In contrast to World War II, American soldiers in Vietnam served individualized tours of duty rather than remaining attached to their units throughout the war. For Cohasset, Mass., 1969 held the worst eight months of the Vietnam War, when 5 of the town’s soldiers were killed in action. According to the New York Times, African Americans were drafted at a disproportionately higher rate than whites, representing more than 16% of all draftees and 23% of all combat troops, despite being only 11% of the civilian population in 1967. The Vietnam War helped shape a generation of Americans, none more than the 2.7 million who served in Southeast Asia. "To be honest, I wanted to know what it was like to shoot at someone and have someone shoot at you," he said. But this was the first city we were fighting in. "Not bad for a 17-year-old," Ehrhart said, laughing. Vincent Gabriel, Jr returned from his tour of duty in Vietnam thirty eight years ago. Be the first to submit a tribute honoring a vet from the Vietnam War! His name is etched on Panel 13E, Line 123 on the Vietnam War Memorial in Washington, D.C. Nominal Rolls. I also traveled with a long bamboo pole. Military personnel also liberally prescribed antipsychotics such as Thorazine, which numbed the psychologically traumatic effects of combat. After the Vietnam War ended in 1975, there was an increase in American films that were more "raw", containing actual battle footage. Ehrhart teaches literature at the Haverford School. 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. At first, there were C-rations, ready-made wet meals served in cans, but those proved to be too heavy for special operations that required long treks on foot. It’s an experience that changes soldiers, and those changes last a lifetime. 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 refugees had reached Australia. Black soldiers complained they were unfairly assigned worse details and that they received more frequent punishments and fewer promotions than their white counterparts. Trish Wood. About 75% of the 2.5 million soldiers fighting in Vietnam worked in support roles as clerks far away from the front lines. Call us at . We may have been shooting at each other. The taste, however, left a lot to be desired. The NVVM is exploring an oral history project to record Veteran stories. 2. The land was a dangerous enemy by itself, but its biggest threat was the dangers it concealed. Ehrhart, left, in October 1967 near Quang Tri, Vietnam, and today. Here's what life was like for U.S. soldiers in the Vietnam War. For most this ethos seems not to have changed. The Vietnam War helped shape a generation of Americans, none more than the 2.7 million who served in Southeast Asia. The average age of U.S. soldiers in Vietnam, nineteen, was three years lower than for American men during World War II and Korea. The draft wasn't the only problem. Echoes of Conflict by Lachlan Wilson Read an overview of the Vietnam War from the AWM, here and more detail from the DVA here. John "Chick" Donohue in 1967, on his way to Vietnam (inset). That morning, as communist troops swept into … "War is hell" declares the handwritten slogan on a young GI's helmet in one of many famous photos of the Vietnam War. Repressing the negative mental effects of combat only worsened their impact when they finally surfaced. The Vietnam War is as remote to them as the War of 1812 or the War of Jenkins’ Ear. The form this memory takes is linked to the present and helps frame the boundaries and content of political discourse today. There was a glimmer of light on the horizon for bored, anxious, hungry soldiers in the field, and that light was their annual R&R. Some Viet Cong soldiers were uniformed and highly trained, however, most were volunteers and reservist farmers who received only occasional training, if any at all. Contact Us Contact Us "I quit high school at 16, and on my birthday in 1966, I enlisted. 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. ", Brooklyn native Eddie Neas was eager to be a Marine. Contact Us Contact Us the Vietnam War, historians have found varying answers to questions about the war. “Pep pills” were usually distributed to men leaving … "Pieces got stuck in my skull, but they never reached the brain." And if the land wasn't actively killing them, it was making them miserable. Our focus is on friendly, helpful advice and great service for every customer. Viet Cong were adept at blending in, sometimes taking cover in villages. Some of 2020's best military movies are 50% off for the rest of the year from streaming service Vudu. 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. All rights reserved. Nguyen’s book draws on 54 oral history interviews with veterans of the Republic of Vietnam Armed Forces (RVNAF) and their relatives. 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. They used Agent Orange to raze the tropical foliage, destroying the environment that the Vietnamese were using against them. 