The ex-Marine still suffers from PTSD from his tour in Vietnam but credits LSD and MDMA with helping him “come home.” Now he’s on a mission to help other veterans.
On March 1, 1969, Bob Parsons was carrying a rifle through a rice paddy in the Quảng Nam province in Vietnam. As an 18-year-old grunt with Delta Company, 1st Battalion, 26th Marines, the Maryland native was painfully aware that dying 9,000 miles from home was a very real possibility.
“I wasn’t there four hours before I saw my first taste of grisly combat,” the billionaire founder of GoDaddy says in his distinct Baltimore accent.
On his first day operating off of Hill 190, the North Vietnamese threw a grenade at his battalion, but it didn’t go off. A soldier picked it up and tried to hurl it back, but it exploded and he “got pretty mangled,” Parsons says. The next night, the squad’s point man was walking on a dike when he hit a tripwire, detonating another grenade. The soldier’s legs were shredded and Parsons carried him to the medevac unit. His team went on ambushes every night, slogging through paddies, covered in leeches and mosquitoes. One pitch-black night, a month after arriving, Parsons was second point on an ambush, moving through a village, when he hit a tripwire.
“When it first went off, I didn’t know it was me,” the 71-year-old entrepreneur recalls from his home in Phoenix. “I was totally in the moment; I went to stop the bleeding in one part of my leg and then I saw my elbow sticking out of my arm. It’s hard to frame what I was thinking—it’s like when you see something awesome for the first time, you’re wide-eyed and absorbing whatever you’re taking in.”
After recovering in a hospital in Japan, Parsons finished his service as a courier and was awarded four medals and one ribbon, including the Purple Heart, the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry and the Combat Action Ribbon. Once he returned home, Parsons buried himself in school and work, graduating magna cum laude from the…
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