Like lots of veterans of the Vietnam War, it has taken me a long time to get back to typical life. Include in the physical results of chemicals like Agent Orange and the “long time back” stretches into decades. Thousands of troops, myself included, were exposed to this hazardous drug. I have actually battled cancer 4 times successfully, more than I can state for the lots of who passed away.
To compose a journal of these events was difficult, as you might envision. Fortunately, I had the letters I had actually written home to my family as well as a journal I kept intermittently while overseas. These form the basis of the book in addition to some poetry written at the time and my own remembrances of things not in the letters and journal.
I believe my writing at the time was quite unpolished. However I wished to leave it that way so you might see the war and times through the eyes of a 19 year old kid caught up in the very first contraversal war in American history. There is no guile, no glossing over of the truths, just a forthright tale of the goings on in the war zone.
If I have actually done anything of importance in life it is this book which is dedicated to all those who fought there, to all those who suffered later in life from the experience, and to the lots of buddies I lost there. And to my family who kept me strong with their love.
It was among those things that, had my wife not motivated me to do, would never have actually happened. As I compose this I see that my e-book version of the journal has been downloaded over 600 times in just a few days. I thank Amazon for making it easy for me to deliver this book into people’s hands to provide them some reality and hard truth on an already fading memory of that time in history.
The Vietnam Diary 1966 – 1967 is a collection of letters, journal entries and poetry written during a young man’s tour of duty in Vietnam. It consists of images and flashbacks that occurred during the author’s writing of the book, and is illustrative of the lives of the thousands of troops that experienced that controversial war.
The author joined the Marine Corps in 1966 and by the fall of that year was in Vietnam in the 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marine Division in Golf Company, Weapons Platoon and was posted as a machine gunner. He took part in 2 major battles, lots of smaller ones and was wounded twice.
The journal is a chronological account of his year there starting from bootcamp in San Diego to his last days in the service. Mixed with his actual journal entries are letters he writes hometo his family and poetry he composed that reflects his response to the war, battle and death.
The letters to his dad and his mother and sis are noticeably different in content and tone, the journal entries the musings of a young kid far from his family for the very first time in terrible conditions, the poetry fresh with promise, and the remembrance’s oft times painful. By method of example:
Excerpt from Letter to Dad:
“But speaking of your counter-insurgent, you can bet your boots that’s what we are. We employ the same tactics they use with heavier armament and better equipped personnel. We are hardly conventional troops, though they call us that back home for political as well as social reasons, but we use much the same tactics as do the VC short of torture, killing of innocents, etc. although there are scattered incidents of these as in any war. But we hide in the field, search and destroy, sweep, ambush, etc. generally being miserable, wet, hungry, cold-hot, and wishing we were home.”
Excerpt Letter to Mom & Sis:
“I received my tentative orders and I’m scheduled to go overseas Nov. 21, so it looks like I’m not going to get a chance to see you before I go. There isn’t real need, for love explains and shows all, and it is enough to carry me across those waters. I love you both and I know that I am loved, so I’m content until I return next fall.”
Excerpt from Journal Entry:
“Relatives and family…worry. They worry about me and I worry about them worrying about me. Winds flowing every way and I’m coming back…worry is ungood and bothers. Forget and live life as I’m doing on my part with death possibly just around over there… Part of a poem written after six months in-country: What brings me here? What leads my path To find this dreary horror Singing a muddy melody of Blood and lost friends? Perhaps a quiet somebody will Come leading me by the hand To sit and explain those things And all things and, and…”
Excerpt from a Remembrance:
”I could feel the bullets whizzing around my head like angry hornets and then there was a loud clap next to my face with the sonic slap of a bullet that just missed me. I crouched down unable to see where it came from, cursing and angry then got up and moved forward. Eventually the firing stopped. No one was hurt and that bullet didn’t have my name on it. Still left me shaking.”
The author served a 2 year enlistment and was honorably discharged as a Lance Corporal with 2 Purple Hearts. He was exceptionally influenced by the war both physically and mentally and it significantly changed the way he takes a look at life.
In 1997 he was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma dued to his direct exposure to Agent Orange, the chemical herbicide and defoliant made primarily by Monsanto that U.S. forces sprayed extensively in order to kill flora in the Vietnamese jungle and expose Viet Cong hideouts. His Epilogue credits Monsanto for destroying his life and the lives of a lot of others following the war.