FORT POLK, La. (KALB) - In 1965, Sgt. Kibbie Pillette, a combat medic with 5th Special Forces group was on a reconnaissance mission in Vietnam when he was shot in the back and mouth. He lost a third of his tongue and wasn't expected to be able to speak again. The only member of his platoon to survive, the Abbeville native would fight another battle once he got home: living with undiagnosed post-traumatic stress disorder.
Photo Source: KALB
“I'd have nightmares, I’d have flashbacks I went through it all,” Pillette said. “Then getting over the morphine addiction was probably my toughest battle. Had my mother not been as strong as she was and the help I received from the VA, I don't know where I’d be now.”
Pillette said the PTSD was so severe, it took years for him to recall the mission in Vietnam. For a variety of reasons, the army didn't fully recognize Pillette's combat-related injuries. He's been trying to change that since 2007
Now, the Bayne-Jones Army Community Hospital at Fort Polk is helping Pillette undergo an army board for correction of military records.
“All of the people that I’ve met in the week that I’ve been here have made me just feel wonderful,” he said. “It’s the answer to a 53-year prayer.”
Dr. Gregory Grant, chief of medical boards and Marisol Lopez, a physical evaluation board liaison officer are part of the team who helped answer that prayer. Both are inspired by Pillette's story of patience and faith.
“When I received the documents, the paper was coming alive as I read it and I’ve been doing this now for about 11 years and this has been the highlight of my career,” Lopez said. “I felt very privileged and honored but at the same time, I knew we had to get this right.”
Now Pillette wants to use his experience to reach the veterans of all wars
“I’m 74 years old and I’m still fighting it to keep myself at an even keel,” he said. “It’s a lifetime battle. You’re never cured from it and I think as long as there will be wars there will be people like me.”
The following people make up the team that helped Mr. Kibbie.
Dr. Grant, Gregory, Chief of Medical Boards
Dr. Lujan, C
Dr. Gallagher, M
Mr. Fauver, Medical Boards Supervisor
Mrs. Ports, Public Relations
Ms. Marisol Lopez, Physical Evaluation Board Liaison Officer and VA representatives at Fort Polk.