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John Huston’s banned film on war stress: Let There Be Light

Among his many Hollywood films, John Huston directed The African Queen, The Misfits, and The Treasure of Sierra Madre. In WWII Huston served in the Army Signal Corps where he directed and produced three highly acclaimed films: Report from the Aleutians (1943), about soldiers readying for combat; The Battle of San Pietro (1945), the story […]

Santa Cruz, 1969, by Susan Moger

  Waves like silk lick sand like concrete While the roller coaster flies, We’re on planet California getting wrecked and telling lies. For the war casts a long shadow, And it takes a lot of wine, To pretend it doesn’t matter, Back in 1969. __________________ Note on the Photograph: I attended a workshop with Ansel […]

Mike Derrig and the Gang That Wouldn’t Shoot Straight

Forty years after the war Medic and M79 man Mike Derrig caught up in Portland, Maine. I met his lovely wife Robyn, stayed a night or two in their welcoming house, the war inside it all but invisible. It was a good visit. I recall the  high school football game, Mike’s quarterback son relentlessly pushing […]

Mike Derrig: The Road from Cambodia to Portland, Maine

Mike concluded his story with a final burst of email: “Before the litter basket dropped through the jungle, and I was hoisted to the medevac bird, some of the guys came by and said, “You lucky bastard. That’s a million-dollar wound and you’re going home.” Little did I know they were right. It wasn’t long […]

Lessons From the Iroquois

Every so often Medic receives email from teachers, students, from sympathetic vets. It’s always a pleasure to answer their questions. Though I did not know it, this particular email, which arrived on 10 December 2019, held special significance. My name is Clayton Walker. I am a twenty two year old studying English-Teacher Education at North […]

The Magnificent Storyteller: W.D Erhart Reveals What He Saw In Vietnam

Through our mutual friend Mike Gillen, about twenty years ago Medic met Vietnam vet and noted writer W.D. “Bill” Erhart. From time to time we trade emails. Bill is an American poet, writer, scholar and Vietnam veteran. He’s been called “the dean of Vietnam war poetry.” Donald Anderson, editor of War, Literature & the Arts, […]

The Appeal of Charles Michael Wilson

Above photo: Somewhere in Song Be: Shake ‘N Bake, Jim Dumb, Mike Wilson, Papasan. Vietnam, 1970 It happened in Cambodia: the first Chicom grenade blew up the machine gun, the second landed among us, Mike Wilson—last on top of the scrambling men who threw themselves upon me, getting it worst.  For a time after the […]

Lee Ermey

Ronald Lee Ermey (March 24, 1944 – April 15, 2018) was an American actor. He achieved fame when he played Gunnery Sergeant Hartman in the 1987 film Full Metal Jacket, which earned him a Golden Globe Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor. Ermey was also a United States Marine Corps staff sergeant and an honorary […]

A Discomforting Letter From A Comfortable Town

First published on CounterPunch on 24 July 2019 Once, on a good day in a bad war, as we lay in wait, four young men, unsuspecting of what lay ahead, walked into the perfect ambush, and we took no casualties. After we scavenged the bodies for souvenirs, silently, we marched away. An hour later, a […]

Medic on Netflix

In March of 2018 Medic was contacted by GEP Umbrella Inc, which sought to license one of my war photos for the Netflix sci fi series The Umbrella Academy. In short order a sum was agreed upon, a contract was signed. Below is the image as used in the series. Beneath it, the actual photo. […]

Howling Wolf

Chester Arthur Burnett (June 10, 1910 – January 10, 1976), known as Howling Wolf, was a Chicago blues singer, guitarist, and harmonica player, originally from Mississippi. With a booming voice and imposing physical presence, he is one of the best-known Chicago blues artists. Several of his songs, including “Smokestack Lightning”, “Killing Floor” and “Spoonful”, have […]

The Real Deal

Quite some time ago Medic actively participated in New York’s thriving poetry and performance scene. ABC No Rio, The Pink Poney, The Carmine Street Cafe, Dixon Place, Brown Bear, The Saturn Reading Series are a few of the venues that come to mind.  Medic used these open mics to read in public what he’d long […]

Medic in the Dream Time

  In January 2020 Medic was interviewed by poet, playwright, movie producer, and journalist John Ronan, host of “The Writer’s Block, ” a local cable TV show originating from Gloucester, MA. The subject was war and dreams. –   Dreams, Vietnam Other Dreams  

Ernest Hemingway

Through FOIA queries Medic has obtained numerous military and Red Cross documents pertaining to the war experiences of Ernest Hemingway. The files are embedded in the text below. Ernest Miller Hemingway (1899 – 1961) was an American journalist, novelist, short-story writer, and noted sportsman. His understated style—which he termed the iceberg theory—had a strong influence […]

Class of ’69

On a cold winter morning in 2020, one by one, five men spoke of their lives before, during, and after Vietnam, and what lead them to join Veterans for Peace. All had seen their share of combat; each spoke eloquently about war and its aftermath. One mans guilt over civilian bombing casualties lead him to […]

Only the Beginning

In blue jeans or jungle fatigues, united they stand as each veteran steps to the microphone, speaks his few precious words, reaches back, hurls the fateful things onto granite steps. “My name is Bruce Stennager from New York, and I have a Vietnamese campaign ribbon, Vietnamese service ribbon, National Defense Ribbon, and Purple Heart.” “Andrew […]

All My Vexes Are In Texas

This article by Medic first appeared in the 25 April 2019 issue of CounterPunch. Maya Lin’s war monument succeeds by its simplicity. The long tapering wall gradually rising to a delicate peak, falls equally away. Unencumbered, row upon row, by the tens of thousands the mute granite names speak to us, and we are filled […]

How To Tell A Joke In Combat

First published in the 14 June 2019 Weekend Edtion of CounterPunch. We start with the basics. Your base is overrun. Or you have walked into the perfect ambush. Or mortars are raining down and there is nowhere to hide. Or you have run out of ammo and your commo is gone. In each case, each […]

James Sanford Ketchum

James Sanford Ketchum (November 1, 1931 – May 27, 2019) was a psychiatrist and United States Army Medical Corps officer who worked for almost a decade (1960–1969) on the U.S. military’s top secret psychochemical warfare program at the Edgewood Arsenal, Maryland, which pursued research on chemicals to be used to “incapacitate the minds” of adversaries. […]

George W Bush

George Walker Bush (born July 6, 1946) served as the 43rd president of the United States. He was among the most popular, as well as unpopular, U.S. presidents in history. Prior to his political career Bush served in the Texas Air National Guard. Medic has obtained the former presidents available military service records: File 1, […]

The Lone Ranger in Vietnam

Medic first met Dave Bianchini at a VA clinic vets group in Gloucester, MA in 2005. Seated at the large round table in the small cramped room were a couple of grunts–among them, an original member of Tiger Force–a few remfs, the middle aged female therapist. Sessions lasted ninety minutes. I’d been lured by my […]

The Far Side of Lamont Steptoe

Medic knew of Lamont Steptoe but first encountered him at a Groiler Bookstore poetry reading in Boston, MA in 2014. Who was this strange articulate fast talking unassuming dredlocked Vietnam vet? I regretted not sticking around to find out. In 2019, at the first day of the Waging Peace in Vietnam photo exhibit sponsored by […]

Vets Speak at UMass Boston, 18 Sept 2019

On 18 September 2019 the William Joiner Institute at UMass Boston hosted an intergenerational vets panel. The event was introduced by Joiner Associate Director Mitch Manning. Joiner Director Tom Kane made additional remarks. Suffolk professor and acclaimed poet Fred Marchant moderated the event. The four veterans on the panel were: Rachel McNeil, Army Engineers, Iraq […]

Welcome, Class of ’70

Thanksgiving: I’m wandering the city streets outside the sprawling Air Force base. A passing couple invite me to their home for the holiday meal. It will be the last decent food I will have for quite some time. The next morning, we new men march to an Army warehouse crammed with military gear. The stagnant […]

Willimantic, 10.11.2000

First published on Slow Trains in 2001. The bus ride from New York’s frenetic Port Authority to sleepy Willimantic, CT took four sleepless hours and cost twenty-nine dollars. Willimantic, once thread capitol of the world, until thread went south and the town went quiet. Tomorrow, a local college would host a forum on Vietnam, known […]

Take A Break From War With Jerry

Medic’s octogenarian friend David Cox owns a thriving curio shop in Gloucester, Massachusetts. Recently Medic bought three short 118 year old letters, known in the business as “emphemera, for one dollar. Beautifully written, they have absolutely nothing to do with war and its aftermath. Read left to right. Click to enlarge.         […]

Robert Mueller

Robert Swan Mueller lll (born 7 August 1944) is an American lawyer and government official who served as the sixth Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation from 2001 to 2013. After graduating from Princeton University he enlisted in the Marines in 1968. Upon completing OCS, jump school, and Ranger school, in July Mueller deployed […]

Marvin Gaye

Marvin Gaye, born Marvin Pentz Gay Jr. (1939 – 1984) was an American singer, songwriter, and record producer. He helped to shape the sound of Motown in the 1960s, first as an in-house session player and later as a solo artist with a string of hits, including “Ain’t That Peculiar”, “How Sweet It Is (To […]

Pete Buttigieg

The Personnel Files generally include only the military records and a short bio of the prominent vet. However, Matthew Hoh’s 26 Feb 2020 article on CounterPunch is exceptional in its fair handed analysis of Mayor Pete’s military service, and is reproduced in full below. Buttigieg’s military records are located after the first paragraph.   Heaven […]

