Vietnam’s brutality has a lasting impact

August 27, 2014
Deb and Ken McCarthy

Deb and Ken McCarthy

By Allison Scarbrough. Contributing Editor.

HART — Even though Deb McCarthy of Hesperia did not fight on the frontlines of the Vietnam War, she knows all too well the horrors it caused.

McCarthy was at the Oceana County Fairgrounds Wednesday for the Vietnam Traveling Wall’s departure to Ludington with her husband, Ken. They rode their motorcycle along with several other hundred bikers to patriotically escort the wall.

“It was God-awful,” said McCarthy, who was married to the late Vietnam vet Ephriam Amos. Amos died Feb. 26, 2005 from the long-lasting and brutal effects of Agent Orange. She said that Amos weighed 45 pounds when he died after struggling for years with horrible health conditions caused by Agent Orange. “He was hit hard,” McCarthy said. Amos was diagnosed with ALS in 2001. Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, often referred to as Lou Gehrig’s Disease, is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord. She said he required care 24 hours a day, seven days a week. He also had throat cancer and had to have a tracheotomy.

She recalled the horrific stories her husband told her after returning from war. She said Deb and Ken McCarthyVietnam mothers would strap grenades to their own children to attack U.S. soldiers, allowing their children to die. “The kid would blow up right in their arms,” she said.

When Amos returned from war, he was not the same person. He was extremely violent and would always carry weapons with him. Many times he would awaken in the night to a noise, such as a cupboard door shutting, and jump out of bed wielding a weapon. “He was not the same dude that he was before Vietnam,” she said. “It affected me and my children.” She said she suffered physical, mental and emotional abuse due to the severe case of post-traumatic stress disorder he was afflicted with.

As a result, McCarthy now suffers from PTSD too.

The old wounds are healing, however. She has written a book entitled, “If it was not for Jesus” that is being published by Cross Books, and writing that book has helped her through those dark hours. The book is set to come out around Christmas time, she said. “It really opened my eyes,” she said. “No matter what you go through, don’t see yourself as a victim. She yourself as a survivor.”


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