Can you imagine that? The shelter took a direct artillery hit and all three were killed. Demolition experts arrive to disarm the satchel charges that failed to explode. The hilltop position is about the size of a football field and relatively level – like a small plateau. The other man, whom I had shot was laying face down and looked fairly normal from a distance, but as I got closer, I saw that his forehead was peeled open like a trap door with a good portion of his brains tumbling out of the opening – a small, dime-sized hole in the back of his head. We carefully reconnoiter our old positions, wary of booby traps, searching for wounded and assessing the damage in human terms. It wouldn’t stop bullets, but it did provide cover. They could have been the point for a platoon, a company, or a battalion. 404D Taper Hall It’s an awesome and frightful sight. As the first chopper makes its pass the sky lights up like the Fourth of July with tracers. There’s a sandbag pit about 20 feet in diameter and three feet high. This time Charlie got caught with his pants down however and before he knew it, we had him surrounded, one of our companies on each side of the village with nearby fire bases for artillery support. Once again I want to thank Sally Saville Hodge at Hodge Media Strategies for taking the time to edit this story. Things like freedom of the press, free speech, freedom to peacefully protest and even the right to vote have been chipped away at to the point you’d have a hard time recognizing them. Our platoon had just acquired a newly minted 2nd Lieutenant fresh out of OCS. One of our presidents was impeached for lying about a blow job in the Oval Office and our current president apparently had an extra marital affair with a buxom, young porn star. This course provides all the fundamental skills and inspiration you need to get your blog started, an interactive community forum, and content updated annually. Eventually the onslaught is too much – it’s down to hand-to-hand combat now inside the perimeter near the artillery pits and we start pulling back. From a distance, the grass covered terrain looked soft and inviting, but like a lot of things in Vietnam, looks could be deceiving. Unsure of himself and struggling to take command of an already battle-hardened platoon, he was trying his best to fit in and gain the respect of his men. As we trudged through the blood soaked mud the sight was mournful. Dead, or playing dead? It did not matter if Heinemann’s sympathies might lie with Claymore Face, because the story belonged to the American soldier. So on this memorial day, if you want to remember and honor the war dead, you might also think about all the ones that died in the war, but were not killed in action. All of us were up for raising hell, but not you Joe, you opted to stay in the motel room with a bottle of whiskey and a good book. By Rex Reed • 01/27/20 1:40pm. Like the time we were crossing some flooded rice fields – walking on the paddy dykes as we did. You can’t make this shit up! The young girl we killed that night has haunted me ever since and it’s just one of a thousand memories I wish I didn’t have. We weren’t motivated. War is nasty; war is fun. However many times it happened, whether I’d known them or not, no matter what I’d felt about them or the way they’d died, their story was always there and it was always the same: it went, “Put yourself in my place.”, on Learn from the experts: Create a successful blog with our brand new course. Be the first to submit a tribute honoring a vet from the Vietnam War! Huey choppers by the dozen came roaring into the rice paddies, dropping us six or eight at a time, far enough from the village to be out of small arms range. Eventually, we came to the shallow garbage pit our platoon had dug. I have been back to Vietnam twice since the war and instead of it being the cathartic, emotional experience I thought it might be, I found I could look back at my war experience with objectivity and equanimity and without a flood of anger or sorrow. Being acclimated to hell is part of our disorder.But listen carefully. Still wet behind the ears and scared shitless, as were we all our first weeks in country. Z2 Comics is raising funds for True War Stories: A Comics Anthology on Kickstarter! First: better to be victimizer than victim. I also recall our battle at Hoa Hoi, when our battalion had the whole VC village boxed in. December 5, 2020 War is hell, but that’s not the half of it, because war is mystery and terror and adventure and courage and discovery and holiness and pity and despair and longing and love. I don’t think so. Vietnam made us question all that. Our platoon Sargent, Paul Jackson, a lanky southerner and army lifer, led the way and was the first to get to the trench. Willis was a soft spoken, self effacing type – never said a bad word about anyone. Airing May 24, 25 and 26 on Maryland Public Television. We make feeble attempts to talk about what happened, who was killed, who was wounded. To remember that our leaders sent tens of thousands of young men and women to their death in the prime of their lives. Yeah Joe, there’s a lot you’ve missed. Posted on September 14, 2015    With Jackson back on his feet, the two of them went back to the trench and opened up on full automatic with their M-16s, taking out the entire squad of eight VC. She just lay there like she was sleeping in the early morning sun, serene and resting in peace. Maryland Public Television Salutes Vietnam … The place was Quang Nam province in the mountainous northern region of South Vietnam. They are not remembered or honored on monuments, not mentioned in Memorial Day speeches, but they are war casualties nonetheless – the same as if they’d gotten a bullet through the head. One Family's Vietnam War Story. It calls for a green signal flare to be sent up. We kicked ass that day and the next, virtually wiping out the enemy while taking very