Fake Vets Chasing Fame

CounterPunch first published this piece by Medic on 17 September 2007   “I carry my adornments on my soul. I do not dress up like a popinjay… With deeds for decorations, twirling — thus — A bristling wit, and swinging at my side Courage, and on the stones of this old town Making the sharp […]

Jimmy Hendrix

Medic has obtained the complete Official Military Personnel Records of Jimmy Hendrix from the National Archives in Saint Louis. They are divided into the following categories: Service Records 1; Service Records 2,  Service Records 3;  Disciplinary;  Medical Records; Reference Correspondence 1; Reference Correspondence 2. His FBI files are here. James Marshall “Jimi” Hendrix (1942 –1970) […]

Larry Roy on Point

Medic first met Larry Roy on LZ Compton in late 1969 or early 1970. At seventeen, bright, cheerful, confident, not more than 5′ 8″/130 pounds, in high school he played golf, and played well, he said. That same day, in a bomb crater, I helped Larry assemble the things he would carry in his new […]

A Christmas Hard To Forget

Bob Shearer, who served with Bravo 1/7  First Cavalry in 1969-1970, sent this story to Medic. For many years after returning home from Vietnam Christmas was difficult for me. One particular memory involved a Michelin rubber plantation in Song Be. In December 1969 Bravo Company spent a “stand down” on LZ Compton, a remote, muddy […]

Chelsea Manning

Chelsea Elizabeth Manning (born Bradley Edward Manning, December 17, 1987) is an American activist, whistle blower, politician, and former United States Army soldier. She was convicted by court-martial in July 2013 of violations of the Espionage Act and other offenses, after disclosing to WikiLeaks nearly 750,000 classified, or unclassified but sensitive, military and diplomatic documents, […]

Tony Bennett

Anthony Dominick Benedetto (born August 3, 1926), known professionally as Tony Bennett, is an American singer of traditional pop standards, big band, show tunes, and jazz. He is also a painter, and the founder of the Frank Sinatra School of the Arts in Astoria, Queens, New York. Born and raised in Astoria to an Italian-American […]

Beauty Is A Cardinal, by Preston Hood

I cannot imagine being at war my entire life like Bao Ninh. I fought for three quarters of a year a river rat it seemed… L-O-N-G-E-N-O-U-G-H where in my body do I feel this emotion? Is there a center? a periphery? in my belfry sleepless dark bats can’t gnaw shame out-of-me but a cardinal… peck…peck… […]

Voices in War Time: Dave Connolly

On 15 November 2018 Peter Sablock, Medic, and Dave Connolly were guest speakers at a poly sci class at Salem State University. We have done this annually several times. Peter, a retired geology teacher, spoke about his combat experiences as a scout with APCs. He did not mince words or hide his fear, his anger, […]

Howard Cosell

Howard William Cosell (1918 –1995) was an American sports journalist widely known for his blustery, cocksure personality. Cosell said of himself, “Arrogant, pompous, obnoxious, vain, cruel, verbose, a showoff. There’s no question that I’m all of those things.” His New York Times obituary stated, “He entered sports broadcasting in the mid-1950s, when the predominant style […]

Claude Ashin Thomas

Claude H. Thomas (born 1947) is a Vietnam vet, Buddhist monk and best selling author, who currently uses the name Claude Anshin Thomas (Anshin is a Japanese term meaning “settled faith.”) Initially Medic felt Thomas’s military service was suspect. The Wikipedia entry for Thomas’s military service states: “From September 1966 to November 1967, Thomas served […]

Duty, Honor, Trumbo

From the comforts of home, on the subject of war, see how the activists fret and fizz: “The question that always comes to mind for me is, what is our intention for the future of our children/grandchildren will live into? Because we are all connected, no future can be considered unique to each of us. […]

The War in New York

Medic is included in noted photographer Jeff Wolin’s 2007 book Inconvenient Stories: Vietnam Veterans. The book is composed of 50 interviews and corresponding photo portraits of Vietnam vets. In the spring of 2006 Jeff photographed me at Washington Square Park in New York City. Afterwards, the NYU historian Marilyn Young gave us an office on […]

Essays Wanted

For the website, and a possible anthology, Medic is seeking responses from all vets to the phrase “Thank you for your service.” How does it make you feel? What are your thoughts when it’s said to you? What do you want to say? What do you say? 3-5 pages. Include name, branch of service, unit, […]

The Long Silence of Bao Ninh

In the fall of 2018, Rohit Inani, a freelance journalist based in New Delhi, contacted Medic after reading my 1998 interview with Bao Ninh. Rohit, who admires Ninh’s work, asked to be put in touch with Ninh. Several weeks later, with help from the Joiner Institute, and the Vietnamese Writer’s Association, Rohit interviewed Ninh in […]

Portrait Of A Young Girl At Dawn

  In the breeze The sudden quiver and sway The shadow of bamboo leaves Twirling onto the hot dry earth, The squad standing quiet Over the stiffening Man, made headless By the machine gun team. Weapons and water Scattered about, The twice shot girl Reaching for my canteen. What to do? What? I patch her […]

A. Peter Dewey

Albert Peter Dewey (October 8, 1916 – September 26, 1945), was an American Office of Strategic Services operative shot dead in a case of mistaken identity by Viet Minh troops on September 26, 1945. Dewey is alleged to be the first American fatality in French Indochina, killed during the 1945 Vietnamese uprising. Through the OSS […]

Casualty Poem

  At dusk, what hand dropped the metal bulb Down the narrow tube, lifting it skyward? I was dreaming the moment the plummeting Brightness struck, a dim noise, I was lifted Floating above myself, below The soft fiery puffs of mortar shells The firefly tracer paths The glow of skittering shrapnel Then all at once […]

Whatever You Did in War Will Always Be With You

This article, by Medic, was first published in the June 2006 hard copy edition of CounterPunch, and subsequently in CP online. ____________________ VA Shrink: Were you in Vietnam? Vietnam Vet: Yes. VA Shrink: When were you there? Vietnam vet: Last night. I’m kneeling. Tears streak my face, drip down, fall to earth. It’s only my […]

Medic Reads at Salem State University

On 1 March 2018, Medic and Michael Casey were the featured readers at Salem State University. Medic read from his book How Stevie Nearly Lost the War and Other Postwar Stories. Mike, an MP in Vietnam in ’68, won the 1972 Yale Younger Poets Award for his poetry collection Obscenities. He read from his newest […]

Humphrey Bogart

Medic has obtained Bogart’s complete Official Military Personnel Records from the National Archives in Saint Louis. The records are divided into the following categories: Service Documents; Awards,Decorations, Commendations; Medical Records; Reference Documents. Born on Christmas Day, 1899, in New York City, Bogart’s father was a surgeon, his mother a commercial illustrator. The well to do […]

Bob Woodward

Robert Upshur Woodward (born March 26, 1943) is an American investigative journalist. He has worked for The Washington Post since 1971 as a reporter and is now an associate editor there. Bob Woodward enrolled in Yale with a Naval Reserve Officers Training Corp scholarship, received his B.A. degree in 1965, then spent five years in […]

For Students

Grade 5 Class Portrait:Class picture of the Academy Hill School fifth grade, 1957. Back row, left to right: Peter Metters, Frank Powers, Barry Zlotin, Dick Larrabee, Nick Ferrantella, Dennis Brown, Leonard Ringler, David Hardy, Dan Connell. Middle row: Donna Glidden, Pam Lawrence, Sandy Pope, Melodie Watts, Karen Lamb, Haydi Craig, Cynthia Perkins, Susan Lusk, Joanna Simms, Susan Michetti. Front row: Mary Jean Nelson, Sheila Fulton, Louisa Dennis, Susan Chase, Susan Tucker, Jackie Mainhart, Marie Stackpole. Academy Hill School. Nantucket 1957

THE DRAFT Were you drafted? After dropping out of college I was living at home. There wasn’t much on offer in the way of work and my parents were not emotionally well people,making life increasingly difficult. I needed an escape and the Army promised a career and the chance to find myself. And it was […]

Richard Nixon

Richard Milhous Nixon (1913 –1994) was the 37th President of the United States,serving from 1969 to 1974,when he became the only president to resign the office. Medic has obtained the Official Military Personnel Records of Richard Nixon from the National Archives in Saint Louis. The record categories are: Service Documents 1; Service Documents 2; Service […]

John Coltrane

John William Coltrane(1926 –1967)was an American jazz saxophonist and composer who helped pioneer the use of modes in jazz and was later at the forefront of free jazz. He organized numerous recording sessions,and often appeared as a sideman,notably on albums with Miles Davis and Thelonious Monk. Medic has obtained the Official Military Personnel Records of […]

Rocky Marciano

Rocky Marciano (born Rocco Francis Marchegiano,1923-1969) was an American boxer and the World Heavyweight Champion from 1952 to 1956. He was drafted into the Army in 1943. Stationed in Wales, he helped ferry supplies across the English Channel to Normandy. He completed his service in  1946. Medic has obtained the service records for Rocky Marciano. […]

Jack Kerouac

Jack Kerouac (born Jean-Louis Kérouac (though he called himself Jean-Louis Lebris de Kérouac); 1922 – 1969) was an American novelist and poet of French-Canadian descent. He is considered a literary iconoclast and, alongside William S. Burroughs and Allen Ginsberg, a pioneer of the Beat Generation. Kerouac is recognized for his method of spontaneous prose, and […]

