What has the Legion done for me?

jonny

Actual or Former Legionnaire
Legionnaire
#1
OK, what did the Romans ever do for us? Asked some comedian, I think.

So what did the Legion do for me? Well, it started by turning a wayward young sailor of 16, heavily into alcohol, into a reasonably good shape soldier in Algeria. Not a bad start, I reckon. Then I became a paratrooper in 2 REP and fought various skirmishes along the mountain ranges in eastern Algeria.

In June 1962 I went liberable as a 1ere classe legionnaire in Marseille, hired on a Norwegian ship, basically where I had left off 5 years earlier in Dakar. On Christmas Eve 1962 I knocked on the door of my mother’s apartment in Oslo, nearly eight years after leaving home as a 15 year old kid. By then I had only seven years of basic education. I spoke four languages fluently, but could only get jobs as a casual labourer in the harbour unloading ships, which was hard work. Four years later I was working as a civil engineer in a consulting engineering office in Oslo, wearing a white coat with a slide rule and pencils in my breast pocket.

So how did I do it? Well, that’s where Legion training comes in. Firstly you set a goal, then you go for it. Being tired is not an excuse, you just think you are tired. This is, I reckon, one of the basic tenets I took with me from the Legion. You feel dead tired,don’t want to study any more math, or whatever. Then you remember the endless marches through the Algerian mountains, and you say to yourself, hey you’re not really tired yet. It took me just three years to cover high school and a bachelor degree in civil engineering. With another year at university I had also obtained a masters degree.

Without the discipline and toughened up of the Legion I would never have gotten anywhere near where I am today, a happily comfortable retiree.
 
#3
Thanks for the story. Why did you leave the Legion? Did you meet many Norwegians in the Legion? Did you end up in Australia due to your civil engineering job?
 

jonny

Actual or Former Legionnaire
Legionnaire
#5
Thanks, Petit Caporal, I was hoping for some stories, but that’s fair enough. The Legion also taught me to be self reliant, and I never really needed any favours, ever.

Thanks for the story. Why did you leave the legion? Did you meet many Norwegians in the legion?
Did you end up in Australia due to your civil engineering job?
Hi Countdown, I see you are a landsmann. I met only a few Norwegians in the Legion. One in 2 REP that I had contact with on a regular basis until he passed away, after 52 years of friendship. The last time we met was in Paris for the Bastille Day celebration in 2010. Another one was Sergeant Nor in Sidi Bel Abbes. No idea what happened to him.
Yes, I ended up in Australia because of my professional background. I was offered a job here, liked it and never left.
 

jonny

Actual or Former Legionnaire
Legionnaire
#12
I have often wondered why some soldiers who experiense traumatic war situations develop TSD, while others seem totally unaffected and lead quite normal lives afterwards. I have been in contact with several of my old friends from Algeria, and they all seem quite normal to me.

But anyway, I attach this photo ofa US Marine found sitting motionless in a corner of a building during the battle of Hue. He had been missing for a few hours before they found him. He never said a word, just stared unblinkingly with that thousand mile look in his eyes. I find this photo quite summing up war, and how the experience can affect a soldier.

Not trying to make a point, just sharing a poweful photo on this forum.


7912AFEC-9323-41D2-993A-DA33EFBBAD28.png
 
#13
I have often wondered why some soldiers who experiense traumatic war situations develop TSD, while others seem totally unaffected and lead quite normal lives afterwards. I have been in contact with several of my old friends from Algeria, and they all seem quite normal to me.

But anyway, I attach this photo ofa US Marine found sitting motionless in a corner of a building during the battle of Hue. He had been missing for a few hours before they found him. He never said a word, just stared unblinkingly with that thousand mile look in his eyes. I find this photo quite summing up war, and how the experience can affect a soldier.

Not trying to make a point, just sharing a poweful photo on this forum.


View attachment 3474
Good point you raise and a really good photo, I fear that it is compensation (£ or $) driven by vets and private insurers as always quite often the guys that need the help and support slip through the networks and end up self medicating or in jail or dead, when the smart ones play the system!
Yes my comments might ruffle a few feathers but it is evidence based, and happy to debate it if you are that way inclined!
 
#14
It began in the 1 st world war, with shell shocked troops (but probally has always existed. .just needed a medical terminologie. ..sure it happens and sure, some work their ticket) it takes all sorts
 
#15
It began in the 1 st world war, with shell shocked troops (but probally has always existed. .just needed a medical terminologie. ..sure it happens and sure, some work their ticket) it takes all sorts
It’s a difficult conversation as we all no guys that have suffered, also difficult for them to engage with guys that have been through same situation and come out other end not effected or better at keeping a lid on it, can effect old friendships!
 

dusaboss

Hyper Active Member
#16
It is interesting phenomenon as Jonny said some don't have troubles at all, others get hit really hard.

Studies shows that hits more those with low IQ. (now someone should write that then I'm really at risk of getting PTSD if I go in combat. Feel stupid while joking on myself, but it is good joke and I don't want to offend someone by puting this joke on him :))

Also those days turned out that PTSD hits even guys who never seen day of combat. Just stress of being on deployment is enough for someone to tip over.

For sure predisposition to PTSD have big role in whether or not will someone get it.

Many of those who got some symptoms of PTSD say is not really combat and what they been through what's bother them, it's more difficulties of transition to civilian life, lack of comradeship and different set of rules in civil life.

Here is Sebastian Junger guy have some really interesting insights on subject


By the way most famous case of PTSD is John Rambo. :)
 

jonny

Actual or Former Legionnaire
Legionnaire
#19
Dusaboss,

«Many of those who got some symptoms of PTSD say is not really combat and what they been through what's bother them, it's more difficulties of transition to civilian life, lack of comradeship and different set of rules in civil life.»

I reckon that is part of it as well. However, none of this, including your movie clip, really explains to me why legionnaires dont seem to het PTSD related problems, except drinking beer, perhaps. As if that was a problem?

During my life after the legion I have met up with several of my mates from Algeria, as well as a number of legionnaires who had served in other theatres of war, including El Alamein, Indo China, Kolwesi, Kosovo, etc, and none of those appeared to have any mental problems whatsoever. Some of those had had quite succesfull careers, and all of them had at least been looking after themselves and their families very well.

Any further thoughts on this subject?
 

dusaboss

Hyper Active Member
#20
Dusaboss,


I reckon that is part of it as well. However, none of this, including your movie clip, really explains to me why legionnaires dont seem to het PTSD related problems, except drinking beer, perhaps. As if that was a problem?

During my life after the legion I have met up with several of my mates from Algeria, as well as a number of legionnaires who had served in other theatres of war, including El Alamein, Indo China, Kolwesi, Kosovo, etc, and none of those appeared to have any mental problems whatsoever. Some of those had had quite succesfull careers, and all of them had at least been looking after themselves and their families very well.

Any further thoughts on this subject?
Hmmm. I guess simple answer would be legionnaires are tougher than rest. ;)

Probably there is something in psychological profile of men who join FFL. To be honest you have to be little bit crazy in order join FFL.
Than there is special kind of bonding among legionnaires, brotherhood etc. witch you can't find on that level in other armies.
Maybe something in training and legion's spirit overall.

Probably many factors together makes legionnaires last vulnerable to PTSD.

Also we should know that PTSD usually hits more soldiers of armies where one can easily get some benefits from it so ... there is also some faking to. I mean you can't fake lost leg but with enough knowledge and intelligence one could easily fake psychological disorder.
 
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