Behind Bars Again

Guest Post by Willis Eschenbach

I’ve written about my time in the US Army, and about spending time behind bars getting out of the Army, in my story called It’s Not About Me. In that story, I discussed a bit of my view on the Vietnam war, the view echoed by many who have studied it since—that it was the wrong war, in the wrong place, at the wrong time. My experience was that the Vietnam war damaged every single person it touched, on both sides of the Pacific, and more than anyone it damaged some of the veterans who’d actually done the fighting. I know, I spent months in the nuthouse assisting the physically crippled and the memory damaged, my friends were the shell-shocked refuse of the carnage. It’s not my wish to refight the war or what I did regarding the war, just to tell my story about it, so please, let’s not turn this into a referendum on some imaginary “right” response to the Vietnam War—there weren’t any of those, just levels of wrong responses, plus pain and suffering enough for all.

mymummie smallChristina Dorothea Dyer Greene, and looking at that lovely old granny, you’d never guess she’d once put a voodoo death curse on a man … another story I should tell sometime.

A couple years after I got out of the nuthouse and the Army, I went to live with the Captain’s Daughter, my beloved grandmother we called “My-mummie” whom I’ve written about before. It was a great experience for me. It was after my grandfather’s death, and my oldest cousin was living there as well and she and I have always been close. We cooked dinner and washed and dried the dishes and kept up the grounds and did house maintenance and such for My-mummie. The best part was that I could hear her stories again (and some for the first time) as an adult and not as a seven-year-old kid. I lived with her about a year, it was fascinating, I’ll write more about her sometime.

After a while, though, I wanted my own place. I loved My-mummie, but eventually I had to move out on my own. A friend of my cousin’s said she needed someone to caretake a tiny one-room cabin she owned near Santa Cruz, totally enclosed by a state forest. I said sure, and moved out there. It was an enchanted place, it always reminded me of Snow White’s pad. It was quite close to Santa Cruz, but totally hidden. You’d drive through the protected forest, and there was an little clearing with a little house in the sunlight, the famous “bee-loud glade”. I continued making and selling sandals.

This was also the first time I ever made money from my art. I mean as opposed to my music. I started making and selling mobiles. I made light fixtures that were mobiles, using glass, and candelabras, and railroad lanterns, and pieces of cut steel, and crystals, and found objects. They moved and spun, casting an ever-changing, entrancing light. They were beautiful, and they were easy to make and sell, people snapped them up as fast as I finished them, so I generally had a bit of money, not much, but enough.

Of course, the Vietnam War was still going on, it hadn’t stopped because I’d managed to get my invitation cancelled. I met some people who were in a loose confederation called “The Resistance”. The Resistance was founded by David Harris, who was married to the singer Joan Baez at the time. Some of the Resistance guys rented a house just behind the Santa Cruz Boardwalk on Second Street. We called it the “Resistance Commune”. We were hippies, we were opposed to the Vietnam War, we believed in peace and love. Bored middle-aged housewives brought food to the house and gave money, so we’d be free to work to end the war. And we did work, we did what we could, and we worked hard at it.

It was a strange time. We believed in something vague called “The Revolution”. We weren’t sure what that was, but we knew we were at the forefront of it. It involved throwing out everything that our parents believed. That much was obvious from the terrible hole it left behind. Beyond that, we were making up the song as we were singing it.

It was also the time of “free love”. I later learned that (for me at least) love is rarely free, but we were young and didn’t know that yet. At the time I was sexually involved with three women. Not at the same instant or in the same bed, you understand, but at the same time. They all three lived in a commune called the “River Street House”. They all knew each other, they were good friends, they all knew about me, there were no secrets between us. None of us thought much about it, it went on for a couple months, it was great … well, it was actually fantastic until I came down with the clap, and I had to tell all three of them.

Gonorrhea. Ugly word, I know, and an ugly reality, but I have to be honest about the bad as well as the good. I’ve said I am telling my tale warts and all, and having the clap definitely qualifies as more than a wart in my world.

I got the usual symptom, a leaky faucet, went to the doctor, got tested, and I got the bad news. So I called the three lovely ladies all together, and told them all at one time so there was no misunderstanding and we could get it clear. I said that I had the clap, and that I must have gotten it from one of them, because I hadn’t had sex with anyone else, and I was willing to swear to that.

Now, after I published my story about hopping freight trains, people wrote in the comments to say I should issue clear warnings in my stories, so fools don’t try to follow my path. They said I should do that to keep a bunch of maroons from cluttering up the rail yards with their corpses and body parts and drowning in the Kenai and the like trying to follow my lead. Seemed excessive to me, like the sign on my aluminum foil reflective car screen that keeps the sun off of the dashboard when I park, covering the front window entirely. The sign says, no bull, it says “WARNING! Do not drive the car with this sunscreen in position”.

Really? We’ve fallen that far?

In any case, to keep folks from complaining about this story, here’s my Official Warning—kids, don’t try this one at home. Do whatever you have to do in order to avoid telling three women at the same time that one gave you gonorrhea and you might have given it to the other two. I assure you, Miss Manners classifies it as a major social blunder.

Plus it’s not an easy subject to bring up, regardless of how you lay the groundwork, and I’ll tell you, gonorrhea is a real bitch to just casually slip into a conversation without groundwork, like “Oh, yeah, guess what, ladies, funniest thing happened to me yesterday, I was passing by my doctor’s and I thought I’d drop in, you’ll never believe what he told me …”

That wasn’t the hardest part, though. As uncomfortable and painful as it had been for me to tell the three of them that I’d gotten the clap from one of them and I might have passed it on, there was worse. First, though, we all had to walk on eggshells around each other, no sex for anyone until they got their results back from the lab, from memory that took three four days.

injection

Now, for those men out there who have had the unfortunate luck to be falsely accused, and who have had to try to convince a furious woman of your actual innocence, that you have been true to her and only her, you have not been cheating on her, and that you are telling her the 100% facts of the case, I’m sure you all can testify how just how hard and painful that is …

Well, just be thankful that you have not had to try to convince three furious women, who have just gotten out of the car after driving back from the clinic together, three furious women who have been discussing your shortcomings and lack of honesty because all of their tests turned out negative. Consider trying to convince them that you have been true to them and only them, that you haven’t been unfaithful to the three of them in either thought or word or deed, and that you’re telling God’s own truth. I don’t recommend it for the weak of heart.

Of course, they didn’t believe a word of what I was saying, understandably, they had the medical proof, the three of them got in my face all at once, shouting, punching my shoulders … it was truly not a pretty picture, folks, your narrator did not appear in a good light at all. First my faucet starts leaking, then my sacred word is being seriously questioned, and now I’m in the doghouse and getting thumped on by not just one but all three of the beautiful women that I care about … it was a very bad week for me.

Much battered in spirit, not to mention somewhat bruised about the upper torso, I went to the library and studied up on the tests they’d been given. As always, the science helps. It turned out that the test they used for men back then was pretty good, but in women, you got a false negative about one time in four. That is to say, for one woman in four who actually had gonorrhea, the test didn’t show it. I’d always been a good mathematician, I took out my pencil and figured that if there was one chance in four of a false positive for any one of them, there was an excellent chance that one or more of them had a bad test result.

So I went back and told that to the good ladies. They were skeptical, but they all went and got retested. It turned out that one of them actually did have the clap, so my honor was restored, I had been telling the truth. I really had been faithful to the three of them and the three of them alone just like I’d sworn to them, and the very best news was … I hadn’t given the disease to either of the other two. And in the end they all told me they forgave me, although I’m still not clear what I’d done that needed forgiving, but I accepted it with an open heart anyhow, they were wonderful women … but I digress, I’m just happy I was young after penicillin and before AIDS …

As part of our Resistance work, we arranged all kinds of protests against the war, against imperialism, against poverty. We though of ourselves as Dadaist revolutionaries, though. I liked to carry random signs in the marches, signs advertising weird stuff, signs just with pictures, strange signs. On one march, I was face to face with the riot police, with everyone waving signs to end the Vietnam war, yelling slogans. Everyone had their signs, “END THE WAR”, “END THE INVASION”, than kind of thing.

