Oral histories of Vietnam soldiers often contain stories of combat, though, not all soldiers in Vietnam saw font-line war. Indeed some estimate at only 20% of Americans who served in Vietnam actually took part in ground combat. (James F. Dunnigan, Albert A. Nofi, Dirty Little Secrets of the Vietnam War, p. 60). For some, combat brought out the best in them; for others, it brought them up against the contradictions in their own personalities; others still saw combat as revealing tensions in their culture’s perceptions concerning the sanctity of human life. For many, perhaps most, combat represented a true physical and moral crisis; a test of their intellectual, physical and moral limits.
Here, Here, Vietnam veteran Robert Ptachik recalls being wounded in Vietnam in 1967. He currently serves as Senior University Dean for the Executive Office & Enrollment at The City University of New York. Dean Ptachik’s story is featured on pages 159-168 of my book, Bringing It All Back Home.
Robert Ptachik in 1963:
Anthony Wallace served with the 1st Cavalry Division in Vietnam in 1970. He was wounded on April 15. Here he tells the story.
This photo of Sgt. Wallace as taken in Vietnam in 1970.
Neil Kenny entered the Marine Corps on June 26th, 1967. Assigned to Vietnam, Kenny arrived at the Khe Sahn combat base January 2, 1968, and served there during the entire siege of Khe Sahn with Lima Company, 3rd Battalion, 26th Marines. During the war Kenny received two purple hearts, along with the Navy Commendation Medal for Valorous Service, in addition to other decorations.
Here, he describes what happed on Easter Sunday, 1968, as the siege of Khe Sahn was lifted. He watched his friend Philip Sheridan, of Long Island City, NY, die that morning.
This is what he looked like in 1968:
Joe Giannini served with the Marine Corps.
During Mr. Giannini’s second to last semester at Hofstra he received his draft notice. The board permitted him to finish college, and then in 1966 he enlisted in the Marines. He went through basic training at Parris Island, volunteered for Vietnam and was sent to Vietnam as an infantryman in Spring of 1967 where he commanded a rifle platoon which was part of the Special Landing Force. He received his baptism of fire in the Quaison Valley in August of 1967, when he and several other platoons of Marines defended the valley against a Vietcong onslaught. The Vietcong suffered heavily, but so did the Marines, Giannini lost half his platoon.
Video recorded by Sunny Liu.
This photo of Lt. Giannini was taken in 1967: