I have significantly revised the Introduction, so I’m posting it here for those who may have begun reading earlier without the benefit of an introduction!
[The Pages listed in the dropdown are the chapters/pieces of my book, which is now complete except for this Introduction, though all are still subject to revision and possible reordering. I will try to note in posts if I change anything.]
A War Journal
My Encounter with Empire: Vietnam
In the first half of the 20th Century, the United States began to dabble in the affairs of a tiny country in Southeast Asia known as Vietnam. The French spent a number of years there, learning much of the iron will of the Viet people before they decided to leave. The US, imbued with great optimism and hubris about its military prowess, jumped in behind the French, first with advisers and later with troops.
The intervention became, famously, a quagmire. By the mid-sixties, most everyone who wasn’t blind or biased realized that the US involvement there was unwise, but the political and military realities of the country, its inclination toward Empire, kept us plodding along through this foolishness for almost another decade.
I had the misfortune to be dragged into this conflagration by virtue of my age and social status, so in 1968, I found myself enlisting in the US Air Force, despite my distaste for the US invasion of Vietnam, and despite my opposition to war and aversion to the military in general.
What follows is the story of how I came to be in the Air Force, a bit of what it was like being in SEA during the declining years of ‘The War’ that wasn’t really a war, how I eventually got out, and what the effects of it all were on me. In addition, it is the story of another Vietnam era veteran with whom I became friends and journeyed across the US in search of some kind of absolution.
Before you begin reading the book, a few words of warning are in order! Though this introduction is incomplete, it may help with reading the book:
This is an experimental work and so asks of the reader a bit of work and patience.
This is written as creative non-fiction, so it’s true, in the sense that all these things actually happened, just maybe not exactly as I’ve written it, due to the vagaries of memory or the needs of the story.
It is a multi-genre work, which means it includes straight narrative, stories, journal entries, re-created journal entries, poems, songs, graphics, news accounts, quotations from other works, and pieces in other voices both real and imaginary. All these various genre pieces are intended to work together to tell the story and paint the picture of my experience; some of them may stand alone as individual pieces as well.
This work employs an exploded timeline – thus each entry is dated to help you keep the sequence clear. There are two main streams, however: the first is the time prior to and during my service in the Air Force (most of these have a date in the title), and the second is a trip that I took with another vet about a year after I got out of the Air Force. (The pieces in the Trip sequence are numbered as Chapters in the list.) The story more or less alternates between these two streams, with some exceptions… This serves to juxtapose various elements of the story in ways that would not happen in a straight, time-order narrative.
Good luck! And thanks again for your willingness to undertake this journey.
[If you don’t have the password for the protected pieces, leave a comment, include your email address or other contact info, and I’ll get in touch.
Thanks for being willing to read this. If you have questions, please leave a comment. I would appreciate comments on the story and the format – please be honest, and try to be kind…. As Miss Erika Badu said, “I’m a artist and I’m sensitive about my shit!”]