light casualties ourselves. My friend SP4 Larry Joe Willis was killed in action December 27, 1966 at LZ Bird in Binh Dinh Provence, Near the village of Bon Song, Vietnam. There was sporadic firing through the night as the enemy probed the perimeter trying to find a way out. That’s why America’s Vietnam War stories, which often dwell on the bad things that Americans have done, depend on turning the Vietnamese into bit actors. The VC Johnson had shot was almost torn in half, his guts spilling out on the ground beside him as he stared wide eyed at the sky. After a few short bursts, the M-60 jams, it’s rendered useless and leaves me in the battle of my life with an Army issue Colt .45 automatic and a few clips of ammo. So it is with America’s wars in the Middle East, akin to a sporting event for those Americans not directly involved, which is to say the overwhelming majority. Our country was never the same after Vietnam. We tell him he will be OK, and we’ll be back for him as soon as possible. But even though we were very different, I felt an affinity for you from the start – maybe one of those “opposites attract” things. And if that’s not possible, we simply close the lid on them. I could not forgive Heinemann for scarring me with such an ugly scene until I wrote a novel myself decades later. It wasn’t until the 1990s that I started to talk openly about it, and have since tried to put some of my experiences in writing. Filipinos are here because of the U.S. war that killed a million people in the Philippines in 1898. Home Charlie Company Troops Stories Fred Childs In The Field The Sniper Story. Americans cannot see straight sometimes, which is why many thought that Iraqis would treat their invaders as liberators, even though Americans themselves would never do any such thing. Fifteen tales of military deployment, from Vietnam to today. On Jenning’s order, we retreat toward our left flank, away from the brunt of the attack, skirt around the far side of the hill from where the attack is coming and along the way come across several of our wounded. Or what about the time that mother and her husband opened another shop in San Jose, California, and were shot on Christmas Eve in an armed robbery? He’d rather spend the rest of his life in Leavenworth at hard labor than go through another night like this. Except for the peak, which was occupied by 1st Cav. Then came that goddamn horrible night at LZ Bird. War is thrilling; war is drudgery.War makes you a man; war makes you dead.The truths are contradictory. Here’s what retired General S.L.A. To my left was Tommy Johnson, who picked up his M-16 and walked the few feet to the end of the hedgerow. I think our enemy truly hated us and for good reasons, whereas I feared more than hated them. The rains which soaked us to the bone on Christmas day have given us this night off. The Asian American Literary Review does great work. My platoon was made up largely of men I went through training with. In war, soldiers don’t have that luxury. Andras Toma. The light green sea of waist high elephant grass blew in waves. Or how they cried when they received letters announcing the deaths of their parents in their now lost homeland? I knew right then you’d be a good man to have by my side in Vietnam. Sometime during the night, elements from the 1st Bn., 5th Cav. New York, New York 10003, (212) 420-8585, To invite Viet to do a reading or lecture, please contact Kevin Mills of the Tuesday Agency, 132 1/2 East Washington Andras Toma was the longest held POW of World War II. My first thought was: Fuck! Six enemy bodies surround him. Published on May 23, 2017 Forty-two years after the Vietnam War was officially declared as ended, Southwest Florida veterans share their remarkable stories of service. There we took cover behind the paddy dikes and waited for the rest of our troops to come in. The fire base has been over‑run except for this small foothold. Death is something we hide from. None visited Camp Radcliff to do interviews about the operation. He gives her a choice: blow him and his friends or get blown away. We were to stay put for two hours, then move (always risky at night) and stay put for another two hours and so forth all night. Here are the stories of 8 men with some of the most remarkable and heartbreaking POW stories ever told. I could clearly see they were armed with AK-47s and I immediately warned the men and shushed them from making any noise. After they are fished out, they tell us they heard Vietnamese voices all around them for hours and felt bayonets probing at the sandbags on top of them. When we came to a gap in the dyke which everyone was jumping across, you decided with the radio you’d be too heavy to make the leap. Second: war is a bore. Nothing like a night and a day in a shell hole with two others to focus the mind on life. In Vietnam, the troops gave our battles such names as ‘The Day Sandy Got It,’ ‘Phu An’ and ‘Two July.’ On ‘Two July,’ 1967, our four understrength 125-man rifle companies suffered 84 dead and 190 wounded. ___________________________________________. This will turn out to be the first actual combat use of canister rounds. You didn’t have to come home to an ungrateful country that was being torn apart by the war. You had taken many of the enemy with you, but in the end, the odds against you were too great. No one is concerned that Clint Eastwood can celebrate, in his latest film, an American sniper who killed one hundred and sixty people in a rather intimate way, seeing their faces through his scope. And at the same time, I knew if things were reversed, she would have done the same to me. Small, circular fishing boats made of straw and barely big enough for a man dotted the beaches with tiny, grass huts scattered among them. Vietnam War stories: Telling stories long buried Infantry medic came home, tried to forget things he had seen. Base camp at An Khe was Hon Cong Mountain – a small mountain