RANGER AGAINST WAR: 365 Bottles of Beer, Part the Second <

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

365 Bottles of Beer, Part the Second

--A license to do something

--I help people with problems

--Problem solver?

--More of a problem eliminator

--License to Kill
(1989)

How can you mend this broken man?

How can a loser ever win?

Please help me mend my broken heart

and let me live again

--How Can You Mend a Broken Heart,

The Bee Gees


We are here to help the Vietnamese,

because inside every gook

there is an American trying to get out

--Full Metal Jacket
(1987)


And the day came when the risk to remain
tight in a bud was more painful than the risk
it took to blossom

--Anais Nin

________________________

[
continuation of 1.10.11 post . . .]

Following the normal administration shuffle betwixt and between and after more in-country training, Ranger found himself once again at Square One, stepping off yet another airplane on my way to unit assignment and yet more in-country combat training.


If training alone could win wars, the U.S. Army could've planted a flag in my asshole and declared victory, much as we actually did before we turned tail.
That declared victory could have saved many good men on both sides who were still extremely combative and killing the hell out of each other.


After graduating from Studies and Observations Group (SOG) in-country training, I was assigned as an assistant to an assistant, which meant I was an afterthought waiting to blossom into an actuality. Whether I was an adviser or a troop is still something I cannot figure out; after all, this was UW/GW and the rules are different there.


My counterpart was a Vietnamese Special Forces Captain, Phu, with whom I had a warm and beer-drenched experience
since we did not know that drinking tea was actually the solution to all our problems. Instead, we took the less kind, less gentle route of Ba Mui Ba Bier 33, since that is what real men in real COIN environments did back then. We drank beer and I dealt with Vietnamese officers daily, but I never once spoke to a VN enlisted man nor broke bread in their fly-ridden mess hall. Round eyes ate in air conditioning.

I helped provide food, training and all the other goodies, but never learned one thing about their lives, their dreams or their fears. That was not my concern, and my indifference was echoed by most of the other officers assigned to my unit. We simply did not care, which is kind of odd considering SF mouthed all the platitudes about living with the indigenous, winning hearts and minds (H & M), and the whole crock.


Under my direct supervision were Engineers, Armor support, ammo storage and the motor pool, but I never spoke to anyone but the direct supervisor of the section in question. This is how the U.S. Army runs, but is it sufficient to win H & M? In 40 years, has anything really changed, what with Pepsi and Pizza Hut vendors providing grub?


Extreme sadness overtakes me when I consider these futile realities and the memories of many good men intrude upon my brain. Why did we execute this imbecile task back then, and why do we do so today? Do we think that drinking tea will bridge a cultural chasm?
Why do we perpetuate these follies on the weakest of pretenses with the frailest hope of success?

Sad is the overarching feeling that saturates memories of the days of my young manhood. It is sad that we waste good young soldiers in logic-defying situations, and the sadness is undiluted after 40 years.
There are those who point out the reduced number of casualties in today's wars, but how do you quantify a casualty of the spirit?

And that's all I have to say about that.

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29 Comments:

Blogger FDChief said...

Well, damn.

Sounds almost exactly like what I've heard from guys who were in central Asia "training" the gomers there; that a hell of a lot of the business consisted of handing them "stuff" and looking the other way as they proceeded to abuse, lose, or steal it.

What the hell did we learn from 12 years in the RVN, remind me?

Tuesday, October 11, 2011 at 6:46:00 PM GMT-5  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Know the feeling well Ranger-first six months in-country was assigned Dec 13,69 to S-5 CA/Psyop team-lived in Bahnar yard village of Polei Krong Brock near Kontum as a medic-we had a 5th SP/Forces medic(P/5 Raul Torres) and about five to six grunts from the 2/8 4th Div.
We worked many villages Rhade, Jarai and I learned to speak(with Torres's help) Bahnar and Jarai better than what little Vietnamese I spoke(it helped to know the language especially as a medic)a mistake our Country is still making today-I respected and liked the yards and fell for the whole scene in the Green Berets-I was John(Marion Morrison)Wayne and I was here to save these people from themselves. Had my share of dog and rice wine-last six months in-country spent with line unit going through the same villages and watching my fellow countymen abuse and burn down the yard villages-You know the rest of the story Ranger -
Oh, by the way I voted for ya-did last year too, I think? hope it counts-you earned it-Doc

Tuesday, October 11, 2011 at 10:37:00 PM GMT-5  
Anonymous tw said...

