War and History Poetry posted November 1, 2017


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Group entry prompt/Non-Fiction/Free verse

Heaven's Hung In Black

by BOO ghost



Image result for vietnam medals of honor




I am the Unknown Soldier.

From draft day (September 26, 1968) -

today I set foot in Vietnam (March 26, 1969) 

Six months of hardcore training. 



At age 18, torn from home in Mississippi,

drafted into United States Army.

Went to boot camp at Fort Polk.



Eight weeks of hell - 

followed by eight more weeks of AIT, Advanced Infantry Training.

Early rise, humping before dawn. Before Color Guard raises flag on pole.

I ran and ran - 5 or 6 miles, then go to breakfast.


Training, marching, calisthenics, classes, 

rifle range, obstacle course,

and hand to hand combat.



After lunch, more running,

a basic day in basic training.


Once, I was a deer hunter. 

I killed for sport and venison.

Now, I am the hunted,

like the whitetail deer in the woods.



I reminisce amidst the darkness...

the heavens are hung in black, 
church bells tolling.
I'm dressed in my Army uniform, 

decorated with ribbons and medals of valor. 



I stand at the foot of my nephew's bed.

He sleeps, unaware of my presence.

Holding back the tears,

his innocence is like a lamb.



I survived the Napalm and Vietcong,

slithering reptiles and snakes. 

The Huey gunships blot the sky.

The beast is hungry, tonight.



My medals shine like twinkling stars.

An angel watches above, dressed in Army green.

Remember mother sending cookies from US parcel post.



Only shared them with closest buddies.

Was my connection with my family.

Mail Call.

Opened letters sealed with kisses 
and perfume.
To escape reality,

momentarily.



Life was taken for granted. 

Freedom is not free.

The eagle soars.


Image result for vietnam wall memorial

He stirs beneath the quilt. 

I must hold back the tears.

Home sweet home, Mississippi. 

Where the magnolias bloom.

Combat boots on American soil.



Why did this war happen?

I am not the same person. Suffer from P.T.S.D. 

Night tremors and sweats buckle me, 

reliving nightmares in the Southeast Asian jungles.



I have flashbacks of Nam and Punjabi sticks,  

and bayonets blanketed in blood.

The Vietcong comes with vengeance, lurking in the shadows. 

Enemy seldom sleeps.



On guard duty, while platoon sleeps.

Gallinippers swarm me, 

prevents me from catching Z's in the bush.

No mosquito net or dope.


Shell shocked.

I held my M-16 automatic and carried a 38 pistol in my shoulder holster.

Pineapple grenades.

I survived firefights, Constantine wire, malaria, jungle fever, and jungle rot.

Full metal jacket sniper bullets ricochet. Missed my Lucky Strikes.

Booby traps make amputees.

Zipperheads scream in the bush.  



Jane Fonda protests the war,

she toured North Vietnam in 1972, 

Posing for foreign Press atop a Hanoi Anti Aircraft Gun



I cough up Agent Orange

Rickey's eyes open briefly.

Did he see me? Let the boy sleep.

I survived Vietnam, but it is not over.



Looking at my nephew on bunk bed.

Unaware.

Not knowing how cruel this world can be...

sleep - sleep, wee one;

may you never see war,

unlike your uncle.



I will protect my loved ones

and country from harm. 

From

communism.



Years and decades pass with the seasons.

I deer hunt and labor at the factory. 

Have few friends because of sickness inside me. 

Watch the movie, 'Deer Hunter,' at drive-in cinema.



Old with battle fatigue,

all hope is lost. 

No one to turn to,

depression drives me insane.



I hold a gun to my head.

Now, the pain and nightmares are over.

Escaping hell on earth.



I am John Doe. 

One fallen hero
with a face like me.
Just another casualty of war - 

it never ends...


My diary tells the truth.

From dust to dust, my ashes go, 

reincarnated into the earth.


He leaves his family, Vietnam Service Ribbon, the Vietnam Campaign Ribbon, the Distinguished Service Medal, and a Meritorious Service Medal behind. 



