John Ketwig: I consider the American approach of struggle, because from the Korean Conflict to the current, the weapons are so horrible, the techniques, the strategies are so cruel that American GIs, hometown guys within the US see this and may't put that in perspective of every little thing they might have ever been taught about proper and mistaken and ethical, they usually come home and mess up inside them and escape as traumatic stress injury.
Robert Raymond: This courage to oppose the podcast is produced in collaboration with the complete disclosure of Vietnam. My identify is Robert Raymond and we’re consistent with John Ketwig, a Vietnam veteran and writer of two books, "… and the heavy rain fell", a memoir about his experiences within the Vietnam Struggle, and "Vietnam reconsidered: Struggle, occasions and why
Hi John, Thank you for joining as we speak. So I needed to ask you about your experiences through the Vietnam Warfare in simply seconds, but first I would like to start by asking you to describe the story of how you wrote the primary guide, "… and the heavy rain fell."
John Ketwig: Properly, I had never written more than a letter or highschool paper in my life. I had no intentions. It turned clear in 1982 once I was watching … it was Saturday night time and I was turning around on the tv to find something good and I ran into this CBS documentary about Westmoreland, lying to the enemies who have been there just once I was there, and it simply affected me. And my wife was sitting there, “Oh God. What did we get here? “And I pulled it back collectively and went to work on Monday and the whole lot was nice, but on the time I used to be conscious that I had to cope with Vietnam.
Once I got here home from Vietnam and Thailand, I put the whole experience on the shelf. It was the previous, like kindergarten or junior promotion, or no matter. I had to look to the longer term. I had to work out how to begin a career, and earlier than lengthy I acquired a woman very critically and oh God. I didn't have time to spend in Vietnam, so I simply thought it never occurred, until that night time. And now it was, "Oh boy, I have to deal with this." My wife was at home with two youngsters, and as they walked in, the television was on and interviewed with a lady who had been a civilian to Vietnamese civilians in Vietnam, and she or he stated a number of the issues I had stated. And Carolynn ended up getting a ebook, mendacity on the sofa, and went, "Oh God, what did you find?" Nicely, they minimize this lady open by slicing and there have been six foot massages.
know what i mean? There was nothing more surprising about Vietnam: something was potential. Nevertheless it opened the door for me, slightly, "Geez, I couldn't imagine anyone writing anything so big and important." So, I learn the e-book, it was excellent. I went to the mall, bookstore and stated, "Do you have any books from Vietnam?" And there were, I don't know, 10 or 12, and I purchased one among them. I went home with two buying luggage filled with books and skim one after another they usually have been all valid. That they had nothing improper, however they weren't the story I needed my youngsters, my wife, to know. They usually have been pretty basic stuff, but someday I went out and sat in the again levels with a yellow authorized kettle and a pen and began chatting about a number of the things I assumed have been necessary.
. to the purpose that the writers' cramp was turning into a problem. We had a small guide typewriter and through my time I used to be writing a narrative in Vietnam and I put some previous 60's music and burned some incense after the youngsters went to mattress and every night time I worked at 2: 00, 3:00, 4:00 within the morning the place I had a couple of hours of sleep and going to work. And I assumed it might take 20 pages. And it took 9 months and about 350 pages. And it was finished and we put it again on the display.
And after I had educated technicians for Toyota, and a man got here in, speaking on the telephone many occasions. He got here in and had a Vietnamese tattoo in his hand. I stated, “Where have been you? And when? “We started talking. It's not what I used to be really fluent on the time, but Bob and I received alongside nicely, and so we had a conversation, and it went on for a number of weeks, talking to each other over the telephone and all the things. And eventually I stated, "Hey, I wrote about my experiences in Vietnam. Are you interested in watching it and telling me if you think I got it right or whatever. "
So I gave it to him, and shortly after, he referred to as me and stated, 'Oh God, you have to make a ebook of it. "I said, 'How do you make that book?' Come on, yeah. "Yes, he gave it to his spouse and stated, 'I would like you to learn this. You’ll be able to rise up and go to the toilet. I'll convey you meals, however I would like you to learn it from one end to the other, so you perceive. "And he said, 'You have to make this book. "" Okay, fine. " So my story turned a guide. And with very minor modifying modifications, and so on, at this time, 34 years after it was first revealed, there’s still very much, very much story I wrote on this little typewriter way back. 34 years and 27 prints and another print.