Me, I was in front, hollering at the cops, and I was waving a lovely international orange road sign with black letters I’d found mounted on a post along the protest route, and had brought with me … I was a bit unclear on the “let’s all protest something” concept, I guess, but I knew how to have fun. I used to say that a Revolution you couldn’t laugh at wasn’t worth having.

The Vietnam War went on and on. In December, The Resistance leaders, based in Palo Alto, arranged for the second big mass sit-in at the Alameda Induction Center. At the first Resistance sit-in, everyone had gotten arrested, it was all peaceful, and they all had to do five days at the Santa Rita prison farm. The papers picked it up, it was a one-day wonder, we were all abuzz about how the war machine was cracking and how the Resistance was famous and we were starting to win …

However, the first sit-in had had absolutely no larger effect of any kind that I could tell. After the one day of news, that was it, no follow-up articles, the entire sit-in and the arrests and the jail time just vanished, and the war rolled on without the slightest change.

end road work

So the decision was made to do the exact same thing again, another identical sit-in, same time, same place.

Hey, don’t look at me like that, they didn’t solicit my opinion, although at the time I might have agreed. I likely was dumb enough then to do something a second time expecting a different result. So the Santa Cruz Resistance Commune (those of us who could) went up to Oakland for a sit-in in at the Army Induction Center to see if we could raise a public outcry and get arrested. “Clog up the gears of the war machine”, I believe was the catchphrase of the time.

I gotta confess, I wasn’t crazy about the whole idea. After spending a month or so locked up in the Navy nuthouse, and then five months behind bars in the Army nuthouse, I was kinda over the whole razor wire and cells and bars and guards experience, the thrill was gone. I’d done my time. But I went along. We were part of The Revolution, so no sacrifice was too great.

Our friends drove us up to Oakland early in the morning. We all got together around six AM, maybe 120 people or so, and we sat down all around the doors of the Induction Center. It was funny, that’s exactly where I’d been inducted a couple of years before. I was one of the few guys in the crowd who’d actually been inside, I’d spent hours in the place.

A “sit-in” is a non-violent event. It’s also, for that very reason, boring as hell. First off, we figured they’d open at eight, but they didn’t even open until nine … so we sat around and told each other stories about how noble our cause was, and how wrong the pigs and the war merchants were, and how much difference we were making. Like I said … booooring.

Eventually, the cops came. The Oakland Police were practiced at the action by then, it wasn’t their first rodeo. They backed up the paddy wagon, the police prisoner van, right up to the mass of sitting people, and just started tossing us in the back. As one wagon got full and left, another pulled right in. It was assembly line arrests, Henry Ford would have been proud. We thought we’d clog up the gears of the war machine? No worries, they had them well greased. By noon we were all hauled away and they were back to inducting draftees into the Army as though nothing had happened.

induction centerI’d never been in a paddy wagon, the “Black Maria” van the cops use to transport prisoners. But as you know, I’m always up for new experiences. The main thing I remember about it was that it smelled like vomit, no surprise there, it served as the rolling drunk tank most nights of the week. Given a choice, I’d advise taking alternate transportation. They hauled us away to the Justice Center by the packed van load.

We were put in a big cell. No windows, kind of dark. We waited for hours and hours. Waiting bothered some people a lot, they walked and paced, rattled the bars. I’d been locked in rooms like that before in the nuthouse, so I knew waiting of old, waiting was a good friend of mine, I could wait with the best of them. One by one people left the room to go before the Judge. None came back. We had no idea of our fate.

When my name was finally called, after the darkness of the holding cell the courtroom was blindingly bright. I blinked and looked around. The Judge was on a high dias, I had to look way up to him. He said “You are charged with Disturbing the Peace. How do you plead?” Like all of us, I plead guilty to Disturbing the War. The Judge looked just like a frog, puffed up, obviously frustrated by the unending long line of people waiting to come before him and mock his court. He sentenced me to twenty days like everyone else before me, and they started to take me … say what? Twenty days?

Twenty days? We’d figured on getting five days like the last bunch … and since that day was December 13th, that meant we wouldn’t see freedom until the second of January. We’d miss both Christmas and New Years. Pinche cabrón, I hadn’t planned on that, but there it was, my choices were dig it or bitch about it, and besides, no sacrifice was too great because we were making such a difference, it just made us more noble. Plus any mathematician could tell you, if we stayed in twenty days we’d make four times the difference that the folks made who stayed five days … of course, that had been zero difference, but we were comforted by the thought that we’d do four times as much.

So I reset my mental retirement clock, my next retirement wouldn’t be in time for Christmas, no, no. I reset for twenty days. No problem, I’d done months inside, I could do twenty days “standing on my head” as they say.

They took us, busload by busload, out to Santa Rita Prison Farm. They had two big connected barracks set aside for us, likely to avoid trouble with the cons. Or maybe to keep us from talking to them about sit-ins, I don’t know. I believe they’ve torn those barracks down since and built something else. We were over 100 guys, including David Harris, the founder of The Resistance. The much smaller number of women went elsewhere.

Being locked up this time wasn’t too bad. I was in a big barracks surrounded by like-minded friends. And best of all, I never once woke up lashed down to a bed, as had happened before several times, and that’s always a huge plus in my world. We talked stories and compared lies.

The best day in jail for all of us was Christmas, but not for the usual reason. I woke up and my friend Rodney said “Hey, check this out!”, with a big grin. He held out a box and told me to look inside. Damn, it was a treasure chest!

What happened was that some guys from the San Jose Resistance had broken into the jail late Christmas eve. That’s right, not out of the jail, but into the jail, like some lifer’s fantasy of Santa Claus for cons. They cut through the outer wire, came across an open area dodging the searchlights, cut through another fence around the barracks area, made it to our barracks, cut through the wire around our barracks, and came right inside.

Zowie. Tip of the Hat.

I talked later to one of the San Jose guys who had done it. He said going that direction was much easier than the alternative, because they’re never looking for people breaking into jail. He tried to down-play the whole thing, but I was still very impressed, because even if getting in was easier, the guys had still had to get back out again … that took some serious stones. I told him what a great gift it had been and what a difference it had made.

In any case, I woke up Christmas morning, and Rodney said that the San Jose guys had awakened him about 2 AM. They had brought in boxes and boxes of cookies, along with several cigarette packs full of joints. Damnbetcha, regular cigarette packets full of cigarettes of the mystery herb of the ancient Hindus, the eponymous “Indian Hemp”. Plus, there were a few tabs of blotter acid (LSD).

Of course, at that time marijuana and LSD were very illegal, particularly in jail, duh.

But we were in a funny place. Our barracks were the last two in a long row of similar barracks. There was only one way to get to us. It was a long path visible all along its way from the main street to us, and it had four locked gates with long walks in between. So they couldn’t rush us or do anything fast, it took them a couple minutes from when they appeared at the end of the row, out at the far end of the path with four locked gates, to the time when they arrived at the barracks, after they had walked and unlocked and relocked and walked and …

So we made no attempt to hide the dope. Instead, we distributed all the joints as fairly as possible, then we all went outside to the veranda. We all lit up at once, and we stood around sharing joints and eating cookies. We knew that we’d have plenty of time to laugh at the guards if they tried to stop us, and that the cookies and joints would be long gone by the time they got there. The guards did finally show up, late to the party as usual, the weed and the cookies were gone, the acid well hidden. We razzed them, told them they’d missed the party, if only they’d come half an hour earlier we’d have given them cookies and offered them a joint … somehow they didn’t see the humor in it. They ran us all back inside, and lectured us, and searched the veranda area, and then ran us all outside again, and shook down the whole barracks, and found nothing …

The best story of the whole Santa Rita farce, though, happened to one of my friends. He was put in solitary confinement for fighting, not his fault, somehow he’d ended up in a regular cell and his cellmate had attacked him. We smuggled in messages to him, letting him know he wasn’t forgotten.

After Christmas, through our contacts in the joint, we were able to smuggle him one of the tabs of blotter acid that the San Jose guys had brought in. My friend figured, hey, best place in the world to drop acid, nobody can mess with me. What are they gonna do … throw me in solitary?

