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My Grandpa's War Paperback – September 3, 2011
"Neverworld Wake" by Marisha Pessl
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However in simplifying the task of trying to convey the thoughts of what many Vietnam veterans think today, this little book is a treasure. If one goes through the history curriculum of a typical high school agenda you won't see much being written or discussed about the Vietnam War. In fact there is more on the Korean War than about the Vietnam War. Of all the Wars examined in high school it would be the Revolutionary and Civil Wars that would gain the most time and attention.
My Grandpa's War conveys very simply what the times and the war was all about as seen through the eyes of a nine year old girl. It explains the draft and what it was to be a citizen soldier. It talks of the sacrifices that had to be made of these young men and of the good of what some of their work did. It was not all about killing and destroying the enemy. It tells of good men dying at a very young age for their country. Also conveyed is a sense of duty and of doing deeds to aid people and promote the welfare of our country.
Also in this short treatise the little girl tells us of how the returning veterans are treated at home after serving their tours of duty in Vietnam. The protests and the cold shoulder treatment of many civilians made the veteran wonder as to what he or she had done to deserve such shoddy treatment. It has taken many years for the Vietnam veteran to get his or her just treatment. Books such as this, however short and succinct help convey the times and hardships that the Vietnam veterans had to deal with. The best line of the book comes from the little girl when she says "I guess sometimes good things can come from bad things. You'll have to read the book to fully understand the meaning of that quote.
As I stated in my book "In Our Duffel Bags, Surviving the Vietnam Era", we were citizen soldiers doing the job we were told to do and we did it to the best of our abilities. War is war and war is hell. Would I do it again? I'll answer that question as I said it in my book. It was my privilege to serve!
For such a little book it rates five stars from me!!
Incidents like the "Tonkin Gulf, Hamburger Hill, Ripcord, the Cambodian Incursion and the Fall of Saigon" are irrelevant to a 10 year old audience. Dave Volk intentionally designed this book so that it would serve as a segue of knowledge from grandfather to grandchild, stimulating further clarification of what this war was about to the men that fought it. It was 1965 when America officially entered the conflict in Vietnam, an ideologically and militarily divided nation that was separated from the U.S. by eight thousand oceanic miles. With the signing of the "Paris Peace Accords" in early January of 1973, our role of upholding and supporting a democratic South Vietnamese government had officially ended with "Vietnamization," and "Peace with Honor." That eighteen year old serving in Vietnam in 1973 is now almost sixty years old. South Dakotan and "Baby Boomer" Dave Volk is one of those "sexagenarians." Of the 2,709,918 Americans that served in Vietnam, less than 850,000 are estimated to be alive today, with the youngest American Vietnam veteran's age approximated to be 54 years old. DRAFTEE: A High School Teacher Goes To War Volk is among the last one third of all the U.S. Vets who served in Viet Nam alive, making it imperative that he carries the torch of knowledge to our youth. In "Draftee," a book the author wrote before this one, Volk clarified his feelings: "History has always been one of my passions, and I have always lamented that so much history is lost before it can be recorded. The huge events, of course, are covered and recovered, but the minutiae of everyday life-the small things that make up people's existence day to day-are too soon forgotten."
With an average of 390 Vietnam Veterans dying every day, only a few will survive by 2015. Volk's response to mortality and history is as follows: "Because I did not want to lose those minutiae-the stages, the plots, and the cast of characters of my incredible journey as a soldier-I have decided to try and put it down before time and old age takes it out of reach." Born in 1947, Volk grew up with four other brothers in Mitchell, South Dakota. After graduating from college in 1969, he was drafted into the Army, and spent a year of that "In Country." As previously mentioned, he has a book of his experiences as a combat photographer with the famous 101st Airborne Division entitled "Draftee." Following his tour in Vietnam, where he was awarded both the Bronze Star and Army Commendation Medal, he became at age twenty five the youngest person ever elected to state office. Serving as South Dakota's State Treasurer, he was reelected four times. Even with Volk spending an additional eight years as his state's Secretary of Commerce, Vietnam was never far from his mind. Appointed by then President Reagan, Volk served as the Chairman for the Vietnam Veteran's Volunteer Program and made it his mission to initiate and maintain an outreach program for troubled veterans suffering from war related issues ranging from PTSD to Agent Orange sickness. The genesis of this book is twofold for Dave Volk. Not only did he feel that it would be a tremendous educational aid to write an exciting, incisive story that would allow youngsters to learn about Vietnam in a more colorful manner than the current scholastically monotonous textbooks in place, but he had the spirit of a close friend inspiring him as well. Vietnam Veteran turned author Rick Eilert was a Marine who in late 1967 suffered serious traumatic leg injuries he incurred while participating in combat.
