Most young people in the United States couldn't tell you where Vietnam is or even much about the conflict that took place there involving U.S. military forces in the 60's and early 70's as we ex-soldiers knew it. I'm not sure whether history classes today pay much attention to that era. For the troops who were stationed in Vietnam during that time there are a lot of memories and mixed emotions. From the borders of Laos, Cambodia, and North Vietnam to the South China Sea, and the Mekong Delta there were more than a million men and women working hard, doing their jobs, and risking their lives in a country thousands of miles from home and for a cause few of them completely understood.
You may have seen one of Hollywood's depictions of the "war". Some, like "Hamburger Hill" and "Platoon," resembled reality while others, such as "Apocalypse Now," stretched the truth and were almost laughable. Of course being factual seldom has been the main focus for Hollywood. The History Channel and PBS did better by far, but even then the majority of the films were about the combat. For those of us stationed in Vietnam, "reality" depended a lot on when and where someone was and what their assignment happened to be. If you were a Cobra pilot, Marine Recon, or a "grunt" in the rice paddies, your day was quite a bit different than loading supplies at Bien Hoa or helping troops enjoy their "in country" R & R at Cam Ranh Bay. Troops at Tan Son Nhut near Saigon had a much different experience than those around Dak To, An Khe, or Chu Lai. The saving grace for most of the men and women in Vietnam was that their tour of duty was only one year; however, there were some who for various reasons extended for longer periods of time.
The class, " A Vet's View of Vietnam", will provide some perspective of the day-to-day roles that were involved in the conflict as well as how the physical and mental hardships were handled. We will provide some insight into the culture to which troops were exposed and how that affected them when they returned home. It is important to understand the geography of Vietnam and the ethnic differences that had an impact on the war and the troops who fought it. Vietnam was not just about the shooting; it was about the stress, the separation from family, and the lack of support back "home" that many felt when they returned to the States. The goal of this class is to share experiences and offer a more personal picture of what being in Vietnam during the mid to late 60's and early 70's was like for those who were there. I believe everyone will get something from the eight sessions and maybe leave with a better understanding of that time in American history.
Ted Sanders, Instructor