He liked to meditate, that’s what he’d been doing in solitary the whole time. So he took the LSD and figured he’d spend his time doing some really intense meditation. Sat down on the floor, crossed his legs, pretty soon he was soaring.

Just as the main rush was starting to come on to him, and the cell walls were starting to melt, and the paisley colors were starting to appear on the backs of his hands, he had the very realistic hallucination that his cell door was opening. Of course, being on acid, from the time he first hallucinated hearing the aliens coming towards his door to the time he hallucinated the door finally opening was something was something like five or six weeks … at least it sure seemed that long, but it was hard to tell, there was that wooshy-wooshy noise that kept coming and going that distorted time too. It seemed to him in his elevated state that two aliens came in, they looked kinda like guards, he said, but you could tell the difference, he knew they weren’t guards. They said they had a directive from the home planet or something, their words kept echoing and bouncing around his head, or maybe it was just the echoes in the cell, but they were very hard to understand. They said to come with them, so he followed them meekly, wondering vaguely, where were the aliens taking him? But he didn’t wonder long, because the prison walls of the corridor were so interesting. How come he’d never noticed before that the walls flexed slightly inward and outward when he breathed? He tried to tell the aliens about his discovery, but they told him to shut up.

alien prison guardsThe faces of the aliens kept changing and melting, but he said he wasn’t afraid, he could tell they were friendly. At one point, the aliens lost the form of guards and then assumed the form of prison officials. They put a paper bag on the counter, had him sign some papers. One of the alien official people talked to him, he couldn’t hear him at all but there were little cartoon balloons over the alien’s head. He tried to read them, but they were hard to follow. They said something about how the warden  was letting him out two days early because my friend was such a wonderful person, or that he got extra credit for meditating while in the hole, or something, he was never clear on that part, but the aliens walked him right out of the front gate of the prison and left him there. He said he thought they had some power over the guards to let him go.

So before he knew it, there he was in front of the prison farm, let out two days early because of getting credit he didn’t know about for good behavior, all alone, peaking on acid, and gazing at the world in total wonder as the miraculous sun shone, and the grass grew, and he was free, free, free! He sat down in the grass right there in front of the Santa Rita prison farm, and started talking to the grass, and in a while the grass grew right through him, he could hear the grass taking over his body, and he became just another part of the very grassness of the world … and after while he fell asleep.

In the morning, he woke up next to the paper bag containing his wallet and his possessions, and didn’t know where he was. He sat up, looked around, saw he was outside the prison, and the memories of the acid trip and his miraculous escape and the aliens came back to him. He got up, walked to the road, and hitchhiked back to Santa Cruz.

And ever after that, he was convinced that LSD could do anything, melt steel bars, open jail doors, and nothing we could say about time off for good behavior would ever convince him different. The belief never seemed to do him any harm, he never tried to fly off of buildings on acid or anything stupid. He just had an unshakeable faith that everything would turn out right for him … and as is sometimes the case for folks who believe that, for him it always did. Go figure, he got out in time to celebrate New Years Eve.

They let the rest of us out the day after New Years, a cold windy day. The year had turned while we were away, we’d given stopping the War our best shot, and the War didn’t seem to notice at all. We’d missed Christmas. We’d missed the New Years party. We’d even missed our fifteen minutes of fame, we were in the slam the next day when the newspapers hit the streets … and by the time we were let out, after twenty days, the world had totally forgotten the sit-in, the story was dead on arrival …

“Oh, you were in a sit-in? I didn’t realize there had been one. Was it exciting?”

On that last day, we went through the standard drill, lines for this, sign here, lines for that, initial the form, put our civilian clothes back on, they handed us our wallets and belts and out the door with you, boyo.

Two of my three girlfriends picked me and a couple other Santa Cruz Resistance guys up outside the jail, and we all went back to Santa Cruz to plan the next step in the noble fight against the war. One thing was clear, though. Throwing my skinny okole in jail, whether they did it or I did it to myself, didn’t seem to change the war one bit. I’m a slow learner sometimes … but I never tried that brilliant plan again.

w.

Advertisements

  Subscribe  
newest oldest most voted
Notify of
Monroe

My friend got blown up in Vietnam then he tried to kill me when he got home. What a bunch of bullshit. I whent to Canada.

Luther Wu

Timo Kuusela

Strange, something deep inside me wished that You had been fighting in Vietnam.
It is not disappointment, just more like feeling of confusion.Expectations are a mysterious thing.

Interesting! THX for posting it.
I turned 18 the Spring after they ended the draft for S.E.A. and am grateful to have missed what so many unwillingly suffered and so many proudly endured and from which so many returned wounded and still others did not return.. God bless them all, their families and their friends.

The first time I had an um experience, I was was in an industrial estate. The factories – they were so beautiful! I could see we had to clear the forests to make way for more factories.
When future historians analyse the peculiar events of our age, I wonder how much they will blame our age’s hangup on green issues with the fact powerful hallucinogens are illegal, and are often found in forests.

markx

That seems pretty useful advice re relating contentious issues of the extremely personal kind to a group of three girlfriends. And not something just anyone can tell ya. Thanks Willis. 🙂

u.k.(us)

Acid trips, should have a separate thread.
Or, is that just me ?

Willis Eschenbach

Monroe says:
February 24, 2013 at 8:46 pm

My friend got blown up in Vietnam then he tried to kill me when he got home. What a bunch of bullshit. I went to Canada.

My best friend in high school told me he wanted to go overseas to kill gooks. He didn’t mean it, he meant he just wanted to fight and kill for what he thought was a noble cause, stopping the spread of Communism.
When he landed in the Nam, there was a big flap going on, the base where he landed was under attack. They were all riflemen in the plane, so they were hurriedly issued rifles and sent to the perimeter. No sooner had he gotten there and was diving for safety, a bullet passed through his navel on one side and exited his rectum on the other.
He thought he would die right there, but a Huey, not a rescue Huey but the regular kind, landed for some reason, and they strapped him in. They flew him to some evacuation airport, he was transferred directly to a Tokyo-bound jet, and was in the operating room only a few hours after he’d first touched the soil of Vietnam … he was lucky, he lived, but his internal plumbing has been rerouted ever since. Maybe the shortest tour of duty on record.
And all I could think when I heard the news was, what a tragic waste. What a sad, sad thing.
Some went to Canada, some went crazy, some went to Vietnam for one hour and came back evacuating into a bag strapped to their side like my friend, and I cannot say whether what any of them did was right or not. I’d been in and back out before my friend went in. I begged him not to go, I told him take any other path, just don’t go. He thought that honor required that he fight for his country. I thought he was going to die meaninglessly in a futile unwinnable war, and he damn near did.
Was he right or wrong to go fight? I do not have a clue. I can only honor and support the decision he made, just as I honor both your decision to go to Canada, and your friend’s decision to go to war. No one made the right decision in that war, we all just made different kinds and degrees of wrong decisions.
w.

Well written

Great Story

Having grown up during the ’60’s, I can identify with your story. Just living during that period was an adventure in itself.
In EVERY combat arena, not just Vietnam, there are always the mentally affected, PTSD and otherwise, in addition to the other horrors of death and physical wounding. One of the hardest realizations is that politicians have little incentive to care about human factors and usually take little serious personal interest in the misfortune of combat soldiers. Those in combat support and not seeing actual fighting also usually have little appreciation of front line conditions and the results. Horribly, there is even less concern for the many more civilians and combatants on the other side who obviously end up worse off with similar issues. This is why any military action should have thorough moral and integrous justification.
Unfortunately WWII, which was one of the few wars fought rightly, convinced most “patriotic” Americans that this country’s leadership would not possibly enter future conflicts for the wrong reasons. In addition to the tremendous cost of wars such as Vietnam and Iraq (Vietnam/Social Security Fund, Afghanistan & Iraq/3.7 trillion unfunded) , they have also reduced credibility and resulted in major inroads into personal freedoms through the “patriot act” and “Homeland Security”. Sadly, I don’t see anything improving in this arena in the near term.

