Russ Cockrum sought solace at the noncommissioned officers club while stationed on the tense demilitarized zone between North and South Korea during the Vietnam War. Nickel beers and shots of whiskey for a dime led to a lot of drinking.
“In the military in a hostile situation you’re either scared to death or bored to death,” Cockrum says. “Both can lead to alcohol abuse.”
As Cockrum returned stateside, in addition to alcohol he began using illegal drugs before being discharged from the U.S. Army.
“He came home a totally different person,” recalls wife Judy, who had given birth to the couple’s first son, Jim, the day after Russ left for South Korea. Judy, who married the 20-year-old Russ when she was 19, says she had no scruples when it came to drinking alcohol. Soon she began joining her husband in using various mind-altering psychedelic drugs.
“He got excited about trying new drugs,” Judy says. “We’d get a babysitter and go to parties.”
The potpourri started with marijuana and graduated to acid, peyote and mescaline. The couple became disillusioned hippies.
Drug use escalated as Russ worked as a photographer for the Bloomington, Ind., newspaper and Judy gave birth to a second son, Ken. Along the way, Russ explored Hinduism, Buddhism and Native American religions.
“I was searching for God in all the wrong ways and all the wrong places,” Russ says. COME HEAR THE REST OF THE STORY......