Editor's note: Several veterans spoke to The Capital in uncommon detail about their experiences for our Veterans Day story about the Annapolis Vet Center. This is one of a handful of stories letting them tell us more.
Once Glen Burnie resident Glen Frazier got to Vietnam in 1965, his unit was a Bien Hoa Airbase, then later the larger Tan Son Nhut base closer to Saigon.
"We got two weeks training, handling South Vietnamese KIA," Frazier recalled. "They had no refrigeration, the stench was awful. We were handling those bodies, doing embalming, working as table assistants. All of us were sick to our stomachs and had to run outside."
He said they handled Viet Cong dead as well.
"You had to be careful, moving the clothes, opening the bodies — they would booby trap a body with a grenade."
His unit started what became a ghastly routine handling the bodies of fallen troops.
"I remember my first time out on a mission when they sent me into the field," Frazier said recalling one of his recurring memories. "I was in the back of a deuce-and-a-half. We had to pull the floating body of an adviser out if a pond. He was a big black man, all swelled up."
He said his mind was thrown back to that moment when watching "Saving Private Ryan."
"You know that opening scene, Tom Hanks is on Omaha Beach and his hands were shaking? Well, that day my hands were shaking the same way. Riding in the back of that truck, shaking uncontrollably. I got over it, but that first time..."
Frazier said he and the rest of his unit were shunned by other troops. Bad juju among the superstitious counting down their 365 days. "They didn't want to be buddies," he said.
After his year in Vietnam, he stayed in the Army and retired after 20 years. After a stint as a deputy sheriff in Georgia, he moved back to Maryland and found a job at Fort Meade, where he worked another 28 years.
It was only after retiring that the buried memories and stress bubbled up. A friend told him about the Vet Center, and he has been coming ever since.
"We talk the truth."