Kurt Vonnegut

Kurt Vonnegut,Jr.(1922 –2007) was an American writer. His books include Cat’s Cradle, Slaughterhouse-Five,and Breakfast of Champions,which blend satire,gallows humor,and science fiction. He was a lifelong supporter of the American Civil Liberties Union,and honorary president of the American Humanist Association. Medic has obtained the Official Military Personnel Records of Kurt Vonnegut from the National Archives. Unfortunately […]

Edward Steichen

Edward Jean Steichen (1879–1973) was an American photographer,painter,and art gallery and museum curator. From 1923 to 1938,Steichen was regarded as the best known and highest paid fashion and advertising photographer in the world. Medic has obtained the military records of Edward Steichen. The categories are: Service Records 1; Service Records 2; Service Records 3; Service […]

Joe Louis

Joseph Louis Barrow (1914-1981),better known as Joe Louis,and nicknamed the Brown Bomber,was an American professional boxer and the World Heavyweight Champion from 1937 to 1949. He is considered to be one of the greatest heavyweights of all time. Medic has obtained the complete military records of Joe Louis from the National Archives. The categories are: […]

Ray Manzarek

Raymond “Ray” Daniel Manzarek Jr. (1939 – 2013) was an American musician, singer, producer, film director, and author, best known as a member of The Doors from 1965 to 1973, which he co-founded with singer and lyricist Jim Morrison. Manzarek was notable for performing on a keyboard bass during many live shows and some recordings, taking […]

Lenny Bruce

Leonard Alfred Schneider (1925 –1966), better known by his stage name Lenny Bruce, was an American stand-up comedian, social critic, satirist, and screenwriter. He was renowned for his open, free-style and critical form of comedy which integrated satire, politics, religion, sex, and vulgarity. His 1964 conviction in an obscenity trial was followed by a posthumous […]

Johnny Cash

Johnny Cash (J. R. Cash; 1932 – 2003) was an American singer-songwriter, guitarist, actor, and author. He is one of the best-selling music artists of all time, having sold more than 90 million records worldwide. Although primarily remembered as a country music icon, his genre-spanning songs and sound embraced rock and roll, rockabilly, blues, folk, […]

Jerry Garcia

Jerome John “Jerry” Garcia (1942 – 1995) was an American musician best known for his lead guitar work, singing and songwriting with the band the Grateful Dead, which came to prominence during the counterculture era in the 1960s. Though he disavowed the role, Garcia was viewed by many as the leader or “spokesman” of the […]

William Donovan

William Joseph (“Wild Bill”) Donovan (1883 –1959) was an American soldier,lawyer,intelligence officer and diplomat. Donovan is best remembered as the head of the Office of Strategic Services (OSS),a precursor to the Central Intelligence Agency,during World War II. He is also known as the “Father of American Intelligence” and the “Father of Central Intelligence.” Medic has […]

Portrait Of A Boy At Dawn

  The green metal bird shimmies North along the muddy banks Sweeps south, flying high, low A risky business feeling them out The tall slender reeds bowing Beneath us. We bank hard right, dip again Blowing the green curtain down The boy equally stunned His mud-laden AK no match In the forever time His astonished […]

Medic reads two poems

On 17 December 2017, Medic joined Vietnam vets, and family members of WWII vets, who read from their work in The Inner Voice and the Outer World, Writings by Veterans And Their Families, edited by Dorothy Nelson. The two hour book launch, filmed at Gloucester House, a restaurant in Gloucester, MA, is viewable at the […]

Waiting Together, a play by Tom Laaser

Medic’s friend Tom Laaser, an Army vet, served with the 10th Mountain Division as a field artilleryman in Afghanistan. He was severely wounded and turned to writing to aid in his recovery. A senior at Salem State University, in Salem, MA, he majors in English and education, and will soon complete an internship with Congressman […]

Medgar Evers

Medgar Wiley Evers (July 2, 1925 – June 12, 1963) was an American civil rights activist from Mississippi who worked to overturn segregation at the University of Mississippi and enact social justice and voting rights. He was murdered by white supremacist and Klansman Byron De La Beckwith, a member of the White Citizens’ Council, a […]

Daniel Ellsburg

Daniel Ellsberg served in the Marine Corps for three years, from 1954-’57, as a rifle platoon leader, operations officer, and rifle company commander. He extended his service for six months to serve in the U.S. 6th Fleet in the Mediterranean during the 1956 Suez Crisis in Egypt. While employed by the RAND Corporation, Ellsburg precipitated […]

J.D. Salinger

J.D. Salinger (1919-2010) was drafted into the Army in 1942 and saw combat with the 12th Infantry Regiment,4th Infantry Division at Utah Beach on D-Day, in the Battle of the Bulge, and the Battle of Hürtgen Forest. Medic has obtained the Official Military Personnel Records of Salinger. Unfortunately ,as was the case for thousands of […]

Jeff Sharlet

Jeff Sharlet (1942–1969), a Vietnam veteran, was a leader of the GI resistance movement during the Vietnam War and the founding editor of Vietnam GI, considered the most influential early anti-war paper, distributed to tens of thousands of GIs, many in Vietnam. In 1961, Sharlot enlisted in the Army and requested training at the Army […]

Gustav Hasford

Gustave Hasford (1947 –1993), was an American novelist, journalist poet, and Marine combat veteran. His semi-autobiographical novel The Short-Timers (1979) was the basis of the Oscar nominated Stanely Kubrick film Full Metal Jacket (1987). Via a Freedom of Information Act request, Medic has obtained a summary of  Hasford’s military service. Given that Hasford is a […]

Jon Burge

Jon Graham Burge (1947 – 2018) was an American police detective and commander in the Chicago Police Department who was accused of torturing more than 200 criminal suspects, mostly African American, between 1972 and 1991 in order to force confessions. Through an FOIA request Medic has obtained excerpts from Jon Graham Burge’s military file. An […]

Joseph “Joe” McCarthy

Joseph Raymond “Joe” McCarthy (1908 – 1957) was an American politician who served as a U.S. Senator from the state of Wisconsin from 1947 until his death in 1957. He served in the Marines from 1942 to 1945. Medic requested the military files of Senator Joe McCarthy from the National Archives. Under the Freedom of […]

Eddie Slovik

Edward Donald Slovik (February 18, 1920 – January 31, 1945) was the only US soldier in WW II to be court-martialled and executed for desertion since the Civil War. On its Person’s of Exceptional Prominence  page, the National Archives have released the military records of numerous well known American veterans. Of the more than one […]

Donald Duncan

Master Sergeant Donald Walter “Don” Duncan (1930-2009) was a Special Forces soldier during the Vietnam War, where he helped to establish Project DELTA. Following his return to the United States, Duncan became outspoken in his opposition to the war and was a leading anti-war spokesman. Duncan is best remembered as the military editor of the […]

TC Cannon

Tommy Wayne Cannon (1946 – 1978) was an important Native American artist of the 20th century. An enrolled member of the Kiowa Tribe with Caddo and French descent, he was popularly known as T.C. Cannon. Cannon grew up in Zodaltone and Gracemont, Oklahoma. His parents were Walter Cannon (Kiowa) and Minnie Ahdunko Cannon (Caddo). His […]

Paul Newman

Paul Leonard Newman ( 1925-2008) was an American actor, film director, entrepreneur, professional racing driver, auto racing team owner, and auto racing enthusiast. He won numerous awards, including an Academy Award for best actor for his performance in the 1986 Martin Scorsese film The Color of Money and eight other nominations, six Golden Globe Awards […]

Rod Serling

After many delays, Medic obtained the Official Military Personnel Records of Army veteran Rod Serling from the National Archives. Unfortunately, as NARA wrote to Serling’s widow, his records were among those destroyed in a fire in 1973.  His remaining and reconstituted records are here. Rodman Edward “Rod” Serling (1924-1975) was an American screenwriter, playwright, television […]

Mel Brooks

Medic has obtained the military records of Mel Brooks, who enlisted in the Army soon after high school.  Without explanation, only five pages were sent by the National Archives. Curiously, Brooks’ primary MOS is Entertainer, about which little has been written, whereas he trained and served as a combat engineer. Mel Brooks (real name Melvin […]

George Bessolo

Medic has obtained the Official Military Personnel Records of Superman from the National Archives and Records Administration. Unfortunately most of the original documents were destroyed in the 1973 fire at the National Personnel Records Center in Saint Louis.  The remaining records sent by NARA are here. George Reeves (1914 – 1959) was an American actor […]

Ernie Pyle

Medic has obtained the service records of war correspondent Ernie Pyle from the National Archives. They are categorized as follows: Service Documents; Record Book; Medical Records; Correspondence; Reference Correspondence. Ernest Taylor “Ernie” Pyle (1900–1945) was a popular American journalist and legendary WWII war correspondent,when he reported from Europe and the Pacific,until his death in combat […]

Lyndon Baines Johnson

Lyndon Baines Johnson (1908 –1973) was the 36th President of the United States. His Great Society legislation included laws that upheld civil rights,Medicare,Medicaid,environmental protection,aid to education,aid to the arts,urban and rural development and his War on Poverty. His civil rights bills banned racial discrimination in public facilities,interstate commerce,the workplace,and housing,and a powerful voting rights act […]

