Guest, Stan Mardula

Guest Name: 
Stan Mardula
Stan Mardula
Guest Occupation: 
Retired Vietnam Vet
Guest Biography: 

Stan Mardula was born on November 25, 1948 in Tuxedo New Yok He Grew up in Sloatsburg New York with his two brothers John and Mark. He worked for Orange and Rockland Utilities in Spring Valley, New York for 32 years as Gas Serviceman, until he retired due to agent orange related health problems. He currently lives in Sun City West, Arizona with his wife Claire and they have been married for 44 years. Stan comes from a long line of family who served in the armed forces. War has affected Stan’s family for over 100 years.

Stan served in the U.S. army from September 1966 until June of 1969. In the Army he served 2 tours in Vietnam from March 18, 1967-June 4, 1969. He was with the 5th Battalion Automatic Weapons 2nd Artillery Self Propelled. He served on the M42A1 Dusters and tracked vehicles with two 40mm guns. He also served with the I battery 29th Artillery in fared search light jeeps.

John Mardula Stan’s oldest brother served in the Marine Corps from 1966-1970. He was a combat veteran who received 3 Purple Hearts and 5 air medals, the combat Air Crew wings for aerial combat and the Combat Action Ribbon for ground combat. John was crew Chief on Helicopters in Vietnam.

His Father was a Veteran of WW2 and he served in the Merchant marines from 1943-1945. His father received the Merchant Combat Bar with 2 Silver Service stars which denotes ships sunk due to enemy action.

His Father’s Brother Henry Mardula also served in the Merchant Marines with him until the ship they were on was torpedoed and sunk. Henry was wounded and his brother helped save him. After this incident they did not serve together again due to their mothers concern.

Stan’s father’s parents were from Poland and they had close relatives that served in the Austrian-Hungarian Army in WWI. Stan Also had a great uncle that was in the concentration camp at Auschwitz during WWII.

His mother was an Englishwoman who served in the Royal Air Force from 1943-1945. She lived in London and went through the Air Bombing and V1 and V2 rocket attacks from 1940-1945.

His mother’s father John Thomas Blackman (1878-1948) served in the British Army from 1914-1918 in France. While serving on the western front his brother was killed in action and his body was never found. During this time while in France his first wife died and he was left with 5 children. His eldest son John also served in the British Army in WWI. When he returned from his service, he married woman named Mary Richardson whose husband was also killed in the war. She had 5 children. They married after WWI and had 3 additional children together, Stan’s mother Ivy being one of them.

Stan planned to make the Army his career but after the second tour in Vietnam he was burned out. He was 20 years old when he was discharged and he felt like an old man. He feels a civil war began in his soul between the “old man” and the “Kid”.

The “kid” wanted to have fun and make up for the years that were lost to war. He wanted to date girls, go to college, the beach and take vacations. He wanted to have fun, meet new people his own age, buy a new car and experience the good things in life. He also wanted to be praised for serving his country and for his friends that were killed in Vietnam to be honored.

The “Old Man” was always putting a damper on things. The “Old man” questioned things to hide the pain. Stan turned to Alcohol. Stan had a few veterans he hung out with and they mostly kept to themselves, didn’t talk about the future and only lived for the day.

There was a song he identified with by Harry Nilsson called Everybody's talking at me. The lyrics “Everybody's talking at me I don't hear a word they're saying, only the echoes of my mind” really resonated with him. This was during the anti-war movement and the “Old Man” points out and says “Here is your reward for your service, demonization”. Without realizing it the “Old Man began to take control of his life. During this period in his life no one offered him any help. Stan knew something was wrong with him but he did not know what it was. He learned later in his life that he had all the classic symptoms of PTSD.

In April of 1970, he met the woman who was to become his wife. Stan’s feels she is the best thing that ever happened to him and still is. He often wishes he could go back in time and make-up for the heartache he caused the wonderful girl, who only wanted to love him with all her heart.

He married Claire in September 1971 and in 1977 they welcomed a daughter, Carrie. After years of heavy drinking, Stan went to his first AA meeting in 1978 and has not had a drink since. He says he was lucky that his two daughters never saw him drink. They welcomed their second Daughter Laura in 1979.

Stan was diagnosed with in 1992 with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) from the VA and it was then, that he finally realized what is was he was dealing with and learned how to live with it. He feel it’s important for people to realize PTSD is very common, especially for those that have served or been through traumatic experiences.

This also helped Stan realize that many of his own family members suffered from PTSD as well. He remembers being told about his grandfather who had bad temper and was a raging alcoholic. His own father always kept to himself and worked constantly, had a bad temper and could not sleep well. His mother would often stay to herself and would stare at the wall for hours and suffered bouts of manic depression. She would also have night terrors where she would scream out in her sleep and never slept a lot. His Uncle Henry was like a rolling stone. Always moving around and never going anywhere. Stan feels that he and his brother were a lot alike in that they buried their pain, but then they got help for it.

Stan is the last combat veteran left in his family. The others including his brother John who died of Agent Orange related lung cancer, are all gone. He feels that due to his own experiences with his family and how the time he served in Vietnam affected him, that it’s necessary to get the word out about PTSD, and to let others know that there is help out there.

Stan served as a non-commissioned service officer for the DAV and has helped many veteran over the years get the benefits they were entitled to. Although he is no longer involved with the benefits side of things he is active in the American Legion, DAV, VFW, Vietnam Veterans of America and several other organizations to help veterans get the help and care they need.