American troops didn't know if the villagers were aiding the Viet Cong, harboring enemies, or laying traps that could kill American troops. "I quit high school at 16, and on my birthday in 1966, I enlisted. I had never really been to Vietnam the country. "I had been accepted to four colleges, but I signed up," he said. These Vietnam War photos are a key part of understanding soldiers' experiences during the conflict and provide insight into operational specifics that were unknown to the press. Nguyen’s book draws on 54 oral history interviews with veterans of the Republic of Vietnam Armed Forces (RVNAF) and their relatives. We've got an advance excerpt from the 15th Pike Logan novel. They walked until they got jungle rot, infected skin lesions that came from "humping the boonies" too long without adequate footwear. But after Martin Luther King Jr.'s assassination, the racial violence that had been bubbling up in cities across America finally reached Vietnam. This page contains the first-hand experiences of Vietnam War Veterans Albert French - He joined the U.S. Marine Corps in 1963 after graduating from high school. The 1980s was a time to tell the stories of the Vietnam War. "War is hell" declares the handwritten slogan on a young GI's helmet in one of many famous photos of the Vietnam War. Home / History / Modern History / Vietnam War / What Was Daily Life Like for Soldiers in the Vietnam War? The most common loophole was the college student deferment policy, which excused any man enrolled in college or graduate school. Most who join the military and go to war are young—18, 19 years old—and many have never been away from home. "I didn't have any political views either way. Vincent Gabriel, Jr returned from his tour of duty in Vietnam thirty eight years ago. When the grunts weren't walking or being shot at or eyeing the locals with suspicion, they were waiting around for something to happen. "I met him on the street one day, and I spent the night with his family. The Vietnam War was the first American war in which its troops were fully integrated, a development that was supposed to turn the page on a ghastly history of … Since large-scale warfare was rare, soldiers could go for weeks without encountering enemy forces, but far from being a respite, the quiet only heightened the tension. After the Vietnam War ended in 1975, there was an increase in American films that were more "raw", containing actual battle footage. Rations were dismal. ", Neas was shot in the back. Some of 2020's best military movies are 50% off for the rest of the year from streaming service Vudu. The Vietnam War helped shape a generation of Americans, none more than the 2.7 million who served in Southeast Asia. Hal Kushner joined the Army and served as a … "We were each teamed up with a student studying history," he said. 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For the Americans, every casualty, every dollar spent, and every anti-war protest back home chipped away at the conviction that this could ever be a winnable war. But many others were poor or working-class teenagers who enlisted or were drafted into the military right out of high school. He was treated on the field and continued to fight. Caesar Smith was a career military officer who served two tours in Vietnam. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC. "It was incredible. B: John William Baber War: World War, 1939-1945 Branch: Army Air Forces/Corps Service Location: European Theater Theme: First, Serve: Athletes in Uniform Joe Baca War: Vietnam War, 1961-1975 Branch: Army Service Location: United States; Vietnam Theme: Patriotism Theme: Voices of War John Philip Baca War: Vietnam War, 1961-1975 Branch: Army Service Location: Phuoc Long Province, Vietnam ", Said Ehrhart, "I call that my trip of the heart.". Soldiers were tasked with the job of winning over the hearts and minds of the local Vietnamese population, convincing them that Western liberation from communist forces would improve their lives. By the end of the war, more than 58,000 brave service men and women had perished in Vietnam, and 304,000 were wounded during this longest American war. Hawaii was the most popular destination for soldiers who had families, since dependents were allowed to meet them in Honolulu and spend some time with them. For most this ethos seems not to have changed. The main problem with most of those books is the complete lack of Vietnamese voices. Three Vietnam War Veterans Share Their Stories W.D. All rights reserved. Drug use had taken its toll on troops. Nominal Rolls. A gay soldier’s story of Vietnam and after Mar 13, 2020 | 0 Larry Sanders writes about serving in the army, where he could have been arrested for being gay during a very unpopular war Regardless of race, some men chose to enlist in the Vietnam War before their numbers came up, knowing they would be assigned better details if they went voluntarily. During the chaotic final weeks of the Vietnam War, the North Vietnamese Army closes in on Saigon as the panicked South Vietnamese people desperately attempt to escape. Whether in the thick of the jungle or deep in the rice paddies, the landscape was strange to the U.S. soldiers, but it was familiar to the Viet Cong, who expertly hid themselves in the land. By Staff Writer Last Updated Mar 25, 2020 7:28:07 AM ET American soldiers stationed in Vietnam were met with an unexpectedly horrific experience. "I spent three weeks in the hospital," he says, "and then went right back.". "I wanted to go to Vietnam, but for my own reason," he said. Some of these men were career military officers. Even if your knowledge of the Vietnam War comes exclusively from Hollywood films and Texan textbooks that only refer to it as "that one the good guys lost," you've probably heard about the Viet Cong. SOLDIERS TELL TRUE STORIES OF THEIR WAR. After returning home, Vietnam War veterans experienced PTSD in record numbers. Black soldiers complained they were unfairly assigned worse details and that they received more frequent punishments and fewer promotions than their white counterparts. Both the government that had drafted them and the public that resented their participation in Vietnam abandoned the men who had served their country, leaving them few options to cope with the aftermath of all the trauma they had experienced and caused. The land was a dangerous enemy by itself, but its biggest threat was the dangers it concealed. Ironically, one of the most agonizing parts on the Vietnam War for