Local News

March 6, 2014

Vietnam War survivor a hero to his family outside of war

For years, Ed Pippin was afraid to admit how he was suffering for fear of what others would think.

“I had some wild fears of my own,” said Pippin, a veteran of the Vietnam War from Cohutta who is featured in a documentary called “Raw War: The Lost Film of Dak To.” The documentary airs tonight and on March 28 on the American Heroes Channel.

“They thought everyone in Vietnam was crazy anyway,” Pippin said.

Pippin would wake up at night fighting his wife, Josie.

“I couldn’t figure out why I was feeling the feelings I was having, suicide to uselessness to what good am I to society,” he said. “When I first came back and got a job they treated me like a cripple.”

Pippin worked many different jobs, including in the carpet mills and as a dispatcher for the Georgia State Patrol, but mostly as a meat cutter in stores in Dalton.

The first time Pippin remembers having feelings of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) he was on a hunting trip. When he returned home with his friend, he asked the friend to hide his gun.

“I said, ‘I don’t know why, just hide it,’” Pippin said. “Later on I just sucked it up and said ‘I’m going hunting.’ I didn’t want nobody to think I was crazy.”

Pippin said he dealt with a lot of guilt because he survived the war and others didn’t. He has a list of those who were killed in action.

Pippin pointed to a name, Bruce Wagner. Wagner had just received a photo from his wife of his new baby.

“Why Lord?” Pippin asked. “I wasn’t married, and what I had going wasn’t working. Why would you take a man who had just gotten a brand new baby. Why let me live? He did.”

Pippin turned to drinking, but it didn’t help the pain and suffering.

“I remember a lot of nights praying myself to sleep ... ranting at God: “Why? Just do something,’” he said.

Pippin didn’t want to talk to his wife about his thoughts for fear of scaring her.

Pippin’s daughter, Jessica Jones, said she didn’t realize during her childhood just what her father was dealing with. She and her two siblings had been warned not to wake Pippin up or to startle him.

“He worked so much providing for us,” Jones said. “We didn’t ever have to deal with any of that.”

Pippin didn’t let having one leg — he lost the other from a mortar shell as outlined in the documentary — slow him down or stop him from enjoying life with his children. He also warned employers not to treat him any differently, that he could handle his work the same as a man with two legs.

“He’s always been a hero,” Jones said. “He could do anything anyone else could do. He taught us how to swim. He was never handicapped to himself.”

Pippin sought help dealing with his PTSD.

And he went back to school, to Tennessee Temple University in Chattanooga, and became a reverend.

For 12 years, Pippin was the pastor at Varnell Baptist Church. He retired recently to spend time with his family, which now includes four grandchildren, and care for his mother.

“God blessed me,” he said. “He really did.”

 

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