When the rocket hit, I watched a lady pick up the body of a child and run off. It was a clerical job, keeping track of secret documents. I worked in the Commodity Import Program (CIP) at an AID Annex in Cholon, which was next door to PSYOPS (Psychological Operations) Headquarters.
I have always wondered whether that child survived. And next door to a great BEQ (Bachelor Enlisted Quarters) where we could go for breakfast and lunch breaks.
As far as my family was concerned, if you don’t do something for your country, don’t call yourself an American.
There’s always a way to do something good, to serve your country.
There was the culture shock and then dysentery—“Ho Chi Minh’s Revenge.” The third week I was there I was out on the balcony when a rocket came in and hit the street.
That’s when I’m thinking “Holy crackers, this is reality.” Even though you’re living comfortably in a modern city, you’re still very vulnerable.
Of course, we were thoroughly indoctrinated into the Domino Theory.
And we all believed in the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution.Also, I was looking for an adventure, so going to Vietnam served that purpose too. We were trained to win the hearts and minds of the people.We learned all about the country, the history, the economy, the political situation, plus we received three weeks of Vietnamese language training, which is an extremely difficult language because it’s tonal and if you can’t hear tones, you can’t learn the language very well.I could have gone into the Peace Corps, as well, but the Peace Corps is a little bit more arduous and you don’t have the support when you go out in the hamlets or into the rural areas.With the foreign aid program, you have more of a support network built for you…and it’s better living accommodations. Because when the military is trained to go into a war environment, they’re trained to kill.A lot of people don’t know this, but we had 180 nurses in the country who worked with the AID program, many of whom went through extensive language training in Hawaii for a year before serving.