My once forgotten memory of napalm goes back to 1966. I was young intelligence officer for a fighter squadron on an aircraft carrier off the coast of Vietnam. My commanding officer thought I would be a better Intelligence officer if I flew on some missions in the back seat of the F4. My Memory of napalm came from one of these missions.
For the first time in many years, I see hope where only humiliation and doubt existed. Though the discovery of struggles and perseverance depicted in the written word, art and the interpretation of both, I have discovered a way to channel the doubt and grief that often cloud my vision. I am thankful that PCVI has provided the backdrop for learning not only the humanities but also the similarities in experiences that we, the scholars, share as the proud veterans, that we truly are.
Ever since my arrival in Vietnam in late August 1969 I had been in the base camp at Pleiku serving in a variety of positions until an ear infection cleared up. The ear infection began when I was home on leave in July and had continued even after I was sent to Jungle School in Panama. It was a middle ear infection that left me with no sense of balance. Eventually it started to clear up and I was assigned as the Reaction Platoon Leader in base camp.
Prior to taking this PCVI humanities class I had preconceived notions about a soldier’s ethical expectations and accountability during combat. Initially I had concluded that everyone who participated in the My Lai massacre was guilty of the most egregious of crimes. After hearing and reading some deeply personal accounts and getting a better idea of the psychological trauma that is involved in the shitty business of combat, I no longer know what to think. I’ve compiled the absurdity from the assignments that I read, experiences that were shared and the clips that I watched throughout this class, and this is my reaction to all of that.
I would like to tell you a war story, one from someone who’s never set foot in a warzone. It is not a story about a battlefield, nor is even from my time in the service. It is a story about my summer vacation, and it is about the Weight of war. It is a heavy story, yes, but I’d like to share it with you, and ask that you help me carry it.