Willis Eschenbach

u.k.(us) says:
February 24, 2013 at 9:25 pm

Acid trips, should have a separate thread.
Or, is that just me ?

Thanks, u.k. It’s three paragraphs in the entire story. How does that make up a separate thread?
Plus which, I’m telling the story of what happened to me and my friends in the Santa Rita Prison Farm, and that was one of them … unfortunately, life itself doesn’t offer us separate threads for these things, they just happen where they happen, and as an honest witness, I can’t just ignore them.
w.

Jerry

Damn, Willis! Your adventure with the clap and those three women was far more dangerous to life and limb than hopping a freight!

Willis, I cannot simple read this part of of your Autobiography and let it pass because you say you do not want to debate the issues. You have not let your views and actions fade with time, so I cannot simply let this post stand without comment.
I must express my total repugnance with your positions, your actions and your life style during this part of your life. We all have made mistakes and have low points in our lives. It is my observation that most of those who opposed the Vietnam War and who lived the hippie, drug fueled, anti establishment age of protest have never come to the realization that they were wrong and distructive. To this day most of them still think of themselves as heroes.
There are several essential elements separating those who fought proudly (and bravely) in Southeast Asia and those at home who supported them throughout this horrible time from those who self-righteously opposed the war. I think there are three big lies that they continue believe and expond about the war. Here they are
1. The Vietnam War represented an unconstitutional conflict based upon American imperialism and a desire for world dominance
2. The military lost the war on the battlefield, and in the process committed horrendous atrocities
3. Anti-war protestors became the true heroes of that turbulent era, and their efforts ultimately brought peace to both the US and Indochina.
I contend that each of these three claims is not correct and slanders this nation.
Willis, I continue to admire most of your life as told in your autobiography and thank you for your work countering the bad science of global warming and I am still a “friend” via WUWT. My guess is that this difference will forever, however, cloud our relationship. So be it. You chose to not let this part of your life rest. I cannot simply let it stand uncountered. Regrets.

I registered for the draft in December 1969 in Santa Ana, Calif., but not long after the Selective Service folks shifted to the lottery system, picking birth dates out of a hat or something or other. My birth date was chosen No. 348. No way I was going to the Vietnam hell-hole.
When I worked at Disney World in the early 1970s, one of my fellow Jungle Cruise skippers had a low draft number and was inducted into the Army. He wrote back to the rest of us, describing his not-so-pleasant experience: “I think I’m in a bad dream.”

Willis Eschenbach

Jerry says:
February 24, 2013 at 10:01 pm

Damn, Willis! Your adventure with the clap and those three women was far more dangerous to life and limb than hopping a freight!

That’s why I provided the Official Warning …
w.

I was about 10 years too young for Viet Nam, but I did work with some friends that were directly involved and some days I would see that 30 mile stare, I can only think that if I were unnerved that they must have gone straight through a living nightmare! great readthanks Willis!

David Davidovics

As someone who never smoked anything, its a little hard for me to relate to why anyone would try LSD but much like the whole era, its still a part of the real world. Although I avoid sunglasses because I like to see the world as undistorted as possible. Takes all kinds, I suppose.

Athelstan.

Britain, only just avoided being dragged in to South East Asia and Vietnam. My problem with politicians – they don’t learn, nor read history.
If British politicians, had read any history – particularly British military history of Afghanistan – we would not be there now. From Alexander and throughout history the Afghan combatant has been an indefatiguable opponent.
The forces of Ho Chi Minh, were far more than capable fighters, the south was corrupt after the wayward years of French occupation. The warriors of the Foreign legion expeditionary force were stuffed at Dien Bien Phu.
Not learning any lessons, the CIA thought it a good idea to interfere – the Vietnamese were teak hardened troops and had been battling the Chinese for a thousand years – nobody was going to beat them on home turf and the rest as they say – is history.
History, learn it – it is the sum total of man’s mistakes.

It was a strange time. We believed in something vague called “The Revolution”. We weren’t sure what that was, but we knew we were at the forefront of it. It involved throwing out everything that our parents believed. That much was obvious from the terrible hole it left behind. Beyond that, we were making up the song as we were singing it.
Speaking as one of the younger brothers and sisters of your generation we thought you all were pretentious arrogant farts who thought you knew everything and the last 40+ years has not changed that opinion.
By throwing out everything your parents believed we have opened up a cultural wasteland that will take generations to repair, if ever.

Hoser

An adventure with a particular fungus provided an opportunity to illuminate some issues I had buried deeply in my head. Why is it these things are always about mothers? Anyway, without that experience, I would not have properly dealt with them.
The active components allowed me to experience descending through different layers of conciousness, getting down into parts of my mind I didn’t know existed. I know they are there now, but they are usually silent. And I am sure they can be accessed if you use very controlled breathing methods. I suspect it could take years to learn how to do that without psychotropic help.
What I did was dangerous, and not something to be done regularly, and possibly not without (medical) supervision. Otherwise, whatever you discover deep inside your mind might be your last thoughts.

Brad Ervin

War is certainly one of the more horrific of human endeavours. (It pales in comparison to some of the more personal horrors humans are capable of inflicting upon each other, though) But, is one war a more horrific adventure than another? Would that we could, any of us would abolish war. Yet, walking away from a war won’t cause an outbreak of peace. The victory of WW2 set the stage for 80 years of peace whereas the armistice of WW1 set the stage for WW2.
Which wars in our past were worth the expenditure? Korea; WW2; WW1; the Civil War? Some were popular at the time, some not. History has draped some wars, and their combatants in glory but forgotten others.
By applying personal anecdotes from a particular war there is a risk we will replace the essential meaning of any conflict with laudable hand-wringing over individual strife. The cost, in human terms, of the Civil War was extreme. But the unknowable cost of not fighting that war could have been worse. Certainly, the human costs of a century of slavery was horrendous. Would anyone suggest that that slavery was not a war of a different kind?
What defines a noble war? In WW2 we were attacked. No doubt many were maimed by that war just as surely as any other less noble war. Are some things worth fighting for?
Most whom suggest that the Vietnam War was the wrong war or an illegitimate war drag out war stats or point to the debacle of 1975, three years after Nixon effectively “won” the war or point to the demonstrations. None bring up the situation leading to the beginning of the war. None address the fact that the war was negligently prosecuted. None admit that the anti-war demonstrations were largely orchestrated by the same Left (itself animated by the same juggernaut that was backing the Viet-Cong) that hungered for the defeat of American interests. Like the American Communists of the 1930’s that were pacifists until Uncle Joe was attacked, the American Left was again used as political carpet bombing in the anti-war movement serving a purpose named peace but driven by a desire for conquest.
If war is politics by another name then politics is war by another name.

Alaska John

We are all in this together my friend. Well done, and well written.

johnryer

[snip . . posting under different names is against site rules . . mod]

Willis Eschenbach

denniswingo says:
February 24, 2013 at 11:32 pm

Speaking as one of the younger brothers and sisters of your generation we thought you all were pretentious arrogant farts who thought you knew everything and the last 40+ years has not changed that opinion.

