Tag Archives: conscience

Honorable military service in Viet Nam

Hullabaloo

There were many honorable ways to behave during the Vietnam era. There were those who believed in the war and volunteered to fight it. There were those who were drafted and went as a matter of duty. There were those who fought the war, came to believe it was wrong and came back to change the policy. And there were those who believed it was wrong and refused to participate. All of those people stood up for what they believed in and did their duty as they saw it.

There was one group,however, who supported the war but didn’t stand up for their beliefs — refusing to take the heat that being a citizen, particularly a young man, in those days required. They played the system. Many of them “had other priorities” using every possible excuse, all the while vociferously backing the war effort — as long as someone else fought it. And, the worst of this group were the privileged who supported the war but merely pretended to fight it by having their connections pull strings to get them into safe stateside duty that they could later claim amounted to “service.” They would have pictures of themselves looking handsome in their uniforms. And they could swagger around with their buddies and drop casual hints for the rest of their lives about their days in the military. But even those phonies at least actually completed the minimal requirements to claim such affiliation.

It is very rare to find someone who finagled their way into the guard ahead of people who’d been waiting longer, had the government spend huge sums of money training him to be a pilot, quit flying less than two years later of his own accord and then dropped out of sight many months before his duty was fulfilled. It’s even rarer to find someone like this declared a fine figure of a man who served his country well — particularly when there are so many who actually did.