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Henry M's Experiences

Experience description:   

First tour in Vietnam October 1968-October 1969

As I was going on duty during the evening of February 22, 1969 we were informed that recent intelligence indicated there was massive enemy movements throughout Vietnam and that the area was going to be attacked sometime that night. The reporters of that intelligence told us that another TET offensive much like the one in 1968 may be developing. Everyone was on edge and we patrolled with every precaution and extra ammunition. I was in one section of Bin Hoa, just to the immediate east of the area where the headquarters of the 101st Airborne Division was located, the town was just outside of that base. My partner and I were in an area usually crawling with people, and there were none. Not even a loose dog. It was so quite we could hear the breeze blowing down the dark streets. Binh Hoa was a sizable city with several hundred thousand people and was always busy with traffic, people and animals moving about and doing their business. At midnight we were notified that our alert level went to 'yellow' meaning enemy attack was imminent. The plan was to withdraw from patrolling the city and return to the MP station at the appropriate time and set up defensive positions. My partner and I were given one last mission before being pulled back in to our defense position. About 0100 in the morning we were told to go to the edge of Binh Hoa City on the west side of the city and provide an intelligence report about what we could see, if anything. We arrived at our destination and immediately noted there was not one human being, not one dog, not one vehicle in sight or moving. We stopped in the middle of the road and turned off the engine of the jeep. Total silence and all I heard was the wind blowing. The silence was unnerving and caused us both to be hyper alert. I was driving and had stopped near the entrance to an alley. It was dark in the alley for the most part but seemed to have a little light from nearby lights from homes.

As we sat there observing everything I heard a noise in the alley like metal hitting metal, a clanking noise if you will. My partner quickly and immediately got onto the M-60 machine mounted on our jeep and I told him to keep me covered as I got out of the jeep with my M-16 at the ready and started walking down the alley to check out the noise. I was about 50-75 feet into the alley when I heard a voice say, 'Get Out'. The voice was male, clear, in English and I thought someone was standing next to me as it had come from my right side. I turned to see who that may be and no one was there. I then took two steps forward and again the voice said 'Get Out'. This time the voice was loud and harsh with authority stopping me from moving forward. I actually stopped in mid step. My hair on my arms and head were standing up and I felt immediate over whelming fear. The fear was so strong that I started slowly backing up with my weapon at the ready. I never turned around once but backed out of the alley until I got back to my jeep. We departed the area immediately.

As we left the area I called in about the lack of people and was told we were now at 'red alert level' meaning enemy hostilities had started and we were directed to return to the MP station. Gun fire and explosions were heard as we headed away from the area. Other MP patrols came pouring in about the same time and we were instructed to take positions on the roof of the Provost Marshal Office. There were explosions and green tracers lighting up the night sky and by the flares we sent up we could see enemy forces attacking across a large field directly in front of us. Now for those that do not know, American forces have red tracers and the Vietcong and North Vietnamese Army have green. Over the next 48 hours we fought from our defensive positions at the MP station in Binh Hoa. I will not get into all the details of the next 48 hours but generally speaking I and my fellow soldiers fought from the roof top of the MP station as the Viet Cong and North Vietnamese Army attacked towards our position. Enemy forces were attacking straight at our position and I could see them coming as the flares we were putting up disclosed the attacking force. We fired into the attacking enemy but it was not enough. We called in helicopter gun ships and the C-130 gunship known as 'Spooky' to bring fire on the enemy and break up their attack. The fire power was awesome. The rate of fire was so fast from the Gatling guns that at night it looked like a laser being used on the battlefield and the noise was incredible. This was my first real firefight or battle and I was damn scared. We had rounds ricocheting off the roof not only from the VC, but also from Binh Hoa Air Base perimeter forces fighting off another attacking force.

During the night several of us were picked to clear buildings next to us so we would not have a surprise from the VC. That was a very nerve racking experience, in the dark with the firing going on to the front of us. The commanding officer, a colonel directed me and three others to go to a building next to our position and clear it as he thought we were receiving enemy fire from a hotel under construction. There were two floors to the building and myself and another sergeant took the bottom floor while the other two went upstairs and we began a room by room search. This was about 0300 in the morning so it was still very dark. The other sergeant with me froze and failed to assist me with clearing the rooms. I ended up clearing the rooms by myself on the first floor. After clearing all 20 rooms by myself I was bathed in sweat and my uniform was soaking wet. We never found any enemy in the building and returned to our defensive positions next door.

