Waging the War Within

A Marine’s Memoir of Vietnam and PTSD


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About the Book

United Sates Marine Sergeant Tim Fortner survived 14 months in Vietnam as a door gunner in a CH-46 helicopter, completing 27 strike flight missions. He was awarded the Air Medal for heroic achievement in aerial flight. Like many veterans, his real battle didn’t begin until he returned home, where he struggled to adjust to the “new normal” of American life in 1969, still haunted by his experiences during the nation’s most unpopular war. His memoir describes his military training, his unit’s harrowing missions inserting and extracting troops over landing zones under enemy fire, and his four-decade struggle with service-connected PTSD.

About the Author(s)

Tim Fortner is a motorsports professional and has also pursued a career in vintage racing car restoration. He lives on the northern California coast.

Elizabeth Ridley is the author of five novels and four co-written memoirs. She lives in Pewaukee, Wisconsin.

Bibliographic Details

Tim Fortner with Elizabeth Ridley

Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 209
Bibliographic Info: 26 photos, glossary, appendices, index
Copyright Date: 2020
pISBN: 978-1-4766-8068-2
eISBN: 978-1-4766-4004-4
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix
Author’s Note x
Foreword by Peter J. Berman, Ph.D., ABPP 1
Prologue: Happy Birthday, Tim! 5
1. Surfing, Sex and Justice 7
2. Journalism, Sex Ed and Extra Credit 12
3. Mom Dropping ­F-Bombs? 16
4. Two New Recruits 21
5. The Brutal Reality of Boot Camp 24
6. Getting with the Program 30
7. “I should have been on that flight” 36
8. Orders for WestPac 42
9. Danger Where You Least Expect It 50
10. Elephant Grass, Alabama Moonshine and a Terrifying Journey to the Twilight Zone 60
11. Lights and Landings 65
12. Your Wingman Is Down! 71
13. The Tiger Bar & Grille 74
14. Thank You, ­Anheuser-Busch! 78
15. Requiem for a ­Short-Timer 82
16. Lieutenant Dipshit and the Exploding ­C-rats 88
17. The Spoils of War 93
18. Keeping Watch and a Painful Loss 100
19. Extracting a Recon Team—When Every Second Counts 106
20. Is My Luck About to Run Out? 112
21. Boosting a Jeep from the Military Police 119
22. Seven Lives Gone 125
23. Heading Home 130
24. Sometimes Your Heart Hurts 137
25. Rest in Peace, Rusty 146
26. The Road of No Return 153
27. A Ticking Time Bomb 160
28. Adding Insult to Injury 167
29. A Light at the End of the Tunnel 173
Epilogue: Coming Full Circle 177
Appendix I: Motor Sports History 181
Appendix II: Vintage/Historic Race History Results 183
Appendix III: Statistics from the Vietnam War 187
Appendix IV: HMM 262 Operations, 1968–1969 189
Appendix V: Timothy R. Fortner: Citations and Awards 191
Appendix VI: Timothy R. Fortner: Military Affiliations 192
Glossary 193
Index 197

Book Reviews & Awards

  • “This is an honest book… It reads like a novel…I’m convinced we should all get together and say ‘Thank you for your service, welcome home, Brother!’…Tim writes with honesty and wit”—Vietnam Veterans Against the War
  • “Tim writes with honesty and wit…I was especially moved.”—The Veteran