Medic Exclusive! Secret DOD Memo ***GRAPHIC***

Under the Freedom of Information Act, Medic has obtained a recently declassified DOD memo issued by the Army’s elite NCO and Officer Warfare School. Heavily redacted, the brief but strongly worded statement addresses the need to improve appropriate conduct between male and female soldiers. It obliquely refers to a specific scene in a little known […]

John Dillinger

John Herbert Dillinger (1903–1934) was an American bank robber. During the Depression,Dillinger and his gang robbed two dozen banks and four police stations. In 1933–34 Dillinger stood out even among such violent criminals as Baby Face Nelson,Pretty Boy Floyd,and Bonnie and Clyde. When the Roosevelt administration demanded federal action,J.Edgar Hoover used Dillinger and his gang […]

James “Whitey” Bulger

Not long after sending a FOIA request to the National Archives and Records Administration, Medic received a phone call from an archive technician. The conversation was brief and informative: “Sir, do you happen to know his social security number?” “No.” “Is he currently alive?” “Yes.” “Do you have his current address?” “He’s incarcerated. Wait a […]

Breakfast With Champions

In the fall of 1977, Medic and his brother drove from Newark, New Jersey to Muhammad Ali’s training camp, in Deer Lake, Pennsylvania to see the champ prepare for his fight with Ernie Shaver’s. We arrived early, about 7 AM. It was cold. The parking lot was empty. Was this the right place? We made […]

Dear Mr. and Mrs. Johnston

“Don’t send me out. I have a bad feeling about this one,” Medic heard Sgt Gary Johnston say to our commanding officer.  A few minutes later the patrol was ambushed and Gary was dead. Several years back a Cav friend put Medic in touch with Nubbin Johnston, Gary’s younger brother. From the jungle, Delta 1/7 […]

On Being Frank

In early 2017 I mailed a hard copy query to a man in upstate New York: “Recently I published How Stevie Nearly Lost the War and Other Postwar Stories. The connecting theme is war and its aftermath. I think we both know a little about PTSD. Would you consider writing a blurb? I look forward […]

Veteran’s Day: Just Tell The Story

  On 11 November 2017 Medic was among several vets invited by Congressman Seth Moulton to speak at a Town Hall meeting in Marblehead, MA. The event was reported in various newspapers, including The Salem News. “The idea of a veterans town hall was conceived by author Sebastian Junger, based on the tradition of warrior storytelling. […]

WWII, Vietnam, Afghanistan: Three Vets Talk About War

On April 14, 2018, Tom Laaser, who served in Afghanistan, and Lawrence Kirby, a heavy combat WW II veteran who fought in some of the fiercest Pacific battles, and Medic addressed an audience of one hundred people at the Community House in Hamilton, MA. Headlined as “Telling Our Stories,” the event was part of the Wenham […]

Talking Dirty to the Kids

Our apologies, good friends, for the fracture of good order, the burning of paper instead of children, the angering of the orderlies in the front parlor of the charnel house. We could not, so help us God, do otherwise. Daniel Berrigan, SJ __________________ From time to time Medic talks at colleges and high schools. The […]

Listen to This!

In December 2017 Medic was interviewed by Walt Kosmowski on his show North Shore Journal, which is broadcast by BevCam, a community access TV station in Beverly, MA.  A veterans panel, consisting of members of the Salem Writer’s Group, run by Tom Laaser, is planned.    

Franklin Delano Roosevelt

Franklin Delano Roosevelt (1882 –1945), commonly known as FDR, was an American statesman and political leader who served as the 32nd President of the United States. A Democrat, he was elected four times and served from March 1933 to his death in April 1945. He was a central figure in world events during the mid-20th […]

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Betty

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Nicaragua

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Vietnam

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Idaho

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Hanoi

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Heinemann

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Arlington I

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Gloria

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                    Gloria Emerson was a distinguished American author,journalist and New York Times war correspondent. She was a friend to Vietnam veterans. She committed suicide in 2004. Her obituary appeared in numerous papers,including The Guardian.

Tennesse

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Dan

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Counterpunch Inconvenient Stories: Vietnam War Veterans 

My Dear Colonel

  Clinton Dugald MacDougall was born 14 Sept 1839 in Kintrye, Scotland. He enlisted on 16 September 1861 at Auburn, NY as a Captain. In 1861 he joined A Co. NY 75th Infantry. The following year,upon joining the Field & Staff NY 111th Infantry he was promoted to Lt Colonel and promoted to full colonel […]

Dear Congressman

 

Laos

I met Seth in Luang Prabang, Laos. With three Swiss backpackers we planned a trip up the Mekong, but Seth came down with food poisoning, so nervous Peter, plump Renata, charismatic Pascal and I made our way upriver on hired fantail boats. Sailing six to eight hours a day, we marveled at the sight of […]

Destination: Sapa

The dollar bus from Lao Cai to Sapa, 1995

A Red Cross doctor cured Seth with antibiotics. In Hanoi, we decided to visit Sapa, a highland town bordering China. French soldiers had once garrisoned there for respite. Aboard the second class section of the packed train we found a place to sit; the wood slat seats grew steadily hard on the back. The Vietnamese […]

Sapa Market

H'mong woman, central market, Sapa, 1995

The H’mong in Sapa wear blue. They weave the cloth and dye it themselves, as evidenced by their indigo stained finger tips. I could not take my eyes off this beautiful woman (above), though it was sad to see frenzied gringos encircle her and other H’mong men and women, lusting after souvenirs. In ’94 the […]

Sapa: Sights and Sound

We spotted this man and his children (above) on a hill overlooking Sapa’s famed terraced paddies. Scampering up a muddy slope we joined them. I knew immediately this would make a fine photograph. Seth had a good camera and took the shot. The father smiled as he continued to play his sad lovely tunes, which […]

Outside Sapa

Terraced rice paddy and valley, Sapa, 1995

Beyond the center of Sapa, beautiful winding trails skirted valleys sculpted by broad terraced paddies. A few klicks beyond the paddies–there is much hard work in that beauty–the sky turned dark–lightening snapped across the horizon. Seth and I ran to a distant wood shack and huddled beneath its fragile porch, joining a young H’mong man […]

The Price of Admission

Medic in MIG 21 cockpit, Hanoi Air Force Museum, Hanoi, 1995

Outside the Hanoi Air Force Museum, a converted airplane hangar—admission 50 cents—thick vines creep up the skeletal remains of deactivated SAM missiles pointing skyward, frozen in the act of imminent launch. Seth and I are the only persons present. A short and stooped very old man, wearing faded military fatigues and toting an ancient rifle, […]

On the Beach

A portable safe, a nylon vault.

Pinned by pebbles, row upon row of five thousand dollars in blue engraved traveler’s checks sit like butterflies fanning their wings on the hot dry sand. If curious children draw near I will shoo them away. Here is how it happened: After a week in Ha Long Bay sharing a small wood boat with a […]

Gringo’s and Kings

One morning, riding a rented Chinese bicycle through town I noticed a middle-aged American who seemed bewildered. Was he searching for landmarks or reliving the past? In ‘68 a terrible month long battle reduced Hue to rubble. Friend, were you a Marine caught in the dread house to house combat? Were your buddies killed or […]

Kingdom of Cambodia

Press Pass issued by Ministry of Information, Phnom Penh, Cambodia

At the Capital Hotel, an immense cinder block building located in the heart of Phnom Penh, the manager, a friendly middle-aged man, beckoned me to stifling cinder-block room with narrow bed and dripping sink. “Three dollah, one nigh,” he said. I immediately paid him, pocketed the key he provided, set my heavy pack on the […]

Khymers and Carl

Carl with anxious Cambodian soldier. Angkor Wat, Cambodia, 1995

On the speed boat from Malaysia to Siem Reap,the small city on the outskirts of Angkor Wat,I met Carl,an American who lived and worked in Japan. Because of the noisy passengers in the fifty seat cabin we sat on deck.Carl  joined the Marines to serve in Vietnam. “But,” he said, “my brother was there so […]

Ta’Prom

Tourist troops with B 40s and AK47s. Ta'Prom, Angkor Wat, Cambodia, 1995

It was surprisingly cool inside the ruins of Ta’Prom, one of the few sites where the jungle had not been cleared away. Periodically a Cambodian army patrol armed with Chinese weapons,outfitted in American camo,web gear and spit shined boots,dutifully marched past. They hoped to calm traveler’s fearful of Khymer Rouge or armed bandits. Early one […]

Rain Like Bullets

Mea sitting atop temple ruin, Ta'Prom, Angkor Wat, Cambodia, 1995.

