... Veterans Memorial is names — more than 58,000 names of men and women who were killed or missing in action during the Vietnam War. What's New > Overcoming PTSD: 3 Vietnam War Veterans’ Stories. 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. Now, 40 years later, we must try to understand. But they ultimately couldn't defeat the guerrilla fighters. Continue Reading Below. Vietnam was the first major U.S. war in which black and white soldiers were fully integrated, but fully integrated did not mean fully equal. We may have been shooting at each other. “ From The Misogyny of the Vietnam War Article Sometimes the US soldiers would sneak into the villages and kidnap pretty looking Vietnamese. Call us at . (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 … Echoes of Conflict by Lachlan Wilson Read an overview of the Vietnam War from the AWM, here and more detail from the DVA here. Instead of being stationed on the front lines, they might be assigned a support detail on one of the rear bases. 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. 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. 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. When the grunts weren't walking or being shot at or eyeing the locals with suspicion, they were waiting around for something to happen. Retired Trenton ironworker Carl Dileo, 69, was 18 when he was drafted in 1966. Today, he is surprised at his sophisticated response. Soldier Recalls Vietnam War Battle Experiences U.S. veteran Caesar Smith gives a first hand account of the fighting conditions in Vietnam. HANOI, VIETNAM—Forty years ago, on April 30, 1975, Nguyen Dang Phat experienced the happiest day of his life. We look forward to meeting you. They had their own jobs to do. "Not bad for a 17-year-old," Ehrhart said, laughing. John "Chick" Donohue in 1967, on his way to Vietnam (inset). The Vietnam War was "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. "It was as if I got to see it like a real country, to see the real people. Ehrhart, left, in October 1967 near Quang Tri, Vietnam, and today. 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. Military personnel also liberally prescribed antipsychotics such as Thorazine, which numbed the psychologically traumatic effects of combat. Besides weapons, each of us carried an extra 30kg of personal material and food. 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. Soldiers were permitted six days and six nights of leave during their one year tour of duty. The whole city had been leveled [in 1968], and it has been totally rebuilt.". Anyone who experiences trauma, usually life life threatening, can have PTSD. " he said. The Vietnam War claimed the lives of more than 58,000 American service members and wounded more than 150,000. Drug use had taken its toll on troops. Nathalie Huynh Chau Nguyen’s new book, South Vietnamese Soldiers: Memories of the Vietnam War and After, is a contribution to this process. But many faced challenges back home, and some still do today. 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. After the Vietnam War ended in 1975, there was an increase in American films that were more "raw", containing actual battle footage. They walked without a bath, a hot meal, or a good night's sleep. "War is hell" declares the handwritten slogan on a young GI's helmet in one of many famous photos of the Vietnam War. The NVVM is exploring an oral history project to record Veteran stories. My brothers were both in college, they were doing their thing, and I felt this was my own thing to do.". ", It was a revelatory trip. Soldiers also had their blood sucked by leeches who made their homes in the rice paddies. Heroes of Vietnam: The Stories of Fallen Soldiers. Somewhat pejoratively called REMFs ("Rear Echelon Mother F*ckers") these soldiers had a comparatively cushy experience in Vietnam. Below are comments from three local American veterans of the battle of Huế﾿. 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. Black soldiers complained they were unfairly assigned worse details and that they received more frequent punishments and fewer promotions than their white counterparts. Call us at . They fought together and returned home to build lives, families, and communities across the country. 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. Even in the midst of an active, bloody war, downtime was a frequent, if not always welcome, occurrence. By 1969, more than half a million Americans were stationed in Vietnam. Still, tensions between black and white soldiers were low at the onset of the war. The Americans fought back with bombing campaigns that laid waste to villages, and sprayed napalm that burned the skin off fighters and civilians alike. The Nominal Roll of Vietnam Veterans was prepared by the Department of Veterans' Affairs (DVA). Veteran Stories . Drug use had taken its toll on troops. The Vietnam War killed more than 58,000 Americans. Nguyen’s book draws on 54 oral history interviews with veterans of the Republic of Vietnam Armed Forces (RVNAF) and their relatives. 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. So the grunts kept walking. The building at 727 Tran Hung Dao in Ho Chi Minh City – also known as Saigon – was a building that housed American service members for much of the Vietnam War. 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. Soldiers who landed mechanical or logistical support roles had a much different experience in the war than those in combat zones. Some of these men were career military officers. We look forward to meeting you. 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. The most common loophole was the college student deferment policy, which excused any man enrolled in college or graduate school. All three were interviewed for Bowden's book. Most grunts passed through the rear bases on their way into or out of the field, but they didn't stay long. 