For my interview project i had the opportunity to interview Chalmers Hood, a professor here at the University of Mary Washington. Chalmers is a Vietnam veteran who initially joined the Marines after he got out of the Naval Academy. What first struck me about Chalmers was how smart he was. In order for him to get into the Naval Academy he had to ace his placement test. Chalmers not only aced the test, but also get the highest grade of all the other kids in his state, allowing him to select with military school he wanted to take part it.
After the Naval Academy Chalmers had to give back 4 years to the United States Government. He chose the Marines because he saw the racism problems aboard the Navy ships and knew he could not do anything about it. He shied away from the Air Force because he did not trust himself with the plans and the concentration one must have to fly them. All of these decision then lead him to the Marines as his choice.
Chalmers like all had to go to boot camp like all the rest, but did not have to deal with the adjustment. This was because he was used to all of the daily life aspects of boot camp before he had arrived. After boot camp Chalmers then went to communication school.
Chalmers traveled to Vietnam after communications school and was immediately caught in a battle. The camp that he would be living at was under attack from the Vietnamese about rockets or something. He described the immense heat coming out of plane, and thinking that it was actually the heat from the plan engine. He explained how it took him about 3 months for his body to totally adjust to the extreme weather. Chalmers job was working at the hub of communication where he was able to hear all of the conversations taking place between the United States and the counter part in Vietnam. Chalmers came home after a year and continued his service with the Marines for another 13 years.
Chalmers experience differs from other veterans because he was not drafted but joined the Naval Academy knowing that he would have to give years back in the military. He was also never was injured although there were many opportunities where this was possible. Chalmers also went in as a mid-ship man meaning that he was not in the lowest possible postion and had command over people as soon as he got out of boot. Chalmers never got into the drug or alcohol abuse, whereas some of his men did. He says he ran a tight ship, and always disciplined his men for doing anything he did not agree with. Chalmers did marry his wife rather quickly before he went over to Vietnam, but unlike other veterans when they came home, never suffered from family problems and has been married to his wife for over 25 years.
Chalmers did not though, make any life long friends while over in Vietnam. Because he had command of men he was not able to cross the line of command to make true friends. He also says the other officers were not that interested in making friends. Chalmers suffered anxiety after the war, and would jerk awake at night from loud noises thinking they were guns firing.
Chalmers all together had a solid experience over in Vietnam and afterwards as he complete his years in the military. He was able to use he experience to his advantage and increase his education by having the government pay for. He has no complaint about joining the Naval Academy and continuing to serve his country for many of his years.
What surprised me the most about this reading is how unprepared the United States was for the Korean War. Since the United States had just come out of the WWII. The Government was not fully prepared to enter into another war so fast and therefore the soldiers suffered. They were not as prepared as many of them should be and some of them did not have the expeirence that they need to be affective soldiers. THe Unites States people also suffered because they were unsure whether of not this was a war. They believed the this was conflict and to them it did not match up to the First and Second World Wars that had recently taken place. This like many of the Wars, show how uniformed the government keeps the people. With out any information the people of the United States are unable to understand the foreign affairs and why there sons and husbands are going off to fight, and the exact reason is.
After reading Wages of War, it pretty much sums up all of my frustration with the Government and dealing with Veterans. Unfortunately our government is not able to learn from past wars and lessons that they should have learned. THe government for some reason has not been able to provide for the returning Veterans in a way that is just. Although they have continued to increase their support, this is still not enough. There are many problems over looked and therefore when the war ends they try to pick up the loose pieces, which never works. Although the treatment of WWII veterans was probably the best effort seen by the United States Government, this treatment went for the worse during Vietnam. There was such a lack of support from the Government after the Vietnam war towards Veterans, that i am actually surprised that we still have soldiers that will die to serve and protect our counrty.
Ohh how i love these woman, these woman are truly inspirational. They all show how strong women can be when they are needed. My favorite of all the videos was Frances Liberty just because of the stories she told. These stories gave me a personal connection to her. The one about the rosary beads, just shows human kindness. She unlike some of the other women in the videos took part in 3 wars. She was able to see the transformation of women in the armed services. SHe showed just how quick they could be with there worlds and how caring women could also be. She took her job seriously and i just love how she would go to the MASH units and steal everything possible so that she would be able to save more lives. Although many people do not acknowledge women in the armed service or believe that their service was that great, all of these videos disprove this, and show just how strong and hard working they are.
I also really liked the interview with Jeanne Holm who showed just how far women could go in the military. She was able to get the title of Major General and was one of the first women to make it to the leadership college. After her time spent in the military, she was able to position herself near the President of the United States and therefore was able to help women out in the service. She worked on getting them better uniforms and also trying to get them to move faster up in rank. She has wrote 3 books on women in the military and it just goes to show how far women are able to go when they are truly passionate about a subject.