Awarded a "Purple Heart," Eilert endured countless surgeries in a valiant attempt to save his legs from amputation, and in 1968 retired from the Marine Corps as a result of his wounds. The Purple Heart is an American military combat honor award given to those who are wounded or killed in any action against enemy forces. It symbolized Eilert's courage, braveness and dedication he displayed while dealing with mortal danger. Married with two children, Eilert worked at Union Oil Company until frequent surgeries on his leg wounds permanently disabled him. Tragically, in 2010 Rick's left leg was amputated, and on June 9th, 2011 he suffered a fatal heart attack. He documented his ordeal in Vietnam in his 1983 memoir entitled "For Self and Country." For Self and Country: For the Wounded in Vietnam the Journey Home Took More Courage Than Going into Battle However, Volk modeled the "grandpa character" in this book on Eilert's travails. He was also able to bring forth qualities he learned from Eilert as well as ones he himself witnessed in Vietnam and passes on in this book. "My Grandpa's War" is a stirring story that displays a reciprocal love between a ten year old girl named Mae and her grandfather. With "Mae" as the narrator, she gives her simplistic ten year old version of her Grandpa's ordeal in Viet Nam devoid of politics and prejudices. While Dave Volk keeps this interplay of a tender grandfather explaining the deadly, brutal business of war to his little princess, some of the most sensitive issues of the war are poignantly brought forth. One of these is the draft. The fiercest years of the Vietnam War were between 1965 and 1970. In "Draftee," Volk, who served as a two year inductee between 1969 and 1971, points out how much things had changed between these time frames. His following comment in his first book sure rings true: "If life does imitate art-and I happen to think it does-then movies of the times are excellent examples."
The hawkish "The Green Berets" was released in June of 1968, a watershed of this war. It played in theatres across America just when the negative fallout from the January, 1968 "Tet Offensive," Dr. Martin Luther King's April 4th and Bobby Kennedy's June 5th 1968 assassinations gathered steam. The film's theme was a tribute to the Green Berets in South Vietnam as well as both pro Saigon and anti Communist. With what was going on that summer, not to mention the August racial riots at Long Binh Stockade in Vietnam as well as the disaster at the Democratic Convention in Chicago, not even John Wayne could reverse public sentiment. America had transformed too fast to believe "The Green Berets" connotation that Vietnam was like the "Cowboys and Indians" of the Wild West." While in 1965 there was no such thing as escaping the draft by running to Canada or Sweden, by 1970 an estimated 70,000 "draft dodgers" had moved north of the border. In "Draftee," Volk added; "I think the biggest problem I had was the number of people who wanted to argue about the war and just assumed that, as a Vietnam Vet, I was pro war. Nothing could have been further from the truth. By 1970 all of us knew the war had been lost." In 1965 you could hear slogans like "My country, right or wrong," "No glory like old glory: and "America;"Love it or leave it." Just five years later popular chants were; "What are they going to do, send me to Vietnam," "One, two, three, four! We don't want your f**king war!" and "Hey, hey LBJ, how many kids have you killed today?" This was not very inspiring to someone recently drafted, who must have thought that he didn't want to be the last to die in a war fought all for nothing."