So … you’re saying that your whole generation was right and my whole generation was wrong?
Thanks for the info, Dennis … any other ridiculously over-generalized boasts you’d like to make about how wonderful you and your entire generation are, and how terrible I and my entire generation are, or is that it for now?
The fact that you think this is a right/wrong, arrogant/not arrogant, black/white, your generation/my generation kind of deal is not just sooo last century. That two-valued point of view, generation vs. generation, is much more primitive than that … reading your claim is like seeing a dinosaur walking down the street.
Life doesn’t work like that, my friend. Some of what my generation did, and I myself did, was foolish, wrong, stupid, or bad. And some of it was inspired, correct, brilliant or productive. We’re all both saints and sinners, this is not a tale for six-year-olds where one man is all good and another is pure evil. I write about life in all its complexity.
Same with your generation. They have the same pluses and minuses as any generation, they are not all black or all white, they are good folks and bad, geniuses and idiots.
So get off your high horse, Dennis, you and your generation are just fools like the rest of us, no better, no worse.
More to the point, who appointed you the judge of the actions of an entire generation? Was there a special election for the post of inter-generational judge, or did you win the judgeship by acclaim?
Let me invite you to let it go, Dennis, and just enjoy the stories. I’m certainly not claiming that everything I or my friends or my generation did is right. I’m telling the good, the bad, and the ugly about my own life. This is not some morality play, it’s the story of what I did and what I saw and experienced. Whether you love it or hate it means nothing, it is simply a record of a vanished time.
Best regards,
w.

kadaka (KD Knoebel)

Saw “Behind Bars Again” under “Recent Posts”, clicked on it.
And this is not about James Hansen.
Oh well, this should be more entertaining than a boring “There he goes again” post about the “arrested development” of NASA’s chief Climate Scientist.

markx

denniswingo says: February 24, 2013 at 11:32 pm
“…. all were pretentious arrogant farts who thought you knew everything …”
That’s odd. My impression is that most of the pretense, arrogance, farting, and know-all attitude resided mainly in the minds of the warmongers who proclaimed SE Asia needed saving from the domino effects of communism and that propping up “their man” even if he was a crook was better than any and all alternatives. (And some of ’em still believe it now).

Mike Ozanne

” …..telling three women at the same time that one gave you gonorrhea and you might have given it to the other two. ”
Jesus Willis, I’m impressed you made it out of there alive…..:-)

David in Michigan

Willis, you write very well. Coincidentally, I too grew up in San Jose and am very familiar both with the places and the times you write about. I was in Viet Nam 69 to 70 as a draftee though with full disclosure, I was essentially a REMF. I’ve got to tell you, I’m with Denniswingo………. you can rationalize it as a personnal story but it really fits a lot of people, especially in California. The damage done by the “boomers” is what we are now living and it’s a mess.

Stephen Wilde

Well written and entertaining as always but are we not in danger of losing sight of the primary purpose of this site ?

AlexS

WW2 was good Vietnam was bad why?
“…are we not in danger of losing sight of the primary purpose of this site ?”
Precisely. I expect climate news or discussion not Willis life story, no disrespect intended.

rogerknights

Willis Eschenbach says:
February 24, 2013 at 9:56 pm

u.k.(us) says:
February 24, 2013 at 9:25 pm
Acid trips, should have a separate thread.
Or, is that just me ?

Thanks, u.k. It’s three paragraphs in the entire story. How does that make up a separate thread?
Plus which, I’m telling the story of what happened to me and my friends in the Santa Rita Prison Farm, and that was one of them … unfortunately, life itself doesn’t offer us separate threads for these things, they just happen where they happen, and as an honest witness, I can’t just ignore them.

I don’t think he was wishing you had left those three paragraphs out, but that you had expanded on that topic in a dedicated thread. (I second the motion.)

Dodgy Geezer

@markx
(denniswingo says: February 24, 2013 at 11:32 pm
“…. all were pretentious arrogant farts who thought you knew everything …”)
“…That’s odd. My impression is that most of the pretense, arrogance, farting, and know-all attitude resided mainly in the minds of the warmongers …”
Coming from Willis’ generation, I have had a reasonable opportunity to see both sides of the argument.
During the 1960s I agreed strongly with the poster who bemoaned the “throwing out everything our parents believed in” and “opening up a cultural wasteland”. As a kid, it amazed me that any generation could sing ‘We don’t need no education..’ and expect to continue to live in a civilized society. If I had met Willis, we could have enjoyed arguing deep into the night, fueled by our respective mind-altering drug of choice (Waddies 6X in my case…)
On the other hand, you had to be there (and a teenager!) to really experience the stultifying social pressure to conform to social norms of the late 1950s, which drove this rebellion. But perhaps that was better than the technologically-imposed pressure to conform to activist norms that we are starting to build in the 2010s…
I think that the works of Julian Simon should be studied much more closely than they are. He pointed out that EVERY new generation thinks of itself as special, as suffering greatly as a result of the policies of the generation before it who are currently in charge, and that if only they could go back to the generation before that everything would be sweetness and light. While at the same time the lot of humanity generally improves across all generations, and continues to do so unabated, and generally unnoticed….
There really are, however, fundamentals that all generations should hold dear. These are fairly simple and straightforward – the classical philosophers generally agree on this. One pretty basic one is that you shouldn’t build a policy based entirely on lies. If you do, everything you have done, including the good bits, tends to fall apart in you hands. And that is really the big problem I have with AGW….

mareeS

Willis, you’re correct when you say the Vietnam war damaged every person it touched, but you’d have to agree the damage has been to a greater or lesser degree for every individual and takes many forms, and that people affected by it deal with it in different ways.
My husband did his time there, he’s reasonably sane for a former infantry scout, has lived a reasonably disciplined work and family life, but has sent the rest of us as his wife and children into a form of PTSD that is now recognised by the Australian Veterans Affairs Dept as a consequence of that war.
Your post-war narritive is quite a read.
None of us in our family could be classified as mainstream people. The spouse has some behaviours, and after 40 yrs of living with him I have some as well. Our children have a few of their own, none of which are particularly difficult or destructive, but which make them a challenge in relationships. The interesting thing for us is that we’re both professionals, our children have quite interesting occupations, but “ordinary” people always seem to find us a bit off-putting, don’t really know how to take us, and so our friends tend to be a bit “out there” as well.
Your take on the war in your penultimate and final paragraphs is nicely put.
mareeS

William Truesdell

” John Coleman says:
February 24, 2013 at 10:29 pm
I contend that each of these three claims is not correct and slanders this nation.
Willis, I continue to admire most of your life as told in your autobiography and thank you for your work countering the bad science of global warming and I am still a “friend” via WUWT.”
A a vet of that war, I support John’s comments. There is a lot of self justification in the essay, which is not unusual for those who took that path.
Willis’ recent spat of essays have little to do with weather and dilutes the main purpose of this site. All of us could write about life and our lives, and all have a story to tell. But they are better placed in a frame that fits the narrative.
Let this site “keep the main thing the main thing”. Rabbit trails are interesting but unproductive.
W. Truesdell

Alan the Brit

Your candour, Willis, is admirable as always. I may not necessarily agree with you, but, (please forgive), I would defend your right to say them to the death! War is a terrible, terrible, thing! I have thankfully never experienced it first hand & never want to! However, some wars are just & necessary. WWII is a prime example, where a bully, thug, & lunatic, arouses the feelings of like minded degenerates, into an active body hell bent on global domination, & the extermination of a race of people Europewide, seems reasonable to react against to me! I don’t like thugs or bullies, as they seek to impose their will over mine & others, regardless of whether I want it or need it, or not! Those believers in Human Rights usually are those who seek to impose authority upon others, with little talk of Responsibility Obligations towards others or even themselves! The American Foreign Policy of the time was to prevent the spread of Global Communism, with all that that would have done to wealth, health, freedom, liberty, & justice around the world! Communists & Socialists never ever think things through, they see idealism as just that, but they never think of the Human element, someone somewhere will always want to take charge, exert control, & that is where the abuse of power arises! Nuff said!

kadaka (KD Knoebel)

I got the usual symptom, a leaky faucet…
Apparently that must your usual symptom. CDC’s Gonorrhea Fact Sheet doesn’t list that one. Good chances of not having any symptoms at all, or ones you don’t notice except as a passing bug. The woman who infected you sure didn’t seem to know she had it.
With the possible lack of any noticed symptoms, the increasing prevalence of drug-resistant versions so a case of “the clap” may be untreatable and permanent, many also-silent and possibly lethal STD’s like Chlamydia and HPV
I wonder if the “Free Love” generation will ever acknowledge the enormous burden they’ve thrust on those after them, as their behavior is being relentlessly promoted by their generation as “normal” and “natural” by their movies and TV shows, with anything but unprotected one-nights and “whomever’s available” bed-hopping portrayed as prudish and old-fashioned.
Heck, it’s no longer allowed to matter which and how many partners someone else had before, it’s impolite to ask, it’s their personal business and none of yours… They could have been drug-addled party animals who’d do anything anyone wanted for a hit or a giggle, could have half a dozen silent incurable infections as mementos from the last one hundred 5-minute thrills… But true love means never asking who all they bonked before you, if you love them then the past never matters, right?
Sorry to go on, but the “Ah shoot, gotta get a shot before getting back to partying” mindset is painfully naive, stupid, and borderline maddening.

