Vietnam War

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Vietnam War

Vietnam War

First a short chronology of the Vietnam - War:

1945: After the departure of the Japanese occupation forces, Ho Chi Minh and the Viet Minh establish the government of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam in Hanoi. France, the colonial power, sends troops back to Vietnam. The Viet Minh begins a war against French occupationwith attacks in the North.
1950: The USA begin providing military and economic aid to the French in Indochina.
1954: The French are defeated. In July, the Geneva Agreement is signed, establishing a demilitarized zone along the 17th parallel and calling for nationwide elections. In October the Viet Minh take formal control over North Vietnam.
1955: South Vietnam refuses to participate in nationwide elections.
1956: A US military advisory group replaces French training of the South Vietnamese army.
1959: Two US military advisors are killed during a Commuinst attack at Bien Hoa in South Vietnam.
1961: The (Communist) National Liberation Front (NLF) is formed in South Vietnam. US - President Kennedy sends special forces and military advisors to South Vietnam.
1963: In November, South Vietnam's president Diem is overthrown in a military coup. Kennedy is assasinated and Lyndon B. Johnson is sworn in.
1964: After an attack by North Vietnamese torpedo boats on two US destroyers, the US Congress enables the president to order retaliatory attacks in Vietnam - the socalled "Tonkin Gulf Resolution".
1965: Johnson announces his decision to increase US combat forces.
1967: US forces in Vietnam total 465,000.
1969: US - President Nixon annouces the withdrawal of 25,000 US troops from Vietnam, which called "Vietnamization".
1972: InAugust, the last US ground troops leave South Vietnam. Only B - 52 planes still fly heavy bombing raids around Hanoi and Haiphong and finally Nixon orders the mining of North Vietnamese harbours.
1973: A cease - fire agreement is signed in Paris calling for a withdrawal of all US - troops. American involvment in Vietnam officially ends.

The US - soldiers:

"I wanted to find a commonplace world a chance to live heroically. Having known nothing but security, comfort and peace, I hungered for danger, challenges and violence. I had no clear idea of how to fulfill this peculiar ambition until the day a Marine recruiting team set up a stand in the student union at Loyola University. Ithought the heroic experience was war and so I decided to enlist. Another motive for volunteering was: I needed to prove something - my courage, my my toughness, my manhood, call it whatever you like. The current slogan was: "The Marine Corps builds men.""

- film: "Full Metal Jacket" -

The average age of the US combat soldier in Vietnam was 19. Some did it because they had nothing better to do, some because they wanted to find themselves, some because they wanted to serve their manhood or find their manhood, some because they were overcompensating and wanted to be a macho men.
"A man who wore that unniform was somebody."
The educated kids who knew how to manipulate the system by and large avoid the war - the less - privileged Americans fought and died there. Of the 26,900.000 men of draft age (1964 - 1973), 8,720,000 enlisted voluntarily, 2,215,000 were drafted and 15,980,000 never served.

What did Vietnam do them ?

In Vietnam the US army was confronted with an opponent, who tried to compensate for its material and technological inferiority by using tactics of guerilla warfare. There were no front lines. Reality tended to melt into layers of unknownability. The same person could be a friend and an enemy.
"We knew the enemy was all aroiind. But he was invisible."
"A running Vietnamese was a fair target. This left us bewildered and uneasy. No one was eager to shoot civilians. lf he's dead and Vietnamese, he's VC."

The war had not only become unpopular within the USA:
American GIs in Vietnam had become increasingly alienated from their "mission" in Vietnam. The use of drugs was only one symptom of this alienation. In 1971 about 40 percent of the veterans thought the war was a mistake.

"The things you learnt of survival were bitter things. They were things of tuning off all emotions that you had. They were things of surviving just for yourself. Killing - I feel that it was may government's responsibility."

"Before the war ended all my buddies and all the Vietnamese people were still alive in my head. They weren't dead yet. And when that war ended I knew that they were finally dead. And that they were dead for nothing. And that got on me.

They never knew, who the snipers were, which frustrated them and hurt their morale. Even a child could be a VC there. Another threat were the traps like e.g. the punji - stick trap or the trip wires, which made the affected soldiers at least amputees.