Mea, a happy and handsome boy in T shirt, gray slacks and flip flops sells souvenirs to tourists. “Sir, for you only two dollars,” he says in impeccable English. Meeting him each day at Ta’Prom, one of many temple ruins at Angkor Wat, we become friends. He lives nearby in a sturdy raised bamboo house […]

Something Vichy

                              Medic’s friend Erin,at the time living in France,sent the letter above and accompanying small piece of history,which she found in a bunker built during WWII.   From 1940,when Germany conquered France,to the Allied liberation in 1944,under Marshal Philippe Petain France was known as Vichy France. […]

Love From Papa

The letter below is one in a series from a father to his daughter. He seems a wealthy man,and caring and logical and intelligent. In clear simple prose he describes the work done in remodeling his home; the goings on of neighbors and friends. But when this good man refers to veterans the letter takes […]

Peace Time

POETRY

We gave it names Like contact, Movement or Bringing scunnion. We psyched ourselves up Scowling, “Time to kick ass And take names.” But never talked about The human beings. This is how it worked: They walked into our patrol Or we walked into theirs Or we ambushed them Or they’d ambush us Or we walked […]

A Grunts Life Around Quan Loi

A large Army base fifty-seven miles north of Saigon and twelve miles from Cambodia, Quan Loi was built near a rubber tree plantation populated with deserted French buildings. Quan Loi supplied grunts with ammo, food, water, heavy artillery and air support, and medical care. Due to frequent rocket attacks, it was nicknamed Rocket City. GIs […]

Dead Letter Day

  He sent the letter to the guy’s wife The same day, Leaving out the following: “About 2 in the morning the automatic went off And nobody moved, we just waited for the morning Light and the order to recon. There were two of them. One was dead. The other hung on all night, Waiting […]

Chieu Hoi Leaflets

Open Arms

Through the use of propaganda leaflets dropped by helicopters flying over the jungle, the Chieu Hoi program (loosely translated as Open Arms) sought to encourage the Viet Cong and the North Vietnamese Army to surrender to the Americans or South Vietnamese forces. Soldiers of the 209th Regiment,7th Division, North Vietnam – Attention!  TO THE COMMUNIST […]

Marc Levy

I was a medic with Delta 1/7 First Cavalry in Vietnam and Cambodia, ’69-’70. My decorations include the Combat Medic Badge, Silver Star, two Bronze Stars with V, Air Medal, Arcom. My writing has appeared in various publications, including New Millennium Writings, Cutthroat, War, Literature and the Arts, Chiron Review, Mudfish, New Madrid, and most […]

Before Midsummer Day

Medic bought the item below from his friend and heavy non combat vet David Cox,proprietor of Main Arts and Antiques,located at 124 Main Street in downtown Gloucester,MA. A steal at ten bucks,it is the oldest letter Medic has ever seen. While its monetary value is negligible,its beauty is unique.             […]

How to Kill an American

You take a bowl,you fill it with diesel oil. You take a frag, a baseball grenade,they call it, You pull the pin,you hold the frag tight. Now wrap a half dozen elastic bands round The grenade,round that green curved metal strip. The spoon,they call it. Now sit the frag in the bowl.Submerge the fucker. Now […]

He Would Tell You

Here in the secret chambers Of my darkest heart are things I will never tell: Here is oily blood and brittle bone Here are clotted lips, frothy lungs Decomposed and muted tongues Here twisted cloth lays strangely stiff In a powdery triptych pit Where a dumbstruck man and wife Lock quick lime arms round their […]

Ron Ridenhour

Ridenhour was a GI and investigative journalist who played a central role in spurring the investigation of the My Lai massacre. He heard of the massacre from friends while serving in Vietnam and took it upon himself to conduct a number of interviews. On his return to the United States Ridenhour sent letters to numerous […]

Post Traumatic Press Poetry Reading

In 2006 Medic participated in a Post Traumatic Press reading held in Woodstock, NY.  Dayl Wise, Echo 2/5 First Cavalry 1969, founded the press and organized the event.

Smoking Opium in Tam Ky, by John Akins

  Adrenalin floods linger long after combat. The rush blends fear with thrill – Grooving on the excitement, the challenge. In the bush, recreation is nil. Hookers and Philippine rock bands thrive near base camps. I stumble onto the cure in Tam Ky – a frontier boom town in 1968. The main drag is a […]

The Quiet Time

Medic’s essay below won the 2016 Syracuse University Institute for Veterans and Military Families Writing Prize, judged by Brian Turner and published in Stone Canoe. Imagine this: after a blistering hot day marching up and down mud slicked hills, or tramping wide open fields, or steamy jungle, imagine setting out booby traps on enemy trails, […]

Telegram to Mr and Mrs Motyka

  The telegram was delivered in person by a Western Union messenger around 10:00 pm on Friday, April 24, 1970. My mother answered the door and accepted it. She could see the words,DONT PHONE,DONT PHONE,through the window portion of the envelope.  She was terror stricken. Unable to open it she took it to my Dad […]

Letter to Jeff Motyka

How Do You Read Me?

Medic’s poet friend John Ronan, of Gloucester, MA, hosts the Cape Ann TV show “The Writer’s Block.” This show aired on 2 November 2017.  

I Read You Loud and Clear!

In November 2017 Medic was privileged to be interviewed by Peter Solomon. Peter is a retired network broadcaster, who volunteers his skills at WCAT in Winthrop, MA.  

Excerpts From a Dream Journal

Medic at rest, 1/7 aid station, Phuc Vinh, Vietnam, 1970.

The war, I’m told, with its white-tailed rockets and hard crack ricochets; the war, with its thumping whirl of trembling choppers; the war, with its shirtless gun crews manning steel- wheeled cannons; the war, with its fine plumed shells cutting silver arcs through infinite sky; the war, with its lumbering tanks and sun bleached bunkers; […]

With Jim Lamb on LZ Compton

Lamb with grenade launcher, Medic on fifty caliber machine gun. LZ Compton, An Loc 1969

After three weeks on patrol Delta pulls perimeter guard on LZ Compton. The remote base is surrounded by an earthen berm ringed by bunkers, concertina wire, Claymore mines, trip flares, steel barrels filled with diesel oil rigged to explode. Foo gas, we call it. Inside the perimeter, bare-chested gun crews man steel-wheeled cannons or stout […]

Trophies

The taxi from Phnom Penh to Kampong Cham took four hours and cost two dollars; the road back was mined. I found a guide, Japro,who spoke good English. Proud owner of a beat-up Honda cub Japro had thick black hair, large white teeth, was thin, talkative, nervous. A survivor of Pol Pot’s killing fields, he […]

The Most *%#@# War Story of All *%^#% Time

Every third day Delta is resupplied by Hueys which spot our popped smoke, swoop in, frantically unload crates of C-rations, ammo, mail, black rubber kegs of water, then they are gone. The mail is stuffed in a red nylon sack tied shut with thick cotton rope. The lieutenant unties the bag, reaches in, dutifully hands […]

The Dark Angry Secrets of Mike and Doc

Mike and I keep in touch. We talk about Vietnam. About nightmares and startle reflex, battles with anxiety, depression, flashbacks. “Doc, good thing you called,” he said. “I’m having a rough night. The way you talk–you being a medic, settles me down. “Any time, Michael,” I said. We agreed I’d visit in August. Six months […]

Song Be to Settling Down

Horses at Parangtritis, Java

We’re in Song Be. How long has it been? Two weeks? Three? I hand my camera to gunner Jim Lamb, or rifleman Alfonso Gamble, or point man Larry Roy, or rifleman Glenn Williams (shot by Bill Williams after an enemy bullet clipped the back of his head). Or RTO Mike Wilson who followed Six over […]

Song Be Patrol

Gary Williams crossing stream. Song Be, Vietnam 1970

We’ve left our gear back at the night perimeter. By noon we are parched and weary. “Pour this on me,” I say to Gary, after putting the camera down. The cool water sluices over my oily hair, my sweat soaked fatigues, flows into my aid bag, the bandages already wet. Clipped to my pistol belt, […]

Respect

Medic sitting on well-used trail. Song Be, Vietnam 1970

Third platoon sits by the edge of a grassy field waiting for choppers to fly us away. We’ve been lucky so far. No contact in more than three weeks. Lulled into laziness, we haven’t there’s set up a perimeter, no trip flares or Claymores have been staked in the ground. No sees the well used […]

Quan Loi To Cambodia

Choppers arrive to pick up grunts. Tay Ninh, Vietnam 1970.

The perimeter is on fire. From the pick up zone a hundred grunts watch smoke and flames fill the sky. The Captain yells,”Choppers in zero two.” Sobbing,I walk past him to our head medic,hunched on his helmet,engrossed in a book. “What’s wrong?” he asks,looking up. Between sobs I tell him I can’t think straight,can’t take […]

Photo Jim Dumb

Diem Diem, aka Jim Dumb, Kit Karson Scout. Tay Ninh, Vietnam 1970

It’s early morning in dry season and third squad sits cross-legged on a leafy carpet of bamboo. The men burn chunks of C-4 plastique explosive which boils water in less than a minute; stir in powdered coffee, sip the bitter brew from metal canteen cups. After a time we pass C-ration cigarettes to our Kit […]

Paradise

Second squad on LZ Ramada: Ken (KIA), Gamble, Bill, Hank, Buddha, Dorio. Phuc Vinh, Vietnam 1970

Jay R, 5th Special Forces Group‘67 says,“I was modified,” referring to a limp numerous surgeries have failed to correct.  He continues speaking as we walk down beige corridors, our VA records, tied shut with red string, held flat to our chests. Soon we are lost before JR spies ROOM 57 EKG. Unlike the spartan furnishings […]

On Meeting the New Lieutenant

Lake by small village. Quan Loi, Vietnam 1995

After eight months in the bush I say good-bye to my men. “Doc, don’t leave us,” they say, “Don’t leave the platoon.” We’ve been through so much. Weeks on end of jungle patrols, ambush or rocket and mortar attacks. A base over run. Or waiting and waiting, the tension rising, and nothing at all. In […]

Klinik Am Zurichberg

We recline on the bed in our little cubicle room, Karla and me, volunteer workers on a seaside kibbutz. We’ve worked long and hard;it’s time to rest. Sometimes she speaks in her sleep. This afternoon, when she wakes we abandon ourselves to love making while Gerard the Frenchman pounds the flimsy screen door. “Open!” he […]

The POWs

The last time I had seen Jim he was humping the gun in our platoon.  After so many years it wouldn’t be easy, seeing him; I imagined he felt the same. Even so, I didn’t know what to expect. At the first knock I rushed to the door. Without love beads, or his grimy boonie […]

Bunker Complex

The lieutenant has red hair. “Carrot Top,” we secretly call him. Carrot Top says the Captain says build a bunker. What for? On patrol in Song Be we are grunts,not engineers. Armed with sandbags and machetes we obey the order. Our Kit Karson’s,Jim Dumb and Papa san,make multiple quick cuts to the base of  bamboo […]

Belly of the Beast

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As the choppers descend over the arid field, an immense black deer bolts from the wood line, galloping hard to out run the Huey’s landing third platoon. Whittled to half strength, our ranks are filled with FNGs. The door gunners request permission to fire. Seconds later their machine guns nip at dashing hooves, snap at […]

Easy Month

“Take five,”  says the lieutenant. I clear a spot, sit on my pack, slug a half canteen of water. “Hey, Doc,” says Larry Roy, “I don’t feel too good.” He dips his head, with his forearm, wipes his brow. In another world, Larry Roy played golf. Here, at seventeen, he walks point. Everyone likes him. […]

Strange Meeting

Left to right: Medic, Mr. Mau, Andy (Marines), Bao Ninh, Allen Farrell (5th Special Forces '70). Rear: Larry Heinemann. Boston, 1998

Published in VVA’s The Veteran, Fall Winter 1999, CounterPunch, 22 May 2020, and The Morning Star (UK), 8 June 2020. Three years after the Americans abandoned Vietnam, in the depths of the Forest of Screaming Souls, NVA veterans search for the remains of men and women killed in combat. So begins The Sorrow of War, […]

McNamara’s Folly: Project 100,000

At various times in its history, the US military has recruited people who measured below specific mental and medical standards. During the Vietnam war, “McNamara’s Moron’s” as they were called, were barely literate, or could not read or write, or did not speak English. They were underweight, or obese, were too short, or semi-blind, or […]

Inventory

In June 2018 the website KGB Bar Lit Mag published this short story by Medic. – Patrol, jungle, ambush, monsoon. Done, thought Stevie, who now ate only cooked meals, showered daily, wore fresh fatigues, polished boots. Except for the tropic heat and menial work, life on the base was considered pleasant. “So, you the one […]

The Things They Didn’t Carry

On patrol ever third day the company will find a suitable spot for the birds to set down. We will set up a perimeter, post men on guard, then settle in and wait. Soon enough, we hear the whirling beat of rotor blades, look to the horizon, see the resupply choppers as they come into […]

The Cavalair

The Cavalair was the First Cavalry Division’s weekly newspaper in Vietnam. Its stories and photographs of front line and rear units were produced by an intrepid staff of roving Army reporters. A morale builder, the paper effectively sugar coated the war, pumping out a steady stream of upbeat combat and human interest stories. The Cavalair […]

“That’s great fun! I really like to do that!”

Chris Marker (29 July 1921 – 29 July 2012) was a French writer, photographer, documentary film director, multimedia artist and film essayist. Among his best known films is A Grin Without a Cat, released in 1977. The film’s title refers to the Cheshire Cat from Alice in Wonderland. The metaphor compares the promise of the […]

A Swiss Direct Hit

Medic and Nam vets Henry Roll, George Knoll, Rick Claggett, Rick Owen, and Randy Brack were recently contacted and interviewed by high school student Frank Nygegger, who attends Kantonsschule Wohlen in Switzerland. With Frank’s permission Medic is delighted to publish his exceptionally well written research report, US Soldiers in Vietnam. The paper is divided into […]

War Dead Ahead

Medic first published this article in the June 2, 2007 of CounterPunch ________________________________________________ Go, tell the Spartans, stranger passing by, That here, obedient to their laws, we lie. Epitaph on the Cenotaph of Thermopylae, Simonides of Ceos Cambodia 1970 The first dead American I ever saw was black. Third platoon had perimeter guard. Second platoon […]

Being Jane Fonda

A good friend of Medic has reviewed a book on the actress Jane Fonda. During the war Fonda was among three hundred anti-war activists who traveled to Hanoi. A popular story that she turned smuggled messages from U.S. POWs over to their captors and caused them to be tortured is untrue; the identified POWs have […]

The Day The Music Died

  T Max (aka Timothy Maxwell) describes himself as a singer/songwriter/storyteller. For many years he published The Noise, New England’s longest running music magazine. He founded Boston Rock Opera, wrote two folk-rock operas, released 10 solo albums, produced Boston Rock ‘n’ Roll Trading Cards, was the music director for Project Eno (a tribute to Brian […]

Sitrep: Hometown Unwelcomes Vietnam Vets

Near the center of my hometown, opposite the block wide brick post office, abutting a municipal parking lot, adjacent to four lanes of non stop traffic, sits the distinctly out of place spit of land known as Riley Plaza. Named for a past century Medal of Honor winner, it is a forbidding circle of stone […]

Vietnam: The Secret Agent

During Operation Ranch hand, the herbicide Agent Orange was sprayed relentlessly over Vietnam. The purpose was to deprive the VC and NVA of food and shelter. But Agent Orange, one of many herbicides used during the war, contained a deadly contaminant — dioxin. Using striking archival and war footage, interviews with veterans, scientists, attorneys, the […]

And Now for the Weather

After posting Captain Joel Rosenbaum’s essay in the Five Simple Words project, Medic asked him to further write about his job forecasting weather in Vietnam. The climate of Vietnam is monsoonal: a rainy season with frequent and heavy downpours; a dry season of unbearable heat. In 1968, while serving with Air Force Detachment 18, 30th […]

War Talk, American

  In 2008 Medic met the distinguished photographer Jeff Wolin, then working on his book Inconvenient Stories: Vietnam Veterans. Jeff has kindly lent permission to excerpt several of those stories and their accompanying photographs. Benito Garcia 173rd Air Borne, PFC May 1965-1966; 1966-1967; 1968 “The first time I saw a dead American, there were three […]

On the Home Front

Among his many roles, Marlon Brando played Colonel Kurtz in Francis Ford Coppolla’s Vietnam war film Apocolypse Now. An actor, director and political activist, Brando (1924 –2004) was hailed for his extraordinary film and stage acting, and is frequently cited as the greatest and most influential film actor of all time.  His most well known […]

The Banner Years

In 1987, while living in Astoria, New York, Medic joined CISPES, the Committee in Solidarity to the People of El Salvador, a grass roots organization opposed to US foreign policy in El Salvador. We meet weekly in Manhattan to discuss political developments, fund raising, and civil disobedience. CISPES also joined other grass roots efforts in […]

War Talk, North Vietnam

After completing his book Inconvenient Stories: Vietnam Veterans, Medic’s friend photographer Jeff Wolin traveled to Vietnam twice to photograph Vietnamese war veterans. From All Sides: Portraits of American and Vietnamese War Veterans was exhibited in the US and abroad, and featured at the Photo Biennale in Lyon, France in 2010. With Jeff’s permission here are […]

The Sad Song of Yellow Skin

Recently Medic discovered this 1970 direct cinema style documentary on the effects of the Vietnam War on street children in Saigon. The 58-minute film was written, directed and narrated by Michael Rubbo for the National Film Board of Canada. Rubbo had originally gone to Vietnam to make a film about the work of Foster Parents […]

Romeo Tango Oscar

 Delta 1/7 Cav grunt Jeff Motyka spent many months in hospital after being severely wounded on LZ Francis. Here, he describes his days and nights in Vietnam. First published in 2600, The Hacker Quarterly,Vol 32, Number 4, 2016. Radio Telephone Operator. Sounds like a cushy job. Air conditioned office. 8 AM to 5 PM. Monday […]

Why Vets Write

This story appeared in the 2 January 2018 edition of The Salem News SALEM — Vietnam veteran Marc Levy of Salem stood up before dozens gathered on Veterans Day in Abbot Hall in Marblehead, and read his essay called The Quiet Time, which describes the drinking of morning coffee on the battlefield in an act […]

Bravo Company: One Day in May

From mid May to the final days of July Bravo 1/7 was among the First Cavalry units who fought in the 1970 invasion of Cambodia. On or about 20 May Bravo’s 2nd and 4th platoons guarded the packs and gear of 1st and 3rd platoons, who, while on patrol, walked into a bunker complex. Bob […]

Semper Fi Santa

The following poem was written by an anonymous Marine in Vietnam in 1967. It is best appreciated when recited to family and friends as they sit comfortably around the table, awaiting a hearty Yuletide meal. _____________   When the Third Platoon Gunned Down Santa Claus   There’s strange things done ‘neath the Vietnamese sun But […]

The Anderson Platoon

Medic has located an original version of The Anderson Platoon, one of the great documentaries of the Vietnam war, which won an Oscar and Emmy for best foreign documentary in 1967. For six weeks Pierre Schoendoerffer, a journalist, film maker and veteran of Dien Bien Phu, followed a platoon of Bravo 1/12 First Cavalry through […]

Five Simple Words

More than thirty vets have responded to Medic’s open query: what do you feel, think and say when someone says to you “Thank you for your service.” Bill Ehrhart 1/1 Marines Infantry (corporal) Vietnam 1967 Over the past decade or so, it’s become quite the fashion, when people learn that I once served in the […]

