One Veteran Remembers Father Through Diary - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

One Veteran Remembers Father Through Diary

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WALLA WALLA, Wash--  It has been over 40 years since Jim Willard has seen war.  But it seems every time he closes his eyes, he's back in battle, fighting through his past.

"I spent 35 years trying to forget Vietnam and I've spent 5 years trying to remember it now," says Jim.

"His past has kept him distant from those he loves the most.  He now realizes he lives with post traumatic stress disorder.

"Working with veterans, I started learning about my disability.  I had the nightmares, I had the inappropriate emotional responses.   I cried at some of the stupidest things and I couldn't cry when my dad died."

All that is left of his father are pictures, and the one thing Jim keeps closest: his father's diary.  It was written when he was a prisoner of war during World War II.  It's bound in the leather from his boots, and written on scraps of paper from cigarette wrappers. 

Jim says it is hard to read the faded writing, so he typed it up and made copies for his children and grandchildren to have. 

This is what helps jim deal with his war-torn past.  And today, on this day we honor our veterans for their service, he's able to march proudly.

"Today, walking in the veteran's parade and carrying a flag, and this is where it really gets emotional, seeing my family on the side of the street, holding a sign saying we love you poppie, we're proud of you."