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. About 75% of the 2.5 million soldiers fighting in Vietnam worked in support roles as clerks far away from the front lines. Neas, 68, who lives in Rahway in Union County, recently retired after running his own telecommunications company. But many faced challenges back home, and some still do today. Photo by Brandi Redd Few American military conflicts of the 20th century were as controversial as the Vietnam War. I survived because I was lucky and because I was not a city boy. “Bill” Ehrhart joined the U.S. Marines when he was 17. Our focus is on friendly, helpful advice and great service for every customer. Dileo looks back at the war with some melancholy. "It was incredible. Check it out here. Le Carre's books grappled with betrayal, moral compromise and the psychological toll of a secret life. "Pieces got stuck in my skull, but they never reached the brain." “Pep pills” were usually distributed to men leaving … Their book, “Last Draftees,” was released last month. In June 1970, a group of American soldiers stationed in Vietnam huddled together to write a letter to an antiwar newspaper in Berkeley, California, called the Ally. "It seemed the right thing to do. 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. The 1980s was a time to tell the stories of the Vietnam War. [I saw] people living their lives with no one dropping bombs on them. I also traveled with a long bamboo pole. We've got an advance excerpt from the 15th Pike Logan novel. They lived when the people they loved and knew did not. I was overwhelmed to be back. Shortly before Dave deployed, he … After returning home, Vietnam War veterans experienced PTSD in record numbers. 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. In some cases, the luxuries even exceeded the ones the men would have gotten at home. I saw no eyes clouded with resentment." I stood on the spot where I had been shot, but it's so different now. Here's what life was like for U.S. soldiers in the Vietnam War. Soldiers on both sides faced many difficulties and challenges during the Vietnam War – including climate, terrain, the complex political situation and unclear military objectives. ... An Oral History of the Iraq War by the Soldiers Who Fought It Show More Show Less 6 of 7 ONE-TIME USE ONLY ... in Vietnam … 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 had only seen the war. They fought together and returned home to build lives, families, and communities across the country. "It was such a waste of life on both sides, such a waste of youth. 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. The American Soldier in VietnamMore than 2.5 million American men served in Vietnam during the war. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC. It’s an experience that changes soldiers, and those changes last a lifetime. Their goal was to locate and defeat the Viet Cong, but often it felt like there was no real goal except providing human bait to provoke the guerrilla fighters into revealing their positions. 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. It helped them mellow out, it helped them continue fighting. ", He met a former North Vietnamese soldier. "And I realized all my memories of Vietnam were in black and white. The American Soldier in VietnamMore than 2.5 million American men served in Vietnam during the war. Only 2% of officers were black. Yes, the Viet Cong and the North Vietnamese Army were trying to kill them. 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. Trish Wood. 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. Some of 2020's best military movies are 50% off for the rest of the year from streaming service Vudu. Upon hearing the news of MLK's death, some white soldiers paraded around the base at Cam Ranh Bay in KKK robes, openly cheering the news. Between the rain and the sweat the grunts were never completely dry. Overview. Instead, the military developed long range patrol rations to take their place. But this was the first city we were fighting in. I was able to replace all those memories of the war with memories in color. NT: You grew up in the shadow of World War II and served in Vietnam. 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. The New York Times described heroin addiction as "the Army's last great tragedy in Vietnam." 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. the Vietnam War, historians have found varying answers to questions about the war. The Vietnam War helped shape a generation of Americans, none more than the 2.7 million who served in Southeast Asia. Vincent Gabriel, Jr returned from his tour of duty in Vietnam thirty eight years ago. 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. And when it wasn't raining, it was hot and humid. African American Sergeant Lewis B. Larry … LRPs were freeze-dried, dehydrated field rations that came in waterproof bags and were much lighter than the bulky cans soldiers had previously carried. For most this ethos seems not to have changed. If you have any further questions, please don't hesitate in asking or come over to r/AskHistorians , which is … SOLDIERS TELL TRUE STORIES OF THEIR WAR. The other agony is much like the 9/11 survivors experience. The veterans had returned. Veterans encountered unprecedented levels of hostility from a public that had long objected to U.S. involvement in Vietnam. 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. 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.". The form this memory takes is linked to the present and helps frame the boundaries and content of political discourse today. "I wanted to go to Vietnam, but for my own reason," he said. Over the course of the Vietnam War, the military prescribed more than 225 million tablets of speed to U.S. soldiers, earning itself the title of American's first "pharmacological war." According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, about 30% of soldiers who saw combat in Vietnam experienced PTSD in their lifetime. 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. Australian military history overview: Vietnam War 1962-1975. 