Image result for vietnam medals of honor

 

 



Recognized




I write this in honor of my uncle who committed suicide. He was a Vietnam veteran and had P.T.S.D. I keep this name anonymous. I have not asked permission from family to use his name and picture. We are still in mourning, the heavens are black. He is second uncle to shoot himself in the head. For the prompt,I put myself in my uncle Jimmy's shoes... I remember seeing him at foot of my bunk bed when he returned from NAM. I was only five but that moment burned into my mind like a branding iron. He did not know that I stole a look from him. I felt proud and safe again, seeing him in his Army uniform. I did not have chance to say good bye to him, he stayed to himself, I have not shed a tear until now. I repressed my feelings to block out the tears. This is my way to express my feelings about him and I am about to sob. This is not about stars. Is my way of saying goodbye. He was cremated and I got no chance to see him. I look through his angels eyes and wonder why? He is my fallen hero. He is John Doe. A sorrow for families who lost their children because of wicked wars! Freedom is not free. We must realize and protect our borders. God bless America ~

July 1959: The first U.S. soldiers are killed in South Vietnam when guerrillas raid their living quarters near Saigon.

September 1960: Ho Chi Minh, facing failing health, is replaced by Le Duan as head of North Vietnam's ruling communist party.

December 1960: The National Liberation Front (NLF) is formed with North Vietnamese backing as the political wing of the anti-government insurgency in South Vietnam. The United States views the NLF as an arm of North Vietnam and starts calling the military wing of the NLF the Viet Cong short for Vietnam Cong-san, or Vietnamese communists.

May 1961: President John F. Kennedy sends helicopters and 400 Green Berets to South Vietnam and authorizes secret operations against the Viet Cong.

January 1962: In Operation Ranch Hand, U.S. aircraft start spraying Agent Orange and other herbicides over rural areas of South Vietnam to kill vegetation that would offer cover and food for guerrilla forces.

February 1962: Ngo Dinh Diem survives a bombing of the presidential palace in South Vietnam as Diem's extreme favoritism toward South Vietnam's Catholic minority alienates him from most of the South Vietnamese population, including Vietnamese Buddhists.

January 1963: At Ap Bac, a village in the Mekong Delta southwest of Saigon, South Vietnamese troops are defeated by a much smaller unit of Viet Cong fighters. The South Vietnamese are overcome despite their four-to-one advantage and the technical and planning assistance of U.S. advisers.

May 1963: In a major incident of what becomes known as the Buddhist Crisis,the government of Ngo Dinh Diem opens fire on a crowd of Buddhist protesters in the central Vietnam city of Hue. Eight people, including children, are killed.

June 1963: A 73-year-old monk immolates himself while sitting at a major city intersection in protest, leading other Buddhists to follow suit in coming weeks. The United States already declining confidence in Diem's leadership continues to slide.

November 1963: The United States backs a South Vietnam military coup against the unpopular Diem, which ends in the brutal killing of Diem and his brother, Ngo Dinh Nhu. Between 1963 and 1965, 12 different governments take the lead in South Vietnam as military coups replace one government after another.

November 1963: President Kennedy is assassinated in Dallas, Texas. Lyndon B. Johnson becomes president.

AMERICA ENTERS THE VIETNAM WAR

August 1964: USS Maddox is allegedly attacked by North Vietnamese patrol torpedo boats in the Gulf of Tonkin (the attack is later disputed), leading President Johnson to call for air strikes on North Vietnamese patrol boat bases. Two U.S. aircraft are shot down and one U.S. pilot, Everett Alvarez, Jr., becomes the first U.S. airman to be taken prisoner by North Vietnam.

August 1964: The attacks in the Gulf of Tonkin spur Congress to pass the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, which authorizes the president to take all necessary measures, including the use of armed force against any aggressor in the conflict.

November 1964: The Soviet Politburo increases its support to North Vietnam, sending aircraft, artillery, ammunition, small arms, radar, air defense systems, food and medical supplies. Meanwhile, China sends several engineering troops to North Vietnam to assist in building critical defense infrastructure.

