"I will never forget the feeling of dread and fear as we watched the Communist soldiers cross the river every night, while we prayed that we would not be noticed."
My name is Anonymous and I was a Sergeant in the Army from 1967-1969. I had just got out of high school and I was immediately drafted. I was not motivated to serve at all; I felt like there was a lack of decision-making. My father served and my uncle did as well, but this did not motivate me in the least.
Military life was a big change, but I adapted to it easily. The biggest obstacle to my ease of life was being told what to do and having less freedom. Some people may dislike it, but it’s what you gotta do.
I went to Vietnam with the 1st and 2nd Field Force Divisions, all the way from Da Nang to as south as the Mekong delta. I was a sergeant for mechanized infantry, my duties being that I had two tracks and a 50mm track that I had to organize and coordinate. Combat started two weeks in and lasted until I left. It was a very different lifestyle conditions-wise. Some conflict started with artillery fire, others started with seeing the enemy.
One story I will never forget was how I was left at a Landing Zone for three days with my squadron. The army took all the arms and moved them to a different location, while eight of us had the Landing Zone to ourselves, no water, no radio comms or anything. From where we were, at night you could see the river. I will never forget the feeling of dread and fear as we watched the Communist soldiers cross the river every night, while we prayed that we would not be noticed. These missions kind of made me form close friendships. Basically, we all had one goal in mind: survive and come back. Once this goal was complete, we really had nothing more to do with one another. However, on our mission, we constantly relied on each other.
When I first got back, it was very different. I was surprised by the number of protests, and how people didn’t appreciate what we had done. One thing I learned is that human life is the same no matter where you are. Everybody just wants to survive and get back home to their loved ones. I think the service was a good experience as far as seeing the value of the U.S and the freedom that we have compared to other countries.
I am proud to have served my country. In order to win the Vietnam War, we could have won easily, but we dragged it on needlessly. I would serve the military again so long as there is a just cause. I just feel that the government should do more to help veterans, especially those that are disabled and underprivileged. It hurts to see veterans homeless on the streets and imagining all that they have gone through.