Robert Raymond: So you mentioned that you had read a number of books in Vietnam, however it felt like none of them really captured something that seemed like a personal story. Wondering how your story was totally different from the opposite accounts you learn? Might you describe my experiences as a younger 19-year-old in Vietnam? What was lacking from the tales you learn later? What was missing out of your experience?
John Ketwig: I didn't imply the small print once I was taking a look at some really basic books. To start with, no one has ever spoken, oh God, tried not to write. I had little interest in going army and going to Vietnam. I had long hair and a bunch of drums, and I was undoubtedly guaranteed that certainly one of nowadays was about to be discovered, and we have been [America’s] the answer to the Beatles, and I'm nonetheless ready for that to occur. However anyway, army was the last thing on the planet. Nevertheless it turned inevitable. There was nothing to arrest me. I'm not likely vibrant, I was recruited to win the draft. It took three years as an alternative of creating my selection for schooling and so on, hoping that as a faculty mechanic, wheel and monitor car mechanic, that I’d lose Vietnam. Properly it didn't work.
From the primary day of primary coaching, we had a drilling sergeant who was cruel who hit us with a closed fist within the mouth. It was ugly, and I came from a reasonably center class background. A tree-lined road in western New York, a suburb of Rochester. Out of the blue, right here I am here to Fort Dix, right? I got here there on December 30th. And cruelty was something I had by no means been uncovered to. Demeaning… “You are all a bunch of bags” and “crap on the brain” and on and on and all this stuff. After which you do something incorrect, and the man is shipped out to dig the whole six ft at six ft by six meters. It is frozen to the ground and has a small foxhole shovel.
We had one night time with about 18 inches of snow, which was an enormous snowstorm. And within the morning, the dream of the day was boxer shorts and fight boots, and once we went out of the barracks, we got mud luggage and shaved for hours within the parking zone. If you fall ailing, you will be punished. And it was like, "Jesus, we're not the enemy, guys. What is this?" We had a younger man with Downs Syndrome who was a son of a common. And the overall stored coming to see how his son was as if there was nothing fallacious with the young man. We have been all pleasant with him however he gave him a tough time However it was obvious that boy, he had real drawbacks.
And at night time in the hearth – I feel everyone who was in main schooling remembers the night time of the hearth. He went down to transfer objectives and did not come back. He stood behind the aim and committed suicide. I might never have dedicated suicide. Give me a pause
So once I went to Vietnam, I had seen plenty of things I simply couldn't think about. more. Quickly after I arrived there, I used to be put within the garbage. I went around and collected all the rubbish again and sides We went to a landfill that was an enormous mine, I feel you would name it, reduce the hill with bulldozers, and you would have leaned on the sting and dumped the rubbish over the sting. Under are 20, 30 Vietnamese who went trash on the lookout for nothing to eat.
And this younger man, I took an image of him just earlier than all this occurred. Wore a white shirt. He discovered two comparable gallon jars, in all probability tomatoes or something, and he had one beneath each arm, and went toward the barbed wire at the edge. And the Vietnamese soldier, the ARVN soldier, informed him to cease and he was not. And he advised him to cease once more, and he shot him again. And right here's this man who's operating now, who drives the purple stain of the fence that grows behind his shirt, and he went to his knees and through the barbed wire like he wasn't even there, and went into the bushes. I had never seen something like that! It was like what is this? If they shoot themselves, what can we do? What are we here for?
So that was quite a lot of such issues, and I turned very, very satisfied that in the first place, we had no business. Second, we have been informed that we despatched to Vietnam to shield and help the Vietnamese to defend the Communist atrocity. And I know some of them existed. However what was so embarrassing and so damaging that the People did to the Vietnamese was brutal. And I consider … I'm going to lead you out of the tangent for a minute, however I consider that the American approach of waging conflict after the Korean Warfare to this present day, the weapons are so terrifying, the techniques, strategies are so merciless that American GIs, hometown guys, USA this, and can’t put it in perspective of all the things they’ve ever been taught about proper and fallacious and moral. They usually come home and it returns inside them and breaks out because of traumatic stress injury.