Do whatever you have to do in order to avoid telling three women at the same time that one gave you gonorrhea and you might have given it to the other two.
And this long sordid yet disappointing tale of horrendously misspent youth, ultimately banal and predictable, that echoes possibly hundreds of forgettable 1960-70’s “teenage rebellion” movies of dubious production values… Is made even duller by not even entertaining the barest possibility of one woman getting it from another.
Bummer.

jhborn

Not at all gung-ho–in fact, thinking we were making a mistake–I served only because I was not as successful as many of my contemporaries at getting my conscience to align itself conveniently with my fear. And, in the event, I was only too happy to end up being little more than an REMF (interdicting Communist supply lines in the Gulf of Tonkin), so I had no experiences as harrowing as many I’ve heard–or, frankly, even as interesting as some of Mr. Eschenbach’s diverting tales.
But not the least harrowing among those I’ve heard have been told by Vietnamese who recount what they endured at the hands of the regime that came to power because we withdrew our support without making sure that Red China withdrew its. And convincing analyses I’ve seen since suggest that my more-able and -valiant comrades had (after an admittedly bumbling start) left things in a state in which the further support necessary would have been modest.
So what does that have to do with this blog’s topic? I’ve become convinced that the mainstream media’s performance on the war then was as execrable then as it is on global warming now.

eco-geek

Wow! Behind bars three times. I could only manage six short stays in police cells for stuff like alleged car and alcohol theft and armed robbery and sundry crimes of violence. I got out without the use of acid. In fact I never did any of it. I did make “Police Five” once.
Can we have a bragging contest?

Never, never, NEVER, fight a war of attrition with an Asian country. Think the the “Terra-Cotta Army” the one Chinese emporer was buried with. THAT is what they will do to you, and it won’t be pretty! There was a REASON we had to “bomb the crap” out of Japan to lead to surrender. The two “bright white” flashes made them realize they could be “eliminated” as a race, and lead to surrender. Alas, in Viet Nam we did NOT have a final objective, and we did NOT have the will to be as brutal as in Japan. Oh, and please remember the objective fact (despite what they claim at the Edo Museum, in Tokyo, i.e. 90,000 killed by the firebomb raids, early 1945) that 260,000 to 300,000 were killed by CONVENTIONAL weapons. The Japanese knew it. We had complete air control over Japan, yet they fought on.
Again, to my point…war of attrition, in Asian countries don’t “win” per say, but keep fighting. Do you want a contrast with the European societies? Review the films of the North Africa campaign. The Germans surrended in DROVES when they knew they had lost those battles and that territory. Different mind set, different culture in any of the Asian countries.

mkelly

I really liked the spitting and baby killer rants from the anti-war crowd. It did not matter whether you were a baker or a sniper you were all baby killers.
If you did not want to refight the war then why use the word “wrong” four times in the first paragraph. Or for that matter write the first paragraph at all telling us it was wrong.
There are those among WUWT readers who don’t think as you do about the wrongness of the war. Who served honorably for a cause and a nation. Who don’t need to be told by extention that we were wrong.
But I guess you reap what you sow and now we have John Kerry for secretary of state.

Re Viet Nam: Willis is right that there are no easy answers. My late friend Sinc observed at the time that “we are fighting on the wrong side,” and that was a sentiment widely shared by the college youth, who saw Ho Chi Min as a the George Washington of his nation. But in hindsight, was it true? The North Koreans were not Jeffersonians. Once the US retreated the dominoes did fall (as the ghosts of some four million Cambodians can testify). And the US military suffered mightily in the estimation of the American people.
Would the ‘flower-power’ movement have flourished except in reaction to Viet Nam? The draft, and an ‘undeclared war’ put enormous pressure on young men (I was lucky, I guess, to have had a lenient draft board, which left me exempted as a graduate student). The ’60s in the US were a time of great fervent: the Cold War (I remember guys scheming to drive to the North Carolina coast and steal a boat to escape the nuclear hell threatened by the Cuban Missile Crisis), the convulsions of the Civil Rights Movement, the traumatic assassinations, and the glories of the Apollo program, all leaving ordinary people torn this way and that. Some youngsters were getting in station wagons and driving south to sit in at lunch counters. Some were putting on uniforms (some willingly, some not) and heading to Southeast Asia. And some, maybe most, were just scratching their heads, and wondering what the hell was going on.
I agree with Willis that it makes no sense to generalize about ‘generations’. There really aren’t any such things, no dividing line between one ‘generation’ and the next, as if people stopped breeding for a few years between them. And they don’t explain the twists and turns of history, especially the ironies, like an ambitious anti-war spokesman (who lied before Congress about his comrades committing atrocities) now the Secretary of State of the United States.
/Mr Lynn

There are no “just” wars. Some like WWII are necessary. It is questionable that using the military to promote a political cause is ever necessary, or even effective. What will we learn from our experience with our “War on terror”? Terrorist do not play by the “rules of war”. Why should we? I’m in favor of using covert small groups of well trained dedicated individuals to do the dirty work. It may not be legally “justfied” but seems economically “necessary”. The same could apply to our “war on CAGW” Well trained scientist armed with the truth should be able to defeat the politically motivated CAGW team. However, we may need to use some covert political methods to counter their political activity such as Washington rallies.

@ John Coleman –
I agree. To me, there has always been a difference between those who “did their duty” and may have been in a situation where they acted in a “difficult manner” and those who made the personal decision to act as they did. mkelly’s reminder of the “baby killer” attitude speaks volumes about those who Willis was a known associate.
Wonder what difference there would be today if Walter Cronkite hadn’t told us we were losing the war?
Times have sure changed though, just think Cindy Sheehan – when she was protesting “the War” and Bush was President she was all over the main stream media but when she continued her protesting of “the War” once Obama became President the main stream media almost totally ignored her.
It would seem that we no longer need to be admitted to the “nuthouse”, the “nuthouse” has simply become so large that it encompasses all of us. Unfortunately, those who have been in the “nuthouse” the longest are now running the facility.

more soylent green!

Willis,
Well-written as always, but not sure what it has to do with the mission of WUWT.

Keitho

Thanks Willis, as always a good read.
I too have spent some days locked up. It was unpleasant and political but you always meet some good people in the cells.
I also spent time in the 60’s and 70’s fighting in a nasty war in Central Africa. I too was a conscript but as is so often the case it was easier to go along rather than whinge . We were fighting against encroaching Communism as our country was just another pawn in the Cold War. Unfortunately we were white and the insurgents were black so we were portrayed as simple racists and the Communists were allowed to win and subsequently took over and promptly set about destroying everything that worked.
A few Americans showed up in our world. They had come from the war in Vietnam in the 70’s and they were very committed to the concept of fighting Communists. They were good at their job and had an ideological commitment that seemed genuine and they were very motivated. We still lost because firstly the Communists took over in our immediate neighbour and so we had a huge new front to fight on. Secondly because Henry Kissinger convinced the South Africans that we needed to be sacrificed for the greater good.
Well here we are with all the bad things we predicted having happened. The war against Communism was real but it was portrayed as a racist war. Same as Vietnam and most other wars since, where the media guides perception and most folk don’t really understand the reality. Willis was misguided in his political outlook and became one more “useful idiot” to the cause. Not a criticism because , frankly, war sucks and very few men actually enjoy it although I know a few who did I am not one.
For all of us war is a defining experience whether you fight or object and avoid. It all takes courage of one sort or another and at the end losing always messes with your head. “If only” replays many times. Unlike Willis my “decision” wasn’t active it was passive. Perhaps we were both wrong for different reasons but my “take away” was to be a lot more cynical and questioning of authority which was the point Willis had got to before, rather than after the event.