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 … I was able to replace all those memories of the war with memories in color. They carried the fear that at any moment, a surprise attack could kill them. He fought in the Tet offensive of 1968. And they were young men. Soldiers also had their blood sucked by leeches who made their homes in the rice paddies. The most common loophole was the college student deferment policy, which excused any man enrolled in college or graduate school. The Booby Trap … He had been to that very same battle [at Huế]. Officially, their goal was to take back South Vietnam from the communists, find and eradicate the Viet Cong, and secure the hearts and minds of the locals. Overview. The Viet Cong were frequently one step ahead, hiding in the trees or blending in with the locals, so the villages were never really secured, and the locations of the guerrilla fighters remained uncertain. While the symptoms of trauma were suppressed in the short term, the effect was something like putting a Band-Aid on a broken leg. But mostly what they did was walk. If you have any further questions, please don't hesitate in asking or come over to r/AskHistorians , which is … 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 He was treated on the field and continued to fight. The other agony is much like the 9/11 survivors experience. They carried food rations, flak jackets, rifles and ammunition. 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. We Were the Biggest Threat to Our Own Safety. After returning home, Vietnam War veterans experienced PTSD in record numbers. 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. Their book, “Last Draftees,” was released last month. 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. We've got an advance excerpt from the 15th Pike Logan novel. [I saw] people living their lives with no one dropping bombs on them. Places like the Philippines, Hong Kong, and Thailand were popular among the younger crowd who wanted to have less family-friendly fun. They had their own jobs to do. Since World War II, little research had determined whether amphetamine had a positive impact on soldiers’ performance, yet the American military readily supplied its troops in Vietnam with speed. Soldiers on leave with their wives and children made up a large chunk of Hawaii's hotel room traffic during the Vietnam War. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC. But in Vietnam, it was the most sought-after goal of every soldier, the beacon of light at the Soul Shaking Experience It was August 1968, and I had been in Viet Nam less than 20 days with no idea how quickly my life was going to change. I wanted to go for the adventure. In Vietnam the task force had no sense of defeat. HANOI, VIETNAM—Forty years ago, on April 30, 1975, Nguyen Dang Phat experienced the happiest day of his life. "It seemed the right thing to do. But after Martin Luther King Jr.'s assassination, the racial violence that had been bubbling up in cities across America finally reached Vietnam. we run into the enemy concealed and dug in — death of Thompson — we return, enemy flees — the face of death — Thompson’s body lost at Đà Nẵng — our FO shells enemy night convoy — After Action Reports. 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. The army headquarters at Long Binh boasted such amenities as a go-kart track, swimming pools, weight rooms, mini golf, an archery range, an amphitheater that frequently hosted live shows, and even a brothel — officially unsanctioned but well-trafficked. My brothers were both in college, they were doing their thing, and I felt this was my own thing to do.". "I had seen a documentary about the war in 1983, and a man who was about my age talked about how beautiful Vietnam was, how vivid the colors were, how they seemed to vibrate," he said. Regardless of what you thought about the Vietnam war, the fact is 2,709,918 Americans served in Vietnam, representing almost 10% of their (very large) generation. But many others were poor or working-class teenagers who enlisted or were drafted into the military right out of high school. Bucks County poet Bill Ehrhart, 68, recounts his experiences in Vietnam in several poems as well as his 1983 memoir, Vietnam Perkasie. Soldiers knew there would be another surprise attack, they just didn't know when, and the not-knowing could drive them crazy. Le Carre's books grappled with betrayal, moral compromise and the psychological toll of a secret life. Soldier's Stories. And when it wasn't raining, it was hot and humid. The ways we remember the Vietnam War concern more than just the past. They walked for days and weeks at a time, patrolling the land for Viet Cong guerrilla fighters or members of the North Vietnamese Army. Between the rain and the sweat the grunts were never completely dry. That morning, as communist troops swept into … When the grunts weren't walking or being shot at or eyeing the locals with suspicion, they were waiting around for something to happen. Most grunts passed through the rear bases on their way into or out of the field, but they didn't stay long. Now I was fighting 24 hours a day, seven days a week.". They described their feelings towards the war they were being made to fight: We here at the 86th Maint. Although the war in Vietnam caused a lot of grief and unrest in our nation and the war left lasting effects on its veterans, not all were affected negatively; many were able to grow from their experiences in Vietnam, learning about themselves and gaining a new respect for … Vietnam War Veterans share a common bond. Heroes of Vietnam: The Stories of Fallen Soldiers. In 1982 the Vietnam Veterans Memorial was dedicated in Washington, D.C., inscribed with the