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Richard E. Hautala, Vietnam veteran
Ballston Spa, NY, Saratoga


Dear NPR,

Iíve been trying to write something for your "Revisiting Vietnam" for several days now. I wanted to convey the confusion and the seriousness and the strangeness of it. I wanted you to have some feeling for: what it was like to go through the Marine Corps training that prepared you for Vietnam, what it felt like to have men land on the moon a week before I landed in Vietnam, watching the mongoose play in the perimeter wire a moment before a firefight began, having to shoot all the dogs around camp because of rabies, that the identification number on the body bags we put our dead comrades in was 1492, there are so many details, so many crazy things, things part of the war experience no one mentions, I wanted to leave nothing out.

But I had some real problems trying to do that. So NPR this is all you get:

I do not read books about Vietnam. I do not watch the documentaries. Iím uncomfortable hearing the Vietnamese language. The sound of helicopters bothers me. We should have been un-trained when discharged. Instead, for me, the un-training began last year. I was 50 years old.

This coming Memorial Day I plan on going to "The Wall". It will not be a pleasant experience for me. It will be a healing one Iím told. Please wish me luck.

Rich Hautala



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