The whole issue of loyalty and gratitude to one's country is highlighted when "Mae," whom Grandpa called "Sarge" in honor of a close friend he served with in Vietnam, explains that she had studied up on the draft and knew of the Canadian exodus of draft evaders. A smart 10 year old, Sarge asked Grandpa what he thought of the draft. Volk could have brought up personal responsibility in this book, like what happened at the My Lai Massacre. Just like there were men in Lt. William Calley's command at My Lai that knew what they were doing was wrong but went along with the slaughter anyway, there were many people in the U.S. that felt that Vietnam was a war to make Colt and Dow rich and that the Tonkin Gulf affair was a charade. Volk handled Sarge's question to Grandpa masterfully. Using "reciprocity and obligation" as the basis, Volk's "Grandpa" answered as follows; "Sarge, this country has been very good to me and our family, and sometimes debts come due that have to be paid." Another interesting facet Volk inculcates within the framework of his story is the conditions a newly arriving soldier in Vietnam had to endure. Scorching heat, daunting triple canopy jungles, monsoon torrential rains and bugs of every shape and size are described. Another very delicate issue Volk handled adroitly was when Sarge asked Grandpa why people were allowed to protest against the war while at the same time he was serving his country and fighting. Ever the politician, Volk countered by having Grandpa explain; "When you live in a country like America, people have the right to do things that you don't understand or might not agree with." Certainly, Vietnam was different from all other wars. Never in a million years would a U.S. Citizen be able to chant in 1944 pro "Hitler or Hirohito" slogans.
There are many other nuances and sentiments covered in this unique scenario Volk set up between a loving Grandfather and an adoring granddaughter, all heartwarming to say the least. Beneath these emotions, there are real issues that plagued America during a very difficult time. Bud Willis, author of "Marble Mountain," was a Huey helicopter pilot out of Danang in the early years of the war. A Southerner, Willis eagerly signed up for Vietnam in the early years of the war when most Americans believed they had a mission as the world's policeman to check communism wherever it reared its ugly head. Marble Mountain: A Vietnam Memoir Although a year of flying dangerous combat assault and medevac missions in I Corps would change his opinion of America's chances for success in this war, it is interesting to note what Willis wrote about enlisting in the early days of the conflict: "When you grow up in Tennessee you are likely to be taught the pledge of allegiance before you learn the "Lord's Prayer." That's just how we roll. We were raised on a steady diet of patriotism, and Douglas MacArthur had already lectured us that "no man should consider himself entitled to the blessings of freedom if he was not diligent in its creation." There may have been some crafty ways of avoiding the draft, but most of us weren't handicapped by that kind of privilege, nor did we care for the label "draft dodger." Throughout the South and in Tennessee in particular, we belonged to a culture that made us want to do our part. After all, if Elvis Presley could be drafted, anybody could! What other place in the world could claim the title of "The Volunteer State?"
This was not a "Southern thing." Joseph Ward, a Marine Scout Sniper in Vietnam and author of "Dear Mom: A Sniper's Vietnam" hailed from Longmont, Colorado. Ward wrote of his enlistment in the spring of 1967 the following; "I'm from a family with a long and honorable military history, but there hadn't been a Marine in the family yet. I decided to be the first." Christopher Ronneau, author of "Blood Trails" enlisted in mid 1966. His description of that was as follows: "For me, Vietnam was better than a poke in the face with a sharp stick. I got a lot out of it. I grew there. I didn't like the giant global monolith there that was communism and, like the hawks in our government, I believed in former president Eisenhower's domino theory. If one small country in Southeast Asia fell to the Red Menace, the others would soon follow suit, falling like a row of dominos and then everyone involved would be miserable. Wanting to do my share, I volunteered for the Army. In what could only be described as a monumental attack of nearly terminal stupidity, I enlisted only after being guaranteed an assignment to an infantry unit. I had joined the infantry so I would see combat. Such was the state of my adolescent mind." Ronneau came very close to losing his life, narrowly surviving an AK-47 round to his jaw towards the end of his tour. Although it is almost nonexistent to find a memoir of enthusiasm towards enlisting after the "Tet Offensive," A.J. Billings summed up his feelings most eloquently in "Seawolf 28." Billings wrote: "In the early days of the war, bands in clubs would play "God Bless America" themes. To see these young men stand at attention and sing along with the band was something to behold. It was such a contrast from the late days of the Vietnam War, when we had to listen to all the long haired, dope smoking hippies and newspapers trash us."
