Set your TV recorders, or put these dates on your calendar. The Smithsonian channel will air a show entitled “The Real Story, Platoon” in July, 2013. It can be seen on Sunday, July 14th at 8pm, and again on the same date at 11pm. It will also appear on Monday, July 15th at 10pm.
|Official poster for the 1986 blockbuster award winning motion picture, "Platoon"|
The Oliver Stone motion picture entitled “Platoon”, which came out in 1986 and starred Tom Berringer, Willem DeFoe and Charley Sheen, was a pretty gory testament to one platoon in the American war in Vietnam, and specifically to the soldiers of an infantry unit that served in a battle at a fire support base called FSB Burt.
|Cast of the movie Platoon posing in front of an armored personnel carrier, APC|
When the film makers made the documentary for the film “The Real Story, Platoon”, they used testimony and factual information gathered from interviewing the men who were at FSB Burt and the horrific fight that ensued there on January 1st and 2nd of 1968.
|Real life photo of an APC from Republic of Vietnam in 1969|
Involved in this battle was an army unit nicknamed the Triple Deuce. The 2nd Battalion of the 22nd Infantry Regiment. This unit was attached to, and part of, the 25th Infantry Division. I was a member of the Triple Deuce when I served in the Republic of Vietnam from February 1969 to February of 1970.
|The 2nd Battalion of the 22nd Infantry Regiment insignia|
I was NOT there during the epic battle of Soui Cut at FSB Burt in 1968. But the unit I served with was. I know some of the men that were involved in this fight. I met them at our Regiment Society’s Reunions over the years.
Director Oliver Stone served in Vietnam with the 25th Infantry Division from September 1967 to November 1968. The movie “Platoon” was based on his experiences, the characters he served with and the battle at FSB Burt.
|The moniker "Tropic Lightning" comes from the 25th Infantry Division's actions in the Pacific theater of operations during WWII|
The connection between myself and this documentary is simply that fact that I served with the same infantry unit when I was in the Republic of Vietnam.
On a battle for battle basis, there is no difference in how bad it was for one soldier and how another soldier might not have had it so bad. Any individual event or action can only be measured by the person that it is happening to and their perception of it. Pulling the trigger on a rifle or machine gun and pumping endless amounts of bullets, artillery and mortar shells into human beings is an experience that no one can judge but the perpetrator, and in war, the soldiers are those perpetrators.
|The Combat Infantry Badge|
I left Vietnam and was returned home as a 20 year old boy. I could not legally drink or vote and my Mother had to sign for permission to get a drivers license as mine had expired while I was away at war. This was in February of 1970, over 43 years ago.
Remembering Vietnam every day of my life, I have said little in regards to the actual facts of day to day encounters of combat. Maybe this documentary, “The Real Story, Platoon” might make clear some of what befalls a combat infantry soldier when called to duty.
I have written about my actual experiences, at least one of them, and I have shared it with family members and the family of my friend, Frazier Dixon, whose body I held in my arms in December of 1969.
Save your agendas about war and peace. No one can turn back the clock and change what has already happened and what we’ve already done.
Funny thing about all of this. It was horrible, it changed my life and in some respects, caused me to have a different life than many of the mainstream from how war affected me. The nightmares, the anxiety, anger issues and other symptoms associated with PTSD, not to mention the physical maladies from exposure to Agent Orange. Yet I will not try to forget it all. I am no longer ashamed. It is a part of me. It has made me who I am.
On my path to healing I have learned acceptance, forgiveness and what a decent measure of Peace feels like.
“You’ve never lived until you’ve almost died, for those who fought for it; life has a flavor the protected will never know.”… This quote scribed on the wall of the Hoa Lo Prison, the Hanoi Hilton, the author is unknown.
Above All, Peace