The only interaction I had drinking tea with the locals in my yr in RVN was sadly with the hookers in Saigon. "No tea, no talk !" Always had this empty feeling about my tour, not having interacted with the locals. The system kept you from that, and as a scared young kid in a strange enviroment I never persued it.

Don't think things have changed lately. Just look at the pathetically low number of interpeters we had in these last fiascos. COIN and we have trouble finding enough troops that can speak the language. And cultural education, can't remember getting any and doubt the military's doing much of that today. I do think that we in VN had more oportunity to mingle with the locals than the troops in Iraq and Afghanistan do. Unfortunately I never availed myself to it,but had I, I'm sure I would have hated the war even more than I did.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011 at 12:38:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger rangeragainstwar said...

Doc,
I'm glad your still aboard.
We all earned something in our time/day.What i can't say.
tw,
Vote or i'll put some direct action on yo' ass.
Seriously, i'm always happy to hear from you.
I'm gonna do a part 3 on this essay.
jim

Wednesday, October 12, 2011 at 7:29:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger rangeragainstwar said...

Doc,
thanks for voting.
jim

Wednesday, October 12, 2011 at 7:29:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger Father Tyme said...

Jim,
"...the hopes and dreams have all since vanished, but I still remember the refrain of one of the most popular barracks ballads of that day which proclaimed most proudly that old soldiers never die; they just fade away." - Douglas MacArthur

Don't even think of fading away, Jim. It's too important that the "young" remember what many have had to endure and all that has gone before. If this blog helps one young soldier (or one thinking about becoming one) or even makes him or her think about what things were really like before they too, become John Wayne, you've accomplished everything.

Here's to a long life, free of strife, for all our boys!

You got my vote, too.

Father Tyme

Wednesday, October 12, 2011 at 10:20:00 AM GMT-5  
Anonymous Lisa said...

DOC,

Would you kindly contact us at
admin-at-rangeragainstwar.com?

Thanks,

lisa

Wednesday, October 12, 2011 at 10:35:00 AM GMT-5  
Anonymous Deryle said...

[Reader Deryle sent a considered reply which was too long for one posting. Below is his post, in 3 pts. --Lisa]

Jim,

Your counting the beers on the wall leaves me feeling like a lot is coming up and out at moment.
To mix up a few metaphors, : new wine in de old skin?
Something gotta pop,
and will.

Makes me think of what ol' Vonnegut said after folding up in the fetal position praying' in Dresden with his own trying to vaporize him along with the rest of the city:
" Fish got to swim, bird got to fly. Man got to wonder, why, why, why?

In my book there's plenty of blame to go around, and not enough forgiveness.
And that's why I keep going back to Vietnam--so the Vietnamese people can show me, again, that there's another way to look at this thing.
Might as well find a new way, cause it sure as hell ain't going away.

I wrote this one in one pass many years ago, in Tuscaloosa actually.
Still carries a tune for me.
Maybe a little for you.

Deryle

[The lyrics are found in fllowing posts ...]

Wednesday, October 12, 2011 at 12:17:00 PM GMT-5  
Anonymous Deryle said...

[cont.] ...

Betsy Ross's Rag
Vietnam was laid out for us when we were kids sitting on the sofa, swinging our legs, waiting for Howdy Doody.
We were too young to know the words rushing at us were an entire generation's life script,
written in the corporate board rooms, edited in government meeting rooms, acted out in the jungles of Southest Asia...a drama in sixty thousand lives.
Don't count the Vietnamese, they're only extras..
Laos; Indochina; Vietminh.. Democracy...Domino Theory..DienBienPhu…Dollars…Dulles…Geneva…advisers..containment… communists..resources...
The fires of Vietnam--alchemy, profit equals death equals dollars.
It drew rave reviews from our parent's generation.. It wouldn't play at all in the streets.

