Last night I watched the documentary, Last Days in Vietnam. It was inspiring and gut-wrenching. For anyone who served in Vietnam, lost a loved one in Vietnam, was vested in the war in some way, or just has an interest in history, I highly recommend it. It is currently available on Netflix.
I served in Vietnam in 1968-69 and was there during the period of the Tet offensive. I was not a warrior and only engaged in one short exchange of gun fire with the enemy. I was Air Force Security Police, serving in security, as opposed to law enforcement. I rode patrol and stood guard duty and manned bunkers and guard towers. We came under rocket or mortar attack something like 60 or 80 times, mostly clustered within a few-week period of the Tet offensive.
Vietnam was not a terrible experience for me. I took advantage of experiencing a foreign culture as much as a I could given the limitations of the war. I was young and foolish and adventurous and actually enjoyed a lot of my Vietnam experience. I know other people had different experiences.
I was always supportive of the war effort. I still think it was a noble cause. I think we should have been allowed to win. If we would ever have been "all in" we could have won the war, but restriction on where we could bomb and frequent cease fires and rules of engagement, prevented a victory. In 1975 when Saigon fell, I stayed clued to the TV and cried. I feel like the fall of Saigon was a personal betrayal. I felt losing the war was a shameful thing. I believe we who served in Vietnam were stabbed in the back, and the United States stabbed Vietnam in the back. I felt we lost he war, not in the jungles of Vietnam, but on college campuses in America and the halls of Congress. I viewed the war protesters as Vietcong dressed up like college students. I hated them. I still hate Jane Fonda and our Secretary of State John Kerry. I do not think we should have ever let the draft dodgers come back home without severe punishment. I was very bitter for a long time. Given the passage of time the bitterness is less intense but my opinion has not changed.
For many years after our defeat in Vietnam, I avoided watching any programs about Vietnam or reading any books on the subject. It was like grinding salt in a wound. I just wanted to avoid it. It has now been 47 years since I served in Vietnam and 41 years since we abandoned Vietnam and I can watch this documentary without it being terrible upsetting. It still leaves me a little sad and melancholy, but I am glad I watched it and recommend it.