Updated: Aug 13, 2019
"It was surreal; it was as though our deaths were mere numbers on paper and had no actual value."
My name is Paul Childs and I was a fixed wing mechanic in the Vietnam War from 1971-1973. My motivation to serve was not the draft; rather, I myself volunteered to go. Kids of my generation were called “Children of WWII” due to many of our parents and relatives serving then. Patriotism was prominent, especially in our area. I lived in a small community where the main goal in life was to graduate high school, then settle down. I had just got out of high school when I was drafted.
I was initially based in Lakehurst, New Jersey where the Hindenburg Blimp had blown up in 1937. After some time, I decided I wanted to go to Vietnam due to the fact that serving in Vietnam would have made me more money.
My time in the military really shaped my views on war in general. Many people decided to flee during the draft. I harbor no animosity towards those who fled the country; however, I feel as though those who used their money and privilege(our president is an example of this) to escape the war are cowards. During wartime, who is it fighting? The poor. The rich cause issues and the poor have to sacrifice their lives to clean up after them.
War itself is a disaster. From what I saw, the government watched 58,00 men die in combat, then decide to pull out. It was surreal; it was as though our deaths were mere numbers on paper and had no actual value. To top it off, when we returned home, we were ostracized by the people. However, it didn’t end there for me. I had to live through my son’s suicide, and until 13 years later, I had to live through undiagnosed PTSD. I felt used. Big companies, such as Coca-Cola, made money off of us by selling their products to poor men who were giving their lives.
Despite all that I went through, I feel as though I went to Vietnam for the right reasons. I volunteered for a cause, and to this day, I am proud to have served my country.