Updated: Feb 17, 2020
My name is Phillip Whiteside, and I served as an infantryman in the Army during the Vietnam War. Prior to serving, I was a college student. My dad and uncle had served in WWII. I was drafted in October, 1967. I adapted well to military life, but I was not fond of the changes from my civilian life. The military is all about discipline. Its purpose is to complete the mission successfully and according to plan. That purpose is pretty much all consuming, especially in the combat arms. I went through Basic Training and AIT at Fort Louis, Washington. After I completed training I was sent straight to Vietnam. I served with a line company in the 9th Infantry Division in the Mekong Delta. Our missions were typically called “search and destroy”. Combat is life changing for most all who experience it. The trauma of some of my experiences stays with me today in the form of PTSD. Though I formed close friendships among those with whom I served in Vietnam I am not now in contact with them. My wartime experiences have taught me that war is unfortunate. Those experiences have instilled in me a sense of reverence for life. Life is precious and not to be taken for granted. To many people, the statistics of the Vietnam War will never be more than just mere numbers. To me, it is very important that we remember and honor those whose lives were taken in service to our country. O My service in the military has had a lasting impact on me. I often have memories of my experiences and a sense of regret about things I could have done, actions I could have taken in combat that would have had better outcomes. They were not good times. However, all my comrades were like my brothers. We shared hopes, dreams, and plans for the day we got home. We shared feelings about what we were doing there . All we had was each other, and that is the most valuable takeaway I had in the military. After all is said and done, all we wanted was to do what we had to and then go home.