There seemed to be no real rational reason for the war in the minds of the guys you talked to. We were doing the dirty work for people that both resented our presence in the country and our social behavior. This led many of the local civilians to side with the Viet Cong. When one thought about the entire situation it seemed only rational. It would be like an invading army coming into the United States and setting camps up at random points through out the country. Going into our cities and occupying the places that were your normal social outlets. Changing the life style that you were use to and making war in your own backyard. It just seemed in my opinion that the United States presence in the Vietnamese world was alien. We were introducing television and cameras to a people that were hungry and wanted land to farm .The intentions of the United States were in the economical world, instead of the grass root basics of food clothing and shelter. It sort of was like trying to teach people to play water polo, when they didn't have a swimming pool.
The class system of the Vietnamese had its own complexities. There were the land owners and the peasants who farmed a few acres of land. The rice paddy was the home for the general population. There homes were built on knowles and the paddies were surrounding there homes. The daily work was persistent in keeping the paddy well tended. This was the main source of food if not the only for many of the people. The water buffalo was the work animal of the people,, like the tractor was to America. Human labor was used if the family didn't own a buffalo. It seemed that the bent figure of the Vietnamese person in the paddy field was the most significant and common image of the Vietnamese to describe them.
The American soldier with his lack of understanding would bomb and shoot up the paddies on different occasions. Whether this was don on intent or mistake didn't matter to the Vietnamese who labored and counted on the paddy to supply himself and family with food. It would be like the average American going to the supermarket and finding it blown to pieces. One would say that there were more but in Viet Nam this was the only food. There were no local stores as we know them, no welfare to help the person. It was swim or sink factor, that existed with the Vietnamese food supply. It would be common sights to see B-52 craters and artillery holes all over the paddies of local farmers. How after loosing his food supply and paddy damage could you expect him to sympathise with the American cause. Any promises of food didn't ease the babies hunger pains.
The whole psychology of the situation was set then in the wrong direction. There were efforts by the Americans to help the people. Some were very good in the form of medical services. It was just that a handful so it seemed got the help and the out of the way places were not even on the map.
Grass it seemed now was more prevalent at AN KHE than I had ever believed. It seemed that the new F.N.G.s coming into the company were turning onto grass fast and had smoked now in the world before coming to Viet Nam. Back in the states the era of drugs was coming into its maturing stages. The flower power movement and the hippie generation were gaining feet. The new F.N.G.S coming into the company were parts of this movement. I felt different and really ignorant of the new fast cancerous trend. It was a message in a way of the social climate in the United States. People were generating anger and hatredagainst the war very, very fast it seemed. Different form the fast short months that I had been in country. It was surprising. The wounded and killed in action seemed to be a major part along with political policies. Loved ones coming home were not the same in ways. They had been bent and twisted inside on their thinking and the war in general, plus the stigma of having gone to Viet Nam.
The idea of coming back to the United States and being treated as a common criminal for war atrocities was occurring now. There were draft evaders, burning draft cards and protests on campuses. The guys with me and the short times who had been in Viet Nam for their year, now seemed of an old generation of warrior. It just looked like that in only a few short months a whole new generation of thinking was born. It brought new thinking to us in camp very fast and radical from my thoughts. It just again seemed what ever was going on in the United States was gasoline ablaze. We had no Television and only a few American run type radio stations. The army paper mostly covered army news and there were no papers at all. Only those sent in the mail in care packages. It was really new and something that bordered on revolutionary type thinking and vividness.
I myself again started to ask myself questions about the war but it seemed on a deeper level now. What was I really doing in Viet Nam? The time of soul searching had come about. I needed more answers to question I was given the answer to in it seemed a rigid form of understanding. Some of my questions really didn't exist yet in my mind but the seeds had been planted. It was part of my maturing process in life now. Who was I ? What did I really stand for ? Now there was a void and blank created by this new wave of F.N.G.s We all had a cause for the war, for we were part of a country that got involved in it. The time of real truth reality was coming about. The truth seeking and meaning of the war and its affects. That part of being an individual again was re-emerging and filtering out the army discipline drummed into our lives.
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