February 1965: President Johnson orders the bombing of targets in North Vietnam in Operation Flaming Dart in retaliation for a Viet Cong raid at the U.S. base in the city of Pleiku and at a nearby helicopter base at Camp Holloway.

March 1965: President Johnson launches a three-year campaign of sustained bombing of targets in North Vietnam and the Ho Chi Minh Trail in Operation Rolling Thunder. The same month, U.S. Marines land on beaches near Da Nang, South Vietnam as the first American combat troops to enter Vietnam.

June 1965: General Nguen Van Thieu of the Army of the Republic of Vietnam Governmental Military (ARVN), becomes president of South Vietnam.

MORE TROOPS, MORE DEATHS, MORE PROTESTS
July 1965: President Johnson calls for 50,000 more ground troops to be sent to Vietnam, increasing the draft to 35,000 each month.

August 1965: In Operation Starlite, some 5,500 U.S. Marines strike against the First Viet Cong Regiment in the first major ground offensive by U.S. forces in Vietnam. The six-day operation diffuses the Viet Cong regiment, although it would quickly rebuild.

November 1965: Norman Morrison, a 31-year-old pacifist Quaker from Baltimore, sets himself on fire in front of the Pentagon to protest the Vietnam war. Onlookers encourage him to release his 11-month-old baby daughter, whom he is holding, before he is engulfed in flames.

November 1965: Nearly 300 Americans are killed and hundreds more injured in the first large-scale battle of the war, the Battle of la Drang Valley. At the battle, in South Vietnam's Central Highlands, U.S. ground troops are dropped onto and withdrawn from the battlefield by helicopter, in what would become a common strategy. Both sides declare victory.

1966: U.S. troop numbers in Vietnam rise to 400,000.

June 1966: American aircraft attack targets in Hanoi and Haiphong in raids that are among the first such attacks on cities in North Vietnam.

1967: U.S. troop numbers stationed in Vietnam increase to 500,000.

February 1967: U.S. aircraft bomb Haiphong Harbor and North Vietnamese airfields.

April 1967: Huge Vietnam War protests occur in Washington, D.C., New York City and San Francisco.

September 1967: Nguyen Van Thieu wins the presidential election of South Vietnam under a newly enacted constitution.

November 1967: In the Battle of Dak To, U.S. and South Vietnamese forces resist an offensive by communist forces in the Central Highlands. The United States forces suffer some 1,800 casualties.

January-April 1968: A U.S. Marine garrison at Khe Sanh in South Vietnam is bombarded with massive artillery by communist forces from the People's Army of North Vietnam (PAVN). For 77 days, the marines and South Vietnamese forces fend off the siege.

NORTH VIETNAM SHOCKS AMERICA

January 1968: The Tet Offensive begins, encompassing a combined assault of Viet Minh and North Vietnamese armies. Attacks are carried out in more than 100 cities and outposts across South Vietnam, including Hue and Saigon, and the U.S. Embassy is invaded. The effective, bloody attacks shock U.S. officials and mark a turning point in the war and the beginning of a gradual U.S. withdrawal from the region.

February 11-17, 1968: This week records the highest number of U.S. soldier deaths during the war, with 543 American deaths.

February-March 1968: Battles at Hue and Saigon end with American and ARVN victory as Viet Cong guerillas are cleared from the cities.

March 16, 1968: At the U.S. massacre at Mai Lai, more than 500 civilians are murdered by U.S. forces. The massacre happens amid a campaign of U.S. search-and-destroy operations that are intended to find enemy territories, destroy them and then retreat.

March 1968: President Johnson halts bombing in Vietnam north of the 20th parallel. Facing backlash about the war, Johnson announces he will not run for reelection.

November 1968: Republican Richard M. Nixon wins the U.S. presidential elections on the campaign promises to restore law and order and to end the draft.

