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Date Posted: Mon, June 06 2005, 21:29:27
Author: Jeff Northridge
Author Host/IP: dialup-22.214.171.124.Dial1.SanJose1.Level3.net / 126.96.36.199
Subject: Re: Memories Of A Wounded Corpsmen
In reply to:
's message, "Memories Of A Wounded Corpsmen" on Mon, June 06 2005, 16:39:22
I'm not familiar with which war Dalton Trumbo's book refers to, but the sentence, "The Soldiers joined the war because they felt they had to but they never really had to." really caught my eye. Insofar as the Vietnam War was concerned, that was a highly complicted and controversial issue.
In the first place, some guys enlisted and some were drafted. Very few enlisted to "join the war" except for some super-machos with something to prove. Most enlisted so they could join the branch of service of their choice and specify which MOS they were to receive training in. In my case, I enlisted because I was about to be drafted anyway and chose the Army because the enlistment was for three years not four like for the Navy, Air Force, etc. At the time, all of the training schools that I wanted were closed so I made the mistake of enlisting "for the good of the service." That's how I wound up in the infantry.
Draftees didn't have much choice. They were either inducted into the Army or Marine Corps. Most of them were trained as infantrymen because that was what needed most. To say that "they never really had to" go along with it is true in theory because one presumably could take the "or else" instead. The alternative was to refuse to take the Oath of Enlistment, be convicted of a felony, serve five years in Leavenworth, and be branded as a coward for the rest of one's life. That's why a lot of draft dodgers fled to Canada or Sweden, had teeth removed in order to flunk the physical, faked consciensious-objector status, etc.
The amazing thing was that once in Vietnam, 99% of the guys did their jobs to the best of their ability regardless of whether they were pro- or anti-war, drafted or enlisted, rich or poor, or anything else that might be conjured up. In theory, we were fighting to "support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies foreign and domestic", but in practice, we were fighting for ourselves and our buddies. That was what we felt that we "had to do".
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