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Why We Served: Part Two


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Why We Served: Part Two


By: Phil KeithDate:October29 , 2013


In February of 2012 I wrote a piece for Command Posts entitled “Why We Served”. It appeared just prior to the publication of my book Blackhorse Riders: A Desperate Last Stand, an Extraordinary Rescue Mission, and the Vietnam Battle America Forgot, from St. Martin’s Press. My next book, Fire Base Illingworth, an Epic True Story of Remarkable Courage Against Staggering Odds, also by St. Martin’s, is about to debut; so, I thought it would be appropriate to update my original essay on service in Vietnam. I am also motivated to write an addendum for two additional reasons: we’re in the midst of a number of activities commemorating the passage of 50 years (and more) since the full commitment of troops to the Vietnam War; and, I just visited, for the first time, the new Martin Luther King Memorial in Washington, DC. I’ll explain how these two vastly different occurrences intersect shortly.


In my first essay on “Why We Served,” I highlighted the experiences and motivations of a number of individuals who populated the events described in Blackhorse Riders. For the most part they were “average Joes,” young men who, for whatever reason, answered their country’s call and found themselves in the middle of the jungle fighting a war few of them understood and even fewer loved. Some-about half-had volunteered, either out of a sense of patriotic duty or to avoid the reason that the other half were there: the draft. No matter how they arrived at this crisis point in their lives, they seemed very clear about their motivations, which were: to do the right thing and “help a buddy.” In my personal observations of that war, as a participant in the air and on the ground, those goals were universal. We could gripe about the war, bitch about those appointed above us, Scissors-32x32.pnghttp://www.commandposts.com/2013/10/why-we-served-part-two/

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