Tom Salamone, Vietnam veteran
Scottsdale, AZ, USA
Just a little humor:
We had a couple of political jokes: They told me if I voted for Barry Goldwater we would end up in a land war in Asia. We'd have Americans dying in jungles we never heard of for countries we knew nothing about. Well they were right, I voted for Goldwater and ended up in Vietnam.
We had a story about Lyndon Johnson. We said that if you watched LBJ during a televised press conference you could tell by his body language when he was lying. If he pulled on his ear lobe, he wasn't lying, if he ran his index finger up the side of his nose, he wasn't lying, but if he started to move his lips......
There were many funny stories, stories of getting lost trying to find your unit upon arrival in Vietnam (me), stories of humor during combat ops, stories (we can laugh at now) about being "shot at and missed."
Black humor was pervasive, some of it sophmoric, some of it intended to reinforce our flagging courage. We were sometimes indifferent to our own safety, making jokes about the liklihood of our survival. Today my reflection is Shakespeare's this "jest will savour of but shallow wit, when thousands weep more than did laugh at it."
Sadly, little comment is made on the life the average Vietnamese came to endure under the "winners." I'm not referring to the thousands sent to "re-education camps," I mean the common villagers who actually believed the old Vietnamese proverb that "the emperor's edict ended at the village gate." It was this belief that suggested to the locals that it didn't matter who ruled Vietnam, their day to day lives would remain unchanged. Our media (justifiably) reported an "immoral war." Their refusal to report the results of the communist takeover and its consequences with the same vigor was a betrayal. This betrayal still leaves me bitter.
Thanks for your interest.
I was a young Infantry Officer in Vietnam 1967-1968; 1969-1970
4th Infantry Division Long Range Reconnaissance;
MACV; USARV; Mang Buk Special Forces Camp.