names of 57,939 members of U.S. armed forces who had died or were missing as a result of the war. Some of these men were career military officers. "And I realized all my memories of Vietnam were in black and white. "It was incredible. The refugees had reached Australia. On the ground, American soldiers and diplomats confront the same moral quandary: whether to obey White House orders to evacuate U.S. citizens only–or to risk treason and save the lives of as many South Vietnamese citizens … Larry Michael, a former infantryman in Vietnam, reported that "if you really wanted it hot, you broke up a claymore mine ... took the C-4 (explosive) out, lit it and then warmed it up. On the military's dime, soldiers could fly to any number of exotic locales in search of beaches, bars, and a good time. I had never really been to Vietnam the country. Check it out here. They lived when the people they loved and knew did not. I saw no eyes clouded with resentment." The use of pharmaceuticals to artificially suppress combat trauma may have contributed to the explosion of post-traumatic stress disorder cases among Vietnam veterans after the war. We weren't soldiers: growing up with Vietnam War stories on screen. What's New > Overcoming PTSD: 3 Vietnam War Veterans’ Stories. Below are comments from three local American veterans of the battle of Huế. ", Said Ehrhart, "I call that my trip of the heart.". They walked until they got jungle rot, infected skin lesions that came from "humping the boonies" too long without adequate footwear. Others died of overdoses before they could even make it back. Instead, they waited in the vegetation for nightfall or awful weather or other convenient moments. 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. They fought together and returned home to build lives, families, and communities across the country. "I said to my mom, 'Is this the way you raised me, to let other sons' mothers go through this?' Overlooked because of 'medal quotas' 50 years ago, the courage of three young men who saved the lives of Australian soldiers during the Vietnam War has finally been recognised. But that's the only way you had a hot meal.". phase of war and young American ales intent on asserting their superiority, their potency, their manhood…raping a woman in a combat zone is something a man has to do, needs to do, has the right to do. A U.S. "It was such a waste of life on both sides, such a waste of youth. And you lived through the maybe the closest thing this country had, even if only for a few short years, of being at peace. 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. The rations were commonly compared to wet dog food, and the only way to heat them up in the field was by resorting to potentially dangerous explosives. Soldier Recalls Vietnam War Battle Experiences U.S. veteran Caesar Smith gives a first hand account of the fighting conditions in Vietnam. Via Cat-uxo.com. The average age of a U.S. soldier dropped from 26 in World War II to just 19, not even old enough to vote at the time. There were booze and drugs if they could get them, but for the most part, the hours ticked by, only breeding more anxiety. HANOI, VIETNAM—Forty years ago, on April 30, 1975, Nguyen Dang Phat experienced the happiest day of his life. Men like Troyer had to deal with several frustrations particular to the war in Vietnam. He said his first return visit in 1985 changed his perspective on Vietnam. "When you're 18, you think you'll never die. The veterans had returned. The Nominal Roll of Vietnam Veterans was prepared by the Department of Veterans' Affairs (DVA). Learn the stories of the brave soldiers whose names are inscribed on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. Call us at . When you see someone shot, whether it's your buddy or whether it's the enemy, it's a life-changing moment. "The bullet hit the top of my helmet, and it shattered into fragments," he said. 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. We look forward to meeting you. By 1971, 10-15% of lower-ranking troops were returning home as addicts, and over 1,000 were returning as criminals, having been charged with heroin-related crimes. I was 17, so I couldn't go over there for another year.". On a day … Reported cases of mental breakdowns among troops dropped to just 1% during the Vietnam War compared to 10% during World War II. Dileo looks back at the war with some melancholy. NBC journalist Frank McGee, who spent nearly a month living with soldiers of the 101st Airborne Division recalled that "Nowhere in America have I seen Negroes and whites as free, open and uninhibited with their associations. Most who join the military and go to war are young—18, 19 years old—and many have never been away from home. It helped them mellow out, it helped them continue fighting. Yes, the Viet Cong and the North Vietnamese Army were trying to kill them. Australian military history overview: Vietnam War 1962-1975. "I met him on the street one day, and I spent the night with his family. We look forward to meeting you. I was overwhelmed to be back. 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 The Selective Service was organized as a random lottery in which men's birthdays were assigned a lottery number between 1 and 365, one for each day of the year. The veterans had returned. 