2nd PLATOON SWIM SESSION TWO
On the 'Street Without Joy', Highway 1a between Quang Tri and Hue, part of 2nd Platoon warm up for the earned swim.
In the background mountains is the Ho Chi Minh Trail and thousands of the NVA. An abandoned French Fort and a bridge over the Song O Lau River going to the Gulf of Tonkin are behind them. The cut telephone lines and destroyed railroad tracks are remainders that this was the place the (then) Viet Minh decisively defeated the French in 1954.
These men had recent major firefights with NVA in the A Shau Valley, Khe Sanh, and Hue. They continued to engage Viet Cong on this coastal plain, then moved to War Zone C to engage the NVA near Cambodia.
Why are they comfortable looking and smiling? Here are an authentic Band of Brothers, but they don't appear as in the movies. Alpha 2/7 had a lot of combat in their history and future at this point. They had the cautious optimism that prevailed in 2nd Platoon. We were formitable and competent.
The smiles were not about boom-boom girls. There were none there. We barely were aware of the concept. The ARVNs protected Highway 1a here. We were just visiting, uninvited guests about to go swimming. The ARVNs were very upset with us. So what else was new?
Of course I feel that these men have earned their right to be proud today, and also their beer, pre-rolled Marlboro joints, and swim sessions on that day (Sir). Some of them operated from anger in 1968. I hope that it all has been let go of completely in past decades. If these men are racked with PTSD and some have committed suicide I clearly live-in-a-tree.
Hate did not drive me in Vietnam. The Viet Cong and NVA and ARVNs were factions looking for a national plan. Harsh people in a harsh land arrived on a harsh solution for their problems.
That had to be the outcome.
I smile because I didn't pay a big price for that lesson.
#1stcavalry #11bravo #11charlie #0331 #1968 #garryowen #hue #arvn #vietminh