I don't assume PTSD is a disorder. I consider that seeing and responding to trendy warfare by reversing it’s a completely regular reply. It's not a malfunction. I have been recognized with extreme PTSD. I don’t assume I am guilty of disarray. I consider I was harm by what I saw and what I skilled and… oh boy. So we are. That is my brief reply. But the ebook came. It was very, very antiwar tells and very totally different from some basic stuff because I was in PFC. Who I stated, "If they had just done it, I would have won the war"? And lots of of these books have been in that day. So it was a really totally different take a look at what happened and the way the conflict was carried out, and how it seemed to be seen as a PFC by any authority, just making an attempt to survive and get the hell out
Robert Raymond: Did you say that you and the individuals of Vietnam share comparable emotions? Have been these emotions isolated to you and a small group of soldiers, or would this sense, this antiwar feeling, be a extra generalized story of Vietnamese fighters?
John Ketwig: It's a really basic story, and I feel it's the Vietnam story that's been advised. I consider that the complete military, AIT, Vietnam, Thailand, 90-95% of all the blokes with whom I’ve been in touch and had any discussion or something, have been the essential coaching of their will and regretted it. The issues we noticed in Vietnam have been revolutionary for most people – and for most People. And yet, you got here back home and no one talked about that. After some time, they started to be aware of the Vietnam veterans' struggle. It was distant. It was New York Metropolis or Washington, D. Man, I was in Rochester, New York. Six months from the yr you didn't get within the automotive and drive in the snowstorms.
So the actual reply to your query is that a lot of the males who have been despatched to Vietnam have been sent towards their will. They have been taken in giant numbers. Taken into the army and compelled into the military they usually had a chip on our shoulders. That isn’t the case. We weren't curious about it. However once we saw what we did to individuals, and MGR, the Mere Gook rule, "The only good Gook is a dead Gook," and all that type of thing. And to see … It's an enormous phrase and other people get upset once we use it, but the atrocities that have been going around. Watch the B-52 strike, or take a look at the mini-gun that fires this unimaginable marker display at night time and knows what number of rounds it goes to this country. No one under had to be simply, not simply killed, but utterly broken! This man would treat his man this manner.
And there was the citizens' rights motion. This country in all probability believes that each one men are equal. Properly, except perhaps black and perhaps ladies and perhaps Vietnamese. You realize, those who have such oblique views, they don't take something both. So you can kill all of them, you can drop the flames into the polar villages. My God. And the good, great many people, I consider the vast majority of us who were not in an environment where you might say it, however boy, we knew it, “This can be a rebel. That is flawed. “This is not something you go home to be proud of. So it was a very traumatic time.
Robert Raymond: Yeah. I can solely think about these experiences that so many younger individuals had simply formed them in so some ways. I used to be wondering if you might describe the expertise after Vietnam? So you spent some time in Thailand, after which you returned to the States. So I’m wondering what this expertise got here back to in states like you? You hear all these tales about individuals spitting Vietnamese troopers on their return at airports and so forth. I'm curious, what distinctive experiences had and if you really feel that it will be comparable to the extra widespread experience that folks returned to Vietnam at that time.
John Ketwig: Okay, I would like to mention a few issues and I'll go there. I promise you, Robert.
Robert Raymond: I’m positive.
