‘It’s a Lifelong Burden’: The Mixed Blessing of the Medal of Honor

Gary Beikirch returned from Vietnam filled with rage and racked by guilt and terrified he’d ruin the next college child who spat on him.

The veteran Green Beret medic let his mustache hunch, and his hair reach his shoulders. He sold snow shoes and a thick down jacket and, in 1973, went to live in a cave within the White Mountains of Contemporary Hampshire. He laid his sound asleep rep and camping mat on a mattress of leaves and pine needles. He hoped he’d procure within the woods the peace and contentment he’d misplaced within the jungle.

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