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. Most who join the military and go to war are young—18, 19 years old—and many have never been away from home. The veterans had returned. 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. The average age of U.S. soldiers in Vietnam, nineteen, was three years lower than for American men during World War II and Korea. When you see someone shot, whether it's your buddy or whether it's the enemy, it's a life-changing moment. They walked with heavy rucksacks, carrying everything they would need to survive in the difficult terrain. 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 [3] The draft wasn't the only problem. Bucks County poet Bill Ehrhart, 68, recounts his experiences in Vietnam in several poems as well as his 1983 memoir, Vietnam Perkasie. "I said to my mom, 'Is this the way you raised me, to let other sons' mothers go through this?' But after Martin Luther King Jr.'s assassination, the racial violence that had been bubbling up in cities across America finally reached Vietnam. The Armed Forces during the war and even today is the most successfully integrated institution in our society." A U.S. Nov. 12, 2006 Updated: Jan. 11, 2012 3:23 a.m. ... in Vietnam that he got to see in our … 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 … 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. 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. While the symptoms of trauma were suppressed in the short term, the effect was something like putting a Band-Aid on a broken leg. The land was a dangerous enemy by itself, but its biggest threat was the dangers it concealed. They described their feelings towards the war they were being made to fight: We here at the 86th Maint. Places like the Philippines, Hong Kong, and Thailand were popular among the younger crowd who wanted to have less family-friendly fun. While drinks and companionship were always a draw, recreational drug use skyrocketed during the Vietnam War. HANOI, VIETNAM—Forty years ago, on April 30, 1975, Nguyen Dang Phat experienced the happiest day of his life. The ways we remember the Vietnam War concern more than just the past. For Cohasset, Mass., 1969 held the worst eight months of the Vietnam War, when 5 of the town’s soldiers were killed in action. ", Brooklyn native Eddie Neas was eager to be a Marine. The best books written by Vietnam War veterans offer insight into the war and first hand accounts of their experiences. 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. The main problem with most of those books is the complete lack of Vietnamese voices. 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. But mostly what they did was walk. If they wanted recreational drugs, most Vietnam War soldiers didn't have to go farther than their military doctor. In Vietnam the task force had no sense of defeat. ", Neas was shot in the back. SOLDIERS TELL TRUE STORIES OF THEIR WAR. Medical professionals could also declare someone "unfit for service" for medical conditions ranging from ulcers to anemia. 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. "When you're 18, you think you'll never die. The Vietnam War is as remote to them as the War of 1812 or the War of Jenkins’ Ear. 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. What's New > Overcoming PTSD: 3 Vietnam War Veterans’ Stories. 2. He fought in the Tet offensive of 1968. 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. Viet Cong were adept at blending in, sometimes taking cover in villages. Even the front lines were punctuated with periods of inaction. ‘Last Draftees’ details experiences of Vietnam War veterans Three Vietnam War veterans from Las Vegas say the draft should be abolished. He had been to that very same battle [at Huế﾿]. 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. He said his first return visit in 1985 changed his perspective on Vietnam. That’s a lot of people and a lot of heartache. The New York Times described heroin addiction as "the Army's last great tragedy in Vietnam." In 1969, doctoral student David Stodolsky recognized the problem and sued the government. I had never really been to Vietnam the country. Of course, whether they could vote or not, the U.S. government viewed these men as potential soldiers the minute they turned 18 and became eligible for the draft. They walked until they got jungle rot, infected skin lesions that came from "humping the boonies" too long without adequate footwear. 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. 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. We Were the Biggest Threat to Our Own Safety. However, because of the way the draft was set up, men assigned the lowest numbers were more likely to be drafted than those with higher numbers. And you lived through the maybe the closest thing this country had, even if only for a few short years, of being at peace. Be the first to submit a tribute honoring a vet from the Vietnam War! 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 This article was written by Tirdad Derakhshani from Philly.com and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. 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 … For "Huế﾿ 1968: A Turning Point of the American War In Vietnam," Mark Bowden interviewed more than 100 men and women from both sides of the fighting. 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. Contact Us Contact Us They used Agent Orange to raze the tropical foliage, destroying the environment that the Vietnamese were using against them. Men like Troyer had to deal with several frustrations particular to the war in Vietnam. Hal Kushner joined the Army and served as a … Rick Duggan (far left) and fellow soldiers from the First Air Cavalry's Bravo Division with a bottle of Rock and Rye in hand. They hid landmines and booby traps to inflict casualties and heighten the fear American GIs felt with every step. He was treated on the field and continued to fight. 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. Our focus is on friendly, helpful advice and great service for every customer. 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