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Old G.I. s and Sleeping Dragons

By Doug Francescon



Author Biography


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This is not a war story. Plenty of those have already been written. It’s not an attempt to analyze the war and its impact. I’m not that clever. It’s just a way to sort things out. After 35 years it still bothers me.

If you read it, just take it for what it is, a way to bring a part of my life out into the open. Maybe by doing this I can exorcise the demons that come in the night, mostly when I’m alone. If that makes me sound a little crazy, maybe I am.

A few years ago, on Veterans Day, I was invited to speak about the war at a local high school. It was the first time in over 30 years that a group of people asked me about what happened in Southeast Asia during the war. There were five of us in the room telling our stories, and I was amazed at how difficult it was. A couple of the guys broke down. One left for a while. When he returned he struggled, trying to make those who listened understand how war effects all it touches. We all struggled through our stories. None of us anticipated how that day would effect us.

The things that bothered us had been locked away for many years. Even though we tried to set them aside, and built our lives after the war, the memories didn’t go away. They never will.

If any part of this makes you believe I’m feeling sorry for myself, then believe what you like. If the writing style is rough enough to make you criticize, then go ahead.

There is an attitude that war produces that makes vets different. It comes from being thrown into impossible situations where friends die, from believing that you’ll never see home again, and from taking another persons life. All this happens to young men in their early twenties, none of whom are prepared for what they experience.

A big part of this is dedicated to the three guys whose names are on the honors page. They didn’t have a chance to make the adjustment because they died in the jungle several thousand miles from home. They weren’t fighting for a cause, or trying to make the world a better place. They were just trying to stay alive long enough to come home, but like so many others throughout the ages, they never returned home. They never had the chance to live the lives that all of us were intended to live. Their lives were cut short before the really began. For what? For life, liberty, and the American way? Was it to help those who could not help themselves? Were we in some imminent danger from the North Vietnamese and their allies? I’ve searched for honest answers to these questions so that I could find some justification for the suffering and loss of life. After all these years, I’m still looking, and so far have found none.


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