John Ketwig: There was a younger lady at a hospital in Rochester, New York, and one lady got here overnight and stated, “I’ve an inventory of the addresses of buddies here within the area, Vietnam. Would you like women to decide some names and write them? Perhaps ship them cookies or something? “And all the women closed their eyes, ran their fingers down the record, and picked out three names. That woman, who was a single woman, took my identify, wrote me probably the most fantastic letters. Once I acquired home, I received married with him, and we've been hanging out together for half a century. Referred to as operational morale, the organization in western New York has compiled this story and visited schools and NGOs and talked concerning the history of morality, the large effort, and the number of people that worked to help the troopers in Vietnam, their Lembcke's e-book The Spitting Image. He studied the whole of America. No photograph was discovered of anybody spitting on the Vietnam veteran's return. No news found in newspapers, print, television, archives or anything. I'm not saying it never occurred, however it didn't occur very a lot. I talked to the lady when the ebook got here out – had to speak to me. Her husband was an officer at Andrews Air Pressure Base. The officers' spouse's membership realized the flights have been coming, and the blokes have been wounded and the blokes have been taken from Vietnam to Walter Reed or Bethesda Naval Hospital. And these ladies, "Geez, wouldn't be nice – some of these are still in their muddy fatigue and everything. Wouldn't it be nice if we met them at the airport, had cookies and coffee or tea or whatever? If they were all muddy, we would give them clothes and slippers and take their clothes off and rinse them and just welcome them back. "
And this went on, and it was very profitable, and then unexpectedly, it was not. They weren’t knowledgeable of the coming flights! They usually went to the base commander What happens? "And he said," You will not be informed about flights, and you will not meet these guys. "And they said," What are we doing fallacious? "And he said, 'You didn't do anything wrong, but we don't want you to meet these guys anymore. "
This is the entire individual, which sylkii Vietnam veterans, and referred to as them" a baby killer, "and all of the whereas, I'm positive some of it befell, however it has been blown out of proportion. Apparently, most of those stories happened in 1991, when Bush sent one other military to Kuwait and forced Saddam Hussein, and: “We don’t need to treat these returning to the remedy of Vietnam veterans. These stories are totally with the People. And if you cease and think about it, it simply tells you that someone is making an attempt to sell you the bill. The People won’t ever deal with their visitors, a boy who was a quarterback on a highschool soccer group will never deal with them that means. And these tales are, I consider, the federal government's try to put this massive guilt complicated on the People. The People did not blame the occasions in Vietnam. It was the Pentagon, Capitol Hill, however it wasn't everyday mom and pop at home. And this entire thing blows out of the connection and it's travesty.
Robert Raymond: So it feels like you didn't really know much about hostility.
John Ketwig: I didn't know the hostility. I'll tell you, I didn't know what to say, and other people don't know what to say to me. You went to a job interview they usually stated, "Well you graduated from high school" 65. Now it's 1970. The place have you been? "" Properly I used to be in the army. "" Did you go to Vietnam? "" Yeah, me. "And immediately they think, 'Well, who's a nice guy now?' "I don't know if it was as much hostility as nervousness," I don't know what to say to him. He doesn't know what to say to me. Boy, that's a pretty tense situation. Another guy's gonna get a job. He has been working in the industry for some time. We give him a chance and let this man find something else to do with his life. "
My next-door neighbor didn't hurry once I came home to shake my hand and say, 'Thank you very much,' and all. However one evening my dad was cooking hamburgers on the grill, and we have been sitting in the yard and the next-door neighbor started mowing the garden, and he waved with an enormous smile like he all the time had two years before. And it was okay. I didn't anticipate parades and whatever. I used to be comfortable to be home, hold my head down, hold my mouth shut. Go see if I can build a future for myself once more.  No, no, I don't purchase it. I hear it all the time. "Oh, the man I was on at the airport." "Gee, yeah. And what kind of trouble did you end up punching in a guy's mouth?" I never obtained – I just got here home. "It's additionally by nature. You come home from Vietnam and a guy spits on you, you're going to take his freak head a. hit him in a bloody pressure. So it doesn't fly.
Robert Raymond: And you have some questions with the phrase "Thank you for your service" and I'd like to know a bit of about why it is.
John Ketwig: I don't want anyone … I imply, individuals say, "Thank you for your service." Once more, being American in nature, making an attempt to say, "Yeah, we appreciate you going through difficult times and thank you. I understand and appreciate it from this perspective. And I usually say: "Nicely, I was towards my will, and you additionally see issues and do things that have been contrary to every part I've ever taught right and fallacious. I know what you're making an attempt to say, but don't thank me for being there. I didn't want to be there. “It virtually wraps it, Robert. It's another indication that People try to do the fitting factor, making an attempt to deliver their associates home and making an attempt to show their respect. I hate them by no means, form or type. However I feel very uncomfortable if someone says, "Thank you for watching innocent people," and the stuff.
