Re: friendly fire [3 posts]

Mon, 15 Jul 1996 14:24:50 -0400


I can't speak to the question of when friendly fire became a
theme, but PTSD went Hollywood at about the time of the fall of Saigon.
See, for example, "Welcome Home, Soldier Boys" or "Tracks" (starring
Dennis Hopper). In the early and mid-70s post-Vietnam syndrome (as
it was called then) was seen as a function of having been, in Robert
Lifton's words, both "victims and executioners" in Vietnam. That is,
psychological damage resulted from having committed as well as witnessed
acts of violence. Very quickly though (by the late 1970s), the perpetration
element began to disappear from discussions of the disorder and even
Hollywood veterans came to be seen less often as perpetrators than as
victims of violence.
For a great deal more on this, see my book: ECHOES OF COMBAT:
THE VIETNAM WAR IN AMERICAN MEMORY, which will be published by Anchor
Books on November 11.

-- Fred Turner


Karen Kling <> wrote:
> I read somewhere that during the Vietnam war criminals (And I am not sure
> what kind of criminals) were given the option of serving their sentences by
> joining the army. I wonder if they fully realized the possible dangers of
> being in the armed forces. Sometimes I still wonder if today's enlistees
> realize fully what goes with being in the armed forces. I think that movies
> and television and books tell a sort of romantic side and maybe to a certain
> extent it is... I saw Courage Under Fire and found it to be a little scary....

My reply:

I had 3 or 4 friends who were busted for pot or acid who were given
this deal -- join the marines or go to jail. All of them took the
marines. All of them were going on 18 or 19 when the deal was
offered. All of them made it back alive. One used to laugh that he
had been busted for pot and sent to 'Nam where he could smoke all the
pot he wanted. He eventually came home with a heroin habit and now
lives somewhere in Mexico....

Ron Jacobs\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\Baseball is the only game
Bailey/Howe Library,UVM\\\\\\\\in which the Perfect Game
Reserve desk\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\is one where nothing happens.\\\\\\\\\\\\\----Ray Mungo, in
Burlington,VT USA\\\\\\\\\\\\\\Confessions from Left Field


Karen, I just got home from the theater. Yes, I saw "Courage Under Fire". My wife just told my oldest boy (who will be leaving for the Army in less than a year) that the movie made me cry. My boy said that I was probably thinking about him leaving. Truth of the matter is that I spent 10 years in the military and the movie was very well done. I was thinking about the times I had spent in the service and though I was never in a combat situation, we trained just for it. I always imagined that war time would be just like this movie.

The individuals who are "lucky" enough to get into the military find out very quickly what is expected of them. The military trains to be a team and the team works. During Vietnam, there were a lot of people who were criminals. This is not the case now. That is why Desert Storm was the success that it was.

Friendly fire is tragic. There's no two ways about it. Several things can go wrong. Soldier, airmen, and sailors have to work very hard to make sure that they do everything they are taught and during war, that's a very hard thing to do --- but our military does it!

Paul Turner