I led a rifle platoon with the First Cavalry Division (Airmobile) in well over 200 aerial combat assaults. I went down in a few tunnels, too. During the 1968 Tet Offensive I picked up a bit of shrapnel that I still carry lodged in my hip.tunnelrat, nearly 38 years ago it not only took a chunk out of my soul but left a profound sense of guilt, it never goes away, I think most of us just learn to live with it.
I feel no guilt whatsoever for my violent, aggressive, military actions against the vicious Communist enemy. At the time we still had hope that the people of South Viet Nam would be able to gain and maintain their political freedom. I do have a sense of shame that my country didn't have the moral perseverance necessary to finish the fight, but I have no guilt at all concerning my personal actions as a soldier.
The closest I come to feelings of guilt is when I consider my many friends and brother officers who got their names carved into the wall of the Viet Nam Memorial, while I did not (none of the men under my command got their names there either). There is a sort of wistful sense of melancholy that comes upon me and causes me to wonder why I was spared when so many of my friends were not. However, that is not guilt, but rather a painful recognition of the sovereignty of God Who had mercy on me in the midst of a terrible war.
[By the way, guilt is often one of the symptoms of Post Traumatic Shock Disfunction. It doesn't have to do with moral culpability, but is a side effect of the sheer animal terror that became a part of our daily bread. PTSD can be treated...]