Vietnam the Emotions of War, you don’t know whether to laugh or cry!
For the most part, War is very sobering and life changing.
That is exactly the reason for this article. War (conflicts) runs your emotions up and down the scale of reason so quickly you hardly notice you have made the emotional change.
We lived in an old French compound in the city of Bao Trai with a French mine field out front of the bunker line.
The mine field had “Bouncing Betty” mines, they would jump into the air approximated 2.5-3 feet and then explode. They were very unstable because of the age of these mines. Nobody had a map for the mine field so we stayed as far away from it as possible.
One minute we are ducking for cover in a hedge row and the next we are laughing at a water buffalo walking into the mine field. Everyone one close pulls out the “Funny Money” (script) and bets a buck on how many steps the water buffalo makes it into the mine field before he launches into oblivion.
Those water buffalo, I watched a little kid with a switch tap the water buffalo on the nose to keep it going straight. An American walks close and they posture all up, sort, and shake those big pointy horns at you. I thought to myself, Ha-Ha, I have an M16 make one move and you’re steaks!
We had a goofy Lieutenant, I can say that now, what’s he going to do make me retire? We were on a mission, he is jabbering away and scared a pig. Ole Pork Chop got the last laugh! The pig squealed and ran into a booby trap trip wire. The shrapnel from the booby trap hit the officer in the butt! We had to call in a chopper to dust him off. (get him medical attention) Never seen him again. I always laugh when I think of that mission. I wonder what that brave guy told loved ones how he got his Purple Heart! Two other guys were grazed because of his stomping his foot at the pig too. The pig, he was fine, not a scratch!
The opposite emotion of laughter overwhelms you later, after the mission is over. You know it could have been you that was killed or wounded. Sometimes you think it should have been you. Emotions are a funny thing. Most every veteran involved in infantry missions, mechanized units, pilots and even combat base camp soldiers assigned as support staff, came home with some type of PTS (Post-Traumatic Stress) from shelling, shooting or mortars.
I can remember my little room, I had sandbagged it and when I lay on my cot the top of the sand bags were just a foot or so above my head. That little room was my sanctuary. Those sand bags let me know how important they were too. The guys thought I was paranoid but a mortar attack dropped shells in the front roof of our hooch. My sandbags stopped the shrapnel as it came through the wall.
That little room was briefly shared by the biggest rat I had ever seen. The RAT didn’t stay long after he jumped up on my chest! Most nights I lay asleep on my back with my rifle over my chest. One night 3 am, or so in the morning, a thump in the middle of my chest. I jumped like a diarrhea patient heading to the john! I have no idea where that rat came from or where it went, I fixed the three holes in my ceiling the next morning! I took a bit of ribbing for about two weeks over sending everyone to the floor with my short burst from my AR-16.
The emotional outlets for soldiers were anything to take your head out of what you were doing. You could phase out for a few minutes, an hour or a day. They all counted as blessings.
You are welcome to add you own comments and stories. We know first hand, we all coped differently, Vietnam the Emotions of War, is our pages to share your history.