Don't thank me for that. I used uniform. I used to be there. I was part of it.
Robert Raymond: So I'd like to speak to you about your latest work, "In Vietnam, it was reconsidered: war, times and why they matter." “What impressed you to write this latest e-book and what did you need to talk in it? What also units it apart from your last e-book?
John Ketwig: The first e-book was a memory: this is what I saw, it appeared, so I’ve skilled. And I started to call to converse to totally different groups, and I noticed that what I really appreciated doing more than anything, went in and spoke with highschool and school college students about my experiences, and so forth.
Nicely, in those days, 1982, # 84, Vietnam was this huge gorilla in a room that was an terrible lot of houses. And the scholars would come to faculty and I might speak to them and they might have… increase their hand and say, “If Dad hears the Vietnamese phrase, he’ll go to his bed room and close the door and never come out for days. I’ve two sisters who’ve terrible delivery defects, and I know my dad blames something referred to as Agent Orange, however what’s Agent Orange? “And wow, you reply an identical question, and this huge one-off is forming your throat now.
So many years, 30, 40 years, I've heard numerous questions. The idea is at this time, extra modernly, young individuals say, "I know Vietnam is important." Vietnam courses in excessive faculties and schools are many faculties in america, 50 years later. They usually say, "I know Vietnam is important, but I don't understand why." So, I gave the reply to that question and lots of others. What was the background? What have been the occasions? Bob Dylan gave me permission to quote "The Times They Are A-Chang". And my God, conflict. We have been the first American military to have moveable radios with a television set within the automotive driveway at home. It just went on and on. Geez, there was the birth control capsule and the sexual revolution and all these things. And most of them have been involved, “We were free.” We might have had extra freedom than any era earlier than us. And abruptly they make you and shave your head and put you in a green go well with and send you to the other aspect of the world, primary to be shot, but number two to see the carpet bombing and the pole. And so, making an attempt to explain to at present's youngsters – And what I found was as a result of this challenge was happening that hell a whole lot of baby boomers received really busy in school and career and youngsters and canine and mortgage and automotive cost, and acquired away with numerous feelings and thoughts that did they have been very passionate in the 60s and early 70s. They usually have been actually open to a e-book that talked about it and brought back to them all the things that they had a passion for.
God knows that – America is again in a very, very insecure state. A bit totally different in most issues, but simply as turbulent as it was then, they usually needed to take a look at what all this was like once they have been younger and perhaps attempt to restore a few of that zeal and enthusiasm. Yes, that's what it is and on the finish it speaks, there are two methods individuals and nations can act: You’ll be able to either be constructive or damaging. And America used to be very constructive. We have been the first to invent a steam engine and a lamp and all this stuff. After World Conflict II, much of this focus went away and we turned a rustic with greater, better bombs and weapons than anyone else, and we have been "inconsistent."
And it hasn't worked very properly. We at the moment are at some extent where the conflict in Afghanistan has been happening for 17 years at 17 totally different assemblies. And my query is, “What the hell are they educating at West Point? And other army academies? "This won’t work. It's not right. And someone needs to say it. Newspapers don't appear to want to do this. The masters who speak on television don't notably need to do this. However we now have a army finances, if you take the VA benefits and all this stuff and add it up, it's a trillion dollars a yr. No other three nations on the earth combine such cash. What can we get from our money? I consider that we should always minimize our defense spending and take all the money we save – otherwise we might nonetheless have absolutely united China and Russia, half of what we spend now. And take that cash and put it into health care, infrastructure and schooling, and all that is minimize into the bone.
And you need to speak about "Make America Great Again". Nicely, make America principally good. And make things "structural", assist individuals, don't harm individuals. And I consider it might be our future and my grandson's future would be a lot better.
Robert Raymond: Thank you so much, John. : This braveness to oppose the podcast was produced in partnership with Vietnamese peacekeeping Full Disclosure. This marks the 50th anniversary of the GI opposition to the US warfare in Vietnam, united and united to many brave people. This episode has been recorded and edited on my own, Robert Raymond. Particular thanks to Director Jeff Paterson. Visit vietnamfulldisclosure.org and couragetoresist.org for earlier episodes, extra info, and help.
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