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. They used Agent Orange to raze the tropical foliage, destroying the environment that the Vietnamese were using against them. We weren't soldiers: growing up with Vietnam War stories on screen. "It was such a waste of life on both sides, such a waste of youth. SOLDIERS TELL TRUE STORIES OF THEIR WAR. Soldier Recalls Vietnam War Battle Experiences U.S. veteran Caesar Smith gives a first hand account of the fighting conditions in Vietnam. The Vietnam war effected soldiers physically with strain of fighting in the jungle but it also effected soldiers psychological mind set. Continue Reading Below. 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. While the symptoms of trauma were suppressed in the short term, the effect was something like putting a Band-Aid on a broken leg. We may have been shooting at each other. 2. But the success was short-lived. And when it wasn't raining, it was hot and humid. 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. "The land itself could kill you," remembered Tim O'Brien. According to James Fallows, these loopholes "were designed to allot American talent in productive way," but resulted in "the starkest class division in American military service since the days of purchased draft deferments in the Civil War.". Black soldiers complained they were unfairly assigned worse details and that they received more frequent punishments and fewer promotions than their white counterparts. I wanted to go for the adventure. Reported cases of mental breakdowns among troops dropped to just 1% during the Vietnam War compared to 10% during World War II. According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, about 30% of soldiers who saw combat in Vietnam experienced PTSD in their lifetime. The refugees had reached Australia. "I wanted to go to Vietnam, but for my own reason," he said. "I wanted to be a Marine for all my life," he said. Trish Wood. When the grunts weren't walking or being shot at or eyeing the locals with suspicion, they were waiting around for something to happen. They were a bunch of jungle-fighting guerrilla warriors who killed American boys via night-time ambushes and terrifying traps. What's New > Overcoming PTSD: 3 Vietnam War Veterans’ Stories. "It was as if I got to see it like a real country, to see the real people. If they wanted recreational drugs, most Vietnam War soldiers didn't have to go farther than their military doctor. 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. He served as an infantryman with Echo Company, 2nd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment in Chu Lia, Vietnam in 1965. On the military's dime, soldiers could fly to any number of exotic locales in search of beaches, bars, and a good time. He was treated on the field and continued to fight. The refugees had reached Australia. I had never really been to Vietnam the country. The Americans fought back with bombing campaigns that laid waste to villages, and sprayed napalm that burned the skin off fighters and civilians alike. They walked until they got jungle rot, infected skin lesions that came from "humping the boonies" too long without adequate footwear. Even the front lines were punctuated with periods of inaction. Instead of being stationed on the front lines, they might be assigned a support detail on one of the rear bases. But they ultimately couldn't defeat the guerrilla fighters. If they weren't miserably wet or miserably hot, they were miserable hacking through the jungle brush and elephant grass with leaves so dense and so sharp they drew blood. 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. The veterans had returned. In some cases, the luxuries even exceeded the ones the men would have gotten at home. "I quit high school at 16, and on my birthday in 1966, I enlisted. Instead, they waited in the vegetation for nightfall or awful weather or other convenient moments. (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 … We look forward to meeting you. The best books written by Vietnam War veterans offer insight into the war and first hand accounts of their experiences. ", Said Ehrhart, "I call that my trip of the heart.". The influx of American tourists was a catalyst for Bangkok's massive growth in the 1960s, as the construction, finance, air, retail, and hotel industries boomed to accommodate the influx of soldiers looking for a good time. All rights reserved. Rations were dismal. "And I realized all my memories of Vietnam were in black and white. HANOI, VIETNAM—Forty years ago, on April 30, 1975, Nguyen Dang Phat experienced the happiest day of his life. Some of these men were career military officers. "Not bad for a 17-year-old," Ehrhart said, laughing. "When you're 18, you think you'll never die. Even in the midst of an active, bloody war, downtime was a frequent, if not always welcome, occurrence. And you lived through the maybe the closest thing this country had, even if only for a few short years, of being at peace. 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. LRPs were freeze-dried, dehydrated field rations that came in waterproof bags and were much lighter than the bulky cans soldiers had previously carried. 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. Soldiers were permitted six days and six nights of leave during their one year tour of duty. They carried food rations, flak jackets, rifles and ammunition. During the Vietnam War, many black and white soldiers formed close friendships. Drug use had taken its toll on troops. In honor of National Vietnam War Veterans Day on March 29, signed into law in 2017 by President Donald J. Trump, AARP spoke with six veterans of the war about their most vivid memories — and about what they want Americans today to know or remember. Many young NVA soldiers died along the way before they ever got into the fight because of sickness (malaria). Others died of overdoses before they could even make it back. They walked for days and weeks at a time, patrolling the land for Viet Cong guerrilla fighters or members of the North Vietnamese Army. A U.S. Contact Us Contact Us For Cohasset, Mass., 1969 held the worst eight months of the Vietnam War, when 5 of the town’s soldiers were killed in action. 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. They fought together and returned home to build lives, families, and communities across the country. Dileo was shot in the head. But in the meantime, there were hours and even days where there were no Viet Cong to be found, no fights, and nothing to distract them from the monotony. Men like Troyer had to deal with several frustrations particular to the war in Vietnam. Vietnam War Veterans share a common bond. These men had access to all the luxuries of home, including getting to sleep in a bed, eating hot meals, drinking at bars, and shopping at a well-stocked commissary. 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. 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. That idealism faded away as the war progressed, as the U.S. sent more troops, more resources, and more money overseas, as more and more young American men failed to come home in one piece. Three Vietnam War Veterans Share Their Stories W.D. The Nominal Roll of Vietnam Veterans was prepared by the Department of Veterans' Affairs (DVA). Besides weapons, each of us carried an extra 30kg of personal material and food. On a day … 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 Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com. Upper-class men could afford to stay enrolled in university or get a doctor's note from a hometown physician to obtain a get-out-jail-free card that poorer men couldn't access. 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. Overview. "I spent three weeks in the hospital," he says, "and then went right back.". 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. In addition to speed, officials also supplied soldiers with painkillers and steroids to increase their stamina, strength, and aggression on long-range missions. The Vietnam War killed more than 58,000 Americans. Their book, “Last Draftees,” was released last month. I had a rude awakening. "I met him on the street one day, and I spent the night with his family. 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. They walked with heavy rucksacks, carrying everything they would need to survive in the difficult terrain. The Booby Trap … Australian military history overview: Vietnam War 1962-1975. 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. 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. There were booze and drugs if they could get them, but for the most part, the hours ticked by, only breeding more anxiety. Call us at . Via Cat-uxo.com. The roll contains information from the Service records of more than 60,000 military members who served during the Vietnam War. African American Sergeant Lewis B. Larry … 40% to 60% of those were either in combat, provided close support or were regularly exposed to enemy attack. 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. Ian McNeill, The Team; Australian Army advisers in Vietnam, Australian War Memorial, Canberra, 1984, p470 'Australian soldiers who fought in Vietnam were imbued with the notion of serving an honourable cause at the nation's behest. 58,318 names of American men and women who died in the war are etched on the black granite slabs of the Vietnam Veterans … Now, 40 years later, we must try to understand. He fought in the Tet offensive of 1968. ", It was a revelatory trip. Be the first to submit a tribute honoring a vet from the Vietnam War! 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. Instead, the military developed long range patrol rations to take their place. 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