John Reilly

John Reilly: A Holistic Perspective of the Vietnam War

Profilers: Matthew Jang, Holden Harbison, Vivian Cardenas

A Life Before the War

Q: Hi, so Mr. Reilly, could you first just tell me about your life initially before you knew anything about the draft or how it would affect you?

A: Basically what happened is I graduated from Villanova University in 1968, May of 1968. I was in the job market for looking for a position. I got a job over at Prudential in July of 68 that year. But at that time, the draft was in place and they had the so-called lottery system. So I had to deal with that prospect facing me. So going to work at the Pro, there’s a good chance I would have been drafted and taken out of the company and into active service with the US Army. So what I did is I decided that I would want to make a choice of which branch of the service I was going to be serving in. And they did some testing and I qualified for Officer Candidate School and they made me choose one of the combat arms, which would be infantry, artillery, or armor. And I decided to go into artillery OCS. So I signed up for that. And the start date was in November of 68, so I actually was at the Pru for about four months before I enlisted and went into the Army basic training at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, and then advanced training at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, which was the artillery school, and then an officer candidate school at Fort Sill for a number of months. So that’s kind of a little bit about my background before I went over to Vietnam.

Q: So what were your initial thoughts and like sentiments about the US military as a whole? 

A: My thoughts, I didn’t have real strong thoughts or beliefs about the military other than it was something that I was familiar with. My father was a World War II veteran, US Navy officer, and I knew a number of people, friends from high school and college who served in, or were going to serve in the Marine Corps or Army, Navy, different services, Air Force, and I was familiar with it, but I really didn’t know too much about it other than the Vietnam War was dragging on and there was a pretty good chance if I went into the military that I would be sent over there, so that’s kind of a little bit about the background and what I understood might happen to me. It was a lot of uncertainty, really, about the whole process and unknowns, but it was something I wasn’t really afraid of. I was concerned about going over there, but I had friends who went to Vietnam and returned okay, and it was something if I had to do it, I thought I would be able to go and, you know, deal with it for a year and come back home, hopefully.

Q: And did you have any thoughts of the war itself at the time?

A:  I didn’t have any real strong thoughts, to be honest with you. I kind of thought that the war was going to be over. I mean, when I went to school in 1965, the war just started, and all the guys who were in college with me, we figured Vietnam would have been long over and long done before we got out of college. It wouldn’t really be an issue for us, and we weren’t particularly concerned about the draft. But year after year, the war kept going on and on, and all of a sudden, after two, three years, you’re a senior, and you’re kind of staring at, what do I do now? I thought about going in the US Navy, I thought about going into the Air Force, but those were incredibly selective, because everybody was trying to get into the branches other than the Marine Corps or the US Army, because of the risks involved, I would say. And maybe it was just a better opportunity to make it back home in one piece. But I had mixed emotions about it. And I wasn’t going to run to Canada or anything or try to avoid the draft. I just was going to do what the nation required me to do and serve if I had to.

Q: So why did you pick artillery specifically?

A: Well, it was kind of a process of elimination, to be honest with you. I had friends who were in the infantry. I had friends who were in each one of these branches, and I just thought that that might be the one where I would be most successful in and would be maybe the best fit for me. And like I said, infantry, that’s a whole different situation. It wasn’t something I know with Vietnam that I really didn’t particularly want to get involved with. Walking around in the jungle in the Mekong Delta and the mountains over there, and I thought, hey, maybe artillery would be a better thing for me to do than the infantry and armor. I really didn’t know much about that toward this kind of event, so it was kind of a process of elimination.

A Recollection of Experiences During the War

Q: So do you remember the specific day you got to Vietnam and was there any significant stories or significant events that happened that day that you vividly remember?

A: I specifically do remember the exact day and I remember the day I went over there I came home I was June 22nd, 1969 I remember the exact day and I remember the flight from Seattle, Washington, it was an 18-hour flight across the Pacific. We went to Hawaii. We went to Wake Island. We went to the Philippines Clark Air Force Base, and then we flew into Cam Ranh Bay and I’ll tell you I mean it was 18 hours in the air and it was a long day and it was a lot of lot of crazy thoughts going through your head because when you land in Vietnam, your plane is coming down to you. You know, there’s going to be some people on that plane that you’re with they’re not gonna make it back home. They’re gonna die. I mean, it’s just a fact. Or get hit, injured. And those thoughts went through your mind, but you just, you know, kind of prayed to God that things would work out. But there was just, it was very, I would describe it as just an unknown or uncertain time for all the guys going over there. And there was a lot of anxiety and, you know, you just took it day by day.

