Speak Up Now

Blog on Accountability
Subscribe

Viet Nam Vets – A Generation Raped

August 30, 2011 By: Rollie Category: Everyone's entitled to my own opinion" by Roland Eyears

Everyone’s entitled to my own opinion
Viet Nam Vets – A Generation Raped
The first time I met Joe Healy he moved with the distant swagger of what he had
been – a U.S. Marine. He was short, with bright, intelligent eyes, and a leathery
face that made me guess him at 44. Joe was 29. The lines in his face came from
being sent to Nam as a teenager. The slight limp when he was tired was the
result of his second major wounding. After his legs were nearly ripped off by
automatic fire, the doctors said wouldn’t live, then that he’d never walk again.
This crusty New Englander fought his way back through the pain, married and
became a father, started a business, and earned a masters degree that enabled
him to provide professional counseling to other Nam vets. In 1977 Joe was
named Maine Viet Nam Veteran of the Year.
Our entry into what was essentially a civil war was based on a lie. Lyndon Baines
Johnson, elevated to the presidency by the curious death of Jack Kennedy,
claimed that on August 1, 1964, North Vietnamese torpedo boats attacked our
destroyer Maddox in the Gulf of Tonkin. Congress passed Joint Resolution 1145,
presumably for payback. Instead, Johnson used it to conduct a war that cost
58,012 American and perhaps 3 million Viet lives, and shattered countless more.
Every war is different, yet every war is the same. WWII, our last lawful war, bears
but a faint resemblance to the conflicts that have followed. First, support and
participation were virtually universal. Women went to work in factories at jobs
traditionally reserved for men, school children saved dimes to buy war bonds,
housewives saved string, most backyards had victory gardens, and we rationed
just about everything. In contrast, our presence in Southeast Asia was hotly
contested, sometimes by those who meant well and sometimes by those who did
not.
Second, Nam was our first teenage war. The soldiers of WWII averaged 26
years, in Nam just 18 ½.
Third, WWII infantrymen averaged only 6 weeks in actual combat conditions. In
Nam it was practically wall-to-wall.
Fourth, the winding down periods were worlds apart. Following the surrender in
1946, there was scarcity of ships, planes, and trains to move large numbers of
troops. Some did not arrive back in the states for over a year, at which time they
were appropriately honored. With Nam, it was jungle to the streets of San
Francisco in 48 hours where our boys were spat upon and called baby killers.
Had they killed babies, raped helpless civilians, cut off ears, burned villages, and
used peasants in their rice fields for target practice? Sadly, yes, some did that
and more, as did the Viets to each other. Such things happen when politicians
send half a million kids to a foreign country, surround them with enemies who
Everyone’s entitled to my own opinion
wear no uniform, supply full-auto weapons, train and supervise them
inadequately, and see that they are scared 24 hours a day of dying or becoming
quads in a war that has no front line and no apparent chance for victory.
Did the My Lai Massacre really happen? It was only one of hundreds. Most never
came to light. William L. Calley, Jr., who in saner times would never have been
commissioned a lieutenant, followed orders.
In a small town café one night, Joe Healy explained that the vet who lost an arm
got a prosthesis, a pension, and a measure of respect. The vet who lost his legs
got a wheelchair, a specially equipped van, a pension, and a measure of respect.
But what of the tens of thousands who went as boys and returned as disturbed
young men, able to function marginally, but not physically disabled so anyone
could tell. This was the war that made “post-traumatic stress syndrome” part of
the lexicon. I refer to the veterans rendered literally incapable of showing up at
the same time five days a week so they could take abuse from assistant
department heads not fit to shine their shoes. Because they couldn’t do it, they
dropped out, wore their old field jackets, and were labeled “bums.”
Drawn into a hell on earth by machinations beyond their control, these boys
became the most maligned and unappreciated veterans in our history. Because
they answered the call, irrespective of the merits of the cause, they deserve our
respect. Go to the wall – pay homage to the fallen. If you’re a Nam vet and we
happen to meet, make yourself known so I may have the honor of shaking your
hand.
Roland C. Eyears
Copyright 2005

After you visited this site, please do not forget to "Share" our Vial Lido Facebook page (The “Share” function is on http://www.facebook.com/pages/Via-Lido/113135125384472, in the pull down menu under the Settings button, - (the flower / dented wheel sign placed just next to the “Like” button. You will have to "Log In" yourself first). Thanks!

Leave a Reply

After you visited this site, please do not forget to "Share" our Vial Lido Facebook page (The “Share” function is on http://www.facebook.com/pages/Via-Lido/113135125384472, in the pull down menu under the Settings button, - (the flower / dented wheel sign placed just next to the “Like” button. You will have to "Log In" yourself first). Thanks!

 

After you visited this site, please do not forget to "Share" our Vial Lido Facebook page (The “Share” function is on http://www.facebook.com/pages/Via-Lido/113135125384472, in the pull down menu under the Settings button, - (the flower / dented wheel sign placed just next to the “Like” button. You will have to "Log In" yourself first). Thanks!