May 1969: At Ap Bia Mountain, about a mile from the border with Laos, U.S. paratroopers attack entrenched North Vietnamese fighters in an attempt to cut off North Vietnamese infiltration from Laos. U.S. troops eventually capture the site (temporarily), which would be nicknamed Hamburger Hill by journalists due to the brutal carnage of the 10-day battle.

September 1969: Ho Chi Minh dies of a heart attack in Hanoi.

December 1969: The U.S. government institutes the first draft lottery since World War II, prompting ever more young American men later disparaged as draft dodgers to flee to Canada.

GRADUAL WITHDRAWAL FROM VIETNAM

1969-1972: The Nixon administration gradually reduces the number of U.S. forces in South Vietnam, placing more burden on the ground forces of South Vietnam ARVN as part of a strategy known as Victimization. U.S. troops in Vietnam are reduced from a peak of 549,000 in 1969 to 69,000 in 1972.

February 1970: U.S. National Security Adviser Henry Kissinger begins secret peace negotiations with Hanoi politburo member Le Duc Tho in Paris.

March 1969-May 1970: In a series of secret bombings known as Operation Menu, U.S. B-52 bombers target suspected communist base camps and supply zones in Cambodia. The bombings are kept under wraps by Nixon and his administration since Cambodia is officially neutral in the war, although The New York Times would reveal the operation on May 9, 1969.

April-June 1970: U.S. and South Vietnamese forces attack communist bases across the Cambodian border in the Cambodian Incursion.

May 3, 1970: In a bloody incident known as the Kent State Shooting, National Guardsmen fire on anti-war demonstrators at Ohio's Kent State University, killing four students and wounding nine.

June 1970: Congress repeals the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution to reassert control over the president's ability to use force in the war.

VICTIMIZATION FALTERS, AMERICA EXITS

January-March 1971: In Operation Lam Son 719, ARVN troops, with U.S. support, invade Laos in an attempt to cut off the Ho Chi Minh Trail. They are forced to retreat and suffer heavy losses.

June 1971: The New York Times publishes a series of articles detailing leaked Defense Department documents about the war, known as the Pentagon Papers. The report reveals the U.S. government had repeatedly and secretly increased U.S. involvement in the war.

March-October 1972: The People's Army of Vietnam launches the large-scale, three-pronged Easter Offensive against the Army of the Republic of Vietnam and U.S. forces. While North Vietnam gains control of more territory in South Vietnam, the offensive isn't the decisive blow its military leaders had hoped for.

December 1972: President Nixon orders the launch of the most intense air offense of the war in Operation Linebacker. The attacks, concentrated between Hanoi and Haiphong, drop roughly 20,000 tons of bombs over densely populated regions.

January 22, 1973: Former President Johnson dies in Texas at age 64.

January 27, 1973: The Selective Service announces the end to the draft and institutes an all-volunteer military.

January 27, 1973: President Nixon signs the Paris Peace Accords, ending direct U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War. The North Vietnamese accept a cease fire. But as U.S. troops depart Vietnam, North Vietnamese military officials continue plotting to overtake South Vietnam.

February-April 1973: North Vietnam returns 591 American prisoners of war (including future U.S. Senator and presidential candidate, John McCain) in what is known as Operation Homecoming.

THE VIETNAM WAR ENDS

August 1974: President Nixon resigns in the face of likely impeachment after the Watergate Scandal is revealed. Gerald R. Ford becomes president.

January 1975: President Ford rules out any further U.S. military involvement in Vietnam.

April 1975: In the Fall of Saigon, the capital of South Vietnam is seized by communist forces and the government of South Vietnam surrenders. U.S. Marine and Air Force helicopters transport more than 1,000 American civilians and nearly 7,000 South Vietnamese refugees out of Saigon in an 18-hour mass evacuation effort.

July 1975: North and South Vietnam are formally unified as the Socialist Republic of Vietnam under hard-line communist rule.

The War Dead: By the end of the war, more than 58,000 Americans lose their lives. Vietnam would later release estimates that 1.1 million North Vietnamese and Viet Cong fighters were killed, up to 250,000 South Vietnamese soldiers died and more than 2 million civilians were killed on both sides of the war.

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