Back in the USA

The reception the American soldiers got on their return from Vietnam was very different from that met by soldiers of earlier wars. The awful memories of combat and carnage were bathed away in tlie great national wash of relief and welcome. But from Vietnam the boys came home alone, mostly one by one. Nearly 100,000 vets of 2,9 million Americans served in indochina came back with severe physical disabilities. Most of the GIs got flashbacks, nigthmares, depression, startle reactions, and that wild red haze of rage in the brain when self - control goes and adrenaline shakes the whole frame, and some terrific violence struggles to cut loose. 'I'he war damaged the nation's spirit, too, its faith of itself, its authorities, its institutions. 57,000 US - soldiers were killed, 300,000 were wounded and about 700,000 vets developed symptoms of psychological disturbances. More than 50,000 vets committed suicide in the years following the stay in Vietnam. And others tried to cope with their physical and/or psychological problems by telling their experiences to the masses and supporting the anti - war - movvement as Ron Kovic did.

- film: "Geboren am 4. Juli"

The War in Vietnam

From Occupation to War - A Chronology of Events:

In 1887 the colonial power France conquered Indochina and ruled it as a colony to oppose the British predominance in Asia. During the Second World War, when Germany occupied France, Japan annexed Indochina in 1940. After 30 years in exile Ho Chi Minh returned to Vietnam in 1941, where he formed up the Viet Minh, the Vietnamese League for National Independence. As a consequence of Minh's establishment of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam in Hanoi and the proclamation of an independent government in 1945, French troops returned to Vietnam and began a war. In 1950 the USA began providing military and economic aid to the French, but, however, the French were defeated in 1954 and a demilitarized zone was established deviding the country into two parts. The Viet Minh under the leadership of Ho Chi Minh took formal control over North Vietnam until nationwide elections should be held, but in 1955 South Vietnam refused to participate, which consequently caused strained relations.
In the following years two US military advisors were killed during a Communist attack in South Vietnam, where the NLF (the Communist National Liberation Front) was formed. Fearing a Communist predorminance in Vietnam, J.F.Kennedy sent special forces and milltary advisors to South Vietnam increasing the number of GIs monthly. In 1963 the president and dictator of South Vietnam Ngo Dinh Diem was overthrown in a military coup and J.F.K. was assassinated in Dallas. His successor Lyndon B. Johnson was sworn in. In 1964 the incident in the Tonkin Gulf happened, when North Vietnamese torpedo boats attacked two US destrovers. This led to the Tonkin Gulf Resolution, which enabled Johnson to order retailatory attacks in Vietnam.

On the 5th March in 1965 3,200 US Marines attacked Da Nang coming form the seaside. Till the end of this year Johnson increased US combat forces to an extent of 185,000, which reached its top in 1968 with 550,000 US soldiers.
The war escalated also in other ways:
Sustained US bombing of North Vietnam began in early 1965 and the costs of the war increased to $28,8 billion dollars. In 1968 Johnson's successor, the Republican Nixon, announced the withdrawal by steps called "Vietnamization", but also the reinforcement of the ARVN, the South Vietnamese army, with US weapons. At this point of time 58% of Americans believed, that the war was a mistake. After serving as the main legal basis for major US escalation of the undeclared war, the Tonkin Gulf Resolution was repealed in 1970. In August 1972 the last US ground troops left South Vietnam, but still the US army flew heavy bombing raids with B - 52 planes and mined North Vietnamese harbours. In 1973 after a cease - fire - agreement the American involvernent in Vietnam officiallv ended - the war itself lasted until 1975, when the Vietnamese resistance suddenly collapsed.

Democracy and Communist Aggression:

In 1957 the Communist - led rebels started terrorist attacks against the government of South Vietnam. These forces were called "Vietcong" and aided by troops of North Vietnam by 1964. The causes of this conflict can be traced back to the Indochina War (1946 - 1964):
France, which granted nominal sovereignty to Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos as associated states of the French Union in 1949, was supplied by the USA with economic and military aid. In the spring of 1954, when the French were defeated at Dien Bien Phu, the administration of President Eisenhower gave serious consideration to providing them with air and even ground support.