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. Marijuana was grown all over Vietnam, and many soldiers had their first experiences smoking it overseas. 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. Vietnam War Veterans share a common bond. Although the research from various historians is necessary for Americans to understand the events of the war, we must also take time to appreciate the complicated experiences of those who participated in Vietnam. Their book, “Last Draftees,” was released last month. Photo by Brandi Redd Few American military conflicts of the 20th century were as controversial as the Vietnam War. "The land itself could kill you," remembered Tim O'Brien. ", Neas was shot in the back. Drug use had taken its toll on troops. Wallace Terry, a black war correspondent for Time, described seeing "thousands of Americans who found their common humanity on the front, where they shared the last drop of water, where they gave their lives for each other. ", It was a revelatory trip. Although the official goal of the war was to prevent communism from spreading into South Vietnam, American soldiers felt they had reason to mistrust everyone, North and South Vietnamese alike. Hal Kushner joined the Army and served as a … I had a rude awakening. 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. On the surface, it appeared to have worked. Besides weapons, each of us carried an extra 30kg of personal material and food. ... Veterans Memorial is names — more than 58,000 names of men and women who were killed or missing in action during the Vietnam War. 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. LRPs were freeze-dried, dehydrated field rations that came in waterproof bags and were much lighter than the bulky cans soldiers had previously carried. Neas, 68, who lives in Rahway in Union County, recently retired after running his own telecommunications company. Neas went on a recent tour of Vietnam, including a visit to Huế in March as part of an educational trip sponsored by College of the Ozarks in Missouri. Soldiers were permitted six days and six nights of leave during their one year tour of duty. And for the men who served in Vietnam … According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, about 30% of soldiers who saw combat in Vietnam experienced PTSD in their lifetime. " he said. Three Vietnam War Veterans Share Their Stories, Special Forces Vet Brad Taylor Takes on China in Latest Novel 'American Traitor', Enjoy Discounted Military Movies from Vudu and Stay Home This 2020 Holiday Season, The USO's 2020 Holiday Tour Is Going Virtual, and You're Invited, Novelist John le Carre, Who Probed Murky World of Spies, Dies at 89, Barack Obama's Memoir Offers Insights Into Administration Military Policy, A Decade Later, this Afghanistan Special Operations Story is Finally Coming to the Screen, Memoir by Iraq War Vet Sen. Tammy Duckworth Coming Out March 30, Here Are the 10 Best Military Movies of 2020, 6 Urban Legends About Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, How the Air Force Went All-In on End-of-the-World Thriller 'Greenland', 5 Best/Worst Christmas Movies With Questionable Military Plotlines. 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. 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. The Vietnam War killed more than 58,000 Americans. Troops were supplied with so-called "pep pills," their nickname for Dexedrine, an amphetamine that was double the strength of the stimulants the military had prescribed in previous wars. That’s a lot of people and a lot of heartache. The best books written by Vietnam War veterans offer insight into the war and first hand accounts of their experiences. 58,318 names of American men and women who died in the war are etched on the black granite slabs of the Vietnam Veterans … Jan C. Scruggs. 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. "I wanted to go to Vietnam, but for my own reason," he said. This article was written by Tirdad Derakhshani from Philly.com and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. When he told his parents, they were livid, not for any ideological reasons, but because of concern that he'd be hurt or lose his life. Veteran Stories . SOLDIERS TELL TRUE STORIES OF THEIR WAR. They walked with heavy rucksacks, carrying everything they would need to survive in the difficult terrain. Nowhere is the heaviness of the presidency clearer than in Obama's descriptions of deciding to authorize military action. Some of these men were career military officers.  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 And after seeing the images of the Vietnam War on television, after seeing the pictures taken by war correspondents, and after hearing accounts of war atrocities, most of the American pubic in the 1960s was inclined to agree. Instead of being stationed on the front lines, they might be assigned a support detail on one of the rear bases. The New York Times described heroin addiction as "the Army's last great tragedy in Vietnam." ". Please direct all licensing questions to email@example.com. "I spent three weeks in the hospital," he says, "and then went right back.". Look for ambushes 's books grappled with betrayal, moral compromise and the the... Was lucky and because I was able to replace all those memories of the Vietnam War compared to 10 during. 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