I certainly enjoyed this autobiography. After reading this book about the author, Philip Caputo, as a young man enlisted and trained so hard to become an American Marine Lieutenant in the Vietnam War, it gave me a whole different perspective of the war. My views of the Vietnam War are usually from the stories my family used to tell me when I was little, but I have never heard it from the viewpoint of a lieutenant.
I already knew that when there is a war declared, the war is always attractive to young men who know nothing about it, and even though the men know nothing about the war, the men drafted in the war are brave going into war risking their life to protect their country. The soldiers that have been drafted had their life change drastically losing almost everything they have, including their innocence. Being on the battlefield, there were many mines and booby traps around like it was connected to the Earth. It is very frightening walking around the area because one can erupt and kill the soldier. Kill him if he’s lucky. If he’s unlucky, he will be turned into a blind, deaf, emasculate, legless shell. It was not warfare. It was murder” (288).
I never thought that being in the war was that intense. Everywhere people went, they have to look around for grenades, mines, guns, rifles, or even the enemy around because they would never know what or who would be shot first. One day, Caputo and his platoon planned to ambush the Viet Minh at a village near Danang. They were settled to fire at the Viet soldiers, but they saw many people trying to run away to a place to protect their children, they had their doubts.
Even when they see the all these Vietnamese people, especially the innocent ones, see many deaths and injuries through the battle from their actions, all they have to do is face the truth and move on. When I read this, I thought about my family, when they tried to run away to safety. They saw many close family and friends die during the one in many battles that happened in the war, and it is tragic for me to see when they cry about it once it a while.
In a section of the autobiography, Caputo passed a village, where the hamlet 3d platoon destroyed a little bit earlier efore he came. He watched some of the villagers coming back to look for their belongings among the amount of ashes and burnt skeletons around their homes. “[Caputo felt] a sense of guilt Burning their hamlet had been a demonstration of the worst in us, and I would have been grateful for a chance to show the best that was in us. [B]ut the villager’ stony coolness inhibited me. They did not seem to want us to do anything. They just stood there, silent and still, showing neither grief nor anger nor fear” (133).
This reminded me of the stories my grandparents used to tell me. My grandparents on my dad’s side of the family used to tell me all kinds of stories of when he and my grandma sitting at their house in Vietnam and when they hear a plane fly by they would think it’s the U. S Army and they’ll help them, but instead it’s the U. S Army bombing central Vietnam, Hu? (the city they were living in). They ran as fast as they can to not get caught into the flames and while they were running they came to the city of Nha Trang and lived there ever since.
My dad told me about the time while he and his family was running, and he saw an U. S soldier settling for another battle looking guilty for the look in his eyes, However, my dad didn’t do anything except to continue running showing no fear or anger, all he wants was the protection of his family. If it wasn’t for them escaping, I wouldn’t be alive today. I’m glad to listen to these stories about my dad during the war, and this book made me learn about the war in a different way but I still get the same melancholy and anxiety feeling of these interesting stories.