After the Geneva Agreement in 1954 Vietnam was divided into northern and southern parts - Diem became the head of the South Vietnamese government, while Ho Chi Minh presided over the Communist government in North Vietnam till elections in 1956, which should reunify Vietnam. However, the determined anti - Communist Diem blocked the elections with the backing of the US goverment, which was without any legal foundation. Otherwise Minh would have been an easy victor (80% of the Population would have voted for him). To support this anti - Communist action President Eisenhower had pledged in 1954 to assist the Diem government.
Vietnam itself was not the primary consideration in Washington's Southeast - Asian policy - it was the desire to reinforce the credibility of the USA as an ally.

The Genesis of the War:

The US involvement in Vietnam was the attampt to uphold the rule of French colonial power. In the early 1920's a nationlist movement to secure independence was initiated by Ho Chi Minh, given the name "Viet Hinh". By the early 1950's, the French were finding it difficult to maintain their hold upon the country and finally lost. Until by 1954 the entire cost of the French war against Vietnamese independence was financed by American Money.

The Agreement in Geneva:

A two - year - period was given to the French to leave the country. The Viet Minh had to withdraw to the northern parts of the devided country, so that the French could leave in peace. In the South France had the responsibility to see, that the Geneva accords were initiated, and in particular that elections were to be held in 1956. To support this accords an increasing American presence was introduced to the South.
But Diem abolished the democratically elected village councils in the South and replaced them with officials, who were not natives there and often corrupt. The dictator jailed both communists and non - communists who opposed to him. In 1960 the opposition united and created the NLF (termed "Vietcong" by Diem), of which the majority were not even communists. As the NLF grew, the political and military situation of Diem steadily deteriorated.
North Vietnarnese involvement in the conflict was only secondary at this point of time. Provoking North Vietnam by the US bombin!g, the flow of men and supplies from the north increased substantially, which was called "Infiltration ".

Indochina after 1973:

On the 23th of Jan. 1973 North and South Vietnam, the USA and the NLF resulted in an agreement including cease - fire and the withdrawal of US soldiers. On the 4th of Jan.1976 Vietnam was officially unified as the Socialist Republic of Vietnam. During the following years more than 400,000 South Vietnamese dissidents or suspected ones were imprisoned - in this so - called "Reeducation Camps" 250,000 of them died. An amount of more than a million "Boat People" tried to escape by little boats. Thousands of them drowned or killed by pirates. In 1978 Vietnamese invaded in Pol Pot's Cambodia, a state under the threat of the Red Khmer, establishing a pro - Vietnamese government, which remained until 1989.
In Vietnam itself, an economy shattered by the continuous war efforts of the last decades has not been rebuilt yet. High unemployment, deep poverty, prostitution and rampant corruption are serious problems.

Anti - War - Movement:

From 1965 onwards the anti - war - movement increased rapidly. Marches, demonstrations and teach - ins, a form of political - educational protest, were held up. In April 1965 a coalition of civil rights and anti - war groups brought 20,000 people to Washington to protest against the war. By early 1968 more and more American men tried to avoid being drafted to fight in Vietnam. This anti - draft - movement became an important branch of the whole movement. Even a growing body of Democrats became Johnson's sharpest critics.
The TET - Offensive in the February 1968, a devastating defeat for the communist forces, nevertheless convinced even more Americans, that their government strategy was not working. By mid 1968 over 35,000 GIs had died in combat. A growing number of American officials and large segments of the population began to look upon the war as a "mistake" - polls revealed that far more than 50% opposed the Vietnam War. Another prominent group of the 1960's was the student organisation SDS (Students for Democratic Society), which was primarily against American foreign policy and against the discrimination of minorities in the USA.

The majority accepted the draft as their fate. Others married voung, entitling them to deferment or hastily enrolled in college and graduate programs. Others chose exile mainly in Canada, Mexiko and Sweden. Only some chose jail like David Harris, a student Vice - President at Stanford University, who said: "If anybody ought to leave that Johnson ought to be the one leaving, not me." For his refusal, Harris served twenty months of a three - year sentence. Another form of protest was initiated by David Miller, age 22, by burning his draft card, a criminal act according to a newly passed federal law. To protest against the war veterans tried to return their medals and campaign ribbons, scientists begged for a stop of US chemical and biological warfare in Vietnam (the chemical defoliation with "Agent Orange" Napalm - bombs) and advertisements were run for an end of the war. Many
demonstrations across the land ended in riots and viclence. Blacks were even more likely than whites to oppose the war because of the high level of black casualties and a disproportionate number of black draftees. Full enactment of the movement began in late 1971 when US troops had started withdrawing from Vietnam. Johnson's opponent for elections, McCarthy, charged that the deferment system was a deliberate policy to reduce opposition to the war.

On the 5th of Dec.1969 the massacre in My Lai happened, where GIs killed hundreds of people of every age who didn't have to be killed and daily operations took place, which led to burning and bombing large numbers of women and children. There was no line of battle or discernible climax - the war was relocating populations and took some of the bravest young men of a nation and sent them into combat; a war, which offered no prospect of improving. - These facts increased the protest to an enormous extent.
Other causes of growing opposition to the war were:
- ) the so far unknown cover - age by US TV - stations, when suddenly the horrible pictures of war were broadcast into every American house
- ) an incident at the Kent State University, where 4 students were shot dead by the National Guard in 1970
- ) the publication of secret "Pentagon Papers" revealing the history of US involvement

All these causes led to the result, that far more than 60% opposed the war and that the movement increased and became the single most potent factor ending the war.

lf the USA was simply acting the part of an imperialist aggressor in Vietnam, as many believed, it was imperialism of the most peculiar kind, because there were no raw materials to exploit (oil off the coast was discovered years after 1965) and no overriding strategic interest.
There is also a "psychological versiort", namely America's wish to impose its national obsessions on the rest of the world - but if so, the psychic profits were illusory.
A third reagon could have been, that the rise of Communism would signal the end of capitalism as the dominant world order, which would have consequently led to the fact, that America would no longer constitute the model of future. But the truth was, that the USA went to Vietnam for the sake of an ideal, a product of the intention to make the world safe for democracy - trying to save the Southern half of that country from the "evils" of Communism.

Wallace Terry


Wallace Terry was born in New York City, raised in Indianapolis, educated at Brown, Chicago, and Harvard Universities, and ordained in the Disciples of Christ ministry.
His documentary recording of black soldiers in Vietnam, "Guess Who's Coming Home", was well recelved; he has produced documentary films on black Marines for the U.S. Marine Corps and served as a race relations consultant to General David C. Jones, when Jones was commanding general of the U.S. Air Force in Europe.
In recent years Terry has been a radio and television commentator for CBS, Post - Newsweek, The Evening Association, and In the Public Interest, and has written for USA Today. In 1983 he was named to the Veterans Administration Advisory Commitee on Readjustment, Problems of Vietnam Veterans. He lives in Washington, D.C., with his wife, Janice, and three children. He is at work on a new book, MISSING PAGES.


In this outstanding and moving book the story of 20 black Vietnam GIs, called "Bloods", is told. The crowd of Bloods was a new Generation of black GIs, who called for unity among black brothers on the battlefield, who spoke loudest against the discrimination in decorations, promotion and duty assignments, filled with a new sense of black pride and purpose.

Wallance Terry writes:
"The black veterans hoped to come home before; they came home to less."

It's not. easy to sum up all the experiences, that these Vets have lived through. "Bloods" deals with one topic, that still remaians in the heads of the American people:
The war in Vietnam.
Terry, who was a Time correspondent in the war, does not write about war in a usual way - all of us know Platoon, Full Metal Jacket and many more what has happened there in the little land in South - Indochina - he writes about the feelings and opinions of the black US - soldiers in Vietnam, who called themselves Bloods. For every soldier Vietnam was a very hard, awful and critcial war, but for the black soldiers it was worse. Being American citizens and fighting for the USA, they were treated "differently" to the whites. In the basic camp they had their own sections, own toilets and it was prohibited for them to go to the places, where white soldiers in high ranks used to be like casinos, special bars,... Terry talked to 20 black veterans in different army ranks and interviewed them. He wrote down their stories and experiences they had to live through. Often whites and blacks fought each other - blacks' hope to come home to more than they had before kept them on fighting. But the fact was, that they came back to less - the hardest fact was black unemployment, which enlarged their psychological problems out of war.

Reginald Edwars, a rifleman in Da Nang, first could not shoot a human. He shot through walls and set fire to the hootches with tracers or Zippos. For him being a marine meant to be in jail - the process did allow him to be himself. For Bloods white people where aliens. In Vietnam nothing was like someone expects of a war to be - often GIs were killed by their own people, any Vietnamese out at night was an enemy to be shot, children and women, too. Back in the USA he joined the Black Panthers, trying to make Malcom X's message reality like most of black veterans did. Films like Apocalypse Now did not tell the truth, because in Vietnam there was no music out of the helicopters, no lighted bridges, no attack at beaches in helicopters - GIs knew, what they were doing.

Harold "Light Bulb" Bryant worked in Ati Khe, where his profession was to probe fot mines and blew them up. His experience with "Body Count" was: 7 killed VCs (Viet Congs), in the base camp it was told about 28, in General Westmoreland's office in Saigon 54 and in Washington it was told about 125 dead VCs to prove that the GIs were doing their jobs. New GIs, who were called "green guys", were killed soon by making mistakes - many of them, who volunteered, had a John Wayne complex, which was paid their lives. Whites used to take the ears off as a trophy and to have sex with dead girls. They tortured girls by putting cola - bottles in their womps or burning phosphor into their vaginas, which caused death by burning out the body.

Richard J. Ford III, a lurp, first felt insecure without a weapon and had to get on the floor in order to sleep in the first night back at home. He bought an a.38 and an a.22 to have something to feel secure in the night.

GIs, that married a Vietnameses girl like Manny Holloman, an interpretier, were called "gook lovers" and "traitors". In Archie "Joe" Biggers opinion, who was a Platoon leader, the VC believed in a cause of the war and did everything necessary to win it. They wrapped explosives around kids, and when GIs touched them, the explosives blew them up together with the kids. US - soldiers, that, were caught by the VC, had, if at all, a hard 1ife. They were tortured, got bad meals and were forced to speak on tapes against the war, which later should be published to decrease GIs' moral. The VC, tried to make captivity as painful as possible.
Edgar A. Huff was the first black Sergeant Major in the Marine. Corps and got bis own Negro Marine Corps. They had their own barracks, tanks and guns. He even as a Sergeant Major, he was treated badly. Blacks in the war had the lowest level in jobs and the dirtiest ones. Although blacks were ready to die - "first class dying", they were getting "second - hand - treatment". - They had a special price to pay.

Character Analysis

Reginald Edwards and Harold "Light Bulb" Bryant are the best examples for black GIs who served in Vietnam.

With a weight of only 117 pounds, Edwards was not weak and wanted to go into the Army. He disliked the Navy and the Air Force because of wearing uniforms. Although the Marines were bad, he entlisted to become a soldier of the Marine Corps. - "Marine Corps builds men." The blacks hung together with the Mexicans, because white peope were aliens for them. From Cuban targets at the beginning of his training in the camp (Cuba - crisis in 1963) everything turned to Vietnam - they were told, that the Viet Congs were gooks to be killed. After finishing his, traininig the war in Vietnam was nothing like he expected a war to be. If somebody left in the village,hr was considered VC, rooms full of children were blown up with grenade launchers, houses and hootches were set on fire with Zippos, segregation was practised in the base camps almost more than in the USA, GIs killed other GIs in combat by accident,.... Edwards was no racist, but did not want to be called "Negro". A riot in his base camp started and in a trial he was fouind guilty of an attack on an unidentified Marine and therefore sentenced to 5 months in jail, 5 months without pay and finally he was kicked out of the Corps. Back in the USA Edwards joined the Black Panthers, Malcolm X's armoured radical group, and tried to make X's message reality until the FBI was harrassing him.

The first day, Bryant got back, he was not sleepy ans went out - he got drunk. He was sent to Fort Carson in Colorado. Because of disrespect to a 2nd Lieutenant he got burted one rank and was fined $25. Consequently the Army could not send him back to Vietnam, which made it hard for him. Bryant laught at the 2nd Lieutenant, who was shipped out to Nam, and told him, that he would not come back. After he ended the first semester at University he had no money left and got metal assembler at McDonnel Aircraft. Bryant wore an earing since the age of nine to pretend being an African warrior. He was sent to the engineers in An Khe, where they probed for mines and blew them up, disarmed and blew up booby traps. He killed his first VC in the Central Highlands. When he saw him, both were surprised, and Bryant was the lucky one and shot the VC dead. Women were much more friendly to blacks than to whites, because for them blacks were "looking like Buddha". His best friend, the 20 - year - old truck driver James Plummer, received a mortar round and became an amputee without legs and arms. Every year Bryant reads through the whole Bible for explanations of what happened - he cannot find anything.

Personal Opinion

For me the book - of Wallace Terry is the best book about Vietnam I have ever read. The stories of these 20 black men having served in Vietnam are more than any film can express. It eulogizes the cruelity and madness of war, it alleges its reality, that affected the soldiers. Except the new Oliver Stone film, that will be soon released, this book deseribes the opinions and the circumstances of Vietnamese people, too. One of the interviewed veterans worked as an interpreter in Vietnam and had a close contact to the civilians. Out of his experiences with them, he told his impressions and is able to deliver also the feelings of the affected Vietnamese - people.
I like this book very much, which is, for sure, one of the best books on this topic, and everybody, who has the capability to read it, should do this.

United Press International

The Author's language

"I'm flying a F - 105 now. It was fast. Mach 2.5. Had good range. Dependable. Comfortable. Good weapons. Good navigational systems. But it was primarily a tactical bomber. We could carry up to 16,750 - pound bombs. On a normal flight, we'd have 10, and then 2.5 - inch rockets, and a 20 - milimeter cannon, which was a real jewel.It was a far cry from what I could load on a F - 84 or F - 100. The F - 4 Phantom.was certainly a better aircraft for air - to - air combat. And sometimes they would give us coverage. But the F - 105 could carry a bigger load, faster and farther. I really 1oved that airplane." |p 269|
"I didn't see the ugly part of the war. I enjoyed the war 'cause at Cam Ranh Bay. Cam Ranh Bay was paradise, man. I would say Boy, if I got together, I'd stay right here and 1ive. I wasn't even gon' ccome back to the United Staes. I treated like a king over there. It was no war. Cam Ranh Bay was the inland R&R spot. That's where the battle - weary people was supposed to come to have R&R in country. They could get everything. And it was so beautiful, pretty country. Beautiful coral reef. And the sand. Miles of perfect white sand. And the white boys could surf all they wanted. Boy, they had their fun." |p 258|

The author takes over the "ICH - Form" of the interviewed veterans to create a close contact between the vets and the reader. Consequently the whole book is written in spoken American English, implying sophisticated war - vocabulary.

Ron Kovic:


" Teacher. The human body is an amazing thing. lt is a beautiful remarkable machine that will last you a lifetime if you care for it properly'."

"More and more he thought about what a priest had said to him in Da Nang: 'Your fight is just beginning. Sometimes no one will want to hear what you're going through. You are going to have to learn to carry a great burden and most of your learning will be done alone. Don't feel frightened when they leave you. I'm sure you will come through it all okay.'"

" It was now very clear that this thing was final like death."

"I was no longer an observer, sitting in my car at the edge of a demonstration. I was right in the middle of it and it was ugly."

" 'Ron Kovic,' I say. 'Occupation, Vietnam veteran against the war.'
'What?' he says sarcastically, looking down at me.
'I'm a Vietnam veteran against the war,' I almost shout back.
'You should have died over there,' he says. He turns to his assistant. 'I'd like to take this guy and throw him off the roof. '"


Ron Kovic was born on the Fourth of July 1946 in Massapequa.
In his childhood he had the typical interests of an American boy - he liked Baseball, war movies, a.s.o. He was very proud of his country America and wished that they would always be better than the communists.
In the September 1964 one of Ron's dreams came true, he became a marine which he was very proud of. He was sent to Pariss Island where he and about 80 other marines were instructed toughly. Ron Kovic got a member of the platoon one eigthy - one.
In a horrible fight in Vietnam not far away of a Vietnamese village the Sergeant Ron Kovic killed one of his corporals by mistake. As a consequence he could not sleep several nights and even thought of commiting suicide. He told the Major thg whole situation and also wrote a letter to his parents. Some days later Ron became the leader of the scout group and was very proud of fighting for democracy and America.
Once the scout group was watching a village where a fire was burning in an open hut. The soldiers supposed that there were men with rifles. Suddenly one of the marines started shooting and so the whole group opened ihe fire although the lieutenant had not ordered anything. When they had stopped, they went to the village and found lots of dead and heavily injured children and old men. The marines, who were crying like little babies, tried to help the wounded but for most of them every help was too late. Ron wanted to get out of this crazy war, even he would be injured.
In another fight Ron was hit by a bullet that he could not move his legs anymore. In panic he cried for help till a tall black man threw him over his shoulder and took him to a hole in the sand where his wounds were bandaged. There were lots of injured men who had only one wish: living. Some were screaming like little children "Mother! ", others were only lying there without moving. In a plane Ron was taken to an ambulance where he had to wait in a room with a lot of others wounded soldiers. When he woke up after an operation, he was completely tired and weak that he even had difficulties to breathe and that he could not move his body. Afterwards he was given some shots of morphine that he could sleep and "leave this madness". In the ward where Ron was lying lots of soldiers died, some of the others seriously injured persons cried all the time because of their pain. Sometimes Ron wrote notes on scrapes of paper respectively dictated a letter to his parents. He told them that "he was hurt pretty bad but he had done it for America and that it was worth it" and that he would come home soon. After a week he left the hospital and Vietnam forever in order to fly back to America.
Back in his home country Ron was taken to St. Albans Naval Hospital. He was quite happy because "he felt himself begin to wake up out of the nightmare". First the nurses put him in the neuro ward but as Ron wanted to leave the "vegetables" he was put in a ward with about fifty other men who had all been wounded in the Vietnam - war. Every day Ron went to a therapy in order to reach his biggest wish: walking. Sometimes he closed his eyes and dreamed of being on his feet again. When he and all others " living deaths " got their enemas or were washed in the shower room, they tried to dream of another world or to fall asleep. Ron even compared this hospital to a concentration camp because it was so horrifying.
In the night lots of patients could not sleep because some men were always screaming. Sometimes few patients got really angry on account of the yells. Everyday Ron had to do a special therapy which strengthened his arms that he could even walk with the help of parallel bars. He also learned how to drive a wheel - chair.
Ron never told his family about his real impressions, but only about more pleasant things, because he wanted to prevent that "too many people know how much of him has really died in the war".

When Ron was already at home, two men of the American legion came for Ron and another war - disabled man called Eddie Dugan in order to celebrate a Memorial Day with them. During their drive to the platform the men of the legion talked about those men who had been killed in the war, whereas Ron and Eddie told each other about their own wounds and experiences. While the people were celebrating their heros, the Vietnam - veterans, and shouting that the U.S. would win the war, Ron and Eddie really hated that situation. When a commander claimed in his speech that they had to win for Ron and Eddie, it was very quiet all of a sudden. At the end of the event Ron met his friend Tommy, who was in Vietnam, too. As a result, he was very glad that he found someone who really knew how hellish that war was.
Whenever Ron saw young people, he admires them and got really depressive because he wanted to have sex once more. He would give everything in the world if he could get his dick back. As a result, he was often drunk in order to forget his problems.
To flee from his problems he went to Guadalajara in Mexico where "the whores were very understanding". There everything was different: everybody was happy, he was accepted by everyone. Furthermore, Ron really loved the Mexican girls. Some weeks later Ron and his friend Charlie were engaged in a fight in a whorehouse that he left Mexico and went back to N.Y.
There he registered at the university but some days later he broke his leg and had to spend six months in a hospital which was surely terrible for him because he felt like in prison. On one hand, the aides did not understand him, on another hand, his leg did not heal well that he was even taken to the intensive - care ward. In the hospital Ron had a lot of time for thinking about his life, Vietnam, a.s.o. As a result he wanted to know why he had to lose his legs and others even had to die. Therefore he decided to participate in the demonstrations against the war in 1970. Together with Skip, a relativ, he went to Washington to demonstrate against the invasion in Cambodia. Joining other rallys against the war he even hold speeches in which he talked about his experiences. During the winter he was in California where he met other veterans who fought against the war, too. Moreover, he often was on TV and told about his life or read poems. During a demonstration about twenty veterans were beaten and imprisoned on account of their subversive opinion.
In 1972 lots of veterans and opponents of the war went to the Convention Center in Miami where Nixon held his acceptance speech. There they wanted to show the American citizens that the war was horrible. Although the security agents tried to prevent that they were shown on TV, Ron and some of his friends managed it. As they were shouting "Stop the bombs, stop the war" during Nixon's speech they were kicked out.