We were not the target but the Binh Hoa Air Base was and we were located between the attacking forces and the air base. This was my first battle and I was scared but I never felt the fear I felt in that alley. After several days of fighting the enemy forces withdrew and we started collecting information and patrolling again. One of the intelligence reports I was able to read described the following information. On the west side of Binh Hoa enemy forces had attacked in mass against the Binh Hoa Army Base where the headquarters for the 101st Airborne Division was located. The attack was being directed from a NVA headquarters element located in a building at the end of an alley. This location was attacked by gunships and US ground forces killing 33 enemy at that location. I went back out to that location and verified this was the same alley I had walked down. Rocket fire from gunships destroyed that end of the alley. Bodies were still being removed. It was the same alley that the NVA had set up their headquarters in preparation for the attack on the army base. Where did this voice come from? My guardian angel from the other side? I most certainly would have been captured or killed by the NVA without any doubt in my mind if I had continued down that alley.

Second tour Vietnam February 1971 August 1971

Then on June 12, 1971, about 9 am in the morning as we were monitoring convoy traffic from the top of the An Khe Pass on Route QL-19, the convoy carrying ammunition was ambushed. Our job was to break up the ambushes and we moved into the kill zone. We immediately came under heavy automatic weapons fire and rocket propelled grenades. The first four trucks and a jeep had been destroyed in the initial attack. Since this is a main highway there was traffic going both ways. A civilian bus carrying passengers had also been hit. All passengers were dead. A South Vietnamese Army jeep was hit. It had two Quan Cong (Vietnamese MP’s) and a prisoner in the jeep. All were dead. There was an American soldier lying in the road. He was alive but his right leg was gone at the knee and his right arm was just hanging on by shreds of muscle. He kept trying to get up and move off the road as rounds kept hitting around him.

At this point something very strange happened. I relate this not to show what I did or my crew did, but for another reason that should be clear as you read this account. The enemy fire was absolutely intense. As I started to leave the protection of the V-100, I said, 'God protect me.' This unique feeling came over me. It felt like a wall was around me and I felt protected, almost as if was surrounded by beings. Bullets were hitting all around me. Passing between my legs, under my arms and I could hear the bullets as they passed my head. The bullets sounded like angry bees. I covered the soldier on the ground while returning fire and we were both protected. This feeling of protection did not leave me until after the firefight was over several hours later. I started first aid and signaled for a 'dust-off', medical evacuation helicopter. Helicopter gun ships were flying right over me and my crew in the V-100, about one hundred feet above firing rockets into the hillside where we were getting a lot of enemy fire. Spent cases from the machine guns being fired from the helicopters kept falling onto the road all around us. But that was ok, it allowed the dust-off to land in the middle of the firefight and I carried the soldier to the helicopter and he was taken away. I learned later that he lived. As I returned to the V-100, several rounds passed under my left arm and wounded one of my crew in the hand. I was never wounded in that battle (but was several weeks later by explosion). The battle lasted for several hours and my crew and I pulled in six US soldiers that had been trapped in the kill zone from the convoy and a number of wounded soldiers, Vietnamese and US. We found some construction vehicles that were being used to lay asphalt on the road. Behind the vehicles were four road workers, all executed by being shot in the back of the head, most likely to keep them from ruining the ambush. After that, one of the other V-100’s was near the beginning of the convoy that had come under initial attack and I saw an MP laying on the ground with another soldier, a Vietnamese soldier. I went to them, or I should say crawled to them as firing from enemy forces was still on going. We both tried to keep this soldier alive. He had been shot in the chest and had three sucking chest wounds. We put plastic wrappings from C Rations on his wounds and applied pressure trying to keep his lungs inflated but it failed and as we lay there in the dirt holding him he died in my arms. I told the other MP to get back to his V-100 and continue holding that position until we could get additional firepower into the area and stop the ambush. After contact was broken off we found nine dead North Vietnamese Army soldiers. By documents captured it was discovered that a reinforced NVA infantry company had ambushed the convoy. The difference here is that the Viet Cong usually hit and run. The NVA are professional soldiers and they stay and fight. A tough day for each one of us. I received the Silver Star for this action and my two crewmen each received the Bronze Star for Valor and the one that was wounded also received the Purple Heart. God and his angels were with us on that day I am absolutely convinced of it. I felt His presence and HIS presence was overwhelming.

After is battle I was completely drained of energy. My uniform was soaked in blood from other wounded soldiers. That night I slept heavily and woke up completely sore and every muscle in me hurt. I remember sitting around the next day asking myself why I was still alive. What I experienced is just as fresh in my mind as if it were yesterday. After arriving back in the United States I never feared dying again. I have since had multiple tours in Iraq and Afghanistan from 2003 to 2007, with my last tour of combat just weeks before my 60th birthday, but never had those same experiences happen again even though I was exposed to life threatening circumstances. I just have no fear of death because I know it will be ok in the afterlife.

