Voice: A different take from a Vietnam vet

December 21, 2001

Brother Eddie "Gato" Castillo and myself have so much in common: Mexican, Imperial Valley, born ‘45, graduate ‘64, Viet vet, 25th Infantry, EOC, MECHA, MAPA and Democrat. But my views on the Vietnam War/conflict are somewhat different.

First of all, now we know that the Tonkin Gulf incident never happened. This was the excuse to escalate our involvement in Vietnam.

During my three-day in- country orientation, the lifer instructor told us, "Men, we are here to defend and protect the South Vietnamese population from the tyranny of godless communism."

Then he gave us tips on survival. He said, "Follow the same route/steps that the civilians/children take, because they know where the booby traps are." So I asked, "If we are here to defend and protect the South Viets from the bad communists, why is it that they know where the booby traps are?"


He sharply answered me with, "Young recruit, I hope you don't plan to make my Army your career. We don't like your kind."

It was widely known among the troops that the same farmer who waved at you during the day shot at you at night. And the day that the native workers did not show up on base we were attacked with mortars or rockets.

I too heard that maybe there were Chinese soldiers among the North Viet regulars. But for sure there were Americans supporting the South Viet Army. I know. I was one.

Had we won, we would still be occupying Vietnam with military personnel. You would read or see every day of Americans being killed by "nationalist" terrorist/freedom fighters.

"In the final analysis, it is their war. They (Vietnamese) must fight it and they must kill and die." John F. Kennedy, 1962 (or 1963).



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