Return To Heartbreak RidgeReturn To Heartbreak Ridge is the story of a sons' search for his fathers' past, and a series of letters received from Korean War Veteran SFC Seymour "Hoppy" Harris, a gunner with Company H, 23d Infantry Regiment, 1951. It is a complex story.
Warning: Strong language, pejorative terms, and honesty.
Thanks for Caring
Received the article from the paper and the wife like to have flipped out. Course I was cool as ice. Like hell! I started to do a backflip, but due to my advanced age I thought better of it.
Christ, your father is certainly typical of the career officer, especially those I have seen. Hard as granite and all business. I'm wondering what he will think of the article. "Crock of shit," he will probably say.
Those were good pictures of you. Got a charge out of that Heartbreak Ridge map you have. Right where you can refer to it.
The story on Tony Zdanavage is a hell of a thing. The only piece of luck he seemed to have in Korea was when the Chinks turned him loose after stealing his boots. Would have been a hell of a lot worse had they kept him prisoner.
You know Hal, when I read of things like he went through I feel pretty humble. Compared to Tony and others like him I didn't do shit. All I did was fight and come out of it with most of my marbles and a lot of memories that nobody believes. Already people who have seen the paper insinuated that I am a goddamned phony. Well, fuck them, I can live with it. I've lived with it all my life. The only thing anyone wanted to give me credit for was being a pisspot.
A judge once told me I was the lowest form of human he had ever seen. That I was a disgrace to the human race. A troublemaking malcontent who had got away with everything but murder, while others took the rap. That I was a smart aleck who would be sent up the river a letter couldn't reach me. I was a disgrace to my family, to society, to my country, that I should be thrown into a nut factory, placed in a straight jacket and spoon fed.
Because I walked into his court instead of crawling in on my hands and knees caused him to regard me as an arrogant jerk who was saying, "Fuck you and your court and what it represents."
And you know what? He hit it right on the head. That is exactly how I felt. Screw him and his goddamned court, his goddamned jury, the people he represented. What the hell did they ever do for me? Treat me and my family like gutter snipes from day one. There was never anything lower than a Harris, and people who looked down on us were for the most part nothing but a bunch of fornicating bastards and I never missed a chance to tell them so.
That's a very good picture of you with the Indianhead Division patch on your cap. You look deep in thought. Bet Nancy is proud of you, huh? Go get 'em tiger. Way to go. Look for some negative bullshit. I know you can take the heat no matter how hot it gets in the kitchen.
Hal, I admire your father. He did what he was paid to do and didn't expect or want anyone to pat him on the back. He is a strong man, the kind a lot of us would like to be. And he is the kind of man the country could use more of.
Flying that helicopter into the gates of hell at Heartbreak Ridge is some proof of that.
Man, he looks nothing but sharp in that dress uniform with all those medals and hauling that sword.
Hal, I wrote Alphonse D'Amato to ask his support in getting a piece of land in Washington, D.C., set aside for the erection of a Korean War Memorial. We need all the help we can get and I didn't think you would object. Al is well thought of in political circles and his voice in Washington can't do any harm.
I was surprised I must admit to hear that a lot of Korean vets killed themselves after coming back. I went that route twice and had it done one time, but they shocked my heart back into action. Paramedics said a few more seconds and they could have sent my saddle home.
Hal, death holds no terror for me. I fear it not in the least. I looked that old bastard death in the eyes too many times to be afraid of him.
I saved those potent sleeping pills until I had a paper cup full of them. When the wife walked out of the room, I said to my self, "Well, here goes nothing."
And I swallowed them with water as fast as I could. Hell, it was easy. I just drifted off as if on a cloud. No sickness or pain. I just drifted off to sleep. And then I woke up in that Goddamn nut ward, and I was really pissed.
Asked them why they hadn't minded their own business. It was my life, I would end it if I wanted. They didn't buy that and I told them I expected that because they were too narrow-minde and too stupid to see all the bullshit around them. Didn't see it or turned a blind eye. Told them, "Fuck you until you've walked in my shoes, leave me the fuck alone!"
The after effects of the Korean War really bothered me back then and I tried to blot them out, drowning them out with booze and pills. But now, especially since meeting you, my outlook has changed. I know I and others have someone who cares and it has made a difference. Life has some meaning to it. Where before it was like looking into a dark tunnel and not being able to see light at the other end. There was hate and frustration inside me that threatened to overflow into violence, and I'm afraid it would have sooner or later, and that judge sitting up there like Jesus Christ wouldn't have given two hoots in hell what caused my violent outburst.
Hal, Tony Zdanavage is saying the same thing I have told you. Since he has been writing to you and others, now he has become proud. He is somebody. Somebody knows he exists. You sure know how to stir up a bunch of broken soldiers and give them courage.
I don't know why Hal, but I was shocked to hear you were writing to over 200 Korean vets and the list is still growing. How in the hell do you do it?
Hal, I want to say here and now that article you sent me really tells me a lot about you and what you stand for. You have a lot to be proud of, something that has put meaning in your life.
I hope you can read this hen scratching. I'm still trying to get my nerves back somewhere near normal. Doctor gave me some stronger medicine, but it will take time for it to work. The sleep is coming better and I've actually had nights with no dreams.At times, I dread to see nightfall. The dreams come all too quickly.
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