At the time of your experience was there an associated life-threatening event? Yes I was in direct combat operations against Viet Cong and North Vietnamese Army. Several weeks after second incident, I was wounded and sent to hospital. Evacuated to Japan. Was to be returned to Vietnam. Over whelming fear returned and had distinct feeling I would die if I returned to Vietnam. Told doctor and several days later without him saying anything I was on a plane heading to hospital at Presidio of San Francisco, CA where I remained for 3 months healing and recovering.

Was the experience difficult to express in words? Yes I had to think over multiple times what happened and tried to articulate it the best I could but some things like in the second incident of 'people' or a 'wall' were hard to describe and difficult to identify.

At what time during the experience were you at your highest level of consciousness and alertness? In the alley as I entered the alley way until I left the alley. in the second incident when I left the protection of the V-100 armored vehicle until the battle was over some hours later.

How did your highest level of consciousness and alertness during the experience compare to your normal everyday consciousness and alertness? More consciousness and alertness than normal I heard a voice clear and distinct during the first incident in which I was warned twice. There has never been a repeat of such an incident again. The second incident I felt a distinct feeling of protection like a wall and a sense of someone or multiple someone with me.

Please compare your vision during the experience to your everyday vision that you had immediately prior to the time of the experience. At the time I wore glasses in both instances. In the first incident it was my hearing that was impacted. My vision seemed unusually sharp. In the second incident my glasses were knocked off somehow, but for some reason everything was sharp and clear and I almost felt guided in what I did.

Please compare your hearing during the experience to your everyday hearing that you had immediately prior to the time of the experience. My hearing was sharp during the first incident and I seemed to hear many things but the voice was what I recall the most of and how real and close it was too me and then how it scared me deeply forcing me to change my advance. The second incident my hearing seem as if it faded. The noise was incredible due to the heavy gunfire and I depended on what I was seeing mostly.

Did you see or hear any earthly events that were occurring during a time that your consciousness / awareness was apart from your physical / earthly body? Yes The voice and the feeling of persons or a wall.

What emotions did you feel during the experience? Fear in first and second incident, then calmness and a sense of protection during the second incident.

Did you pass into or through a tunnel? No

Did you see an unearthly light? No

Did you seem to encounter a mystical being or presence, or hear an unidentifiable voice? I heard a voice I could not identify
The voice in the first incident was clear, in English, male, at first the voice said, 'Get out' in a 'directive way' and when I did not comply and continued forward the voice the second time was harsh, very direct and louder giving me deep fear and I complied.

Did you encounter or become aware of any beings who previously lived on earth who are described by name in religions (for example: Jesus, Muhammad, Buddha, etc.)? No

Did you encounter or become aware of any deceased (or alive) beings? No

Did you become aware of past events in your life during your experience? No

Did you seem to enter some other, unearthly world? No


Did time seem to speed up or slow down?
Time seemed to go faster or slower than usual
This happened in second incident, time slowed. I felt like I was in slow motion.

Did you suddenly seem to understand everything? No


Did you reach a boundary or limiting physical structure? Uncertain
I question if the voice was essentially a barrier since it stopped me. I also in the second incident felt this wall or barrier around me, but not limiting me from going forward or backward.

Did you come to a border or point of no return? No


Did scenes from the future come to you? No


During your experience, did you encounter any specific information / awareness suggesting that there either is (or is not) continued existence after earthly life (“life after death”)? Uncertain Not sure about voice. However, second incident I have and continue to identify that the protection I felt was person(s) and I called them angels or God. I can not shake or change this feeling as it is constant.

During your experience, did you encounter any specific information / awareness that God or a supreme being either does (or does not) exist? Uncertain Just my feelings that were and are pronounced.

During your experience, did you encounter any specific information / awareness that you either did (or did not) exist prior to this lifetime? No

During your experience, did you encounter any specific information / awareness that a mystical universal connection or unity/oneness either does (or does not) exist? No

During your experience, did you encounter any specific information / awareness regarding earthly life’s meaning or purpose? No

During your experience, did you encounter any specific information / awareness regarding earthly life’s difficulties, challenges, or hardships?
No

During your experience, did you encounter any specific information / awareness regarding love? No

During your experience, did you encounter any other specific information / awareness that you have not shared in other questions that is relevant to living our earthly lives? No

Did you have a sense of knowing special knowledge or purpose? No

What occurred during your experience included: Content that was both consistent and not consistent with the beliefs you had at the time of your experience Prior to my first experience I had questions about God and afterlife and was unsure. After the 'voice' I questioned my belief and decided there is a God. Just prior to my second experience I had been exposed to other combat (not to the degree of my experience) and had just found out my then wife was leaving me and had a profound sense of not caring if I lived or died, yet, I immediately asked for God's protection and it was given in a millisecond, it was just there. After returning to the States I felt like I had climbed onto a higher plateau in life and I needed to do better and felt as if I was suppose to do 'something', just did not know what it was.