many soldiers, including my husband, was returned home – the long, shameful walk through the airport as strangers shied away in quiet judgment. Morale was understandably low during monsoon season, for example, when heavy rains would drench the soldiers and flood the rice paddies for the better part of six months. But so were the swarms of mosquitoes that spread dengue fever throughout camps, and with the 30 different kinds of venomous snakes whose bites would prove to be fatal. Between the rain and the sweat the grunts were never completely dry. I was 17, so I couldn't go over there for another year.". Marijuana was cheap and easy to come by, but commanders were more concerned with the surge of heroin usage among enlisted men, which reached epidemic levels by 1971. Instead, they waited in the vegetation for nightfall or awful weather or other convenient moments. The whole city had been leveled [in 1968], and it has been totally rebuilt.". Le Carre's books grappled with betrayal, moral compromise and the psychological toll of a secret life. But many others were poor or working-class teenagers who enlisted or were drafted into the military right out of high school. We look forward to meeting you. Others died of overdoses before they could even make it back. Even in the midst of an active, bloody war, downtime was a frequent, if not always welcome, occurrence. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Bucks County poet Bill Ehrhart, 68, recounts his experiences in Vietnam in several poems as well as his 1983 memoir, Vietnam Perkasie. The form this memory takes is linked to the present and helps frame the boundaries and content of political discourse today. Learn the stories of the brave soldiers whose names are inscribed on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. Photo by Brandi Redd Few American military conflicts of the 20th century were as controversial as the Vietnam War. Regarding your father's viewpoint of American soldiers, I have written a post about the truth vs. reality of popular depictions of Vietnam War era American soldiers. The seemingly endless war, fought by American GIs thousands of miles away, had lost whatever sheen it might have had in 1955, when Americans at the height of the Cold War, committed to the Western ideals of freedom and democracy, were determined to stop the spread of communism in Asia. The Vietnam War was Call us at . Continue Reading Below. Thompson’s Hill (April 9-10, 1968), by Richard Dieterle. Instead of being stationed on the front lines, they might be assigned a support detail on one of the rear bases. Veterans encountered unprecedented levels of hostility from a public that had long objected to U.S. involvement in Vietnam. It’s an experience that changes soldiers, and those changes last a lifetime. Their book, “Last Draftees,” was released last month. Repressing the negative mental effects of combat only worsened their impact when they finally surfaced. Somewhat pejoratively called REMFs ("Rear Echelon Mother F*ckers") these soldiers had a comparatively cushy experience in Vietnam. Their book, “Last Draftees,” was released last month. What Life Was Like As A Soldier In The Vietnam War, paraded around the base at Cam Ranh Bay in KKK robes, deliberately avoided large-scale conflicts, could fly to any number of exotic locales, "the Army's last great tragedy in Vietnam. Unsurprisingly, this did not sit well with black soldiers, and discord only worsened as the war dragged on. ‘Last Draftees’ details experiences of Vietnam War veterans Three Vietnam War veterans from Las Vegas say the draft should be abolished. In 1969, doctoral student David Stodolsky recognized the problem and sued the government. Reported cases of mental breakdowns among troops dropped to just 1% during the Vietnam War compared to 10% during World War II. For Cohasset, Mass., 1969 held the worst eight months of the Vietnam War, when 5 of the town’s soldiers were killed in action. The belief that the antiwar movement was antagonistic toward Vietnam-era soldiers still has a deep grip on popular memory and political culture. The best books written by Vietnam War veterans offer insight into the war and first hand accounts of their experiences. However, infantrymen whose successes were determined by enemy body count were untrained and ill-equipped to make the cultural advances that would win people over. But they ultimately couldn't defeat the guerrilla fighters. Below are comments from three local American veterans of the battle of Huế. It took their mind off what the war was about and helped if they didn'tt necessarily believe in the cause for which they fought. 58,318 names of American men and women who died in the war are etched on the black granite slabs of the Vietnam Veterans … Vietnam veterans were more likely to have begun using heroin during their military service, and they were more likely to say that their service experiences had affected their use of drugs, usually citing relief of fear and tensions of war. After returning home, Vietnam War veterans experienced PTSD in record numbers. The taste, however, left a lot to be desired. Here's what life was like for U.S. soldiers in the Vietnam War. Veteran Stories . In a war where morale was already weakened by unclear objectives and uncertain outcomes, unfriendly encounters with the Vietnamese civilians they were ostensibly liberating only made matters worse. ", He met a former North Vietnamese soldier. But that's the only way you had a hot meal.". What's New > Overcoming PTSD: 3 Vietnam War Veterans’ Stories. Contact Us Contact Us (There are well-documented stories of gay soldiers in the U.S. armed forces going back to George Washington’s army, and the Newport sex scandal of 1919 occurred two … The Americans fought back with bombing campaigns that laid waste to villages, and sprayed napalm that burned the skin off fighters and civilians alike. If you are a veteran, know a veteran, or are related to a veteran, and would like to place a personal story on the Online Veterans Tribute, please mail it to: American Veterans Center 1100 N. Glebe Rd. While drinks and companionship were always a draw, recreational drug use skyrocketed during the Vietnam War. Heroes of Vietnam: The Stories of Fallen Soldiers. Ehrhart, the son of a Protestant minister, joined the Marines at 17, and while he had no strong political reasons, he felt passionately that he ought to do his bit. I was overwhelmed to be back. 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