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Vietnam Veterans Discussion

by: Carina Sauter

Vietnam Veterans Discussion HIST 2112

Marketplace > University of Georgia > History > HIST 2112 > Vietnam Veterans Discussion
Carina Sauter
GPA 3.79

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These notes cover the discussion in class on the four primary sources and interviews of Vietnam Veterans.
American History Since 1865
Dr. Rohrer
Class Notes
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This 3 page Class Notes was uploaded by Carina Sauter on Tuesday April 12, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to HIST 2112 at University of Georgia taught by Dr. Rohrer in Spring 2016. Since its upload, it has received 6 views. For similar materials see American History Since 1865 in History at University of Georgia.


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Date Created: 04/12/16
For what reasons did these young Americans men want to, or feel compelled to, serve in Vietnam? • Bob Muller: anti-war – “demanded” going to war o Believed in government and they know whats best o Very trusting of federal government o Vietnam was is what turns Americans against the government o They were convinced that they were the good guy at the beginning of the war o Want to crush communism § Necessary to contain communism and roll it back – want to remove communist governments in countries that already lost to it o Essential to winning the cold war How do these veterans feel about the war after Vietnam? • John Kerry o Becomes anti war by the end o Believed nothing in South Vietnam could realistically threaten the US § Why were tax dollars used for such a corrupt regime § South Vietnam is only loosely democratic – dictatorship • We’re trying to be democratic – yet we’re supporting a dictatorial regime in South Vietnam • Just want to get rid of communism • Not fair to troops o Calls the government and its efforts hypocritical § Used soldiers to try to hide from the US that we had lost the war • Muller o US government is hypocritical § South Vietnamese are fascist • Gatchel: more pro-war than the others o Believes many are ill-informed § US is not being especially honest with aims (such as bombing in Rolling Thunder) § Even the soldiers are kept in the dark for the major plans o Blames government and LBJ for not putting enough money and resources in Vietnam § We didn’t go far enough Theodore Gatchel is more supportive of the Vietnam War and its aims. How so? What does he say? • Thought many had good intentions o “anybody who says that we were morally wrong hasn’t read much about communism” • Even after returning from the war, thought communism needed to be crushed at any cost How do these veterans describe the Vietnamese? Do their descriptions change over time? • Gatchel: o Became more aware that they were capable of fighting for their country • Soldiers received negative publicity for inflicting great harm against civilians o Yet it was hard to know who was who o How is the Vietnam War a different kind of war? How was it fought out? • 4 or 5 hours of just silence, an explosion, then do nothing for days • No war fronts – no two sides just duking it out o Rather, it was fought under ground, in the jungles, with night skirmishes and booby traps o Waiting out in the jungles looking for an enemy – not easy for them to identify communists • new style of war fare – one of the reasons that US declared in unwinnable • There was definitely a dark side of Vietnam. For example, what war crimes are people like John Kerry referencing? • Raped, cut of ears, cut off heads, electrocuted, cut of limbs, blown up bodies, shot at civilians, razed villages, shot cattle and dogs for fun, poisoned food stocks, etc. • Many dishonorable discharged • Not necessarily common, but many soldiers may have responded this way out of frustration and anger o Friends are dying and they were so frustrated because they could not identify who to kill, nor a plan of action o May have felt useless and that they were dying for nothing – under appreciated – unpopular war back home – veterans spit upon at home – anti-war population in young crowd – war is a waste of time, resources – are we getting anything from it – is communism that big of a threat o Is this an essential war? – totally under appreciated What contributes to the sentiment of anger that you see in some of these interviews? In other words, what is truly precipitating the anger? According to these veterans. What are some of the problems within the military? • Racism • Disproportionate number of deaths of African Americans in Vietnam compared to Caucasians o Many more African Americans were drafted o Many white kids decided they wanted to go to college and grad school – could get out of being drafted – why there were so many well-educated middle class during this time • Rich man’s war, poor man’s fight • John Karry o Racism present in Vietnam o How there was still unofficial segregation – lack of socialization o Not many resources for African Americans How have some of these veterans been ruined by Vietnam (and not just physically) • Shell shocked for years • Psychiatric conditions • PTSD • Dis-respected when they returned home What did Vietnam teach some of these veterans about humanity/ what it means to be human? Do any of the veterans find anything good in their Vietnam experiences?


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