on the west side of camp rising a thousand feet or so above the surrounding plane and capped by a giant, yellow and black 1st Cavalry insignia visible for miles, to make sure Charlie knew who owned this territory. Death feels contagious; we don’t want to catch it. At first light, haggard and drained, adrenaline long gone from our bodies, not one of us with any sleep, we found our way back to the area we had been. A war brought me from over there to over here, an experience I share with millions of my fellow Americans.Sometimes I wonder whether my circumstances, or what my parents endured, can be called a war story, and how that story can be told. He was one hell of a soldier too. It made me feel like I was in one of those German prison camp movies from the 50s. It was hard – physically, psychologically and spiritually. The enemy is breaching our perimeter. Still reeling from it all, we struggle to make sense of the horrific carnage, little knowing what we are experiencing will effect us for the remainder of our days. Complicity is the truest war story of all, which is why a blood-drenched movie like Apocalypse Now tells only half the true war story. It was late spring, 1966. Leave a comment →. Rigor mortis had stiffened the bodies, making the task even more unpleasant. Eventually, we came to the shallow garbage pit our platoon had dug. We saw firsthand what M16s, hand grenades, artillery shells, bombs, napalm and other means of killing we’ve invented can do to a healthy, young body. I remember the time on a weekend pass from Ft. Gordon we went into glorious downtown Augusta – at that time a shit-hole of an army town, with the usual mix of pawn shops, dive bars, Go Go Clubs and street hookers all looking to separate GIs from their money. The sun is setting in the South China Sea, but that sea lies east of Vietnam. We swept through the village from north to south encountering heavy resistance and then, when we thought it was over for us, they made us do an about face and sweep back through from south to north. Americans applaud these stories and successors like Zero Dark Thirty, for even if they depict Americans torturing others, their audiences know it is far more interesting to torture than be tortured. We were simply told that communism was bad and we had to draw the line in Vietnam, domino theory, all of Asia will fall, etc., etc. Putting Out H&I Fire Again – Business as Usual – Photo by Steve Hassett. Black silk covering her slender body Still. We shook hands and buried the hatchet so to speak. Two or three minutes later, the area we had just vacated was strafed by an AK on full automatic. To remember their deaths in all it’s raw ugliness. Our platoon leader, Lt. Jerry Walace, whom we nicknamed John Wayne, because of his gung ho attitude, is found out in front of his bunker, face down, with his cherished pearl handled revolver in his hand. The 1980s was a time to tell the stories of the Vietnam War. Fictional violence and monstrous horror are easier to stomach than understanding how opening our refrigerator or watching a football game connects us to war, which is not thrilling at all. They would come in and hover with the skids three or four feet off the ground and we would jump to the ground under the sound and downdraft of the rotor blades. The Vietnam War, like all wars, had a million ways to kill us. Try the comment function and start a conversation. Learn from the experts: Create a successful blog with our brand new course, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Delbert_O._Jennings, PRESUMED DEAD (BODY REMAINS NOT RECOVERED). I have a piece in this issue called “On True War Stories,” and it, along with another essay by the anthropologist Louisa Schein and the actor Bee Vang–from Gran Torino–can be read online and commented on interactively. I’d only been in country a few weeks and so far had yet to lose my virginity – combat-wise. One of them lies in the bottom of a bunker, unable to get up. One of the drawbacks of elephant grass is that it can hide danger as easily as it can provide cover and safety. It is being shared Turns out the domino theory was dead wrong – after the war, Vietnam went into Cambodia, overthrew Pol Pot’s murderous, communist regime and reinstalled the monarchy, which is to this day still in power – the exact opposite of domino theory doctrine. After the canister rounds are fired, the small arms fire diminishes and there is only sporadic firing, which continues through the night. His mother had picked him up and started running away from the village and that’s what saved both of their lives. I’m happy to say this particular lieutenant learned his lesson and eventually became a decent leader. While there, we talked to a villager, a man named Tran Cong Thanh, who was a baby at the time of the battle. Our Company has been cut to ribbons and the artillerymen also have taken heavy losses. He then took the wire, heated it up, and ran the wire from the guy’s waistline up through his neck, effectively skinning … Three-part documentary film. From the opening salvo, it’s obvious we are vastly outnumbered. The second thing I learned from Heinemann: rape was hard to account for in a certain kind of war story, the one that audiences call “good.” If, in a good war story, war makes you a man, does rape make you a woman? But there’s no bargaining with death. Our company’s position that night was opposite that ridge, just south of the mountain. He pointed to a spot in the corner of his yard and he said that his grand parents and his parents had built a bomb shelter in that corner because the ARVNs or the Americans would occasionally shell the village, since it was suspected to be a VC village (which, of course it was). Its serrated edges sliced our bare arms as we humped the rolling hills. Everyone immediately went into hyper alert mode as we tried to discern what it was. 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