jc

You have, Willis, asserted the right to propound your views and then insist that no one takes issue with them. As John Coleman states above, you do not have that right.
I turned 18 in 1976. As such I was never obliged to have any personal identification with any “side” in relation to the Vietnam War. Or for that matter any element of the 1960’s “culture” as a matter of practical choice or action since it was dead and gone. The ramifications of the 1960’s have however continued to this day.
By the mid 1970’s it was obvious that from any perspective the Vietnam War was a disaster, which is not at all the same thing as saying it was wrong in itself. Apart from this, my experience was in being aware how the Vietnam Vets were vilified whilst actually serving and then on their return.
Even as a 12 or 14 yo what little I heard of the actions in opposition to the war, shown in the behavior to the soldiers, I knew to be terribly wrong. These men were after all simply doing their duty. In doing so, they were prepared to suffer and perhaps die.
For others.
The pure viciousness with which they were attacked – personally – by those apposed to the war I simply could not understand.
I do understand it now.
I have to congratulate you Willis for, in the space of just this posting by you, and one or two of your responses to comments, unintentionally encapsulating the core nature of the ’60’s generation as expressed by your cohort, and thereby allowing people to see quite clearly how it has impacted on the existence of billions of people from that time through for the next 100 years.
Pure poison.
It is beyond grotesque that you seek to co-opt a part of the suffering caused by that conflict to yourself and those you associated with at that time. The combatants suffered and, if not killed then, in many cases were destroyed later. You weren’t. Your friends weren’t.
You existed in your nirvana supplied with the essentials of life by a willing coterie of females: food, sex.
You have inadvertently provided the definitive description of the base reality underpinning all of the manifestations of the the ’60’s urges which had and have their greatest “cultural” validations and achievements in a handful of 3 minute pop songs.
You positioned yourself to have possession of three females for your sexual gratification whilst those males they might otherwise be mating with were exposing themselves to obliteration. And those males were doing so on behalf of the wider society of humans they were born of and were part of, and had obligations to.
Nothing could be more Primaeval. This is the DEFINITION of Primaeval.
They die. You get.
You had a choice. You chose yourself.
This idea that it is generally understood that this war was “the wrong war; at the wrong time; in the wrong place” has been propagated relentlessly for 40 years, NOT as an historical evaluation but as a vindication for those like you.
With the clear intention that this confers on those of your age who would not participate a Superior Knowledge and in fact a prescience as to the course of human affairs.
The proposition that not all SE Asian countries became communist after the end of the war is paraded as “proof” that this war had no validity at all.
The idea that 10 years of human intervention has no effect at all on any outcome is a defeat for the entire concept of responsibility.
It is a repudiation of any relationship between action and result. Cause and effect. Rationality.
The results of this are with us now.
No 18, 20 or 22 year old has ever had the capacity to understand the full implications of waging a war or not. EVER. On a previous post you described your reactions on being obliged to be part of this conflict. You made no claim to having objections based on your comprehension of the necessity or otherwise of this conflict as indeed no honest human at that age could.
Instead, you say you didn’t like the realty of being dictated to by the organizational structure associated with war. It didn’t suit you.
You described an incident in which you said to an officer that you don’t take orders or instruction from those you don’t know. As if this is supposed to be a homily to the virtues of the Independent Man of which you were an expression in that benighted situation.
Far from showing that, it shows your profound limitations in your preparedness to actually be properly part of the world that has allowed you to exist in the first place.
The idea that you should not be obliged in any way to anyone not of your circle and whom you have personally vetted is a defeat of the entire basis for civilization which allows for complex interactions across a wide range of people and responsibilities.
It does not even qualify as tribalism. Within a tribe there are obligations. For the 1960’s Independent Man of your construction there are none. If those encountered are not congenial: that is, prepared to accede to your requirements, they can be disregarded.
In a nutshell, you spruik the Virtue of only acknowledging the importance of those things that it is advantageous for you to do so, and only those things within your ambit that might have immediate consequences for you.
You can claim in the life you have lived to have been consistent with that, but so can the Wall St trader. And the Climate Change devotee.
This is not an independence of mind. It is not an expression of the free agency of individuals.
It is the opposite of those things. It is a reliance in entirety on the efforts of others.
Your cohort came of age at a time when the efforts of others over hundreds of years allowed you to see yourselves as being exempt from contributing to that. You will claim that you have stood on your own two feet through the life you have led. Only the most self-interested to the point of complete blindness would claim that.
Your entire existence as described by you, in outlook and incident has transpired on a platform created by others. As a white American of your age the world was your oyster and this could be prepared and consumed in the manner of your choosing.
You spent 17 years in the South Pacific. Do you think this possibility eventuated because of your intrinsic virtue? It didn’t.
You tout the virtue of adventure in the manner you have undertaken. What you define as adventure is mostly the option of placing yourself in, to you, novel situations created and lived by others.
The seeking of gratification through episodes of sensation is something anyone might enjoy. Have you asked the average 20 yo American of today – the inheritor of what has been created or destroyed over the past 40 years – whether their sense of what is possible in life allows for such a freedom?
Your cohort has never been interested in seeing yourselves as part of humanity at large.
Instead, from the outset, you marked yourselves as different – and more entitled. This shows itself in the cultural artifacts of the day. The 3 minute tune. An apt example might be Joni Mitchell: “they put up a parking lot in paradise”. Translation? I’m here. I’ve got what I want.
Anyone else can keep out. Who are “they”?. Anyone not like me.
Your attacking Denniswingo above demonstrates the nature of your cohort in an almost laughable manner. The instinctual impulse to attack anything and anyone who dares to even raise the prospect that your conception of yourself might not be completely valid reminds me of the reportage around Kurt Cobains death in 1994. Personally this meant little to me but it plainly meant a great deal to a whole generation of young people. And that was just not to be tolerated was it?
Here was the death of a rock star who was emblematic for certain people. But how dare they try and supplant Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin! You owned Youth and no-one would take take away from you. You, Willis, may well protest: not me! And that may be true.
But your cohort did. They were prepared to crush their own children to preserve their primacy of importance. This is pure evil.
Your response to Denniswingo is an attack on him and degradation of his perspective followed by the demand dressed as a sagacious expression of worldliness that he conform to your perspective – Climate Change anyone? – whilst ignoring the last sentence which contains the substance of what he had to say – Climate Change anyone? – is prototypical.
You even have the gall – and the delusion as you approach the age marked for death – to claim for yourself the mantle of 21st Century Man as you trash any “inconvenient truth”.
The abandonment of responsibility by your cohort 45 years ago; the elevation of self-interest cloaked in virtue; the twisting of reality; the exclusion of inconvenient facts; the fraud of not acknowledging the foundational basis for your own existence either in values or material reality; the relativist “morality” that has been created and crafted to preclude judgement on the the implications of any behavior at all; the ridiculing and demonization of any who might seek to present a point of view which threatened all this, are all writ large across every part of society today.
Denniswingo is completely correct in identifying the consequences of what YOU yourself volunteered above as being at the heart of the sensibility of your cohort – the rejection of the imperative of values -, and which you evaded, showing you DO NOT have the honesty or courage to address him or the issues properly.
And that sums up what your cohort, stripped of all its cover, actually is.
You can demand all you like that you not be judged. Too bad. You are and will be.
The generation of ’68 whether in the US or Europe will be seen starkly for what they are. It is only necessary to look at the carmakers of the US putting on new workers at half the pay of established ones – its allright, I’m in – or the aging protestors of Europe demanding all their “entitlements” whilst ignoring the fate of their own children to see the nature of such people.
This is the legacy of the generation of ’68. They will be judged savagely. For the looting and destruction of Western Civilization.
“Climate Change” with its attendant hysteria, perversions of reality, and destruction of the capacity of humanity to sensibly interact with the world could not exist but for the generation of ’68.
You, your cohort, are responsible. And the world cannot possibly hope to retrieve a sound basis let alone progress without this being clearly seen and acknowledged.
So even now, you in the above comments, along with the multitude of the like minded, stand as an impediment to society being able to function properly.
And I have no doubt the intention is to carry this to the grave. God forbid that it could be your problem.

