Despite his firsthand and intimate experience with the horrors of war, Michael Moryc’s real hell began when he returned to civilian life in June of 1969. The Erie native and Mercyhurst University alumnus suffered the symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder for more than 20 years before receiving a diagnosis and treatment through the Veteran’s Administration (VA).
In the years that followed, he would become a renowned nature photographer with his work appearing in print, in galleries and private collections. Moyrc will share his story and photography in a special event on Monday, Nov. 5, at Mercyhurst. He will talk about his life experiences in Taylor Little Theater at 7:30 p.m. with a reception immediately following. His photographs will be on display in the university’s Mercy Heritage Room, Sullivan Hall, from 6 to 10 that evening. The talk and exhibit are free and open to the public. On Wednesday, Nov. 7, he will give a special presentation that is open to area veterans and their families. That takes place in Taylor Little Theater from 1:30-2:30 p.m.
Moryc was drafted in 1967 and served with the U.S. Army in Vietnam, where he was eventually attached to a forward base in the Central Highlands from which he carried out solo forward observer and scouting missions to identify Viet Cong assets and call in air strikes.
When he returned home in 1969, he faced untold challenges. A talented musician, his guitar playing became impaired through an insidious loss of fine-motor coordination that was later traced to exposure to Agent Orange. Since undergoing treatment, he has struggled with the ghosts of the past and become a certified peer counselor through the VA to assist his brothers and sisters in arms.
Despite his efforts, he never felt free of the emotional residue of his war experience. In 2006, he returned to Vietnam with his friend, fellow Mercyhurst alumnus David Horvath in search of personal liberation, mutual forgiveness and closure.
He documented his return to Vietnam through his photographs and, upon his return, assembled a presentation for professional and veterans’ groups to discuss his odyssey through PTSD, his treatment, and what he experienced in his return to a hauntingly beautiful land he last saw in the throes of war.
For more information, contact Dr. Gerard Barron of the university’s psychology department at 824-3375.