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Veteran Spotlight: A Vietnam Diary, Part II

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The following is the diary of a local Marine who served in Vietnam in 1968. The veteran wishes to remain anonymous but was willing to share the impressions he wrote down of his time there. This is the second of three parts as transcribed by Wayne Soares, with minor editing for clarity. The first part can be found here. 
 
MARCH 23: Buddy's birthday today. Celebrated with scotch, bourbon and crabmeat. McCABE IS DEAD. There's no dignity in death in battle – it comes in the sorrow, helplessness and hopelessness that comes down to the family back home by telegram.
 
MARCH 24: Went to church. Free-bread-peace. The rain sounds beautiful on our tin roof. Worked on our bomber. Tomorrow isn't the only thing to live for. And read. Everything is only for a day – both that which remembers and that which is remembered. Before a guy can know even his God, he must know himself. He must find inner peace in his heart. We must be content with what we have, yet constantly try to improve.
 
MARCH 27: A BODY WASHED UP ON SHORE TODAY. We're still working on our bomber. A pinch of sadness reflects on my shadow. My comic outlook isn't always true. Got a letter from dad. He's still working harder than he even should have – all for mom and us kids. Nobody could ask for a better dad. And now to bed.
 
MARCH 29: Got a letter from my brother Gregg. Wants to know what he should do. He's growing up now and he's no first finding that there are decisions and challenges.
 
MARCH 30: I'm becoming very disgusted with the people of today's world. I guess "being your brother's keeper" doesn't apply anymore.
 
MARCH 31: Went to church with Mark again this Sunday. This is the most regular I've gone in years. All people are equal, only some are a little more equal. Help me bring out the good attributes in myself. I like the quiet. No sound of distraction in the silent air to interfere with my lonely thoughts – of home and life and things gone by – LORD, give me good thoughts! Take the filth and slime away. Let me take an inventory of myself.
 
APRIL 1: APRIL FOOLS DAY. Long rows of helicopters, rose of hangars, rows of tents, rows of people – it gets old. An ocean of beer – usually lukewarm. Cots and wooden footlockers – WAR.
 
APRIL 3: I wonder where is my self. We have many Vietnamese. They've got about the lowest morale I've ever seen.
 
APRIL 5: IT'S TOO BAD THAT MOST OF THE TROOPS ARE MORE DISCOURAGED BECAUSE OF OUR SGT. MAJOR'S ACTION THAN FROM THE WAR ITSELF OR FROM THE SITUATION BACK HOME. 
 
No beer outside of the club which closes at 8. There's a show at the club tonight but I will remain in hootch and read. My Sgt. Had me almost running the HML-167A aironics shop. I try my best and hope to keep it up.
 
APRIL 9: The morale is down. Better build it back up. Pick up those cigarette butts! Police up that barracks area! Polish those boots. Better get a clean belt on. YOU CAN'T FLY – THEY FORGOT TO ENTER IT IN YOUR SRB THAT YOU CAN SWIM. 
 
Your word is worth nothing. Get a haircut. Keep up the morale. What a place for morons.
 
APRIL 11: Everything in the service is numbered. Every man, aircraft, nut, bolt, building – everything. I can't stand the waste that the government must support and suffer – or the GIVE-A-(expletive) ATTITUDES. And at night before we fall asleep, unless the day was hard and we are too tired to talk, the topic is back home – about mom & dad, about families we wish we were with. And we fall asleep
thinking good things.
 
APRIL 14: Easter Sunday. Nice church service and communion. Discard mistakes, review the good, think positively, learn from your successes, have a goal. Have faith. Put some in, life is more fun that way.
 
APRIL 16: These are the HARD TIMES. The world seems free and easy there. With my worry of war, hunger, grief. Time is slow and happy. YES, I KNOW WHY I AM HERE.
 
APRIL 19: "If you want a quality, act as if you already had it" – William James. A 46 BLEW UP TODAY. It was a miracle no one was killed. One of our men got a broken leg. Back to the states.
 
APRIL 20: One of our Hueys went down a d four men died. Parsons was one of them. EVEN A LOUD MOUTH DOESN'T SEEM BAD AFTER HE'S GONE. IT'S SAD … .
 
APRIL 22: AM ON NIGHT CREW NOW. Have the afternoons to myself. Get less sleep but more study time. "The proper function of man is to live, not to exist" – Jack London. ENTHUSIASM MAKES ALL THE DIFFERENCE.
 
Veteran Spotlight is a column by Wayne Soares that runs twice a month. Soares is a motivational speaker and comedian who has frequently entertained the troops overseas with the USO. To recommend a veteran for Soares' column, write to waynesoares1@gmail.com.

 

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