How accurately do you remember the experience in comparison to other life events that occurred around the time of the experience? I remember the experience more accurately than other life events that occurred around the time of the experience. My memory and recall of both these incidents are crystal clear as if they just happened.

Discuss any changes that might have occurred in your life after your experience: I searched for a religion that I could identify with and have meaning in my life. I went to different churches looking for meaning. I changed from Lutheran to Catholic in 2006 as a result of my wife thinking this was what I have been looking for. I still have difficulty with organized religion, yet, I do believe there is a God and there is an afterlife. I have decided to understand Jesus as best as I can and what he taught and let the rest of it come as it may. I have become more compassionate towards people over the years and always seeking knowledge about life and how people think and I am obsessed with seeking this knowledge. I have come to believe 'love' is the right answer to life. Jesus gave his commandment to love everyone including your enemies and that is almost impossible for us to do and I am far from perfection but am driven to try. These two incidents caused me to view life differently and drove me to improvement.

My experience directly resulted in:
Large changes in my life

Did you have any changes in your values or beliefs after the experience that occurred as a result of the experience?
Yes I find all life is valuable, not just some lives, but everyone. I forgive easier then I ever have before.

Do you have any psychic, non-ordinary or other special gifts after your experience that you did not have before the experience? Yes Highly intuitive. In fact I have used this 'gift' as an extension of my former career as a polygraph examiner not only in determining if someone is truthful prior to the examination but mostly in the interrogation phase of a test if someone fails. Obtained many confessions as a result of this intuition. I seem to have the ability to read people exceptionally well in every day life outside the polygraph examination. An inner sense if you will.

Are there one or several parts of your experience that are especially meaningful or significant to you?
All of it is meaningful as the experiences are unique, at least to me, as I have never talked to anyone else that has had these types of experiences. I am sure there are people that have, but I have never met anyone.

Have you ever shared this experience with others?
Yes I shared them for the first time with my 2d wife in the early 1990's. She seemed curious and surprised, but seemed to have lost interest and I stopped talking about it. But at the same time it was hard to talk about and describe. I am not sure if she was influenced or not. I hesitate talking about this with others.

Did you have any knowledge of near death experience (NDE) prior to your experience? No

What did you believe about the reality of your experience shortly (days to weeks) after it happened: Experience was definitely real I question why I was still alive and I used to sit and dwell on it to make sure it was real. I did not question that it happened and I have always been sure it has, but I ask myself why me.

What do you believe about the reality of your experience at the current time: Experience was definitely real The voice during the first incident and the feeling of protection/person in the second incident are very real to me. I have managed over the years when I think about these experiences to place them in a special place in my mind that gives me comfort knowing I actually had these experiences. I feel privileged to have had this happened to me as if I was given something to learn and know.

Have your relationships changed specifically as a result of your experience? Yes I went through a period of time after Vietnam, some 10 years or so disliking people because of the way they treated veterans and distanced myself from most people making it hard to know me. I started to drink too much, but got a hold of myself and stopped doing that. No drugs. I entered one relationship after another trying to find myself. I then mentally 'grabbed' myself and got my life in order, put my experiences away for the most part, but kept thinking of what happened to me and decided I needed to be true to myself as well as others. Met my wife and now have been married for almost 26 years and have been happy. These days when I have something come up problematic or when I am trying to help someone I think of these experiences and tell myself I was spared to help others.

Have your religious beliefs/spiritual practices changed specifically as a result of your experience? Yes I do not attend church.

At any time in your life, has anything ever reproduced any part of the experience? Uncertain My experiences in Iraq and Afghanistan. Even though I was a federal civilian with CIA and DIA and not in direct combat operations I was in high stress assignments with assignments to special operations polygraph assets and sources in remote and denied areas, sometimes with fire fights near by while doing my work. Somehow, I had a sense of well being and an inner voice that I was going to be alright despite the nearby dangers.

Is there anything else that you would like to add about your experience? I am now more at peace in my life then I have ever been and when I look back over the many things I have done an my life I am amazed I am still alive.

Did the questions asked and information that you provided accurately and comprehensively describe your experience? Yes The questionnaire provided me an opportunity to try and fully explain me and my experiences.

What could a national organization with an interest in near death experience (NDE) do that would be of interest to you? I am fascinated with the subject area and read many experiences in an attempt to understand what happened to me. I do not call my experiences an NDE in the true sense of the label as I understand it, but I am trying to find a label I guess to identify what did happened to me.

Are there any other questions that we could ask to help you communicate your experience? I made this mistake several times filling out this questionnaire, and that is writing something ahead of when I was suppose to. You might put a note in the beginning that a person should be careful of about getting ahead of themselves while filling out the form.