Draftee

At age 19, I was the smartest guy I knew. From then up until now, I am reminded of how little I really know. I have, as the Pennsylvania Dutch supposedly say, gotten too soon old and too late smart. But I’m learning.

However, when I was both young and brilliant, I foolishly eschewed a couple of opportunities for a college education. Unfortunately, this was in the mid-1960s and if you’re either old enough or have studied modern history enough, you’ll know that being young, unmarried, not in college, male, a U.S. citizen, and healthy made a perfect candidate for military conscription. Uncle Sam wanted me.

I was drafted, trained, schooled, trained some more, given a series of inoculations and sent on a trip to one of the garden spots of southeast Asia along with thousands of my green-clad contemporaries. America’s official involvement in the Vietnam War was from the Gulf of Tonkin resolution in 1964 until U.S. troop withdrawal in August, 1973. The effects of that war are still felt today.

My time in-country was not nearly as (insert your personal adjective here) or as life changing as most. I was a radio-repairman, radio-telephony operator, truck driver, and dog-robber. In other words, one of the 400-plus support troops necessary to keep one real combat soldier in the field. We were envied, hated, or vilified and not without reason.

Despite my having been in the rear echelon I was in Nam, in the Zone. There are real stories: mine, shared from brothers, gleaned from acquaintances, from fellow Nam-vets after the fact. I hope to share some of these stories with you. If your experience was humping the boonies, manning a fire-base, up-country, or any combat role my stories will, at best, only amuse you. For our REMF brothers or sisters, they may spark a few memories. Look for these stories in the fall, well before the 50th anniversary of the 1968 Tet Offensive.

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