Let me tell you my picture of war. It’s a young boy’s face. His mouth is open and I
can see dirt on his teeth. His face is a mixture of dried mud and blood and a tear
makes a path down his cheek. 95
Bill Koutrouba, a heavily decorated combat medic, wanted to return to Vietnam — to exorcise that image. Mary Branham, former Army nurse, wanted to go back to where her hospital was in the late 1960s. Mary’s most haunting memory is of a young soldier who had his arms, legs and face blown off by a mine. No one thought he would live — but he survived for three days before he was finally evacuated. Mary wanted to go back, because of the recurrent nightmares that began again three years ago, triggered by a divorce and family illness.
I had just come from Kansas and was agog at all the weaponry, helicopters coming
and going, patients being rushed in…You could smell infection a block from the hos-
I have no idea what happened to him — no idea what happened to anybody…Con-
sequently, I see open, gaping wounds, not healed wounds.
I expect [to see, now] a country at peace and rebuilding.96
Bill and Mary were involved in a therapy group at the Seattle VA Medical Center for their war-related PTSD. While in this therapy group, Bill originated
95. Glamser, Deeann, “Vets: Finding peace. They’ll return to Vietnam hoping to heal old wounds,” USA Today (January 25, 1989), 1-A.