Former D-Battery Marine Battles Gulf War Syndrome - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Former D-Battery Marine Battles Gulf War Syndrome


WATERLOO (KWWL)-- When the Waterloo-based D-Battery Marines came back to this welcome home celebration at the Waterloo Airport in April of 1991, it marked the end of the battle, for most. Not for Larry Bathen, a Desert Storm hometown hero from Independence, who now lives in Homestead.

"When I came home, and I didn't know why, but I was just like an adrenaline junkie. I couldn't get enough adrenaline."

Larry joined the Marines in 1985 and fought in Desert Storm with D-Battery.

"When the adrenaline all went away, I went into a free fall, and ended up in a major depressive situation with some PTSD, anxiety issues,'' said Bathen.

Like thousands of Desert Storm veterans, Larry believes he suffers from what is commonly known as Gulf War Syndrome.

"It doesn't matter what I do, it hurts, and you just kind of get used to the pain and stuff," he said.

Gulf War Syndrome remains controversial, with a lot of speculation on the causes ranging from Saddam Hussein's use of biological--germ warfare to the oil well fires, demolition of Iraqi weapons depots—even to the pills given to US & coalition forces to protect them from biological agents.  Veterans Administration doctors tell Larry says he is now 30-per cent disabled, but why?

"The PTSD or the major depression is the only thing that the VA is actually admitting to. I'm still trying to get a positive diagnosis. They really haven't diagnosed my joint and muscle disorder. They haven't admitted that yet so," said Larry.  

Larry says he's still fighting a battle.

"You know, they've got my depression up to a kind of plateau, but I feel like they don't have the drive to get you over the top and get you back functional and stuff. It's like you can function, that's good enough. And, I want my life back and my wife wants my life back and stuff so."

"I'm going to continue to fight, because I know there's a lot of other people out there that I know come back with our unit that probably are sitting at home and having similar issues, or similar rashes or similar pain and not know why. Maybe they'll go to their VA and it will help them."

"So, I know that there's people in our unit that's had issues. I figured that I'm not unique or any kind. So, if it could happen to me, I'm sure it's happened to a lot of other people."  

A reminder, Kris Jones and Larry Bathen are trying to organize a Delta Battery Reunion. Contact Kris on his cell phone at 319-269-2937, or by land line at:  319-234-5138.  Larry can be reached on his cell at: 563-920 4139 or by land line at:  319-662-4273.

In April of 1991, thousands of well-wishers turned out at the Waterloo Airport for a rousing and emotional welcome home celebration for the Marines of then-Waterloo-based Delta Battery.

Among the returning heroes were Kris Jones and Larry Bathen, whom I invited to KWWL recently to watch some of our Desert Storm video. Tuesday night, Kris Jones reflected on his Desert Storm experience. (Watch the video on  Larry Bathen says his military past has played a major role in his life.   

Says Larry, "For me, The Marine Corps was the best thing that ever happened to me, because it gave me the drive that whenever I commit to something and whenever I start something, I'm going to finish it. It gives you that don't quit attitude. Gave me something to be proud of and look up to."

Larry grew up in Independence, and was a hometown hero after Desert Storm His local paper, the Independence Bulletin-Journal, did several articles on Larry and the D-Battery Marines.

"It was good for me. It brought my kids and myself closer, because they were proud of me. You know, we kind of were celebrity status there for a while. It lasted about a year. Then it all went away. But, it was a good time."

Larry had joined the Marine Corps in 1985, and headed off to boot camp when he was 21.  Six-years later, Larry was in Desert Storm with Delta Battery. Today his 25-year old son, Jordan, is a Marine Corps Lt. fighting in Afghanistan. That worries Larry.

"Especially when they were going to deploy and stuff. Like any Dad, you think, I wish I was in good enough shape that I could take his place, instead of letting him experience some of the negative things that I did; try to protect him from that."

For Larry and Kris, that rekindles debate that Desert Storm was not completely finished in 1991

Larry says, "We had the momentum. We had them on the run. We might as well kept chasing them, because that was mostly what we were doing at that time. They were running & we were chasing. We should have just finished it. It would have saved a lot of the Iraq veterans and stuff, the problems that they're having now.

Kris Jones makes no bones that he wanted to finish it back then. "There was no debate with me about it. I wanted him, if I'm going to give my life, or sacrifice my life in this opportunity, I wanted him to be done dealt with. Because, I had a feeling if we left him alive, we was going to be a worldwide threat from then on and he was."

Larry adds, "if we had finished it back then, my son may not be in Afghanistan now." Watch the video. 

Online Reporter:  Ron Steele




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