But when we landed, when it touched down over there, he said, geez, I look around the mountains there and the jungles and everything and say, this is going to be a long, long year. I’m telling you, it’s about 100 degrees in the shade, 100% humidity, and you’re dying over there already if you haven’t even been there a day. But you’re waiting to get assigned to a particular division. And I got assigned to 101st Airborne, which wasn’t good, because that was the division at Hamburger Hill happened the month before I got there. Lot of guys killed over there on that mountain. So it was a lot of contact with the North Vietnamese regular troops up in the northern part of that country. And it was probably the worst place I could have gone in terms of riskiness. So I mean, it’s a great group of people, great soldiers, great officers and general leading the organization. But it was not good in terms of the risks you face and the possible adversity and just the dangers, the dangers every day. I mean, I don’t want to overstate it, but it was the most action in that country where I went. So it’s not a good thing, but hey, I didn’t really have an option. You go where you’re told, you know, that’s kind of what happens. They tell you you’re going and you say, yes, sir. And where, when do I go?

Q: So where were you stationed exactly?

A: Well, I was stationed primarily at a place called Camp Eagle in the northern part. Vietnam is divided into four military zones. First Corps, second, third, and fourth. Makes sense, right? Four zones. And it goes from north to south. So the first Corps, they call that I Corps. It was like the Roman numeral I. They used the word I Corps to describe that. And that was the northern part from the Demilitarized Zone down to a little bit north of the city of Da Nang. And, you know, from the coast all the way to the Laotian border, that was our territory or area of operation that we were in with the 101st. And Camp Eagle was the big base there where most of the 101st soldiers served. And over 10,000, they had some minor bases, Camp Evans and LZ Sally were north of that. But I was at Camp Evans for some time, but it was primarily in Camp Eagle. And I also served at two fire bases along the Laotian border. One called Fire Base Airborne, and another one called Fire Base Berchtesgaden were up in the mountains there near the Ho Chi Minh Trail.

Q: So could you explain what a fire base is exactly?

A: Yeah, basically what a firebase is, is the army goes in and it clears out an area, could be on the top of a mountain, it could be different places in a valley, whatever, they clear out an area for bringing in of artillery. They bring in different artillery pieces, cannons, to support the infantry who are out in the field doing operations in the field. And what happens is the artillery, when asked, when the infantry asks us to support them to bring in fire, if they’re getting attacked or if they have suspicions that there’s enemy soldiers ahead of them on one side or the other of where their location is, they call in fire to protect them from getting attacked. And it’s an offensive type thing where there’s a lot of firepower brought in, a lot of artillery shells, a lot of cannons firing and explosions out there that’s, you know, if there’s any soldiers out there, they’re not going to survive the artillery fire. And it’s a big support for the infantry soldiers in their mission of search and destroy, or it could be just general patrolling out in the jungles or these valleys that they were in.

Q: So what did you exactly do on a day-to-day basis, at these fire-bases?

A: At a fire base? Basically what we did, I was involved with the, what they call the field artillery support. We would give guidance to the guns as far as where they would fire and the different dimensions. It’s pretty complicated as far as artillery fire to bring it precise. Obviously, when you have cannons firing, you want to know exactly where those shells are landing, because if you don’t, it can kill your own soldiers. So there’s very precise measurements and calculations that we would give to the people in what they call the pits or the gun crews. We would give instructions to those guns as to where they would fire, the kind of the angle of the guns, et cetera. And it’s very precise measurements that we would do, which was driven by like a computer that we have that would give us the instructions or the measurements for the guns to bring in fire. And it was more of a mathematical and analytical type thing, coming up with the precise instructions that would bring fire in to the place you want it. And again, people might say, why do you need to do that? Well, obviously you have to have the fire land where you want it to, otherwise you’re killing your own people. It’s kind of an indirect science sometimes. So that’s kind of a, I don’t know if I’m saying overly complicated things, but that’s what we did every day is we would work with our gun pits, our gun crews to, you know, have fire to support the infantry in the field.

Q:  Did it ever feel uneasy to you at all, like working in indirect fire, where you couldn’t exactly see the damage that you were doing or the people that you were hitting?

