Being in the Washington DC Area, I think we were fairly shielded from all the turmoil going on around the rest of the country. We arrived at Fort Belvoir, early in 1969, and the scars of the 1968 riots after Martin Luther King's assassination were still visible. And, there was still word in the papers in that area.
Besides, Northern Virginians basically worked for the U S Government, or lived off the people that worked for the government. And, the news was slanted.
Of course, we were well aware of the demonstrations and protests around the Capitol and the Pentagon. I used to get pissed off, because there were a few times, especially that first summer, that we were on alert to provide security to government facilities during protests. A Marine Captain, assigned as one of our branch chiefs, received a medal for standing still during a protest in 1968 at the Pentagon. Seems he was cited for not reacting when a woman protested lifter her skirts, dropped her panties, and pissed on is boots. 31 years later, it sounds, and is funny. But, at that time it pissed me off!
And, at a meeting of the Society of American Military Engineers at Mackenzie Hall, the O Club at Ft Belvoir, an engineer colonel stationed at the Office of the Chief of Engineers, told us he could no longer wear his uniform when traveling by Metroliner to New York on business with the New York District Engineers Office, because he was insulted, assaulted, and spit on! You know, Corps of Engineer activities in New York had nowhat to do with Vietnam.
Down the hill, below Construction Equipment Division, the Engineer School had built a replica of a Vietnam village, and we would put young OCS candidates on a train of flat cars with bleachers on them, and they would watch a dog and pony show along the tracks for about a mile. (I never saw the show.)
Whether it was right or wrong for us to become involved in Vietnam is for others to determine. At the time, it was my duty to go. I was trying to make a career of the Army, and it was either go, or resign. In fact, before I went, my First Sergeant at the 370th Engineer Company (Construction Support) chose to retire rather than accept orders to Vietnam.
I appreciate your taking the time to read my journals, and appreciate the comments you have made. I will be putting this on the web, I think with Deanna Gail Shlee Hopkins help it will be connected to the Vietnam Veterans Home Page. At least we talked about it some time ago. And thanx to son, John, who had started to place them in his home page. What a tribute! So, between the two of them, something will be done.
Some of you have suggested publishing the Vietnam Journal. I don't know. I would have to figure out which tense to put the thing in. What I wanted to do was to put it in first person, present tense, and didn't do a real good job.
The other thing I would like to do is to put some of your responses along with it. So, I need your permission to do so. Please advise. If anyone says, "No," those remarks will not be included. The thought intrigues me.
I will from time to time continue to respond to, or initiate, comments about Vietnam. I know now that it is impossible to put Vietnam behind us.
Now, the final comment of this year long endeavor:
As with most careerists, I expected to get orders to go back, and, at least mentally, I never fully unpacked. Then, almost three years to the day after leaving Vietnam, I got caught in the RIF, and wound up taking a job with the Army as a civilian engineer in Mainz, Germany. My wife's brother had gotten married a couple of years earlier, and Liliane and the boys went, but I stayed home. So, I hadn't met Liliane's sister-in-law, Tina. When we got off the MAC charter flight in Frankfurt's Rhein-Main Flughaven, Wladimir and Tina met us in the terminal. Tina threw her arms around me, and said, "Hi, Ed. Nice to meet you; and aren't you glad you don't have to go back to Vietnam?"