Gareth Phillips

In those days we had a brave a assertive prime minister who refused the pressure to involve UK troops and personnel in Vietnam for much of the same reasons outlined by Willis. His name was Harold Wilson and it is to the UKs regret and sadness that no Prime minister or President since has shown the same judgement and understanding. The other point that Willis makes is that the less known injuries, those of mental health are still being treated but while not as obvious as a missing limb, can be just as disabling to the victim and their family. Unfortunately problems like PTSD and depression are not as image worthy as physical injuries. They may be referred to as ‘nutters’ or just ‘nuts’ but they are as much victims and heroes as any other combatant and deserving of our respect.

In an interview against the war protesters, catroonist Al Capp, of “Little Abner” fame was asked what he thought of “free love”….he said….”i think the price is right”….the protest agains the war machine was right as well.
A John Coleman….with regrets that you are the JC of KUSI.com fame.
On a clear day in May, 1915, the J P Morgan owned Lusitania liner was sunk in the Irish Sea by one forward hold torpedo, after being ordered to half speed and having their destroy escort removed by head of the Royal Navy, Winston Churchill. Despite Woodrow Wilson’s best efforts to force war, the fact that the German Embassy had posted a notice in the New York Times on April 22, 1915 that this ship was being ILLEGALLY loaded with war material from J P Morgan’s munition plants. A passenger steam ship can only sink from a single WW I era torpedo with a direct stike on the boiler. Numerous secondary explosions caused the sinking. In the early 70’s Skin Diver magazine showed the first ever photos of the 200 ft deep wreckage with unexploded munitions all around the sea floor. The Royal Navey declared this a shipping hazard and blew up the evidence before any further documentaion could take place. The wreck photos clearly showed outward blast damage.
Humanity has been systematically LIED to about all of our history to empower the few who control the ar machine. FDR lied about Pearl Harbor. LBJ lied about Gulf of Tonkin. Baby Bush lied about 9/11. You might review the 14 second, free fall collapse of WTC 7 that was 300 ft and 7 hours after the WTC 1 & 2 attacks. It is the same feudal war machine that has declared war on Carbon….only this time the lie will not hold.
John Coleman, your ‘normalicy bias’ is preventing you from seeing the real Truths of our real problem.

apachewhoknows

Notwithstanding the misplaced PR/Selfserving copouts herein above by many.
The vietnam war was not a vietnam war it was a proxie war between the Russians, assisted by the ones in China and the poor North and South Viets used as cannon fodder by the Russians and ones of China aginst all freedom on the planet earth with the U.S.A. as the primary target.
U.S. Navy found me via the Iowa Placement Test given, scored way high, so high they sent some one to wild west Texas to the 1-A High School and to meet with my parents.
Unknown to them I’m the great, great, great gandson of the Apache Chief Mangus Colorados.
(See the book, “Apache” by Will Levington Comfort).
Any how my 1/2 breed uncles, aunts, grandfather informed the U.S. Navy not so fast.
This branch of the Apache tribe never went to the reservations and we still remember why.
Then off to EE degree in 3 years from UT and then the loss of my II-S.
Draft notice, got wind of a way to beat the draft. Join the Navy as an E-6 and do electronics for a secret system with some Col. by the name of Starbird. So I ass u and me took the deal with some other guys in the same boat.
They did ask us our hobbies, made the mistake of telling them “scuba diveing” , “parachuteing”, and hunting.
OK, they said.
“Littlecreek Va” with “those people”, Benning , pushed out of planes and told I knew how to jump, and Twenty-Nine Palms to learn how rattlesnakes taste and how hot sand can be to crawl in.
To Danang, to Monkey Mountian, to a hot igloowhite, a 12 man former Korean Marine security detail to keep our EE degrees alive and in use. To a F.O.B. east side of Ka-song base/ and or a q-hut at the rear of the Red Beach Station M.A.S.H. Da Nang, often with some real nice Air Force Majors with instrument rateings in helos and into and out of Laos for 2 years and 8 months installing an attempt at an electronic border fence in a full rageing war, in a triple canopy mountain jungle, in monsoon rains with NVA tracking units with hunt dogs on our trails.
Russian and ones of China every where, 10,000’s of thousands of poor consript NVA’s walking and rideing bicycles, driving trucks full of ammo down the “Whore-Who-S*i* His-Men Down Trails” to be killed by B-52’s directed by LBJ.
You can not belive the courage, fighting ability, never give up people who did the S.O.G. unit work that got us “techs” and our Korean security unit in and out of Laos those 2 years and 8 months.
Ya, I was armed, ya used the apache way, used the gene code of Mangus and the apache knowing. Was very good at it.
Never have had one moment of regret.
Had the USA not stood up at the time, you Willis would not be free now in my opinion.
Russia still wants U.S. dead.
John F. Kerry is a liar and a fraud.
Every word he says about Vietnam is a lie.
Gen. Lewis M. Walt was a hero of Vietnam no one knows his name.
Sgt. Jerry Micheal Shriver is MIA to this day in fact and by the lies of people like Kerry and the rest of the “In my opinion” usefull fools of the “Anti-Vietnam War Left” keep him an unknown.
The fight put out and by “Recon Team Kansas” is almost total unknown due to the lies of the Kerry cult, the liar msm, ( who as a matter of fact are the same liars who now keep the new lie of the Commie American left (Global Warming/Climate Change/CO2 is death) alive.
It is another msm myth that so many vietnam vets went anti-war, that they thought the war was wrong.
We just came home and went to work and made good Americans.
Now we stand with guys like Mr. Watts herein as he attempts to prevent another lie like the one on Vietnam from being made into fact when this CO2 fraud is much the same.
LIes by Democrat Party leftist.
Just some of the stuff this apache knows
Have a nice day,

apachewhoknows

Odd,
The prior post gone.
So,
Willis etal herein above notwithstanding.
Will try to make this short to see it i will post this time.
I’m a great, great, great, grandson of Apache Chief Mangus Colorados. He had at least 4 wifes and many children. My great grandmother understoon that she was an off spring of the Spanish gril Mangus took as a captive wife late in life.
So when my very high grades in math and stuff in my way West Texas High School in the year 1963 attracted the attention of the U.S. Navy and they came calling about the U.S. Navy Accadmey my grandfather, the uncles all 1/2 breed and not reservations indians told the U.S. Navy, sorry we still remember and he will not just join. So off to UT for an EE degree in three years and the loss of my II-S. Several of us in that same boat, so one did hear of a U.S. Navy enlistment for EE degree people (only a three year sign up, in at E-6, and ya “you may go to Roada Spain and install electrical stuff). Not. Started to go bad with a simple little form , what were you hobbies? So we put down what we thought was silly stuff we had done on weekends. Scuba Diving, Parachute jumps and hunting. Wrong response. Littlecreek VA. with “those people”, hell week (it was in our opinion 12 weeks of hell). To Ft. Benning to be pushed out of planes and told we knew how to jump, then to “Not” Enough Palms, to do advanced rattlesnake crawling.
To DaNang S. VN. to Monkey Mountain, to the protection of 12 former S. Korean Marines (fake Philco/Ford people from Canada to fool the press etal (Russian and S. Viet spies) and the tender care of the S.O.G. units who inserted and retrived us as we placed electronic stuff to track the 10,000’s of thousands poor unknowing poory trained , poorly protected NVA and some VC types who the Russians and ones of Chinas were using in the PROXIE war with the U.S.A..
Now, all this msm , John F. Kerry, Jane Fonda based lies and fraud on the Vietnam War and the people who served with great courage, great honon and in the great American way.
Example the S.O.G guyss who kept me alive.
The U.S. Marines of Gen. Lewis M. Walts I-coprs.
Sgt. Jerry Michael Shriver
Recon Team Kansas
Lt. Terrance C. Graves
In my opinion you nor the current msm would not have the freedom to say and do the things you do had they not stood the ground back then.
Yet it is the lie, the John Kerrys that are known.
The msm lies on it all that is so sick and wrong.
The same msm that made that lie, is the very same evil msm that enables this CO2 fraud.
But if it is OK with you fine , just do me and others a kindness and save this kind of stuff for other blogs.
Thanks,