Rhonda Cornum the last woman i am going to talk about in my blog is truly amazing. Being one of the first women to be taken a prisoner of war in the Persian War and surviving to tell the tale, just shows how strong of a character she is. As she said in the interview both of her arms were broken and it took about 5 days for her captures to take her to the med center. She described how she just kept increasing her pain tolerance and that it actual began to forget about the pain until she moved her arms. She was only captive for 7 days, but even that is amazing. It just goes to show that women much like men can handle themselves and do not crack under pressure.
After watching a lot of these videos, it goes to show how strong and willing these women are to help and fight for our country and the boys in the war effort. Unfortunately many of the women who have aided/fought in wars do not get the recognition they deserve. Since i am a girl i am totally for these women and the empowerment i get when i hear about their amazing journeys throughout their lives.
During this reading it was hard to have the book say, that the Korea War has been forgotten. It frustrating that the United States government would not write the world “Korean War” on the grave stone of those who fought so bravely. I believe that if you fight in a war, you should be honored like those who have also fought in a war. The fact that the government would not do this because they had to honor the fact that the United States Congress had not approved of the war, is only a small issue. These men have families, and those who visit their son/daughter grave would probably like them to be remembered as them fight in the “Korean War”.
What I did appreciate was the fact that the Korea War was the first stepping stone to veterans day. This means a lot to all veterans of wars because it mean that everyone on on this day recognize they were hero of the country. Although this was a positive aspect, the United States still did not put up monument for people of the Korean War. It took fundraising and and public support for monument to be built. I find this unfortunate since the Korean War, was a war the United States government should have taken it upon themselves to build the monument on their own.
While reading these chapters in Wages of War, the most surprising thing to me was how unwilling the government was to take responsibilty for damaging the live of veterans with the Orange spray. Clearly there were masses of veterans suffering from it effects, but instead of supporting the veterans, instead they dismissed their claims. To me if a government has any knowledge that they are hurting their citizens, then they should take care of it and deal with the consequences. Rather than do this like a respectable country, the United Stated instead attempted to sweep it under the rug. I find it truley frustrating to live in a country when war after war the government does not care of the brave veterans who fight so hard to protect this country. Yes, the treatment and bills that the veterans now recieve is much better, but their is still improvement needed. This is especially frustrating because most of the soldiers in Vietnam were drafted and did not go on their own accord. The United States should be giving these men the best care they have, and thank them for the honorable duty they have done.
What is also annoying is how President Nixon, was practically lying to the Public. He was aware of the treatment of the returning veterans and how bad the conditions were, but rather than attempt to improve them he was cutting their finacial backing. He never told the Amercian public this and made them believe that there tax dollars were still going to help the troops. He made them believe that the war was not going to cost an arm and a leg, and them let them enjoy the high economy, knowing that it would would one day bottom out. No wonder Nixon got impeached, i mean seriously keeping this information away from the public, basically makes you self interested and looking to have high rating as a President.
What the msot frustrating thing to read is, is that there are still many of the same problems going on during and after Vietnam much like there were after all of the other wars the United States has fought in. There is still the issue of racism, and how the public view veterans when the come home. There is also the issue wtih government support and treatment in hospitals that are ment for veterans. I feel like that the United States should have learned there lesson with 200 years of history. We should be learning from our mistakes, and alothough we are making an effort there is still much to be done to truely help out those who have protected our country.
Ok first of all i am really proud of myself because i am getting this done early…Yay me!
Reading the rest of the book, opened my eyes to how hard it can be to be a disabled veteran. They are constantly relying on people to be there to help and are unable to be as independent as you or I am. With Kovic something as simple as getting into a car required the aide of others. Also Kovic became extremely aware of the people who were looking at him and his disabilities. When he was at the parade that was supposed to be help his honor, all he could was look around to see who was looking at him. The people were not there to honor him and wave back when he gave them a slight smile, but rather they looked at them with curiosity. Again this de-humanized Kovic and see himself as a monster rather than a human.
As Kovic began to realize what the war was doing, and the horrors that were coming with it, he began to speak out in protest. He went to local school and towns and explained how harshly he was treated by Americans. He joined Veterans again the War, and felt that he had found a brotherhood. Here they would speak about there own experiences and their own time during the war. This made him realize that protest were something necessary to help educate the public on what is going on behind closed doors.
I thought it was soo sad, when Kovic had finally decided that he was going to strength his muscles so that he could walk, and he was met with defeat. After he went to the doctor and was given exercise to practice to increase his leg strength, he was on a good track. Unfortunately, after only a couple of weeks, he broke his entire thigh bone, and found himself in the hospital for 6 months.