A.J. Billings added this as well; "When I looked at young American sailors standing there, I felt a tremendous sense of pride and at the same time sorry for the hippies. They would never know what it was like to be an American serviceman. They had nothing but themselves and a few illegal drugs to prop up their false courage, knowing full well they would never be put in harm's way. They would never understand what we shared. These men had each other, the Navy and their country to believe in. God, I loved it." Another serious issue Dave Volk dealt with was traumatic injuries due to booby traps. The overall numbers reveal the extent of this. A total of 58, 178 Americans with an average age of 23 lost their lives in the Vietnam War. Of this number, 11, 465 were less than 20 years of age. Of those in the field, 1 in 10 were casualties, with 75,000 Veterans being severely disabled. Seawolf28: Branded a Maverick as a Junior Officer this is a true account of naval aviation as seen through the eyes of one of the most decorated Navy pilots of the Vietnam era Now, pay attention to the following; amputation and crippling wounds were 300% higher in Vietnam than in W.W. II. Of the 58, 178 killed there, 51% of the deaths and 16% of the wounds were caused by small arms fire. The higher rate in Vietnam was contributed to the high velocity rapid fire weapons such as the AK47 and captured M16s. However, 36% of those killed and 65% that were wounded were caused by fragments from artillery, 11% of the deaths and 15% of the wounds were caused by booby traps and mines. Two percent of wounds were caused by insidious punji stakes.
Rick Eilert was one of those wounded by a booby trap. He described in "For Self and Country" his being injured as follows: "The next few moments unfold in memory like a slow motion movie, almost frame by frame. I step off with my right foot and look down. I spot a grenade just in front of me and off to the left, where I'm about to drop my left foot. In back of the grenade a C-ration can sits in the bushes. C.L has tripped the wire attached to the grenade and pulled it from the can. It's live: I know it's too late. I'm in the middle of taking a step. My left foot is yet to hit the ground. My mind says, Run, duck, evaporate: but my body won't react fast enough. It's like sliding on ice. No way to stop and nowhere to go but in the direction gravity moves you. I feel a rush go through my body. I feel the stillness. My left foot touches the earth. I start to take a running stride. The grenade explodes. Flames spew into my face, then there's the smell of burnt gunpowder and burning flesh. My body lifts straight up. I never hear the explosion. I scream oh, God! But no one can hear my cry over the noise of the blast." Later in life Eilert had to leave a good job at "Union Oil Company" because of medical issues surrounding this and frequent surgeries made permanent employment impossible. Eilert had his leg amputated shortly after. Dave Volk deals with this in "My Grandpa's War." However, what happens to the Veteran that comes back from the war with no arms or legs and never can work, marry or participate in life normally again?
Max Cleland wrote two books; "Strong at the Broken Places" and "Heart of a Patriot." In the first book, he explained that he had participated in breaking the siege of Khe Sanh during the post Tet Offensive in an operation called "Pegasus." Weeks before he was to finish his tour and rotate back to the U.S., he was dropped off from a Huey on a Combat Assault. On April 8th, 1968, he leapt out of a helicopter for the last time. Cleland wrote; "I called to the pilot that I was getting out. He nodded and held the ship steady. I jumped to the ground, ran in a crouch until I got clear of the spinning helicopter blades, turned around and watched the helicopter lift. Then I saw the grenade. It was where the helicopter had lifted off. It must be mine, I thought. Grenades had fallen off my web gear before. Shifting the M-16 to my left hand and holding it behind me, I bent down to pick up the grenade. A blinding explosion threw me backwards. When my eyes cleared I looked at my right hand. It was gone. Nothing but a splintered white bone protruded from my shredded elbow. Then I tried to stand but I couldn't. I looked down. My right leg and knee was gone. My left leg was a soggy mass of bloody flesh mixed with green fatigue cloth." Strong at the Broken Places Although Cleland lost both his legs and one arm, he was able to rise above it and become a U.S. State Senator. His case is an exception. World War II hero Chesty Puller's son Lewis was badly wounded when he tripped a booby-trapped howitzer round on October 11, 1968. He lost both legs and most of his fingers in the explosion. The shell riddled his body with shrapnel, and Puller lingered near death for days. His weight dropped to 55 pounds, but Puller survived. He chronicled his ordeal in his Pulitzer Prize winning memoir "Fortunate Son."