A: I mean, you had a job to do. You wanted to get those cannon fire out there to support our own troops. You wanted to make sure it was accurate because you didn’t want to, you know, I mean there were instances where friendly fire, you know, US troops were killed by US cannons because they weren’t accurately targeting the enemy. It did happen on occasion. Didn’t happen where I was, thank God, but it did happen. But I mean, we were concerned. I mean, even at night, they had us just fire out in the middle of nowhere at night, just an interdictory fire they would call it. They would just pick out an area based upon maybe some observations of forward observers or people flying around on planes, seeing enemy movement. And you might just fire at night, two, three in the morning. Just, you know, cannons are firing, you know, 20, 30 rounds out there to keep the North Vietnamese on their toes. So it’s, but you thought about it. I mean, seriously, nobody wants to kill anybody, but you just want to support your own soldiers and your troops. So we didn’t really think about, you know, the death on the other side too much, even though maybe we should have. It just wasn’t something we focused on because we had a job to do and that’s what we did.

Q:  So could you tell me about some of the relationships you formed there and are you still close with some of those people today?

A: Yeah, it’s an interesting question. I don’t, you know, basically what happened is I came into a unit, an artillery unit, I met a bunch of guys, you know, depending upon the assignment, you got to know them better. I moved around a number of times, so you really weren’t able to develop long-term relationships. One of the things that I really remember is there was a guy who slept in the next bunk over from me, and he was a young man from Springfield, Missouri, he was my age, he was a physics major at the University of Missouri, real smart guy. And his name was Burt Miller. And Burt was assigned with me in the Battalion Headquarters swap. Then he got assigned out to a firebase called Ripcord. And I didn’t find out about this. This was right towards the end of my time in Vietnam. But Burt was a very, you know, good friend of mine. Like I said, he slept right next to me in the bunk. And we got to know each other very well. And so he got sent out to one of the batteries out at this Firebase Ripcord. And I found out when I came back from Vietnam, I came back in June, and right around that time, there was a major battle and he was killed in action out there, my friend. And the rocket apparently landed right next to him, I don’t know if it was a mortar or some other type of munition, but it landed next to him and killed him instantly.

So when I went to the Vietnam Wall, I saw his name on there and it really brought sadness to my heart because he was a young guy my age who had the rest of his life to live and was killed, you know, like in a snap of a finger he was gone. It just was one of those things that’s the way things happen sometimes. It’s fate. It’s just destiny. I don’t know. You know, the wrong place at the wrong time, I guess. We do have reunions for the 101st Airborne, the group that I was in, and I have been to a number of reunions. I’ve seen guys that I served with over there who have gone to the reunions, so that was really a nice thing to kind of, you know, see friends of mine, not real close friends, but people I served with who were over there at the same time. We really kind of relived our past experiences and did kind of like, you know, it was a very, very, very positive thing in terms of sharing our experiences and our feelings and our emotions about the time we had there and a lot of good memories, some bad memories, but you know, that’s kind of what I take away.

Q: So and then during your time over there, did you know exactly when you’d be coming home?

A: Yes. It was a one year tour. Basically, you know, June 22, 1969, you get on that, what they call the Freedom Bird out of Cam Ranh Bay. I went down to Cam Ranh Bay and went to a bar with a bunch of other people and had a few cold beers before we got on the Freedom Bird. But it was June 22, 1970 is the day I came back, one year exactly. But there were some changes around that time with the fact that the war is being scaled back. So some guys did leave earlier because their divisions were withdrawn from Vietnam, or they could have been reassigned to another division possibly, but a lot of them did maybe serve less than a year towards the end because we were withdrawing. So that was a little different, but generally the people knew. You obviously know when you’re going and you knew when you’re coming back a year later.

Q: Do you have any specific stories of your time there that really highlight your experience?

A: Two stories, you know, that I could, I’ll never forget. One of them was I was on a fire base, this place called Berchtesgaden. And don’t ask me why, for some reason I was out there for a month or so and then all of a sudden I got a notice that I was supposed to go back to the Camp Eagle, the big base camp. So I’m at a fire base with maybe there’s five, six hundred people and they’re going to bring me by helicopter and a bunch of other guys back to the big, you know, divisional headquarters, you know, 30 miles closer to the coast. So, I get on the helicopter and I go back to the main base and I find out, little did I know, that that base was overrun by North Vietnamese the next day. So, if I was there, would I have been killed or injured? It’s possible, who knows? It just seems like really, you know, I don’t wanna say God was in my corner at that point, but you wonder sometimes about the timing of things. Where one day, I’m in this very, what do you call it, precarious situation. I’m withdrawn to a big base camp where it’s a lot safer. And that same day or same night, they’re attacked by major forces. A lot of guys are killed or wounded there. So I said, man, I was really lucky. Somebody was looking out for me. I don’t know, maybe I took my prayers right that day. But that was one thing that really made an impression on me. I was very fortunate, just luck, I don’t know what you call.