There must be some formula that could transform the exultation for combat into sacred respect for life.
It is sacred you know, this stuff about Liberty and Freedom and the taking of Life.
The church itself couldn't bless what went down in Vietnam: money changers in the temple escorted by priests carrying pistols.

When I think of Vietnam, I think about apologies, the one the last generation with held from us for misusing our beliefs; the one we still owe the Vietnamese
and the one I'll never be able to say to me-- for believing the Lie.

It still hurts.

HERE'S TO THE SOLDIERS WHO FOUGHT IN VIETNAM..
AND HERE'S TO THE SOLDIERS WHO FOUGHT IN CHICAGO,

Betsy Ross' Burying Cloth

Before we came to save them, their countryside was green.
By the time they ran us out, the red was bled from Betsy Ross' Dream.
Both sides' children cried, years of mother's tears--friend and foe alike.
Many good to stop it-screamed.
We hid the bodies under Betsy Ross' dream.
Leaders from on high, held down their nations
Filled them with lies, made them gag,
Stifled their pleadings with Betsy Ross' flag.

Defoliant for nature's streams and trees,
Napalm for people of straw villages.
The sight made the soul sag.
T.V. couldn't sell it when our own men we fragged. Oh,
we did it all so proudly
Under the blessing of Betsy Ross's flag.

The price we paid we're paying still
the lives we ruined by teaching kids to kill.
History's strongest military machine
turned the flowers of the night into America's favorite fragrance--the stink of cordite.

We sold out our future telling lies for the Truth,
DuPont's plastic bags brought home our youth,
We committed them to the dirt under Betsy Ross' flag.
Oh
it was not a winner's prize when we at last hung our heads
and realized,:
MONEY IS THE SAME SHADE OF GREEN AS A FILLED BODY BAG
covered and cried over
by Betsy Ross' rag.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011 at 12:24:00 PM GMT-5  
Anonymous Deryle said...

[cont.] ...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?NR=1&v=2ITlDXWvyVo

Who's To Bless and Who's to Blame
If a cheated man's a loser
And a cheater never wins
And if beggars can't be choosers
'Til they're weak and wealthy men

And the old keep gettin' older
And the young must do the same
And it's never gettin' better
Who's to bless, and who's to blame

Chorus:
All the cards are on the table
You done laid your money down
Don't complain about your chances, boy
It's the only game in town

And the meaning doesn't matter
Nor the way you play the game
To the winner or the loser
Who's to bless, and who's to blame

Keep your hands above the table
And your back against the wall
Toss your chips in with your chances, boy
Let 'em lay the way they fall

Cause the moral doesn't matter
Broken rules are all the same
To the broken or the breaker
Who's to bless, and who's to blame

Wednesday, October 12, 2011 at 12:25:00 PM GMT-5  
Anonymous Dinky Dau said...

"how do you quantify a casualty of the spirit?"

I'll give it a shot

BY NOT IDENTIFYING WITH THE WOUND

Sounds flip, it's not....

Sounds simple, it's not.....

Sounds impossible, it's not...

Merde, who liberated my Ba Mui Ba ?

Wednesday, October 12, 2011 at 1:57:00 PM GMT-5  
Anonymous Lisa said...

Dinky,

Spot-on, Dinky (though some drag it behind them like some fetid afterbirth, long past due date.) For the record, that was my phraseology, not Ranger's.

Nice to meet you. (Dinky was my mom's first dog.)

Wednesday, October 12, 2011 at 2:36:00 PM GMT-5  
Anonymous Dinky Dau said...

Lisa,
My first dog was our gun platoon mascot, 'Dammit'. He was not 'Dinky Dau' because he could hear incoming 122mm NVA rockets on ignition, thus he always was always the first pair of eyes blinking at you as you were diving for the bunker.

