page 80 CHAPTER 6
We started to have our opinions on the war. The guys in the company knew there was much apathy back in the world towards the war and its reality. Yet, they only knew the stories that they read in the newspaper and heard on the television news, plus guys returning. There was much truth and half truth to the whole setting. Rumors were the greatest source of information that one could gather. There was much untruth to the rumors that were sent back. Even people in Viet Nam were victims of this facet of information. You only really knew what you saw and that at times was an illusion or an unreality.
The guys not all in the company felt the war was an economic war. The need of helping the Vietnamese seemed like the last remote idea, after talking with other guys you met. The war was costing the American tax payer very heavily for the need of equipment and the maintenance of the standing army. We were also supplying the army of South Viet Nam with equipment along with the Viet Cong. They would capture equipment from the dead soldiers and use it against us in the same fashion. It seemed that if you needed a piece of army issue, you were better off going into the town of AN KHE for that piece of equipment. They had more of a supply of army equipment than the army itself so it seemed. This sort of awareness was coming into the realm of my knowledge. Viet Nam started to take on the appearance as the supermarket for the United States Army.
This sort of awareness was coming into my being. There were new facets of the war, that were becoming my reality. I had been in country for about three or four months. The time seemed to drag longer as the time went by. The attitude of the guys was that the war was all fucked up. They themselves were making known the fact that they were against it. You never really knew, who you were fighting. The local people were the Viet Cong and they were the people who you were helping. It seemed like one of the greatest ripoffs of the time, Inside the guys had only one thought and that was to be home.
The attitude of the company began to open up to me. It seemed that most of the guys really had their own opinions but held the real feelings to themselves. Only through talking for long hours did the real feelings of the guys come out. A lot of the guys thought, that the only real profiteers of the war was big business and wall street. With the constant need of war supplies the demand on industry to produce these implements of war was great. Where else could you have a product produced and destroyed, but in war. This lead to the need of replacement parts. President Ike warned America of the military economy, and here it was functioning in my opinion.
The American economy along with the war was still supplying the American people with a peace time atmosphere of goods. There was no need of sacrifice, that was so prevalent during the Second World War. There was no realism to the American public, that a war was in progress in the military factor. There was no rationing of any sort. This gave the American economy the full stimulation to move ahead in full gear. It seemed that during the era of sixty eight - the war stagnated into the economic war that it became in my opinion. There was no progress in the fighting and the Paris peace talks were on the horizon. This led the people of the United States to prolong the war and bend slightly the whims of the North Vietnamese.
The North took on the strategy that the American public would become disenchanted with the war and would demand an end to it. They new the proliferation of dead and wounded would add to this stimulation. Back home the anti-war movement was going into full gear. People realized that there was no movement in any direction in the war. We had been in Viet Nam for many, many years and there was no real progress to mention. There was still the random infiltration all through the south. The enemy still had the power to wage war all through the south, witnessed Tet. This made everyone wonder about the military power, and its ability to fight in Viet Nam. how after so many years of fighting, could there not be any security to the South ?
The guys in the company at times felt like suckers, that had fallen for some joke. The people of Viet Nam were two facing us left and fight in the town. They would act as if they were your best friend and the next minute do something to hurt you. It seemed that they always played two sides of the coin. Who was ever there, was the person that they catered to. Why would the local peasant farmers, be interested in the ideologies that the war was trying to dictate. They were only interested in feeding there wives and children. What good would the American and imported goods, such as cameras, radios, stereos, televisions do to people who were only interested in food, clothing and shelter. The war itself destroyed these basic securities, that the Vietnamese peasant cherished. Burning of a persons house for being a Viet Cong, was prevalent throughout Viet Nam. The American soldier didn't care, he was in a place that was only hell to him. His only thoughts were of getting home and away from the messy war. The victims of the war, were only secondary to his thoughts if there were any thoughts.
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