To: Ralph Morgret,
One Vietnam Vet...

This is what many young men faced after graduation during the Vietnam War. Many of these young men signed up for the Army and the Marines, so they could serve their country proud, but many others were drafted. At the age of eighteen every male has to go sign up for the draft; this is federal law. Most of the soldiers were still in their teens when they left for Vietnam.

After arriving in Vietnam, you would have met with your new sergeant. Don't salute your officer any more: Vietcong would love to kill an officer, before some plain old private. While you put things away, the little you could take, a picture of the family, BDUs (the camouflage uniforms), combat boots, and your new best friend, your rifle.

While getting to know your new buddies you hear planes above, a whistle sound, and then an explosion. Everyone is searching for their helmets and rifles. Still not knowing what to do, so you just follow the others. Out of the door to the bomb shelters, or to the so- called building made out of sandbags, with a tin roof.

While running you see solider after solider falling to the ground begging for help, but you keep running, dodging the bombs the best you can. Once inside you still see the image of the soldiers begging for your help. Hours later the noise has stopped, the air strike was over, you have survived.

After waking the next morning, your platoon leaves for the field. Everyone loads up in helicopters, which take you to your designation. Once you reach it, you must jump out of the chopper, if they land they could be ambushed. After the helicopter leaves, the feeling of fear like you never felt sets in.

While walking, make sure you to look in all directions at the same time, and look for booby traps. BANG, BANG, BOOM! Someone yells "AMBUSH", this is it. Everyone hits the ground and starts shooting in the direction the bullets are coming from. All you can think is "God, please don't let me die." The guy next to you has been hit in the left shoulder; blood is pouring out like water coming out of a faucet. While trying to keep him safe, you see a sniper face to face. By instinct you shoot, knowing if you don't he would have shot you. Cease Fire! It is over, you are alive, but many of your buddies aren't

Although he is dead, you have to see the sniper. Killing him was harder than the rest. You saw his face; he was just a child, no more than twelve years old. (Many of the Vietnam soldiers were only about fourteen years old.) You can't move, all you can do is stand there and stare frozen, until you hear the chopper coming back for you. Carrying your wounded buddies back to the chopper, leaving some behind, hearing them tell you. "I finally get to go home." All you can say is, "Hold on."

That night you dream of the twelve-year old boy lying in the woods, with a bullet hole in his chest, and the soldiers lying on the ground with blood surrounding them. You hear people screaming for help, the gun shots the bombs, and the chopper. Waking in a puddle of sweat and tears, you realize it was only a dream, but it was like it was all happening over again. Don't worry; you have survived your first of many flashbacks.

After seeing hundreds of people die and many tours, your tour is up and you get to go home. You think that the real world is going to welcome you home with open arms, but reality sets in when the plane lands. As you step off the plane you see an anti-war demonstration. They are moving your way; they are wearing the American flag, and burning others. You try to get past them, but they spit on you, calling you a baby killer, lashing out at you, as if they hated you, but they don't know you. How could they say these things? They would have done the same thing if they weren't burning draft papers.

My father went through this, and I have seen first hand the aftermath of the Vietnam War. Mom told me once that when she and Dad were walking down the street and a plane flew over, instantly Dad hit the ground, acting as if he was trying to get under the sidewalk. Mom just stood there amazed, wondering what in the world he was doing. He had a flash back, so he thought he was still at war, and an airstrike was coming.

Although it has been twenty-six years, Dad still has dreams. You can tell when he is dreaming about the war. He eyes pop wide open, his face gets this scared look on it, and sometimes you will see a tear fall. It is very hard to wake him; if you touch him, he wakes up swinging, as if you are the enemy. Once my cousin Michelle went to wake him up, not knowing she touched his arm. He woke up, and punched her, and she went flying across the room. You have to yell, throw something, or hit his feet to wake him without getting hit.

As a result of going to the war, Dad has a lot of pride for his country and has implanted that pride in his four children. He has made us realize that the people who went over to Vietnam are "heroes," not "baby killers." Anyone would have done what any of the soldiers did, so they could survive.

I believe that the soldiers of the Vietnam War need some praise. The men who went to W.W.II came home true, brave Americans, but those who went to the Vietnam War came home as scum. Why? I think that the Veterans of the Vietnam War are stronger and braver than other veterans. Although they had survived the war across seas, they had to come home and fight to prove that they did what they had to do, not what they wanted to do.

There are no real heroes listed in the history books from the Vietnam War. To my family and me they all are heroes, especially those who lost their lives. Those who burned, or dodged the draft are weak, and they have no right to be called...

From: One proud daughter!!!

College English Paper...by: Kamie Morgret

Inspired by: Don Schaffer, Sergeant, United States Marine Corps,
Republic of South Viet Nam, 1966 -1968