Mike Paestella, Bravo’s Soft Spoken RTO

In November 2019 Medic emailed Mike Paestella, Bravo 1/7  First Cav ’69-’70, about flicks of LZ Compton, and especially LZ Ranch, the 1/7 fire base in Cambodia that was overrun. Mike replied with half a dozen flicks. We traded emails. A few weeks later we talked by phone. Mike said he arrived in country in […]

After Reaching the House of Juan Pablo Lorenz

first published in Chamber Four, Winter 2011 In 1992 I bought a one way ticket to Guatemala. The goal: to learn Spanish, then return to New York to work with immigrants affected by brutal civil war and its aftermath. I spent my first month in the sleepy highland village of Todos Santos, and then I […]

My Pal Wally

A year after leaving the Army, I enrolled at Seton Hall University, a Catholic school which had recently gone co-ed.  I was a hippy. My new uniform consisted of blues jeans, a white shirt under a black vest, a pearl in my right ear, and my grimy boonie hat, adorned with love beads, CMB, Cav […]

John Pilger’s “The Quiet Mutiny”

Medic first heard of the Australian journalist and film maker John Pilger through an English doctor met in Mexico in 1992, who in 1993 sent him the non fiction book “Heroes.” In 1994, while working in New Zealand, Medic wrote to Pilger, asking if he’d be interested in interviewing Medic’s acquaintance, the noted anti-war activist […]

How I Nearly Won the War

Christmas 1970: a hot meal in a muddy fox hole, a Red Cross gift of WD 40. Excellent for cleaning my M16. Thank you, Jesus. Twelve months later, three on a remote fire base burning human shit, it was time to head home. At Bien Hoi Airport I met other GIs leaving Vietnam, some with […]

Inconvenient Allies

Not for the first time but likely for the last, in 1997 a dozen or so senior level Viet Minh and American OSS officers held a public reunion at the Asia Society in New York City. Among the OSS agents present: Charles Fenn,who contacted Ho Chi Minh to rescue downed Allied pilots and send intelligence […]

In the Days After

At twenty-one, James Aalund was not a lucky man. As he looked out a bunker port during a mortar attack, a round exploded and blew his head off. Medic did not know James but still recalls the wounded men screaming into the radio,“ Dead man! We have a dead man!” Some months later,after a similar […]

The War…On Drugs

Medic asked his grunt and Arty friends if they smoked weed in Vietnam. Officers and NCOs were asked how they handled men who did pot. Here are the replies: Arlan Ervasti  Bravo 1/7 Cav ’69 I was in Vietnam from April till late Oct 1970. I can’t recall anyone smoking dope or getting high in […]

The Colonel in His Starched Fatigues

“A picture held us captive. And we could not get outside it. For it lay in our language and language seemed to repeat it to us inexorably.”  Ludwig Wittgenstein Readers of this site know distinguished Grenadian and Charlie 1/5 Cav medic Roger Byer from his CounterPunch essay on the US invasion of Grenada, and will […]

Overrun in Cambodia

On 11 May 1970 troops from Delta 1-7 First Cav combat assaulted into an abandoned NVA base camp in Cambodia. In a very short time, the vast area, shown above as the choppers touch down, would be transformed into the ill fated LZ Ranch. Ranch was the first of a trio of  US bases in […]

In The Days After: Part II

Near midnight, the helicopter landed at 3rd Field Hospital. I was the sole passenger. Stretcher bearers carried me to a large med/surge ward that was dark and quiet. In a warm soothing voice a nurse asked me, “How are you? How was your flight?” “Fine,” I said, a bit taken aback. She had been told […]

In The Days After: Part III

Mt. Fuji in the distance.

The plane finally landed at Camp Drake in late afternoon. In the distance loomed the rising snow capped peak of Mt. Fuji. Those who could walk exited the aircraft first. Stretchers bearers carefully hoisted the remaining men off the plane. No one spoke. A rumbling caravan of green army buses brought us to the sprawling […]

In the Days After: Part IV

As the plane landed at Andrews Air Force Base the nurses on the plane said goodbye to the patients on board. Then the huge loading ramp opened, letting in fresh air and sunlight. After twenty-two hours of darkness and noise I was happy to be stateside but wary of the future. A crew of soldiers […]

Overrun in Cambodia: Artillery Under Fire

Medic received this extended account of LZ Ranch being overrun from retired Command Sergeant Major, then Chief of Section, B Btry 1st/21st Field Artillery, Mike Dunn. Prior to the Cambodia invasion B Btry 1/21st FA was staged at an airfield outside of a Special Forces Camp which I believe was Bu Dop.  I choppered into […]

VC POWs

by Richard Boes I was trained as an MP and had been assigned to the First Cavalry in ’69-’70. We were stationed on a small base camp on the outskirts of a Vietnamese village near Bien Hoa. Our POW compound was surrounded by twenty-foot high barbed wire. The prisoners, who never had names, were kept […]

Devens Redux

When Medic returned from Vietnam in 1970, one year remained on his military enlistment contract. After 30 days leave, he reported to the 595th Medical Battalion, at Fort Devens, MA. In 2005, New Millennium Writings published Medic’s short story How Stevie Nearly Won the War, which includes this fictionalized account of his time at Devens: […]

The Man in the Snow White Cell

“In 1969 South Vietnamese forces arrested a man who turned out to be the most senior North Vietnamese officer ever captured during the Vietnam War. Nguyen Tai headed intelligence and terrorist operations in Saigon for more than five years, operations that had killed or wounded hundreds of South Vietnamese and Americans. US and South Vietnamese […]

The Sad Case of SSgt Hambleton

Medic was not present when staff sergeant Mark Hambleton hit the trip wire of an Automatic Ambush, which detonated the Claymores, which exploded and killed him. In 2003 Kirk Anderson sent this harrowing eye witness account. Other recollections follow. For reasons that will become clear Medic has waited until now to publish them. “Hambleton was […]

The Misfortunes of Mr. Fowler

Readers of this site and of CounterPunch know that Medic’s decorated Grenadian friend Roger Byer, upon completing his tour with Charlie 1/5 First Cavalry in Vietnam and Cambodia, returned home, only to be arrested by the Cav when the US invaded Grenada. By odd coincidence, Roger was a platoon mate of Sgt. James Bonard Fowler, […]

How Swede It Is: The Death and Life of Per Ödman

In 1998 Medic met Per Odman through our mutual friend Mike Gillen, the three of us members of Vietnam Veterans Against the War. Per’s story relates his extraordinary resilience during and after his time at war. This article first appeared in the Spring 2016 issue of The Veteran, newspaper of Vietnam Veterans Against the War. […]

The Curious Case of General Forrester

From time to time Medic scours the internet for images or accounts of certain fire bases used during the Cambodian invasion of 1970. Among them was the short lived Fire Support Base Bronco, a remote muddy hole manned by the line companies of 1/7 Cavalry and bolstered by 1/21st Field Artillery.  In forty-five years I […]

John–Jean–Jeff

Loach (light observation chopper) coming in for a landing.

As a medic, the very first guy I patch up is a case of friendly fire. We had called in a Hunter/Killer team. Hunter’s a Loach, a light observation chopper–he scouts out the area,them he calls in Killer, the Cobra gun ship who’s got rockets and mini-guns. Loach comes in and we wave. We’ve got […]

An Army of Guinea Pigs

From 1955 to 1975 Dr. James Ketchum and other Army researchers at Edgewood Arsenal in Maryland explored the use of psychedelic drugs in US Army soldiers. The experiments were similar to MK Ultra, a secret CIA program that focused on mind-control and psychedelics. Both studies were cancelled after media reports and congressional hearings; the project’s […]

Saving Private Grundtisch

Medic’s friend John Neely, a Civil War buff and Vietnam vet, relates the tale of his ancestor, Jacob Grundtish. While with a group touring Gettysburg, I mentioned that a relative had been wounded during the battle.  When asked questions about him,I realized that I knew next to nothing: his surname,his country of birth the year […]

Your Other Left

Naphtali “Tuli” Kupferberg (1923 – 2010) was an American counterculture poet, author, cartoonist, pacifist anarchist, publisher and co-founder of The FUGS, a satirical and self-satirizing rock band with a political slant, which performed at various war protests against the Vietnam War, and since the 1980s at events around other US involved wars. The bands often […]

The Curious Case of Sergeant Doe

I have always deeply disliked seeing anyone shown up or found out or caught in a lie or caught red-handed doing anything, and now, with time to think things over, I began to feel ashamed… Joseph Mitchell, Joe Gould’s Secret In 2011, while marching in a spirited parade to protest the Iraq war, I met […]

Johnny Doe: Case Closed…

“You must remember what you are and what you have chosen to become, and the significance of what you are doing. There are wars and defeats and victories of the human race that are not military and that are not recorded in the annals of history. Remember that while you’re trying to decide what to […]

Grenada: A Soldiers Story

Medic and Roger Byer met briefly in Quan Loi in 1969. A year later we recognized each other at Fort Devens. We have been trading emails since 2013, when Roger found this website. Here is an excerpt from his memoir, Tattooed Memories. At 0500 hours on the morning of October 25, 1983 the United States’ […]

Portrait of an NVA Vet

Medic’s friend Jeff Wolin hoped to follow up his Vietnam Veterans: Inconvenient Stories, a remarkable collection of 50 portraits/profiles of American vets, with a similar book featuring Vietnamese war veterans from North and South Vietnam. Since the book did not find a publisher Jeff posted much of it online. Ho Phuc Ngon, Vietnam People’s Army […]

