Dead American Soldiers in Vietnam

Describing his buddy Chip, Tim O’Brien wrote: “he wrote letters to my sister. I wrote letters to his sister…In the bush…nothing kept us part. “Black and White” we were called. In May of 1969, Chip was blown high into a hedge of bamboo. Many pieces. I loved the guy, he loved me. I’m alive. He’s dead. An old story, I guess.”

It was not unusual for half the men in a company to get killed or wounded. One soldier told the Washington Post, “A few months before leaving Vietnam I spent four hours of my life 50 feet from a North Vietnamese machine-gun emplacement…One fellow exposed himself to enemy gunners and drew their fire…Then came his screams…We knew we were watching the man who had given his life for us die.”

Describing a dead friend he found U.S. Senator John Kerry told Atlantic Monthly, “What was left was human and yet it wasn’t—a person that had been only a few moments earlier and that now was a horrible mass of torn flesh and broken bones; bent and bloody, limbs contorted and distorted as they could never be alive.”

Michael Herr wrote in Dispatches : “I met this kid from Miles City, Montana, who read the Stars and Stripes every day, checking the casualty lists to see if by some chance anybody form his home town had been killed. He didn’t even know if there was anyone else from Miles City in Vietnam, but he checked anyway because he knew for sure that if there was someone else and they got killed, he would be all right. “I mean, can you just see *two* guys from a raggedy-ass town like Miles City getting killed in Vietnam?” [Source: Michael Herr, “Dispatches”(1977)]

One captain hardened by years of combat told Tobias that he so many men die he couldn’t keep track. One 18-year-old was killed only after he arrived at the base. “What was I supposed to tell his parents?’ he said. “I hadn’t even met him…Tag’em and bag’em.”

Families of dead GIs received letters from the White House which said their son was “in the prayers of Mrs. Johnson and myself at this time of sadness” and Gen. Westmoreland who promised to “to do our utmost to bring eventual victory so that your son’s sacrifice was not in vain.” They also received check for money recovered from their son’s belonging even if it was less than a dollar.

The body usually showed up about 10 days later with a telegram: “HIS REMAINS WILL BE PREPARED, ENCASED AND SHIPPED AT NO EXPENSE TO YOU ACCOMPANIED BY AN ESCORT TO A FUNERAL HOME OR TO A NATIONAL CEMETERY SELECTED BY YOU. IN ADDITION YOU WILL BE REIMBURSED AN AMOUNT NOT TO EXCEED $300 TOWARD FUNERAL AND INTERNMENT EXPENSES IF INTERNMENT IS IN A PRIVATE CEMETERY.”

2 thoughts on “Dead American Soldiers in Vietnam

  1. My Father is James Edward Polk, served in Vietnam War from 1967-1969. He was stationed out of Ft. Hood, TX. I have little or no information on him. All I can remember is going to our mail box and getting the letter out that read,”Greetings This is Uncle Sam.” The tears never stopped until My Daddy Returned Safely to Us. I am desperately looking for a U.S. Army picture of him. I am so grateful, and mist thankful that he is still here with us. But the pain, suffering, and awful memories of him seeing all of that tragedy, hunts him until this day. He never likes to talk about all of the lives that were lost in front of his eyes. He just says, “I am so Blessed to have been one of the soldiers that was able to survive and come back home safely. I would not want to even think about the devastation of my death causing my mother Mamie Polk that much pain. I do not feel like I am an American Hero, only those that gave their lives in defense of our Great Country.” If anyone has pictures or any information on my father, I would love to hear from you. He doesn’t remember anyone from his unit, but would love any info or pics for any soldier during that time. This would make him Happier than anything, I can imagine his eyes lighting up, when gets that information. Even that letter saying Greetings, This is Uncle Sam would make us all happy. We had one picture if him in his uniform, I ket my sister get a copy if it. She kept it, has misplaced it, lost it, or is just being selfish to keep it from any if us. Now we have nothing. Even if someone can ket me know who else I can write, that would be great as well. God Bless all of the soldiers and the families that lost a loved one through any war. There is no price that can be paid for their sacrifices of lost if limbs, IR their lives. I have started a program in honor of my father, and grandchildren to try to help our soldiers all over the world. It is in it’s infancy stages, run only by myself. If anyone would love to post there story on the website it send it to me, I will make sure your story or any story you have of a family member or friend will be told. My website is: Jessicka’s Community Development and Empowerment Center, Inc. It is located in Dallas, TX.

  2. What an Awesome Website! This dedication to All Branches of the Military is beyond any other words, I could ever describe. Peace and Blessings to All The Soldiers and Their Families For Their Human Sacrifices. Sincerely, Emma J. Polk Harrell Written on behalf of My Great Father, James Edward Polk.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s