World War II Veterans Share Their Perspective on Vietnam
“Vietnam”-Merry Go Round
I know your paper is mainly about the 29th and the study of World War II. Many of the old 29ers have sons that went to Vietnam and I was thinking a story on their war under circumstances that appeared to be a total act without meaning might be pertinent. These Vietnam Vets should never have received all the criticism, and be judged as they were.
If I may go back in time a little, My husband and I had both served in WWII. Mario is a survivor of Omaha Beach, 29th Inf. Div, the first wave of American troops to land on Normandy. I am a veteran and a survivor of the Battle of Britain. That was the time for us young people to come forth and do our duty to clean out the horrid filth that was creeping like a dreadful disease throughout the world. We all did our duty without any problems, no thoughts to turn and run, but my story is not about my generation really. After the war, we all went home confused, men looking for jobs, to marry and start families. So we did what each and every one had to do, children being born, parents bringing them up in the pattern as we were taught, good manners, respect, to work hard and to take life as it comes.
As our children’s generation began to reach their teens, they were given the title of “Baby Boomers.” Their lives did not turn out as we expected. There seemed to be a lack of responsibilities, closeness was not like it used to be for family life. They found they could raise their voices to say anything they wished to their peers, which scared most parents. As they grew into young adults, it seemed the Planet Earth turned up side down. The Korean War was being played out and no one seemed to care for that situation, the “Forgotten War” it is called. I ask myself what was the sense in that loss of men.
It was a time we could not understand as parents why our children were all starting to take on such a wild life style. Marijuana became the main source of a good time, there were uncontrollable ways of living, and family life seemed to disintegrate. Communes of young adults were exchanging partners at will, trying yet more different drugs.
While battles of young adults and parents were being fought on the home front, America decided to become involved in yet another police action as it was called. Now we faced an unsettled rebellious young folk mad at the world. Young fellows were being called up for duty they knew nothing about. The unrest was loud and clear.
As this war went on, I used to say but what and why are they having to fight for, no sense I would think. Then the blow came at me, my son was sent to Nam, a P.O.W. later on. I would try to go to sleep, crying about him, knowing about war, trying to shove it all back into my subconscious, but never quite doing it. We went through the fright of knowing what the Viet Cong were doing to my son, hearing stories coming out of Nam, that the Viet Cong always left plenty of marijuana and drugs when chased out of their strong holds, knowing the American boys were on the stuff.
My son was found in one of their tunnels well hidden underground with others, and marijuana was left with them. When my son came home, he did not know us, nor did he want to. The damage that war did to my son and other sons is unforgivable. Today, he is three-quarters my son. I do remember people here in America went about their usual routines. One could read their expressions, the “who cares?” attitude on their faces. While most here did not understand the slightest what war was about, stories came from Nam that our boys were killing women and children for no reason, but there was a reason, a very big one. Some women and children were forced to have strapped to their bodies explosives and they would run towards the American G.I.s, asking for food or candy, right into a battalion of men, killing or crippling them, killing them, whoever was left unable to comprehend anything. It was not our boys’ faults to have to kill women and children, it was the cruelest police action these boys went through. Drugs I never approved of, but smoking marijuana must have eased the horrid circumstances to retaliate in the way they did. Every step those young soldiers took, bamboo traps were there, the sharp pointed bamboo traps carefully hidden, waiting for a step to spring them and sending sharp points into their bodies.
Well, Vietnam Vets, there is so much to tell about your war, lots of your blood brothers are left behind. Maybe some day many people will stop and think about your war. Please receive my thoughts and tears for your generation and thank you all.
From two WWII Vets,
Mario and Ann Clark Porcellini