Saturday, February 27, 2010

Guest Blogger: Truth Was A Tragedy of War - Spencer DelCano


Its amazing how those of us who were there saw different sides of the war. I was there from April 67 thru May 68 and like most of my comrades, saw atrocities which our brains had difficulty assimilating. Few of the reasons we were told why we were there was truth. There were often orders to do things which had nothing real in relationship to the outcome. General C. Abrams ordered Marines to take a hillside which was miles away from any logistically beneficial location and after hundreds of young Americans had been slaughtered he gave it up. I can't count the incidence of graft and theft we witnessed when attempting to secure supplies and equipment for operations while being told we'd have to wait.

Parts of my nightmares which persist include an incident which happened near AnKe, an old French strong hold, where we had been pinned down with a handful of ROK (Korean soldiers) in a valley near a large hillside. Mortar rounds were continuously lobbed at us from the hillside but our 81 MM rounds could not match their distance. Our calls for back up and rescue fell on deaf ears for nearly a week until one Sunday morning we saw two choppers in the sky heading our way. We were jubilant thinking they were the leads for our rescue. Nope, it was an inspection team who came to check my vehicle records. Huh, in the middle of an attack a team can show up to look at my vehicles but not bring help nor supplies? When the Lt. Colonel told me his purpose as I broke the salute I attacked him as if he were the enemy. At that moment, he was to all of us. It took a half dozen Koreans to keep me from killing him on the spot.

They left but two days later a team returned to arrest me for hitting a field grade officer. They secured the site and dropped bombs on the hillside to clear it. I had no idea the very officer who I attacked was involved in a huge trade for profit of US supplies. The very supplies and equipment we often had in short supply. Being aware of the Uniform Code of Military Justice one can request counsel from one of equal or higher rank. The officer I called upon who had served with me in Texas showed up and told me not to worry. He was one of the graft investigators who had been checking on the situations we had complained about.

The next day I was ordered released with all charges dropped. Being afraid of assassination I refused and demanded a trial. For about three days I was offered a rank increase to E-6 and additional combat pay to leave without a trial. I was too scared for my life to accept anything without a recorded court hearing. I was exonerated at trial in VietNam and sent to a cushy relay site for my last few weeks in the war zone. The Lt. Colonel received, at the time, what we considered a slap on the back but in the early 70s I read where he committed suicide at some reserve post in the South. His rank was the same as it was in VN.

I've said this to agree with your point that though we may have been in the same war zone we do, in fact, see different sides of it and are affected in different ways. It has nothing to do with being against the US as some have said but a lot more to do with being a young impressionable person who believed in the ideals the government set forth yet presented us with totally different realities once we arrived in country.

Whatever realities you might have does in no way erase those of mine. You can't take away the images in my brain of seeing a working village today yet the next day seeing only the remains of it smoldering when only US troops were in the area. The horror was only added to by the powers that be trying to make us believe the atrocity was committed by communist troops from the north though our troops were the only ones there the day before and today. Somehow we were to believe that those horrible Viet Cong invisibly showed up, destroyed the village, and then faded back into oblivion. No way, even to a young still naive soldier serving his country.

This article, with all its intellectual pinning, can only address the issues as someone or groups of ones have written and been allowed to fuse into the minds of those who have no idea what they are talking about. Those of us who experienced VietNam with our bodies and souls could care less about some argument as to whether or why the war was initiated or advanced nor by what treaty. Our leaders told us a damn lie and hundreds of thousands still live with that lie while hundreds of thousands died for that lie about VietNam. Yes, truth was and remains a casualty of that war.

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I am always amazed, although I don't know why, that this war is so memorable for all of us...the feelings have never gone away for those involved. Unfortunately, the corruption didn't begin or end with Vietnam, but there are now more people willing to speak out!

Bless you, Spencer, and may you find your nightmares slowly disappearing even though it takes sooooo long!