In the years between 1337 and 1453, England and France were in a more or less continuous state of war. In history, it is known as the 100 Years War.

In the years between 1337 and 1453, England and France were in a more or less continuous state of war. In history, it is known as the 100 Years War.
The U.S. has been in either a state or condition of war for the past 71 years. War, a sanctioned killing that is initiated by politicians and carried out by common citizens, is terribly expensive in more ways than just money. And a lot of that expense comes when those citizens put into the condition of war are no longer in combat.
Our current armed conflicts tend to increase this cost since our armed forces have been equipped with such great medical services that more and more casualties survive but need continued care. And all the continued care is not physical.
This is the story of Carl Rhodes, one Vietnam veteran.
In 1983 Carl was married with several small children. He and his family were living in a mobile home in Clarion County, Pa. The Rhodes marriage was in serious trouble. Mrs. Rhodes was involved in an affair with another man. Carl was not a popular man in the county. In fact, the general feeling was that he was what is called a "neer-do-well."
One night when the marriage was on the verge of ending totally, Carl shot and killed his wife, then went down the hall and fired a shot into the bedroom where his children were in bed.
Carl then called the police and admitted that he shot his wife. His statement was that, "She was f......... around and I shot her."
The court case was somewhat a classic. The district attorney. Bill, who prosecuted, the defense attorney, Ralph, who had known Carl since childhood, and the judge were all friends of mine and combat veterans. Both attorneys had fought in Vietnam. The judge fought in World War II. He had been a promising baseball player prior to the war, but lost a leg in the fighting.
There was little Ralph could do to get the confession suppressed, so he based the defense on Post Traumatic Syndrome Disorder (PTSD). It is a battle-related ailment recognized under various terms at least since the Civil War. In World War I, it was called "shell shock;" in World War II, it was known as "battle fatigue."
Those who suffer from PTSD are said to have flashbacks to horrible events in the past when new problems arise. The trial, with a sequestered jury, went on for more than two weeks. The judge, a fiscal conservative, ordered trial sessions on Saturdays, Sundays and even two sessions on Thanksgiving Day.
In the end, Ralph was unable to convince the jurors, none of which were combat veterans, that Carl had suffered a flashback at the time he killed his wife. Ralph's examination of the man with whom the wife had been having an affair was a classic, one of the best I have ever seen including the fictional ones by Ben Matlock and Perry Mason.
Ralph put Carl on the stand and his testimony gave the prosecution a point to use in final argument. Carl testified that he suddenly saw himself back in combat and that he saw his sleeping wife as an enemy. He said that after shooting his wife he searched for more enemies. In doing so he went down the hall, opened the door to the children's bedroom, switched on the light and fired.
Being a combat veteran himself, in his final argument Bill informed the jurors that in the Vietnam and Cambodian jungles, one did not flip on a light switch before shooting. How much influence that had on the jurors I do not know, but they returned a third-degree murder conviction. In Pennsylvania, third degree murder compares with second degree murder in Louisiana.
Prior to the date for sentencing, Ralph made public that he would not appeal the verdict. Carl was sentenced to not less than five nor more than 15 years in the penitentiary.
Years later, I wrote to Ralph to get an update. At first it looked like a happy ending. Carl apparently kept his nose clean for the first four years in the pen. This let Ralph get him into a halfway house for the final year and allowed Carl to keep his railroad seniority.
After the five years was up, he went to work near Pittsburgh, eventually moving in with a new girlfriend and her children. But the final fatal chapter of the Carl Rhodes tragedy was written. One night Carl shot the girlfriend and then committed suicide.
Ralph wrote that he always felt Carl was ill and noted that when he killed himself, he had mementos of his combat experience all around him. Ralph's assessment is that Carl and his girlfriend are two more victims of the Vietnam War. If the illness had been recognized in the trial, he might have received treatment that would have prevented the second tragedy.
Of course, there is another angle. Had Carl been convicted of the same crime in Louisiana, the sentence mandated by law would have been life without parole, which would have at least saved the girlfriend's life.
Trivia Time
What was the first major battle of the War of 1812? Answer to last question: By the first century B.C. Rome received enough tax revenue from the provinces that the citizens in Italy were not taxed at all.
You may contact George Frasher at (337) 424-7404 or by e-mail at