In Reply to: Viet Nam Second Thoughts… posted by Lester on November 10, 2000 at 19:11:05:
I spent four years in the United States Navy. I was a Gun Fire Control Technician with the rank of Second Class Petty Officer.
I served three tours of duty in Viet Nam and on my last tour of duty I served eighteen months on a Patrol Gun Boat. The crew consisted of 28 officers and enlisted men. Fresh water was in short supply so we got to do laundry only when we were in port. A six-month deployment was spent twenty-one days at sea and three days in port, then another twenty-one days at sea and three days in port and so on until the tour was complete. Things got a bit ripe at times.
On the Patrol Gun Boat I was the senior man in charge of the weapons system on my ship. We were armed with a three inch fifty and a 40mm. If we fired our weapons as fast as possible we carried only about fifteen minutes worth of ammunition on board. Our mission was to intercept Viet Cong trawlers coming south. Lets just say that we fired our guns with mean intentions and let it go at that.
The hardest part of serving in Viet Nam was coming home. One week I'm doing my duty and putting my life at risk for my Country. Two weeks latter I'm out of the Navy sitting in a collage political science class listening to people talk about Viet Nam and being called a baby killer.
I do not talk about Viet Nam much. My family knows next to nothing about what I did for those four years. Most of the time it's just too hard to explain. Maybe it's the impersonal nature of the Internet that lets me say what I have posted so far.
I want to add just one more thought. I feel that my country never appreciated the sacrifices of those of us who served in Viet Nam. I also have a son who is serving in the Army in the infantry. (As a side note he was issued a machine gun that could not go full auto for over six months because they were unable to repair the thing! Did someone say something about military readiness during the political campaign?) Anyway, the next time this county put its children (as in my son) in harms way it better be dammed sure of the mission and it better stand behind our troops a hundred and ten percent.
Sorry about the venting!
3 out of 4 of my brothers served in the military. Yet, it was not until I became close to my father-in-law, who also served 3 tours in Viet Nam, that I really began to appreciate the sacrifices made during this war. I sometimes feel ashamed of my misguided actions (inactions) during the late 60's and 70's, but then I realize that at least now I can humbly and gratefully say "thank you", and also say "forgive me".