'Dammit', God rest his war weary mangey soul, went AWOL one day. We sent out a recon patrol, I was point and it was getting dark, so we headed over to the adjacent Filipino compound.

We found the 'Flips' in an extraordinary good mood, gathered around a warm fire cooking a home brewed stew. At the first whiff of that ambrosia we double timed our way over to the party. The 'Flip' head honcho looked at our scrawny asses and asked us if we wanted any stew. I was into my second helping when I noticed a 'Flip' private squeezing out the innards of a yard of guts. What are you making I asked ? "making dog gut soup", was the private's reply. I was too distracted at that moment to put 2+2 together. But we followed the money, so to speak. We still had his brother 'Dimmit' who unlike his brother, headed for the bunker at the at the first wiff of Filipino.

So Dammit if your listening, thanks for your service. Ya done good, pooch.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011 at 4:14:00 PM GMT-5  
Anonymous tw said...

Derlye,

Great stuff. I've always been troubled about how I, my parents and country accepted the lie. Watching it happen again is more than frustrating.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011 at 5:08:00 PM GMT-5  
Anonymous Lisa said...

Dinky,

I am sorry to hear of Dammit's fate, but you have given him a splendid homage. Do you know Pablo Neruda's, "A Dog has Died"?

A stanza:


There are no good-byes for my dog who has died,

and we don't now and never did lie to each other.



Dimmit doesn't sound like a "dimwit", but surely neither was his brother.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011 at 6:17:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger rangeragainstwar said...

DD,
We must define terms for our readers, and Lisa.
Dinky dau means beaucoup crazy in pidgen VN.
jim

Thursday, October 13, 2011 at 8:19:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger rangeragainstwar said...

dd,
i reckon i don't need to say this BUT YOUR DOG WENT TO A BETTER PLACE.Sorta like a big dog rescue with a kill policy.
jim

Thursday, October 13, 2011 at 8:29:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger rangeragainstwar said...

DD,
i also want to say that the stew was cheaper than sending him to obedience school.
Probably tastier too.
jim

Thursday, October 13, 2011 at 8:33:00 AM GMT-5  
Anonymous Lisa said...

Thank you, FT.

Thursday, October 13, 2011 at 11:00:00 AM GMT-5  
Anonymous Dinky Dau said...

Ranger
Alas, 'Dammit' survived 6 years of war and cagy Vietnamese villagers only to fall to Filipino culinary skullduggery.

I heard after the fall of Saigon his brother 'Dimmit' went to a communist reeducation camp. So he did go to obedience camp after all. What he learned there was never fall for a communist promise of seven day reorientation holiday, meals inclusive

Friday, October 14, 2011 at 10:56:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger Lisa said...

And you, Dinky Dau, have an excellent sense of humor ;)

Friday, October 14, 2011 at 11:55:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger The Minstrel Boy said...

i think that quite possibly the most disturbing thing about my experience in vietnam was the shameful way we, ourselves, were lied to. also the way we were forced to lie to our counterparts.

i had a brief, shining moment in the secure hamlets program. we actually would have an 8 man platoon embedded in the ville. we did sick call, started up a school, worked alongside our folks in the rice paddies (still some of the nastiest fucking work i've ever done), and then we stood by and watched it all go to shit when the local arvn lord high muckdymuck and his bullyboy marvins came to "tax" our ville. (for rvn purposes tax is a synonym for "fucking take everything") we had them dead to rights in the crosshairs of a brilliant crossfire while we explained to them that for this day anyway, nobody was going to be taking shit from our folks. the bloodbath that was brewing was cooled out by some fine special forces advisors who told marvin that if shit hit the fan they would be standing with us. marvin left, and we started to pack because we knew the next radio squawk was going to be the one telling us that we were relieved and in several worlds of shit.

there was a single thing that nixon gained at the peace table that would not have been gained had truman simply not gone in there at all. the only thing we acheived by our presence there was a whole lot of stupid, senseless carnage that wasted buttloads of money and took a decade and a half.

we have now officially been in afghanistan longer than the soviet union. and we all know what happened to those pissants.