Portrait of an NVA Medic

Medic’s friend Jeff Wolin hoped to follow up his Vietnam Veterans: Inconvenient Stories, a remarkable collection of 50 portraits/profiles of American vets, with a similar book featuring Vietnamese war veterans from North and South Vietnam. Since the book did not find a publisher Jeff posted much of it on his website. Nguyen Vin Luc, combat […]

The Death and Life of Dang Thuy Tram

CounterPunch published this piece by Medic in 2006. After an ambush, bodies were scavenged for souvenirs–money, pistols, photos, etc. Anything important was sent to military intelligence. “Don’t burn this one. It has fire in it already,” said Fred Whithurst’s interpreter in 1970. Ignoring orders to burn all items without military value, the young Captain Whitehurst […]

A Beginner’s Guide to Combat

There was no one like ‘im, ‘Orse or Foot, Nor any o the Guns I knew; An’ because it was so, why, o course ‘e went an’ died, Which is just what the best men do. Rudyard Kipling Disclaimer This guide is intended solely for personal use. It is not meant to cure, diagnose or […]

Interview with NVA Veteran and Author Bao Ninh

In 1995 I backpacked six months across Southeast Asia and Indonesia. While in Hanoi, I regretted not locating Bao Ninh, the former NVA solider and acclaimed author of The Sorrow of War. In 1996 we corresponded by post, and in 1998, by a remarkable chance, we met at the William Joiner Center Writers’ Conference in […]

After Long Restorative Poses, by Dewitt Clinton

  After Long Restorative Poses in a Morning Yoga Class, I Go Back, Again, to Vietnam, with Sung Tung P’o’s “At Gold Hill Monastery” I don’t ever want to return To what I could call home In the Song Chang River valley. From there I directed cannon Fire on wandering NVA or VC A few […]

That Son of a Bitch

  The Captain lives in Montana. The Captain says call collect. Captain recalls LZ Ranch overrun, killing dinks in the wire, Wilson shotgunning one close range, blowing her face away. He recalls Skinny Bob and Ken, the runaway dink when Derrig got hit, Lt. Noble dead in Phuc Vinh, rockets on Quan Loi, Arc Light […]

The Monkee’s Tête-à-Tête

The Monkees were a 60’s rock group appealing to American teenagers. Their wildly popular TV show showcased their music via madcap adventures which poked fun at mainstream culture. But their 1968 psychedelic art movie Head, a stream-of-consciousness black comedy that mocked the Vietnam war, America (stunned by the recent Tet Offensive), Hollywood, television, the music […]

Criminal Investigations

Medic recently contacted the Army’s Criminal Investigation Command regarding Radio Free Devens, the only anti-war radio show produced by active duty GI’s and broadcast by a commercial station. In 1971, Medic, Robert Bowman and Marcus Gaufman were among the soldiers who weekly met at the Common Sense Bookstore to plan the show. Located less than […]

Medic in the Green Time

After the shooting stops, after the wounded girl is hoisted away, after we step past the bodies and the man with no head, after the RTO steps in brains, the lieutenant says,“You gonna put me in for the Purple Heart, Doc?” and I say, “No.” Here is how it happened: In one great sudden BAANG […]

NARA

National Records and Administration Building. College Park, Maryland.

I met Paul in a therapy group for Nam vets. Months passed before he told us the secret he carried for thirty years. After an ambush,enraged,he slit the throats of three local villagers. “We had ARVN with us,” said Paul. “When the VC opened up,the ARVN ran.” Twenty-six American’s died that day,including Paul’s best friend […]

The Other MIA’s

During the Cambodian invasion, grunts found tons of NVA weapons, ammo and supplies, hidden or buried in well concealed caches. Men were allowed to keep as souvenirs a prized SKS, an officer’s 9mm pistol, or work horse AK47. The remaining 30 caliber machine guns, hand grenades, anti-personnel mines, rockets, mortars, ammunition, radio equipment, rice, etc, […]

Jack Smith: Death in the Ia Drang Valley

Combat operations at Ia Drang Valley,Vietnam,November 1965. Bruce P. Crandall's UH-1 Huey dispatches infantry while under fire. Photo US Army

Private First Class Jack P Smith saw horrific combat while serving with the Army’s 7th Cavalry in November 1965 during one of the first battles pitting US troops against NVA forces. He described those experiences in a 1967 Saturday Evening Post article.                      *   *   *   *   *   * The 1st Battalion had been fighting […]

Mud Love

  Medic found this extraordinary essay on cryptome. The author chose to remain anonymous.   Hey,dirty old man what was the best you ever had? They were sitting in the firehouse screwing around cleaning equipment and lying about women and screwing and fluffing their feathers,waiting for the horn to send them flying down to the […]

1966 Special News Report: The Ia Drang Valley

Television coverage of the war in Vietnam was direct and graphic. However even this newscast lacks the quality of Jack Smith’s unsparing narrative.

Just Another Day

As told to Medic by RTO Jeff Motyka, Delta 1-7 Cav ’70  It was just another day on Compton. A hot blinding sun and no wind. I had KP, serving chow to grunts and gun crews. We’d been on patrol two weeks–this was our reward. The lieutenant was gone. A resupply bird brought food, ammo […]

Burial Detail

The company has set up a night perimeter. In the command platoon, a large brown dog, half Lab, half Shepard, turns round twice, heaves a sigh, settles next to its master. Both are exhausted from today’s march. Animal and handler have spent months together learning the art of finding the enemy. The dog is trusting, […]

Reading at the Gloucester Writers Center

The Gloucester Writers Center is housed in the former home of one of Gloucester’s most beloved poets, Vincent Ferrini. The Center is dedicated to honoring the works both Ferrini and his friend and fellow poet Charles Olson. Affectionately called “Gloucester’s conscience,” Ferrini’s works included dozens of critically acclaimed poems, several plays, and a 1988 autobiography […]

Forty-Five Days

Toss me a grenade, he shouts So I do that, he pulls the pin Ping, he counts three throws the thing BOOM they must be dead But now the dread snap Their Chicom makes When they pull the string to activate The chemical fuse in the wood handle That flies from the wood line Falls […]

What Rick Said

Claymore mine hidden along the side of a trail.

An Automatic Ambush consisted of one or more Claymore mines spread several meters apart on the side of an enemy trail. Each mine contained two pounds of plastique explosive embedded with 700 lead pellets. A trip wire,connected to a firing device,was strung across the trails width. At the slightest touch the mines exploded. Instantly legs […]

War Jokes: No Laughing Matter

Colonel: What is that you’ve got written on your helmet? Pvt. Joker: Born to Kill, sir. Colonel: You write “Born to Kill” on your helmet and you wear a peace button.  What’s that supposed to be, some kind of sick joke?! Pvt. Joker: No, sir.           Gustav Hasford, Michael Herr, Stanley Kubrick: Full Metal Jacket […]

Lt. Calley Apologizes for My Lai

My Lai on the front page of The Plains Dealer.

THE NEW YORK TIMES August 24, 2009 An Apology for My Lai, Four Decades Later By Robert Mackey Last week,William Calley,the only American soldier to be held legally responsible for the massacre of hundreds of Vietnamese civilians in and around the village of My Lai in 1968 by a platoon under his command and,apologized for […]

Dear Fellow Veteran

Medic recently came across the items below. They provide a glimpse into the life of WWII veteran Paul E Bath from Dorchester, Massachusetts.  

John, Yoko, Gloria

A distinguished war correspondent,prize winning journalist and novelist,Gloria Emerson,beloved by many veterans,died by her own hand in 2007. In 1969 the BBC aired an interview between Gloria,John Lennon and Yoko Ono.

Reaching to the Horizon by Richard Levine

 I hated you Legless Billy, and the way your prairie family and fiancée looked at me, that flat stillness of the plains reaching to the horizon from every window and across the dining room table, when I described how you saved my life. We all hated you, Billy, sitting there in your gleaming wheelchair and […]

Men at Work

Mortar crew starting fire mission. Bu Gia Map, Vietnam 1969

We’ve choppered into Bu Gia Map, a flat deserted area of scrub and jungle where no hearts and minds will be won today. After years of aerial bombings the village is abandoned, the people scattered like chaf to the wind. A banana shaped chopper, Shithooks we called them, lowers a bulldozer to the ground.  An […]

Quan Loi Redux

In 1995, having backpacked through Singapore, Thailand, and Laos, I flew from Vientiane to Hanoi and traveled down the coast with Seth. We had many adventures but parted ways in Pleiku. In Saigon I hitched a ride to the Long Distance Bus Station. The trip to An Loc cost sixty cents and took ninety minutes. […]

Mark Twain: The War Prayer

In a 1968 Associated Press photo from Vietnam by Art Greenspon, a soldier guides an unseen medevac helicopter to a jungle clearing where wounded comrades wait.

The War Prayer, a short story or prose poem by Mark Twain, is a scathing indictment of war, especially blind patriotic and religious fervor as reasons for war. The piece was left unpublished at his death, largely due to pressure from his family, who feared that it would be considered sacrilegious. Twain’s publisher and other […]

Triage by Richard Levine

Field hospital backed up, shoulder-to-shoulder stretchers, near sandbagged surgery, choppers stutter chaos close. LZ a literal throw of dust. Outnumbered doctors, medics, nurses in scrubs, some in fatigues or civies, a patina of restless fatigue clouding their fish-eyed stares, up and down the rows, fast but slower than blood flows, triaging for the superficial shrapnel […]