Although he was able to come back, complete law school and run for Congress, he battled severe periods of depression, despondency and drank heavily. In 1981 Puller underwent treatment for alcoholism. Despite completing the treatment, Puller continued to suffer once again from severe depression and relapsed periodically with alcoholism as well as a severe addiction to prescription pain killers. Tragically, he separated from his wife in the spring of 1994, and on May 11th, of that year he committed suicide, succumbing to a self inflicted gunshot wound. In reality, he was another casualty of Vietnam, only the dates were off. A good lesion can also be learned from Frederick Downs in his trio of books. Downs chronicled his ordeal of amputation as the result of Vietnam combat in "The Killing Zone' and subsequent to that, he penned both "Aftermath" and "No Longer Enemies, Not Yet Friends." Body shop; recuperating from Vietnam Corrine Brown showed her book "Body Shop: Recuperating from Vietnam" how serious of a problem it was dealing with broken men with broken bodies. Brown gave paradigms of Veterans who as the result of traumatic amputation from booby traps suffered in Vietnam, they had to wait for their wounds to heal. These patients were at "Letterman General Hospital" in San Francisco when this book was published in 1973, the year Vietnam officially ended for America. As an example of what these men were up against, Brown quoted in her memoir Chaplain Corbin Cherry, a Vietnam Veteran and amputee.
Chaplain Cherry explained how he tried to maintain his dignity; "I went on a lot of trips. I went to New York City with some patients from Walter Reed. We were going to eat at "Tavern on the Green" in Central Park, and a little girl said, "Look Mommy, that man hasn't got a leg!" The mother slammed her hand over the kid's mouth. I went over and told her the kid was saying what she didn't dare say. We went to Shea Stadium to a ball game. I looked over and saw my friend Chet, another patient sitting there crying real hard. I asked him what was wrong, and he pointed to a sign someone had written on the wall. "Hire handicapped, they're fun to watch." I said I thought it was funny. People can be so dumb." Dave Volk also mentions in both this book and "Draftee" how people were protesting against the war, and sometimes "not in very nice ways," some even with violence. In "Draftee" Volk mentions; "Thank God this country has finally figured out how to send young men off to war and welcome them home again-regardless of what the philosophical or political feelings might be with regards to those wars. This is one of the saddest legacies of the Vietnam War. Men that risked their life, answered the call so others wouldn't have to, were taunted upon their return. It is very important that credit is given to those brave patriots, as Volk has in "My Grandpa's War." Jerry Lembcke, an associate professor of sociology, wrote a book called "The Spitting Image." The Spitting Image: Myth, Memory, and the Legacy of Vietnam On the cover of this book Lembcke placed a picture of a Vietnam veteran throwing his medals at the Capital in Washington, D.C. during a "Vietnam Veterans Against The War" protest of Operation Dewey Canyon II in April of 1971.