Ron Kovic was born on fourth of July. He was very proud that he and his home country America had the same birthday. Every year there was a big party on this day which was delightfully for the whole neighbourhood, but especially for Ron.


The book by Ron Kovic is divided into seven chapters which are number from 1 to 7. The story is not told chronologically because in the third chapter he talks about his childhood and in the seventh he described the war till his injury. In my opinion these scenes are quite the last because it was very difficult for Ron Kovic to write down, that he had killed his own corporal or that a group of marines had murdered lots of children.
Ron Kovic describes his childhood quite detailed which proves that he really liked it and had a lot of fun.
From to fourth chapter to the end the author uses both a first person narrator, like in the first three chapters, and a third person narrator which he chooses for some scenes which were really tough in his life.

Main themes:

There are some themes in the book which appear sometimes.

The real main theme in the book is the war.
Whereas he dreamed of the war in his childhood, he really hated it when he was in Vietnam. The war and the aftermaths of the war were so shocking for Ron Kovic that the veteran decided to fight with other vets against it in demonstrations, rallys and TV - shows.

First of all there are Ron's dreams and wishes which are changing quite a lot. In his childhood Ron wants that America is better than the Soviet - Union and the other communists, e.g. in space, in war, ...
Like every boy he wanted to have a beautiful girlfriend and to become a hero who is known really all over America and to join the marines. Beeause of his education Ron Kovic wants to be a good Catholic.
In Vietnam he dreamed of becoming a hero, but some weeks later he only wanted to get out of the crazy war when the corporal and many children were killed by mistake. He even speculated on getting injured in order to go home. However, when he was hit by a bullet, he changed his mind quickly. Now he only wanted to live. When it was sure that he would survive he dreamed in the different hospitals that he could walk, of a visit by his parents and a beautiful girl.
At home was real depressed because he had lost his penis in the war and so he went to Mexico where the whores understood his situation.
Back in the U.S. Ron found a new aim which was really hard and time - consuming, namely fighting against the war.

Another important theme in the book is the horror.

During his childhood Ron thought that communism is the absolute horror. He did not like a teacher who was communistic in his opinion.
In Vietnam the dead corporal and the Vietnamese children were following Ron in nightmares. He could not sleep till he had told it the major and had written a letter to his parents. He also felt better when lots of marines died in a fight against the communists. In to come to lerms with the past he wrote those odd things in the last chapter.
The most terrifying event in his life was when he was hit by a bullet and had to fight with death. The hospitals were also nerve - shattering that he even compared it with a concentration camp or with prison because the aides did not unterstand him and the other patients.
It was very hard for Ron, too, to act like heros at the Memorial day because in his opinon those people could not be heros who had killed lots of people.

But Ron's feeling appear in the many passages of the book, too.
When he went to Vietnam he felt as if he was a hero. However, some weeks later he felt like an animal which did not count anymore.
He was very happy when he met Eddy again because he was able to speak with him about things which Ron did not dare to mention them to his parents.
Since Ronny had paraplegia he always sensed that he was an outsider. The first time he did not feel so was when he flew to Mexico and sat in his seat in the aeroplane like everybody else.
After Ron had started demonstrating against the war he sometime felt that he could stop the war because of his speeches by himself which was very motivating for him.

Literature Index:

- ) Full Metal Jacket (movie)

- ) Born on the 4th of July (movie)

- ) Bloods (movie)

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