between the perfection he can conceive and the imperfection that characterizes his own nature and everything he does.”
The greatest threat to America’s survival is not military might, nor standing armies who oppose her, but to be ruled by men of evil disposition who cling to perverse and iniquitous ideology.
I am concerned about the United States of America. I have noticed a change in her once sweet fruit. As a child, beneath the shelter of her strong limbs, I could pick and eat from any of the branches without worry. Not so much anymore. Her fruit has taken on a bitter, even poisonous taste. Its appearance has become wrinkled and pitted, and the worm holes concern me, causing me to wonder, is she being eaten from the inside out?
A few decades ago, our country began flirting with ideologies that she once spurned and shed lifeblood to stop: Socialism, Communism and Marxism. Now she is no longer flirting, but engaged in propagating the treacherous ideas and beliefs that for centuries have enslaved men through bondage and suffering— the result of an ideology that soldiers today and yesterday fought against at great cost. These were red-blooded men and women who suspended their own way of life, put aside their security and served in our military against evil.
One need not look beyond the fruit of the Communist, Socialist, and Marxist governments to know that they have always produced rotten fruit; they are ideologies hatched in the pit of hell. It is estimated that in the last one hundred years alone, Communism, which has its roots in Marxism, has killed nearly two hundred million people, most of whom died, not in combat but at the hands of the evil regimes that governed them through genocide, imprisonment, torture, and man-made famines. Evil fruit, evil ideology.
“The killings committed by Communist regimes can best be explained
as the result of the marriage between absolute power and the absolutist
ideology of Marxism.” Rudolph Rummel
Rummel, a political scientist and professor at Yale University and University of Hawaii, wrote Death by Government in 1994. In the book, Rummel analyzed 8,193 estimates of government killings and reported that throughout history, governments have killed over 300 million people—with more than half, or 170 million, killed during the twentieth century. These numbers don’t include war deaths.
And where is the church, I wonder, the vanguard against all that is evil? It is not awake but woke. Too many in the church have forsaken the Gospel of Christ and adopted a gospel based on the latest cultural fantasies and ideas that are entirely antithetical to what our Creator God states in His Word.
In an article featured in the American Spectator, Dennis Prager articulates the frustration many Americans have, watching the rising tide of authoritarianism as our politicians and their co-conspirators flood our daily lives with their Socialist narrative.
“From these Marxist Democrat soldiers in the White House, Congress, at the New York Times, Yale, Google, and Verizon, we hear essentially the message: “You little nothings shall go out and work by the sweat of your brow and give most of what you earn to me, the new gods of the state. You shall see the doctor I command you to see, speak and write the words I consider proper, send your kid to the school I demand, and indoctrinate them into the Marxism I cherish. You shall tear up the notion of citizen with my open borders, hand over the guns you protect yourselves with, use the type of energy I command, drive the cars I like, run your business as I say you must, and live in the types of homes and suburbs I consider proper.’”
A mere sixty years ago, our Communist enemies issued this chilling warning: “We cannot expect the Americans to jump from capitalism to communism, but we can assist their elected leaders in giving Americans small doses of socialism, until they suddenly awake to find they have communism.”
Today, we need to reject the daily spoonfuls of socialism fed to us and our children. The war is at our door; fight this evil because our lives depend on it.
But we cannot despair like those who have no hope. The power to preserve our nation is squarely in our hands and lies within the promise given by our Creator, God.
“If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sins and heal their land.”H