Friday, October 14, 2011 at 12:55:00 PM GMT-5  
Anonymous Dinky Dau said...

Dinky Dau may be crazy, but I keep hearing voices in my head drumming, 'next stop Iran'. I'm looking for a cure for this malady.

Ranger, know anything about,'false flag' black ops ? Nobody around here seems to grasp the concept.

Friday, October 14, 2011 at 2:30:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger rangeragainstwar said...

DD,
if i were writing the dog menu thing as a story i'd call it 1 of 3 things.
-Hot Dog
-Dog Gone
-Doggie Diner
So sorry for your loss.
I know nothing about the ops you referenced. But i could guess.
jim

Friday, October 14, 2011 at 6:20:00 PM GMT-5  
Anonymous Deryle said...

"Yo," as the kids say:
"Zup?

Dink asked about "false flag" stuff.
So, help him.

Dink: no assumptions, some of us be hip.
What you got?
Hook us up.

There it is.
Deryle

Minstrel Boy straight on...

Took a minute to find another way to say it
without using the word "dead".

Friday, October 14, 2011 at 10:16:00 PM GMT-5  
Anonymous Dinky Dau said...

Deryle,
'Can' that cool-cat breeze. Calling me, 'Dink' is not going to win my heart and mind, for reasons oblivious to you.

I read all your posts in this thread. Your 'switch and bait' routine on last post does you no service.

If you were truly interested in my 'False flag' question to Ranger logic would dictate would have done a copy and paste to Wiki.

I be hip to your style rapping. All 'bling' and no 'zing'

Monday, October 17, 2011 at 11:56:00 AM GMT-5  
Anonymous Deryle said...

Mr Dau:

Say, what is your name?
I'll be glad to use it.

Don't know nothing about rap, bling, or zing.

My son and his colleagues won't believe anyone called me on that one either.

I don't know anything about "switch and bait" either.
But I do know what "false flag" operations are about and have since the Gulf of Tonkin affairs.

A closer read might reveal that the question was directed to Jim.

Sorry about your dog.

Deryle

Tuesday, October 18, 2011 at 8:44:00 PM GMT-5  
Anonymous Ian Zulick said...

Ian fr. B.G.U:

Mr. Hruska

My name is Ian Zulick and I am a student at Bowling Green State University. I wanted to tell you how pleased I am that they printed your article. I think the reason that we now idolize anyone in the military is because the media, has rendered the dangerous image of "God and Country" and the American people have largely eaten it up and asked for seconds.

My father served in the Marines in the early 70s, and as he's probably just slightly younger than you, we've had this conversation many times. As he's told me, and as you have written, the world has changed a lot since 1968. Our society, though becoming more tolerant in some ways has become unbelievably, and some would argue incontrovertibly violent in others.

As a young man, I saw recruiters in my high school all four years I attended it, I see the the violent videogames people my age play; and while I have no qualms about playing them myself, I am under no illusions about how such a thing could function as military propaganda to a young, impressionable mind.

We have become too complacent as a people, and all too often we opt to let the powers that be make the decisions and turn a blind eye rather than giving a damn about the consequences. The military-industrial complex is obviously a huge factor in how and why war occurs, but such a thing can only exist when the people's typical passion for social justice is blinded by the rage our government is channeling from their poor decisions into a foreign enemy that is now little more than a ghost. The military is far too close to the government for my liking.

No one really protests anymore because people my age choose to be uninformed, frankly. And if these people my age; my peers; our nation's youth have already succumbed to a myopic trust in the military, I weep for our future. But people like you give me hope that we can change things. Thank you!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011 at 9:18:00 PM GMT-5  
Anonymous Deryle said...

Ian,

Bless you young man, for your insight, and in the face of some of the most incredible propaganda ever foisted on any age group.

And bless your dad for telling it like it is..in your presence.

Keep your powder dry, it's gonna be a long season.

Deryle

Thursday, October 20, 2011 at 8:08:00 PM GMT-5  

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