The other one was when we went on a raid up near the Demilitarized Zone. We went up near the DMZ, that’s the marker that separates North and South Vietnam. And I go up there with a bunch of guys, and I’m serving with a friend. And we were there for a week or whatever it was, and then we went back to the Camp Eagle, and it was fine, everything worked out all right, nobody got hurt or killed in our group. But this guy I went with got the bad type of malaria. He got bit by a mosquito, don’t ask me what happened, but I mean, he was taken out by medical people, and we never saw him again. Now, I don’t know whether, as far as I know, he didn’t die from that, but I think that’s the type of malaria that occurs throughout your lifetime. So he was literally sleeping right next to me in this tent. And I’m thinking, why did he get bit and I didn’t? I mean, it’s not like a silly question, I know, but that’s something, I remember our colonel saying, Riley, how are you feeling? Because he expected me to get the same type of malaria that this other guy, Tom Kelly, got. And I said, Carol, I’m doing fine so far. I’m not going to look, so. Keep saying my prayers that I didn’t get it, and I didn’t. So, hey, I was lucky there, too. So, those are just two circumstances.

And the other thing is Agent Orange, as I think about it. A lot of guys were impacted by Agent Orange over there. There was Agent Orange in our area. Wasn’t dropped where I was, thank God, because if it was, I might not be here talking to you right now. A lot of guys died from that. And that’s something I’m very, very lucky and fortunate about that. I never got exposed to that stuff because that’s deadly, really deadly. And I mean, people are aware of that term Agent Orange, chemicals being dropped at defoliate. And apparently it’s still affecting people in Vietnam. The civilians there, that’s what I heard. So it’s really sad what’s happened there and it’s sad for our troops. So I was lucky in that regard too. Lucky to make it home to my family alive in one piece and no PTSD, post-traumatic stress disorder. I don’t feel that I’ve gotten that. Unless somebody’s going to tell me I’m kind of wacko, but I don’t think I’m in that position yet. Maybe down the road, who knows?

Q: So in your time in Vietnam, were you able to see the area outside of Camp Eagle or the fire bases at all?

A: Yes, yes. I mean, we had a chance to, they had a place called Eagle Beach, or the name Eagle Beach, everything was Eagles, with its kind of eagles. But we would, to get to Eagle Beach, it was what they call an in-country rest and recreation, so we would go over there for like a weekend and we could, you know, go into swimming and stuff, trying to see. They had some different recreation activities, do some water, the crazy is this has water skiing and everything over there. So it was a little break from the in-country, you know, monotony in the work that we did.

A Reflection of the Aftermath and Impacts of the War

Q: So could you tell me about the day you left and how you felt about that?

A:  Yeah, I felt elated, I mean, not to state the obvious, but I mean, you’re putting yourself in the place of a typical person over there. You’re over there 365 days, and all you hear about the whole year is when are you going home from all these other guys. So it was a big focus, but yeah, I mean, we were elated. People were very careful that last week or two, you know, because you just, like you’re slipping on eggs, and you just didn’t want to take any risks or chance because usually they bring people in from the field. You wouldn’t leave them out in the field until the day before they came back. You bring them in a little bit forward so they could kind of deescalate and you know get semi back to normal. But it was a feeling of elation. It was a feeling of happiness. It was a feeling of hard to believe it’s over for at least us. You felt bad for the guys that you said goodbye to. But a lot of people said goodbye to us along the way, the prior year, and we wished them well. And we met a lot of great guys and they made it home. And we just hoped we would. And it was a lot of cheering and a lot of drinking on that plane when they got off Cam Ranh Bay. When the landing gear, when they were up in the air, there were very happy people clapping, trust me.

Q: So can you describe your transition from Vietnam to back home? And what was that like?

