Some thoughts about Vietnam War and kids from one who was there

Tue, 09/08/2009 - 3:41pm
By: Letters to the ...

I’d like to reply to Mr. David Markham in his comments to Mr. Terry Garlock about the Vietnam veteran. You see, I also spent a year and a day in the Democratic Republic of South Vietnam. August 1967 to August 1968, to be exact.

I/we went to Vietnam because the South Vietnamese government asked America to come and help them fight against their communist aggressors, the North Vietnamese, the Viet Cong and even China who believed that as long as you fully supported them they wouldn’t kill you.

I went to Vietnam because my country ordered me to go there in my Army uniform, but when I got there it was immediately clear that I was there to help the South Vietnamese people achieve the same rights and freedoms that my family had back home in America. I was proud to be there.

Two months after arriving in QuiNhon I was assigned to the QuiNhon Airfield Security Detachment and around Christmas of ’67 I was in a tower when a little boy came out of the hooch just outside of the perimeter fence ahead of me who screamed up to me, in English, “Hey, GI, let me see watch.” I showed him the watch on my wrist, at which point he screamed, “No, no, GI, throw me watch.” And I screamed right back to him, “You dinky-dow, kid.” The boy went back into the hooch and immediately came back with an AK-47 blazing bullets at my tower.

I called the sergeant of the guard on my radio and told him that I had a kid below the tower shooting at me. What should I do, and I’ve heard his reply a million times in my head, “Is he enemy?” and told me that I couldn’t return fire. I did not shoot back.

Two months later, Feb. 2, 1968, 0200 hours, I relieved a guard in tower #2. He wasn’t guarding anything. He was dead. It wasn’t until 40 years later that I found out who that man was, Ray Carroll Banks, whom I had to kick out of the tower because it was difficult dodging bullets and crawling around a dead man. Ray Carroll was only in the tower to assure the people of QuiNhon an airport that they could freely fly into and out of.

I was fortunate in the fact that God brought me through Vietnam and home to the land of the free. I came home on a stretcher and was sent to Valley Forge Army Hospital where I spent three months learning how to walk again.

I did NOT have to go through a civilian airport to be spit upon or have bags of crap thrown at me. After my discharge from the Army, I went to work on an assembly line and just two hours into my first day I was asked by the guy across the line from me, “How many kids did you kill?”

It’s terrible that mankind has war, and no one should ever go through or to war, but I haven’t known one who has been to war for the greatest country on earth say that they wouldn’t go if the free people of America needed them to defend their liberties and freedoms again.

Today my youngest son wears OD green proudly and will proudly do whatever has to be done for America.

I’ve told every one of my seven children that when they first meet someone they owe them two things. They owe them courtesy and respect. You should always be courteous but you can lose respect.

Welcome home, brother Garlock, and thank you for covering my six. Mr. Markham, you have lost my respect. We were not created by God to serve anyone but Him and I have declared that I am in one nation under Him. He made us free.

John Romph

Fayetteville, Ga.

United States of America

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suggarfoot's picture
Submitted by suggarfoot on Fri, 09/11/2009 - 9:57am.

I grew up with many that never came back, others friends did, but with haunted eyes and stories like yours, kids shooting at them, kids sent up to them with grenades..etc.

The way they were treated was horrible. They were never given a heroes welcome to put it mildly. I even remember watching a news cast where one of our politicans blaimed the recession at that time on too many of them coming back and flooding the labor market. I will never forget how hurt and ashamed I felt fot those vets that statement was ever made.

Did I agree with the war? No. The reason is that it wasn't fought in a way that would let our guys win, and because of that so many came home dead or maimed for life. I felt it was a horrible waste of those young men.

Do I feel they were heroes? Yes, I love them all, because they did it for us, their families. They made the supreme sacrifice because they were asked by their country.

How do I feel about it now?

I feel they were used by our politicians and abused by the very people they felt they were fighting for.

In truth, it would have been short and sweet if Johnson's butt was put over there to lead the charge. But when the politicians are using someone else's life to fight their battles, they are much more reckless.

My personal view is that I hope Johnson is rotating on a spiggot over a fire in hell now for what I feel was done to those boys.

Submitted by milbrat on Wed, 09/09/2009 - 9:24pm.

Mr. Romph,

You have my total respect. Thank you!

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