Thursday, February 25, 2010
The men who fought in Vietnam have been maligned in many ways. The people who were opposed to the war were adept at making up falsehoods to degrade and try and bring shame to some of americas finest young men. I have stood up for myself and my brothers whenever I had the opportunity. That is the purpose of this post. To voice my opinion about one of those wrongs. I will discuss other issues in later posts.
One of the falsehoods was that the american soldiers committed many atrocities against the Vietnamese civilian population. Granted, there were a few isolated cases. But, the majority of the time the american soldier treated the people with respect. If anything it was the viet cong who were committing the atrocities. They were ruthless in there attempts to get the civilian population to bend to thier will. And would stop at nothing to achieve thier goals.
My unit became familiar with, and friends of, the people in the small villages we would pass thru on our daily patrols. On several occasions we would mourn the loss of some of these people who were butchered by the viet cong because they befriended us.
I would like to relate one story that is not as horrific but heart wrenching nontheless. We had to guard one of the bridges near one of these villages and would check the people who traveled over it. One day a young boy showed up and hung around our post. He wore a glove that was tied on his right arm, where his hand should be. You could tell that he didn't have a hand as the glove was limp. His name was Trang and he was friendly and outgoing. He became our little buddy and we would make sure he was supplied with chocolate bars and c-rations. One of the guys even gave him one of his marine corps hats. Trang was proud of that hat. We never asked him about the hand,we just treated him like he was a normal kid. After a week we were replaced by another squad and went back to patroling the areas villages. Back at the basecamp I questioned our vietnamese interpreter about Trang. He said that before we had moved into that area, the viet cong had gained control of the village. Trang's father was the village cheif, and he had stood up to the viet cong and told them to leave. They drug Trang out in front of his father and the other villagers and took an ax and shopped his hand off. They threatened to do the same to the child of everyone in the village if they didn't support them and give them whatever they wanted.
I still have a lot of respect for Trang and the way he tried to be a normal person. It took courage for him to befriend us. He was specail. Knowing him and what he had been thru made us better soldiers.
I would like to know why the picture above, of a marine corpsman giving aid to a vietnamese child didn't see any air time while some of the other negative stuff wound up on americas tv screens. X.