“You see the movies, and they’re going in there gung-ho, but it’s a lot different…you shoot them, but they’re going to shoot back.”
Warning: story contains an ethnic slur.
Produced by Rebecca Werner.
Transcript for Hollywood Marines
I spent thirteen months in country. And I was stationed south of Da Nang, called Chu Lai, Vietnam. So it was a base they made right there on this beach. That’s why they called us—‘Oh, you’re beach Marines.’ I says, ‘Hey—’ We had it made. We were in the South China Sea right there, we swam all the time. I mean, we had comforts. I mean, you had comforts. We had showers. Water wasn’t warm all the time, but we had showers. The grunts didn’t have that. They lived out in outposts, living in the ground. They called us ‘Hollywood’ Marines. We had it made. We did.
When I got there in ’65, we were fighting what they call the Viet Cong. They were villagers and poorly trained troops. I remember loading up canisters with leaflets, dropping them, and they would use this, like, “I give up. Here. Take care of me.” And we had them coming in by the groves: wounded, they were tired. Johnson called the cease-fire. That’s when the North Vietnamese—they called them—they were from China—they were Chinese, trained in China. Crack troops. Well-supplied. Then they start kicking our butts. The Japanese taught us jungle warfare, but this was different. I mean, even Korean War had battle lines. Vietnam didn’t. So. Had to get out of there. We’re not going to win that war. Nope. Nope.
Now you see the movies, and they’re going in there gung-ho, but it’s a lot different, once—you know, you shoot them, but they’re going to shoot back. Once you realize that, it’s an altogether different picture, you know? And to realize, you see the people, you know, you see soldiers dead, you see civilians dead, and then they start wondering, “What’s this country all—what’s happening? Why is this war going on?” You know? I, personally, got different views of why we were there. We shouldn’t have been there. They say, “Yeah, we should’ve.” You didn’t stop nothing. Just got a lot of people killed. The way I feel. You didn’t stop it—what they went out to do.
You know, you see the stories, well they call you ‘baby killer’ and everything. I never had that. Lot of people in that group never served in the military, had no idea what was going on in that country, why we were there, but they believe what they want to believe, and they were listening to people who—telling them things they didn’t have no idea what was going on. Just to protest. That’s what I felt about it. I mean, you’re calling me a baby killer. Were you there? Did you see babies getting killed? No. You didn’t know what the hell was even going on. Did you go to see your buddy laying there all chopped up? Stepped on a Punji trap, going through his feet, lost his leg? Well, you know, that’s… The people that live there, they’re so poor, you know? And you feel sorry for them. They’re in between you and them, you know? The gooks would come in at night and harass them. Daytime, they wouldn’t be there because the Americans would go in there, then, you know? My way of thinking: we fought the wrong—war all wrong.
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