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Sarah from Northampton, United Kingdom requested answers to the following questions.

 

Did you find it a shock to return home and find the anti-war movement was as large and predominant as it was or were you made aware of it whilst in Vietnam? 

No, there were protests about the war before I left for Vietnam.  There was some reporting done about protests while I was in Vietnam by the Armed Forces Network and the Stars and Stripes. To what degree their reports were censored, I do not know.  I do remember hearing a radio broadcast which included the reading of names of American Soldiers who were killed in Vietnam up until that time (Sept.69?).  This broadcast made me very angry.  I felt they did not earn the right (the broadcast was presented by college students as part of an anti-war protest) to read these names of our fallen soldiers.  In fact, I felt that the college student protesters were, in part, responsible for the deaths of some of these soldiers.  Through their actions, they influenced the politicians who prevented us from fighting a military-run war to gain a complete victory.  The politicians allowed the NVA to have sanctuaries and tied the military's hands when it came to fighting the enemy.

What are your feelings on the censoring of news that you received in Vietnam?

We all do not like to have anything censored from us, at least I do not.  I feel that a certain amount of censoring was needed during any military operation to keep a more positive outlook on what we were doing.  But, if you consider the news we receive today, it too, is in a way, censored.  Perhaps it is better to say that news may be slanted one way or another, depending on the newspaper or network's position towards certain issues.  Don't forget that sensationalism sells, whereas, good news doesn't.

Would it have made a difference if it hadn't been censored?

I do not think it would have made any difference if the information was censored.  You have to remember that we were in the Military and in a war situation.  Some censoring was probably needed to keep the troops from hesitating and questioning if we had the right to be in Vietnam during critical times while confronting the enemy.  Like the old saying "He who hesitates, is lost."  In Vietnam the saying became, "He who hesitates, is dead."

In your experience did Racism exist or matter in Vietnam? Did you come into contact with Black Power and Civil Rights whilst you were in Vietnam?

We could not afford to have any racism in an actively fighting infantry unit.  We all depended on each other for our survival.  We were all one in my eyes.  In the rear, I did see some black radicals, but they were exhibiting only their bigotryAs for the Black Power sign (raised arm with a clenched fist) and the multi-gestured hand shakes, it was a sign of racial pride, not racism.  You have to remember that in America, 5 to 9 years earlier, Afro-Americans were not allowed to eat, drink or sleep in certain restaurants, bars or hotels.  In public areas there were separate restrooms and drinking fountains clearly marked for "white only" and "color".  So this was a time for Afro-Americans to learn to be proud of their race and stand up for themselves.

Do you believe that all American's were fighting for the same thing?

I do not believe we were all fighting for the same thing.  The majority of the men knew very little about Vietnam and the SEATO treaty or the Domino Theory and the possible tactical advantage by having a base in Southeast Asia if a conflict erupted with China.  Some of the enlisted men did not know why we were in Vietnam.  All they knew is that they were told to come to Vietnam.  All the men were told the objective was to stop the Communist aggression into South Vietnam.   But when it came down to actual combat, we were not fighting for any ideology, we were fighting for our own survival

I felt that we were fighting Communism and we had a moral obligation because of the signed SEATO treaty, in which we promised to come to the aid of the other in case of aggression. 

You have to remember the mind thought of America during the 50's & 60's.  In grade school, we practiced duck and cover in case of a nuclear attack from Russia.  The McCarthy hearings (which searched for communist sympathizers in our Government, entertainment industry, and general civilian population) were broadcast on TV.  The hearings taught impressionable viewers that Communism was dangerous. The Communist Russian President Khrushchev had threatened to bury us during the U.N. General Assembly meeting in the early 60's while he literally beat his shoe on the desk.  The building of home bomb shelters and having designated fallout shelters during the Cuban Missile crisis was commonplace.  In 1963, President John F. Kennedy was killed  by an assassin who had defected to Russia and then later returned back to the United States.  The assassination kind of made John F. Kennedy into a Saint and a Super-patriot.   His one quote was often repeated "Ask not what your Country can do for you, but  what you can do for your Country".  It was a time of patriotism and paranoia

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