That individuality that everyone is forced to submerge and hide in the web of the army. Look alike , think alike and take orders without question. These were the demands of the army and its nature. The loyalty to the cause and the situation involved. Then one had to ask what the cause was that we were sacrificing our lives and bodies. It seemed that everyone was at as loss for a truthful answer or explanation. The factor of helping the Vietnamese was becoming too hard for the average guy to swallow. It seemed back in sixty five and through sixty seven there was a rationality for the war.
Now the guys were coming to Viet Nam with different ideas and a new moral fiber against the war. The thinking back home had altered the thinking of them in a short period of time. It was a new army of people but not the army of the United States it seemed. The people and the individuals involved in the war were of a breed. I myself was caught in the transition of this flow. There was no ground for me to stand on now. The feeling of being a piece of drift wood, fit the occasion more. My mind was like a blank sheet of paper, needing writing and answers written upon it.
This need for movement and change within myself had finally reached a boiling point. The seeds were planted from the first days in company. The solid lost looks of the guys that had been in company for awhile seemed to take meaning for the first time. I sort of understood what they were trying to me the first days in company. The loneliness and the struggle of the war and the true inner self being reflected, in the solid lost eyes. The weariness of their struggle to survive another day and fight the fears lurking inside the soul. Lost and helpless was in all of this strangeness. The eyes of the individual could have made the best headlines in all the papers of the world.
Grass more and more seemed the accepted outlet for most of the guys in the company. In the enlisted mans area the smoking was so prevalent that it was taking place in the open areas. The don't give a shit attitude seemed to prevail with most of the guys. They would roll and smoke joints as if they were smoking cigarettes. It seemed like it was very natural in the relaxed manner. I asked myself about the ruckus about grass. The guys got relief from it and seemed to be in a better mood and attitude, before having smoked. It brought on laughter and giggling in which was a wonder in a war zone. In the Middle of Viet Nam and in the middle of a war, they had found that little island of peace. That place where one can escape to for rest and relief.
This seemed like the thing to be done. Inside there was that need to get away and find answers. The need to search new horizons within myself and all around me. The time had finally arrived when the reasons of the war and my self had to be explained. The rational of the situation was way out of hand. The guys were smoking freely out in the open in the company area. The enlisted mans area was separate from the non-commissioned officers area and the officers area. They had there own private area, with what the army could provide in Viet Nam. It seemed they were isolated from the enlisted mans area. This was done out of old army rank privileges.
Leading into the enlisted area, there were only two paths. One was a dirt road and the other a path that led to the green-line. That stretch of wire that separated us from the jungles and the alien planet. In the enlisted mans area there was a new code of watchfulness. The inner guards who were on duty, would warn us if there was any strange person approaching. This was the reason for the relaxed attitude in the enlisted mans area. There was an inner guard system to watch for officers and Sargent. In the bottom line there was a large area for the smoking lamp to be lit.
This all seemed too incredible to believe, yet the underlying psychology was the main factor. The guys felt they were in a war zone and that they would never see tomorrow. Who cared what happen. "What were they going to do, send me to Viet Nam". That became the favorite saying. Bust me, and send me back to the states for prison. That would solve all the problems in itself. The war in Viet Nam had this strange twist to it. How could you tell someone that John Wayne was a drug addict. It went totally against the Hollywood images of war hero-magnified.
It was all there for the eyes to behold. It seemed against all past training and right and wrong. It was a total reversal of past training in life and the army. Here in Viet Nam were pot heads fighting the war. It just now seemed like a harmless way to blow off steam. Being killed or wounded seemed more dangerous than a joint. All of these factors played into my final decision to try some grass. I had never smoked even cigarettes before. So now the decision was made.
There were peer pressures also in the company to smoke grass. Guys smoking would ask you to turn on and make jokes. Ribbing was common and sometimes you were just let alone.
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