With everything going on with Kovic, i am not surprised by the depression that ensued. He was looking for companionship, and ended up in Mexico, constantly sleeping with whores. He began to drink alcohol as a way to escape his problems, and was constantly making a fool of himself.
This book really opened my eyes to the treatment that was received by returning wounded veterans. Kovic was able to capture the realism needed to show someone the true horrors of the hospital and life of a wounded veteran.
While reading the introduction what shocked me the most was how fast Kovic wrote the book. He says that he wrote it in 1 month, 3 weeks, and 2 days. I just thought this was interesting was that he was able to pump out this book with such graphic and detailed memories in such a little time. Although it is understandable because it is his life that he is writing about and is something that he went through.
I was amazed by the amount of details that he was able to remember. I am not questioning his his credentials, but with all of the other authors who are writing about personal journeys through out the war, many of them are quick to remind us that they may not have the vest memory. This however, is not happening with Kovic and is just making wonder how true he is being.
Although i question the true value of his memoirs, i really like where the book is going and how interesting it is. The story itself is interesting and the authors way of writing is easy to read. I was surprised how graphic his details were. Especially when he described how they were taken to the enema room and what they really went through. I was also surprised by how quickly the book dragged me in. In the beginning the book was so vivid and graphic and was so quick to make me feel like i was actually there in Vietnam sitting right next to him.
The best part about reading this section was how the public responded to the veterans coming home. They were so supportive to the veterans of War World 2 and it shows how much the public opinion of the veterans has changed during the years. Originally the veterans of the American Revolution and the Civil War were treated poorly and they had to deal with bad support from the government and the people of the era. These days however, during the period of War World Two, the support of the people was incredible. People worried so much about the car of the veterans of the war, that they wrote to Time and The Saturday Evening Post. This amazes me and make me so happy to see that finally, the United States people have finally realized that the veterans of the counties war, were important members of society and should be viewed as such.
What is also like about reading this was how the improvement of weapons also increased the deaths of the soldiers at war. The improvement of weapons including with range, yield, and accuracy so that the people who were shooting the guns would have a easier time killing the person. Thus it made the mortality rate higher as well as the wounded percent higher. Although with this new budding technology, the technology of medicine was also improving. Penicillin was used to fight infection and also the use of medicine on sight was increasingly getting better.
I find that i have really begun to like this book because of the way it separates the content and information. I also like that it has a lot of details in it and is full of valuable information that i will be able to use in my next paper.
What surprised me most in the reading was how excited Paul was on continuing his education. After he was released for the war effort, he immediately went back to Pomona. He knew that with the G.I Bill that he would be able to to go to graduate school for free, and was going to take the opportunity to go the most highly regarded one. He had to work hard to increase his grades and to prove that he was the acceptable for Harvard University. After hard work and learning what he had to do to be accepted, like learn a bunch of new languages. He set off, he study hard and even had tutors. Finally his dedication to education was seen and he was accepted to Harvard. I liked how he and many other soldiers also wanted to be literary scholars, mainly because they could go into a subject that was not effected by the war. It was a highly fanciful major, and one was that was clearly opinionated one who you enjoyed to read.I also like how he followed his brother to the same college, and how his brother had even pulled some strings for him to get in. His older brother clearly means a lot to him, and he trusted his brother decision by first following him to join the war effort, and then joining the same college.
I was also surprised by how fast Paul and Betty decided to get married. They had not known each other for that long, their wedding was meager and not well planed, and not everyone had their families there. After being in the army, i assumed that Paul would not make such a rash decision about getting married. Clearing he was only carry about the physical side of marriage rather than the emotional side as well.
What surprised me during this reading, was how Paul Fussell thought that the ROTC would allow him to enter the army as an officer or with a higher rank that your average soldier joining the army. Unfortunately he was wrong and like every other draftee he had to start at the bottom of the pole and make his way up. He also thought that the ROTC was comparable to the army. He was quite wrong with this belief and was forced to learn the the hard way. In ROTC they only learned how to march and the idea of having someone command you, in the army he was really opened to their world. Here he was forced to do the physical aspect of the boor camp, learning how to use a riffle, and have someone completely control every action that you make.
What also surprised me in the reading was the physical and emotional transformation that occurred with Paul. Originally coming in to the army he was not truly brave and was out of shape. He was not the typical man who would enter the army, but coming out he was the cream of the crop. He explained how the army took him down, to build him back up, and this is clearly what happened. After boot camp ad the initial 6 weeks of training, he had lost weight, built up his muscles and was no longer afraid. He mentioned how the same rocky slope that he would have carefully traversed, is now one that he would run down without a care in the world. By improving him emotionally and physically, the United States Army made sure that he was ready for the real world of war and the discipline it takes to with stand it.