He was the average Joe attempting to blend into an acceptable societal role. An ideal familiy man, a father of four, and happily married for the past thirty years to his high school sweetheart. To envision himself continuing down the same path for the next thirty was no stretch of the imagination. With that in mind, it was a wonder he found himself standing on the beach at dusk, far in time and place from the jungles of Vietnam where every breath of his life had been spent with an attitude of hatred and doom. He held fast to those memories. He could never break the bonds of his self destructive behavior. The assignment at hand, in his best judgement, involved minimal risk. It was a little tame for his taste. Then again, his best friend had concluded the same thing, who now rested six-feet under, inside a wooden box.
It's contradictory, Shaun. It is no "wonder" at all that he stands on the beach at dusk far away from Vietnam, if he leads the idyllic life you say. And he obviously DID break the bonds of his self-destructive behavior, else how does he have four kids and a wife of thirty years?
Better to say, "He was NOT the average Joe, though he looked it." Then contrast his "front" life with his life as a spy or commando or whatever.