Here’s My Story-
One Morning, at my grandparents home, whom we were Visiting, I watched my father reading the GATESVILLE HERALD. And then a page with a Brightly Colored Map caught my Attention. It almost looked like a Treasure Map from the distance I was sitting. But what it was? Was a COLORED MAP of the Country of Vietnam. Yes. There in that paper was a COLORED MAP of Vietnam. And I asked if I could have it. Yes. I was allowed to get it and take it home to Sweetwater Texas.
From there, I pinned on the Bedroom Wall and I moved Pins on it corresponding to where United States Armed Forces were Stationed. Anytime I heard anything about the Vietnam War, I paid close attention and moved Pins on my Map. Soon, I knew where a great many of our Troops were located. And I eagerly Watched Walter Cronkite tell of the latest War Battles on the Evening News. And as I watched. I soon became not Awed, but saddened by seeing the Dead American Soldiers and the Utter Violence of the Explosive Power our Armed Forces wielded against a Ton of Peasant Farmers. Much like Afghanistan today. But not with the Evening show of missile and bombings and artillery rounds exploding on the Evening News.
Suddenly, Modern Media had sanitized War. Giving Americans just enough and not so Much to bring out the STOP THE WAR PROTESTERS.
But I continued to follow every News Article I could get my hands on. And they all were talking the Vietnam War. But it mostly wasn’t being discussed at School. At Church. Or at our Home. My father said this-Until one of my children goes to Vietnam, that War doesn’t exist for us.
And he meant it. But the unrest Over the U.S. DRAFT was starting to become something that was being discussed. Anti-War oddities began to creep out of the seams. Never before had the Talk of Getting the Hell Out of Vietnam was ever around. Then the TV bringing the War home and into our Living Rooms never stopped. Bloody Shocking Scenes of bloody War. War was Bloody Violence and Death. There wasn’t nothing pretty about it. Nothing Glorious about it. People DIED! People were crippled. Maimed. Amputated of both Life. limb. And rational thought. PTSD was brought back home.
And when I Volunteered for the United States Army, I had no images of Glory or performing Heroic Acts. No, no Medals. No romantic Views. Nothing attracted me to the Military except a means to get a College Degree through the G.I Bill. And I asked to go into Tanks. And I got Tanks. ARMORED CREWMAN. 11E20.
Overseas, our Main Battle Tank was an M60A1. 52 tons of Steel. Big Bore maingun and a .50 Caliber Machine gun on Top. And I was the Gunner. But my Overseas was in South Korea near the DMZ at Camp Casey, South Korea.
I’m thankful that I missed Vietnam. I watched it end on TV with the rest of the World and I’ll never forget the fall of Saigon. The South Vietnamese stronghold of Saigon (now known as Ho Chi Minh City) falls to People’s Army of Vietnam and the Viet Cong on April 30, 1975. The South Vietnamese forces had collapsed under the rapid advancement of the North Vietnamese. My Military Duty ended a few months later. Damn. We were there a long time. Too long.
1 November 1955 – 30 April 1975
(19 years, 5 months, 4 weeks and 1 day)
| North Vietnam & Viet Cong|
65,000–182,000 civilian dead:450–3
849,018 military dead (per Vietnam; 1/3 non-combat deaths)
(US estimated 1964–1974)[A 3]:450–1
600,000+ wounded:739 Khmer Rouge: Unknown Pathet Lao: Unknown China: ~1,100 dead and 4,200 wounded Soviet Union: 16 dead North Korea: 14 deadTotal military dead:
Total military wounded:
(excluding GRUNK and Pathet Lao)
| South Vietnam|
195,000–430,000 civilian dead:450–3:
254,256–313,000 military dead:275
1,170,000 military wounded:
≈ 1,000,000 captured United States
58,318 dead (47,434 from combat)
303,644 wounded (including 150,341 not requiring hospital care)[A 4] Laos: 15,000 army dead Khmer Republic: Unknown South Korea: 5,099 dead; 10,962 wounded; 4 missing Australia: 521 dead; 3,129 wounded Thailand: 351 dead: New Zealand: 37 dead Taiwan: 25 dead Philippines: 9 dead; 64 woundedTotal military dead:
Total military wounded:
(excluding FARK and FANK)
Total military captured:
|Vietnamese civilian dead: 627,000–2,000,000:450–3Vietnamese total dead: 966,000–3,812,000Cambodian Civil War dead: 275,000–310,000Laotian Civil War dead: 20,000–62,000Non-Indochinese military dead: 65,494Total dead: 1,326,494–4,249,494|
Too many died. All the way around. Too many losses all the way around.
But made no mistake. My generation has not and will never Forget this War all all the men and women who died there.
But now, will you join and become one of the very few Americans now joining the U.S. Armed Forces? I know many thoughts both goof and bad will creep into your mind. I highly recommend it. But pick the one that best suits what you hope to achieve. Exactly what do you want to Get Out of it? But don’t be afraid to step up to the plate and Join. Just Do It.
And remember this-No matter How Bad you think you have It. Someone else has it badder. Badder than you. Worse than you.
Just do what you are told by Rank and make the Best of your Military Duty. And I’ll Salute you if you do!
Good Luck and God Bless you and Your Family