Alumni Programs

Bill Vandenbush

Photo of Bill VandenbushEducation

B.A., The Evergreen State College, 1987
M.S.W., University of Washington, 1990

Email

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Biographical Note

I am currently retired from the US Dept. of Veterans Affairs and spend my time producing TV shows and writing. I have appeared on more than a dozen TV talk shows and radio shows while promoting my book.

Bill Vandenbush's book coverPublication Type

Non-Fiction

Latest Publication Title

If Morning Never Comes, The Old Hundred and One Press, 2003

Publication Excerpt

Just before the bombs landed I took a quick peek to see how close they were going to hit. I saw the bright flash, but before I could get my head back down a big piece of red-hot shrapnel hit me in the face. The searing pain jolted my head back and my steel helmet tumbled to the ground. Smaller pieces of razor sharp shrapnel hit me in the neck and down the right side of my body. I immediately realized that I was badly hurt. The right side of my face was crushed by the baseball-sized piece of shrapnel from the bomb. The blood gushed from the wound and pooled beneath me in the dirt. I leaned forward to pick up my steel helmet and to my horror, I watched what was left of my right eye fall out into the helmet. My shirt was completely soaked with blood as it poured from the gaping holes in my body. I thought, “This is the end of the line for me. There is no medic here to rescue me, and no radio to call for help. I’m dead... I’m gonna die right here...19 years old...thousands of miles from home.”

All the things I’d never experienced in my short life rushed through my head. I’d never been in love. I’d never even had a real relationship with a woman. I had not really had a life, or at least the kind of life I’d always thought I might have. I wanted to be married and have a family. I wanted to kiss the kids and pet the dog on my way out to work every morning. I wanted to mow the lawn on sunny Saturday afternoons. I wanted drink a cold beer while I barbequed for family and friends in the back yard of my own little house.

While I was lying on the ground, bleeding profusely, visions of the American Dream streamed through my head. Then, suddenly, it all came to a screaming halt. I was lying in the dust and dirt of a dry rice paddy in the Republic of Vietnam. I could see waves of heat rising from the hard ground. My men were safe on the other side of the rice paddy, and had no idea I was badly injured. The enemy was still firing at us from the hedgerows. I didn’t care about any of this. All I could think was, “I’m going to die alone, no mom here to kiss it and make it better. I’m gonna die, right here, right now!”

How did Evergreen help you in your career?

If it wasn't for my education at Evergreen, I would never have learned to write, and certainly never had the confidence to write a book.