In his book, Professor Lembcke wrote; "The image is ingrained; A Vietnam veteran, arriving home from the war, gets off the plane only to be greeted by an angry mob of antiwar protesters yelling, "Murderer and "Baby Killer!" Then out of the crowd comes someone who spits in the veteran's face. The only problem is that no such incident has ever been documented. It is a kind of urban myth that reflects our lingering national confusion over the war." There could be nothing further from the truth. Eldson McGhee in his memoir "Short Changed" described the following shameful memory upon his return from a one year combat tour in Vietnam. It was December of 1968, and the place was the air terminal at Fort Lewis, Washington. Ignominiously, McGhee recalled; "I returned to thousands of Americans angrily protesting the war I had been sent to fight. The protesters were mean with their words, and vile in their spirit." What McGhee wrote next about the protesters taunts was the straw that broke the camel's back: "They yelled out, "Baby Killers....Lackey's, while throwing bottles, sticks-anything and everything within their reach. You could see fire in their eyes, and venom seeping from their lips. Then, a protestor spat on me...I went crazy." Is this an isolated incident? Read a few more memoirs, particularly ones written after 1968 and you will find out. One particularly poignant incident is in Stephen Perry's book "Bright Light." Perry was in an elite, secretive unit called "SOG," which was an acronym for the "Studies and Observations Group." Perry chronicled the following upon his return from Vietnam: "On August 23, 1968, I climbed on a big bird and headed west to the land that I loved and to the family I left behind the year before.
Stephen Perry continued; "My 17 hour flight home made stops in Australia and Hawaii and eventually landed in Oakland, California. I was processed out of the Army and left for Huntington Beach the following day. En route, I was confronted by some long haired hippy dinks at the San Francisco airport that shouted obscenities and called me a baby killer. What happened to my country when I was away?" That is painful, and hurts. Unfortunately, Jerry Lembcke doesn't realize that words said to a returning combat vet can sometimes hurt more than being spit on. John Ketwig, in his book "...And a Hard Rain Fell" wrote of an instance, where fresh from Vietnam, he was on his last leg home of a long, two day airplane trip. The year was 1969, and with an open seat next to him on the plane, a yuppie settled in next to him. The author had all his medals on and was in full uniform. Consider Ketwig's account: "The plane is smaller, the isle more congested. A guy settles into the seat next to me, Joe College. Open neck shirt, cardigan sweater, jeans, brass belt buckle. I look up from my paper to say, "Hi." He responded, "Listen, I want to get one thing straight. I got nothing to say to you, and you got nothing to say that I want to hear. Understand?" He opens a textbook forcefully. I lower my head to the newspaper, but my eyes don't comprehend the words. Why? What had I done to him? I'm the same person I always was. This never happened before. It's the uniform, Stinking army! When I get to the airport, I'll get my suitcase, and I'm gonna..."
A psychological casualty Of Vietnam, Ketwig silently next to this man the rest of the flight, and after the plane landed, he was joyfully reunited with his family. Before he went anywhere else in the airport, he stepped into the restroom and wrote: "In the cool tiled men's room I lay open the suitcase, and push back the overflow. I strip the emblems and badges and ribbons off of my uniform, and walk to the basket. I speak to the clothing, inanimate objects that suddenly symbolize my 2 years and 9 months of agony. Quivering, I am looking at a shirt and pants but seeing only Fort Dix and Pleiku and Dak To and Korat. I say my final words to the army, "Screw You." And I throw them in the basket with the soiled paper towels."
Richard Geschke, in his memoir "In Our Duffel Bags" shows readers how much words can hurt the returning veteran. Geschke went to a party at an all girls college soon after returning to "The World," and wrote the following insensitive, disgraceful exchange; "The party was at its apex when I arrived. I grabbed a beer and leaned against a wall. In Our Duffel Bags: Surviving the Vietnam Era Almost on cue, a cute female from the college started to have a conversation with me. She asked all the usual questions and then asked me what I had been doing lately. I told her I had just returned from Vietnam and was pursuing an MBA at the University of Massachusetts. Suddenly, the atmosphere changed. She asked me: "How did it feel to kill women and children?" Well, let me tell you that I did everything in my power to refrain from smacking this woman.
