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The 1,000 yard Stare is a look through the obvious, a stare beyond or through to the other side of reality.

It's the stare all combat veterans get after prolonged trips into the boonies and combat, and is usually related to extreme consciousness during the most devastating of experiences, Today it has been better defined as PTSD, Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome.

The 1,000 Yard Stare is the immediate result of PTSD and is what separates the Combat Veteran from the Non Combatant.

I always thought that PTSD was something that only the pencil pushers in the rear suffered from, not us battle hardened Vets.

If you have successfully completed USMC Basic Training, Then you are a Marine and will always be a Marine, male or Female, no Question.

But having been a Grunt in Combat, I did however notice a slight difference between the combat Grunt and those other Marines who had not yet experienced the cracking sound of a 7.62x39 round as it snaps pass your head (its the one with your name on it, but fortunately, you moved your head just enough for it to miss or Charlie was a bad shot

The difference is the "THE THOUSAND YARD STARE" stemming from the stress related to prolonged Combat. 

I have to say though, for the Marine who has not yet experienced Combat, there is a different kind of stress, a stress that us combat vets can't relate to, or more likely, have forgotten we once had to deal with the same issue. 

Becoming a Marine was the easy part. Being a Marine required constant effort.  

Marines are always the first to fight. Anyone who enters the MARINE CORPS, regardless of the era, has a one in 3 chance that he or she will enter a combat zone. Today it's closer to 100%. 

Having graduated Basic Training and now understanding for the first time what being a Marine is really about, and what is required of you. One of the biggest problems prior to actually going into combat, is contemplating going into combat, dealing with the ever present questions, What will it be like, will I survive, How hard is my Metal?  

All these questions have been answered for us combat vets, hell I'm one of the lucky ones, 3 Purple hearts and a Bronze Star, Ive got no more questions. 

But I can remember back in Nam, on the few occasions when we would go back to the rear area for some working R&R, those boys in the rear had it real nice, or so it would appear. 

Once you really paid attention, you saw a STARE that was similar; they were num for different reasons. They had a different kind of reality to shrug off.  

The Combat Vet was actually more in control of his reality than the rear echelon support troops and Chopper Crews. There was much more the Combat Vet could do, to effect his survival.  

When the SHIT hit the fan, we had options, we took the most appropriate course to eliminate the enemy threat and affect a positive outcome with minimum loss of Marines. Calculation, brute force and cunning saved many Butts.  

In the rear, there was far less of chance that you would come face to face with Charlie, but the Rockets and Mortars were always a threat and your personal survival was always left to chance.  

When SAPPERS hit MAG 16 in Oct 65, aircrews were blown up in their tents, they never knew what hit them, and they had no chance to react.  

After 3 nights of SAPPER attacks, Lima 3/3 was called in to secure the base. We spent 4 weeks building defensive positions, stringing barb wire and laying trip flares and claymores. 

We would share our bunkers at night with the base Ground Crews, training them to take over once we left. One night we were all sitting in front of our bunker, when a trip-flair went off, and the two Ground Crewman bolted around and into the rear of bunker like a flash of light.  

My A Gunner and I just sat tight trying to see what had tripped our flair, actually hoping that it was Charlie, but it was just a Dog scavenging for food.  

With three rows of triple barb & trip flairs everywhere, it was pretty hard to get inside without being detected, but these two Marines were not experienced and very gun shy, they too were suffering from PTSD.. It took several nights of watch for them to calm down and ease off the switch, by the time we left, their Metal was almost as hard as ours. 

My Brother Flew CH-47's in 69 & 70. He equates his tour as being two very abstract worlds rolled into one. Rear Area and Combat Missions. He was either flying to work in the Field or Flying home from work to safety.  He never experienced any hand to hand combat, never stood watch all alone in the middle of the jungle, and only had one confirmed kill, as a result of this sea-saw lifestyle, he came home very screwed up.  

He didn't have the Stare, but he sure did suffer from PTSD.

I spent most of my tour in the field, sleeping on the ground and eating C Rations, and always the constant threat of danger that takes a little getting use to.

I had the 1,000 Yard Stare alright, Hell We all had it after our first few times into combat, but I thought I had survived my Vietnam experience in tact, however, after 2 failed marriages, several employment problems and a serious bout with alcohol, I have come to realize that I to have been suffering from PTSD. 

Yes, there is a subtle difference between those of us who have seen combat and those of us who have not. 

For Marines who have not seen combat, it's just a couple of unanswered questions that separate us.  

The Marine Corps makes Marines, Combat makes Marines Heroes! 

And every Combat Veteran is a Hero!

Semper Fi,

Bob Neener

Golf 2/9   Lima 3/3

Vietnam 1965-1966