Skip to comments.Vietnam - What They Carried
Posted on 11/12/2002 5:50:54 AM PST by SAMWolf
They carried P-38 can openers and heat tabs, watches and dog tags, insect repellent, gum, cigarettes, Zippo lighters, salt tablets, compress bandages, ponchos, Kool-Aid, two or three canteens of water, iodine tablets, sterno, LRRP- rations, and C-rations stuffed in socks.
They carried standard fatigues, jungle boots, bush hats, flak jackets and steel pots.
They carried the M-16 assault rifle. They carried trip flares and Claymore mines, M-60 machine guns, the M-70 grenade launcher, M-14's, CAR-15's, Stoners, Swedish K's, 66mm Laws, shotguns,45 caliber pistols, silencers, the sound of bullets, rockets, and choppers, and sometimes the sound of silence.
They carried C-4 plastic explosives, an assortment of hand grenades, PRC-25 radios, knives and machetes. Some carried napalm, CBU's and large bombs; some risked their lives to rescue others. Some escaped the fear, but dealt with the death and damage. Some made very hard decisions, and some just tried to survive. They carried malaria, dysentery, ringworms and leaches.
They carried the land itself as it hardened on their boots.
They carried stationery, pencils, and pictures of their loved ones - real and imagined. They carried love for people in the real world and love for one another.
And sometimes they disguised that love: "Don't Mean Nothin'!"
They carried Memories for the most part, they carried themselves with poise and a kind of dignity. Now and then, there were times when panic set in, and people squealed or wanted to, but couldn't; when they twitched and made moaning sounds and covered their heads and said "Dear God" and hugged the earth and fired their weapons blindly and cringed and begged for the noise to stop and went wild and made stupid promises to themselves and God and their parents, hoping not to die.
They carried the Traditions of the United States military, and memories and images of those who served before them.
They carried Grief, Terror, Longing and their Reputations.
They carried the soldier's greatest fear: The Embarrassment of Dishonor.
They crawled into tunnels, walked point, and advanced under fire, so as not to die of embarrassment.
They were afraid of dying, but too afraid to show it.
They carried the emotional baggage of men and women who might die at any moment.
They carried the weight of the world.
THEY CARRIED EACH OTHER
From an unusual vantage point, the distress of the despondent veteran standing in front of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall is evident, as he leans on his crutches, a hand partially covering his downcast face. The hope and uplifting assurance of the Guardian Angel that supports the soldier is depicted in the beautiful portrait of her face.
This piece won second place at the national 1995 Congressional Art Competition and was designated to hang in the office of Rep. John Ensign, R-Nev., in Washington, D.C. At the Congressional Awards Ceremony, Ensign not only expressed extreme pleasure in having her picture hang in his office but made a point to express his personal feelings. Ensign recalled his visit to the wall just prior to the contest. "It literally felt like angels were surrounding the place," he said. "When I first saw this drawing ... I just couldn't believe it."
He was even more surprised to learn that Ragen had never been there.
Although no one is buried at the memorial, it is hallowed ground. Everyone who visits is emotionally affected, and Ragen was able to capture that intense emotion while synchronously reminding the viewer of the strength and support lovingly given by otherworldly beings. Not only are the soldier and angel guardians, so are the gifts left at the base of the wall.
Stay well - Stay safe - Stay armed - Yorktown
When she was a very young girl, my wife - who is Vietnamese - was lost in her town on the Delta. Just beyond toddler-stage, she had forgotten how to get home, and she remembers that she was crying and afraid.
An American soldier - "very big and with a moustache" - gave her chocolate, took her by the hand, and led her house-to-house until he finally got her home.
Sometime I'd like to see a movie about the war, but from the South Vietnamese perspective.
336th AHC -- Soc Trang AAF, Sep 69 - Sep 70
Oh, and they carried a bottle of Tobasco Sauce, if they could get it.
Nice post SAMWolf.