A: I remember flying into New York City, and I took a bus over to Newark, over to Penn Station. My father picked me up in his truck and brought me back to Mars Plains, and it was crazy, because in a way, I mean, they had a sign on my house that was about 20 feet that said, welcome home, Johnny. But other than that, it was like you were never gone. It’s like you come back right into society, and it’s like you were never gone, you never went, you never came back. And it was just kind of surrealistic, is that the word? It was strange, it was, I mean, it was, you’d wake up at night kind of restless because you didn’t hear helicopters or cannons firing. You got used to that and you come back home and all of a sudden you’re sitting in suburbia, you know, in Morristown, New Jersey or whatever, and it’s like you never left. You just kind of brought a lot of baggage with you, you know, about your experiences over there. And you met some guys that had been over there, some friends our same age, you would talk to them, you know, meet them in bars or wherever. You know, it’s to relive some of those memories. And I didn’t go back to work for four months. I took four months off and just kind of bummed around a little bit, but I just didn’t want to go back to work right away. I just wasn’t ready for it mentally. But it was, you know, gradual assimilation. It’s just kind of like a hard to believe experience that ever happened in a way. You know, even now it is. These men, 50 years later, did you really serve over there? It’s like a bad dream in a way.

Q: So do you think your experience there affected the rest of your life, long-term?

A: There’s no doubt it has an effect on your life. It gives you a different perspective about the value of life. It gives you a, to see combat, I mean, it’s something that, you know, I don’t think about too often, but, you know, on occasion when you meet fellow veterans, you do reminisce about, you know, what we went through and the time we served and the things we learned and the experiences we had. So it’s a really, it’s a eye-opening thing to see people in combat situations and to see such bravery and courage and such great people that you served with. I mean, there were some people that weren’t so great, but most of them were outstanding that I served with and I’m very proud to have been part of that. It gives you pride in our country about some great people we have here. And we were honored to be with them and we’re honored to still see them at these reunions. I’ve seen some great people there, some amazing people that really were special to know in our lives, and we always remember them.

Q: And then I understand you’re part of the VFW, Veterans of Foreign Wars. So could you describe that and the bond you have with those people there?

A: Yes. Well, the VFW is an organization that I’ve been pretty involved with since I retired from working 15 years or so. And it’s people who have served in the combat zones. It could be World War II veterans, although there are not too many left there, Korea, Vietnam, the Gulf War, Iraq, Afghanistan, these type places. So they’re combat veterans who’ve experienced similar things. And what we do is we try to remember all those who served, all those who sacrificed. We will never forget them. We think it’s important that our country honors these people who served our nation, who gave the ultimate sacrifice, who some of them didn’t too. I mean, all the people who served. And to acknowledge them, to respect them, and to remember them, and also to contribute to the community.

We think it’s important to contribute to our fellow soldiers who are in hospitals or who need assistance in various ways, whether it’s jobs or housing or different things. So we try to give monies and try towards them, towards children of veterans who have been killed in action. To high school students, to middle school students about patriotic related essays and themes so people don’t, so people remember the importance of our nation and what we represent and the things that our soldiers do to keep our nation free and, you know, the important thing, important role that we play in the world and the world order to now our military. So we’re very supportive of our current troops in different places.

Q: And then how did your experience in Vietnam change your view of the US military and the war itself?

A: To me, it gave me a tremendous respect for the military, for the job that those guys did, for the, again, the courage and the sacrifice and the valor that a lot of the soldiers gave. And the great job they did serving our leaders and doing what they’re asked to do over there to the best of their ability. So I thought it was positive. I didn’t really see too much negative. I’m sure there were negative things, but I didn’t wanna speculate on that, like the My Lai situation, etc. But so it was positive in that regard. And the war itself, I had mixed emotions about the war. I didn’t really have strong feelings about the war. We were over there, we asked what we do. I thought it was important that we support the local Vietnamese people so they wouldn’t be subjugated or attacked or killed by people from the north, but I know there are different political feelings about that and so what was proper and what wasn’t, but I didn’t really have any strong feelings one way or the other about that particular issue. So that’s kind of where I would leave that.

Q: So would you say in your time there, you were kind of just doing whatever you could to just survive and make it home?

A: Exactly right. That’s about as good a way as you can put it. Yeah, I mean, you basically had a full year tour over there, and you just did what you had to do to make it home in one piece. Hopefully you didn’t make some bad decisions, but really, people were making decisions for you. They would send you where you were going to go, and hopefully you did the right thing and didn’t step in a mine or step in the wrong place and get shot. But a lot of that is just plain luck, fate.

Q: And then do you think when you came home, being a veteran was a big part of your identity and who you were?

A: Initially, no. It was a strange thing. Vietnam was a war that really was a divisive war. So it wasn’t something where we would publicize it too much. I mean, even in the veterans groups, the Vietnam veterans weren’t welcomed into the VFW of the American Legion as far as I know. A lot of the guys, the older veterans didn’t seem to be supportive of us for some reason, which is strange. That’s why the Vietnam Vets of America was started. They had to start their own group because they weren’t welcomed by the VFW. But it’s changed because now we’re the majority of the VFW, a large part of it. And it’s something we’re proud of and we’re doing a good job with regard to that. So hopefully that answers the question.

