Monday, September 28, 2009

People sometimes ask me what the differences are twixt…

posted by Bill Arnett @ 1:57 AM Permalink

Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan and it provokes flashbacks almost too painful to bear.

One thing in common is that they were all started by the fat, old, bigoted, and prejudiced white men seeking hegemony and the spoils of war. And, as all wars are, the similarities were always there: Good men driven relentlessly until they, too, recognized the insanity of war while trying to kill, maim, and destroy as many people as possible, even women and children.

It is the difference that haunts me, follows me, and breaks through my dreams to the sheer horror that was hell on earth at Tan Son Nhut Air Base, RPV, during my last trip there to help evacuate as many people as we could within a very short timeframe in April, 1975.

I had never before, and have not since, ever see crowds of well over 1.5-2 million people, so many of themselves wounded, so many with the blank stare of a mother or father whose children had either been killed or injured or were being forced to stay behind with little to no hope of survival. The cacophony of voices, the sea of tear-stained faces, the wailing cries of the sick and dying, the looks and pleas being made with the expectations that, despite it all, America wouldn't abandon them as promised even as they were watching us doing that very thing, in disbelief and with the knowledge certain we would not return.

A large group of us learned that some of the evacuees were paying $10,000.00 per head for the 'right' to go, Blackmarket bribery! that, with pride we set up an area for the poor, and with every busload of people, as we left the main processing grounds, we would stop and load on as many women and children as we could before continuing on to whatever aircraft we had on the ground.

Aircraft, combat loaded by marching evacuees up the plane's ramp and having them sit on the bare metal floor, no seats, seatbelts, no amenities of any kind 260 people on a C-141 Starlifter, 210 people on a Hercules C130. An aircraft leaving the ground every twenty minutes,non-stop.

I and many Security Police Law Enforcement Specialists were flown to Tan Son Nhut AB to act as Customs Agents and worked for eight days straight, day and night continuously, before relief could be flown in for us. Then we were taken to an Agent Orange Storage warehouse where we simply dropped to the floor and crashed. To this day I can still remember sleeping in and breathing remnants of those notoriously leaky A.O. barrels. I had no idea that this would someday almost kill me with two cancers, chemo, radiation therapy, and a radical neck dissection that permanently severed several nerves, leaving me in never-ending pain.

Still we worked twelve hour days tending to and processing that never ending sea of people, Hearing their cries, begging for us to take their babies and young children with us even when they knew they could not follow and would likely never see them again.

And that is the difference between these three wars. In Afghanistan they beg us to leave, to stop the senseless killing of hundreds or thousands or tens of thousands of innocent women and children, bombing wedding parties and any other large groups gathered, even those seeking to bury their dead, in the belief, fostered by w and co., that we MIGHT kill a high value target; too bad about the others.

Iraq, a war of aggression ordered by war criminals seeking revenge for w's daddy and control of that nations resources. Again the people there beg us to just go and leave them to make their own choices.

But in Vietnam, another war we should never have started, the people who suffered the most begged us the hardest to stay or take them with us, and, for a very large segment of the population actually loved us Americans who abandoned them after declaring we had 'won' and could all go home.

I still hear those cries for help, still see the faces of people whom, though they had no reasons to like or trust us…except we promised them we were their saviors. We promised them freedom. We promised them justice. We lied and many, many good Americans will never again trust 'those in power' when they rattle the chains of war.

The Vietnamese believed and trusted in us and begged us to stay, Afghanistan is now and always will be under the thumb of the criminals and warlords supplying well over 90% of the world's heroin, and we never had the evidence claimed that was used to justify that war in Iraq.

But despite the ravaging of my body and mind by my own government, using dioxin ( a chemical so toxic they now wish it could be 'disinvented') it will always be those final images of Vietnam that will haunt me forever. In the ultimate unfairness of the Universe I paid so dear a price to mind and body, particularly my mind, which seems to have had large chunks of memory ripped out of it to never return, I dearly wish that some of those memory chunks had been these: the nightmarish visions and never-ending sounds of people abandoning hope and knowing with certainty they were more likely die than to ever live in common, human decency with hopes and dreams of a better future.

That, my friends, is the difference. And that, my friends, will forever haunt me with questions to which there can be no answers, only nightmares, sadness, and the recognition that we are, or should be, a better people.

Addendum by The Sailor: I cross posted this post to SteveAudio without Bill's permission. I think that Bill will understand if everyone who reads this will post it everywhere they can.

Labels: , ,


At 1:02 PM, Blogger The Vidiot said...


At 4:46 PM, Blogger Bill Arnett said...

I often say that when for days and days and night after night all I can see, all I can hear are those faces and the screams of mothers literally throwing their babies to people ahead of them hoping against hope that someone would catch them and take them to a better life - most of whom were crushed by the crowd and never lived to see better days or any days at all.

Maybe now you'll see why I do not and cannot believe in "God."


Post a Comment

<< Home