Full of righteous indignation, Geschke added; "What right did she have in even bringing up the subject? She had no clue about the environment that we were subjected to, and she had chosen to ask a question which she knew nothing. I gritted my teeth and walked away from the woman. My friend came to the rescue, and I left the party." Perhaps Al Billing, once again in "Seawolf 28" put the complicated issues about this war, an attempt Dave Volk is trying to communicate to America's youngest, in its proper perspective; "The Vietnam War was complicated and the Washington politicians and bureaucrats mismanaged everything. They were incompetent and got a lot of good men killed. They spent the next 25 years passing the blame off on anyone they could. When I came home I was a little disappointed at how the movies and the news portrayed Vietnam Veterans as dope smoking goof offs, or crazed killers with irreparable psychological problems. I knew them as brave, loyal, honest and patriotic men that would never change. I could only feel sorry for the long haired hippies who were holding the signs outside the bases calling us baby killers. BRIGHT LIGHT: Untold Stories of the Top Secret War in Vietnam They would never know what it was like to share the times we had both good and bad. The way the newspapers and movies portrayed the soldiers and servicemen was unconscionable and difficult to understand. Their motive was profit and sensationalism. It's understandable why so many of the returning servicemen had trouble when they came home."
A statement Dave Volk's book conveys is that when a soldier left America to fight in Vietnam, he thought he was doing the right thing for his family, his country and himself. He did, as Volk indicated, feel he was repaying a debt for his right to live here. Unfortunately, the U.S. that he left was not the U.S. he returned to. In the last part of 1972, America had no ground troops "In country" engaging the NVA or V.C. in land battles. Combat was limited to either aerial or naval methods. Ray Kopp was a sailor aboard the heavy cruiser "Newport News," whose big guns lobbed huge, deadly projectiles at the Communists. When Kopp finished his military commitment and became a civilian again in 1973, he experienced the aforementioned phenomena. He wrote in his memoir "Thunder in the Night" the following; "The world was sick of the war in Vietnam. Upon returning home, those of us who had taken part in the final effort to "Vietnamese" the war soon came to realize that the narratives of our experiences were not appreciated. We were advised to wear neither our uniforms nor the campaign ribbons we had earned. Even more than when we left for Vietnam, it was extremely unpopular to be connected to the military. My faith in what I was doing, what I had done, and what I was capable of had been severely shaken upon returning home. Many of my peers in the civilian world seemed to despise the military-and even the U.S. itself-because of their perceptions of the Vietnam War. As had been the case with the "Forgotten War" in Korea, we found ourselves trying to put the past and our connection to the War behind us as though it was a criminal record." This never happened to W.W. II Veterans. Would it happen to the present group soon to return from Afghanistan?
A.J. Billings concluded; "Many of these young men went over with high ordeals, believing what they were doing was right. To see your best buddy die right in front of you and then come home and get spit on and see yourself portrayed on the silver screen as a drug addict or someone that was too stupid to avoid serving was at best disheartening." As you can see, there are so many different experiences; however, the common denominator is pain. Interestingly enough, Vietnam Veteran Clyde Hoch, author of "Tracks" has a point when he expressed in his memoir the following; "When the W.W. II Vets came home, everyone was glad to see them. Their war was over. When we came home, our war was still going on. You couldn't get away from it. They were burning draft cards and flags. I must admit, I kind of liked it when the girls burned their bras. They were marching on D.C. and Haight Ashbury was going on. The "Flower Child." For a generation that preached peace and love, I sure felt hated and alone. I wonder why it is so popular to be a Vietnam Veteran now, when we were looked down on for so long! Hell, you even have people lying about being there!" How do we end treating our veterans of any war, regardless of the factors involved, with disrespect, never again to be repeated by future generations? Tracks: Memoirs of a Vietnam Veteran The answer is by teaching our youngest the attributes of brotherhood, devotion, dedication, sacrifice, courage and compassion, all of which Dave Volk has so skillfully included in "My Grandpa's War." While this book is meant for our youngest, this can be read by anyone, with a powerful lesson to be learned regardless of the reader! Highly recommended!