Q: So how did that make you feel, like being excluded from those veterans associations?

A: Angry, to be honest with you. I mean, people are really unhappy. People didn’t want to join. They wouldn’t join the VFW or the Legion. They just said, okay, forget about it. If they want to get involved, they would go into like the Vietnam Vets of America, but even that wasn’t, the membership wasn’t too strong. I mean, even now, for us to try to get, recruit a lot of Vietnam Vets, a lot of them don’t want to get involved. Some of them may be a kind of a carryover from those times where they weren’t welcome. You know, the guys just don’t want to spend time. They could be retired, they could have time on their hands, but they don’t want to, you know, get involved with patriotic activities or community services kind of things. I think some of that’s a residue of how we were welcomed home in a kind of a negative way.

Q: How would you reflect on your experience, or would you view it as more negative or more positive?

A:  I view it as more positive. And I say that because years later, when you think about it, didn’t spend a lot of time thinking about it unless you come to a place like this, you know, a veterans group, or if you go to one of these reunions, that kind of thing, then you start talking about what you did and the times you shared and the experiences you had. You know, those were the positive things that I would think about, about the people you met, the great people you met, and the fact that you worked together well and you all got back home okay. You know, so those were positive things. I don’t really come across a lot of negatives. I mean, it was a long time, but you know, I had a great family supporting me and friends and, you know, so it’s more positive, I would say.

Q: With your time, did you view it as more of a obligation or an honor?

A: That’s also another good question. I’d say part of both. I mean, let’s face it. Would somebody voluntarily have gone into a combat zone over there and said, hey, let’s send me over there immediately so I can go into the jungle and get shot at? Probably not, but it was an opportunity. I mean, it was an obligation. It was a legal obligation you had. But again, one of the byproducts of that obligation was to admit some outstanding people. So I just try to view it in a positive way that it was something we had to do. It was something we agreed to do. And we took an oath and we said we would serve with honor by the Constitution and pay our officers. And we did a great job, I thought so. You know, I think it was a positive experience in that way. Obligation, yes, but you know, it was something that I credit you with a positive life altering experience in a way about learning about yourself and what’s important in your life and just meeting some great people.

Q: How do you feel about the country of Vietnam now and the people?

A: To be honest with you, I don’t really have a strong feeling. Other than, it seems like we’ve moved beyond it. It almost seems like the United States has a better relationship with Vietnam than you would have expected all those years ago. Vietnam almost seems like an ally in a way. That’s kind of my perspective. I think we do a lot of business with them. I think we seem to have a pretty good relationship with the Vietnamese people. The ruling parties there, Communist Party, whatever, seem to be getting along with them, trade-wise and otherwise, from what I gather. So I think it’s evolved pretty well, and I think it will continue to evolve in a positive way. I think we have, you know, my impression is more positive of Vietnam than it would have been many years ago

Q: And then has your perspective on the war changed, like, decades after you’ve been there at all?

A: Well, the old question comes up of, was it worth it? You know, so I mean, that’s, I don’t know if it was worth it or not. I mean, a lot of people say no. A lot of people died over there, for what? And, you know, it’s really a question of should we have been involved in that? Was it a local affair that should have been involved? You know, those are the political decisions. We did what we were asked to do from a military standpoint and tried to do the best we could, but you know, it’s mixed emotions about the whole Vietnam War situation. You know, was it right? I haven’t done a detailed study on the background of that war, you know, the politics involved and the government there, how corrupt the local government was versus the North Vietnamese coming in, you know, the Communist Party and dictating things and how would the people have decided?

I just, I personally felt it would have been nice to let the people decide what they want to do. I mean, whether it’s communism or whatever, that’s their choice. I mean, there was a concern about the Domino theory, but it never happened. You know, with the one country falling, the whole Southeast Asia goes communist and it hasn’t really been an issue. So I don’t know, maybe it was mistaken thoughts or perspective on what was going to occur there. I don’t know. I’ve got mixed emotions about it, so I’m not sure it really gives you a specific answer other than it’s kind of pros and cons. I was glad to get home, glad to get in one piece, glad to live my life out, but the question is, was it worth it for all those guys, the honor, the sacrifice. But a lot of guys gave their lives up and were injured. And was it worthwhile? I don’t know. History will answer that question.

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