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The Curse of John Wayne and WWII

River RatRiver Rat Member Posts: 9,022
edited September 2012 in US Military Veteran Forum
I grew up in the shadow of WWII, and all VN vets can relate to this. My dad was a Navy pilot, my mom a Navy nurse, and they kept their uniforms in an old trunk.

Our preschools were Army/Navy surplus stores. Unbelievable treasure troves in the 50s, that could not be adequately described today. We were tutored by John Wayne on Iwo Jima, and Jimmy Stewart flying over Berlin. We wore leather flight jackets, knit watch caps, and wool peacoats. Our youth was filled with dummy pineapple grenades and Japanese bayonets purchased with last week's allowance.

We watched "Sarge" and "Combat" on TV, weekly installments in the continuation of WWII-thinking into the sixties.

So when time came for "our war," by golly we were ready.

Now, I am not one of those who feels Vietnam was a waste in the great scheme of History. Some do, some don't. I was a pretty patriotic young man then, and I am even moreso now. I wasn't drafted; I went to where the action was. It's just that we were up for a few surprises when they handed out the live ammo.

It wasn't our daddy's war. No sir.

Any thoughts to add?


  • CapnMidnightCapnMidnight Member Posts: 8,520
    edited November -1
    That is very well put, yes it's what we where supposed to do. I did it, and deep down I've never had any serious regrets. I am still very proud of my service.
    Thank you, and welcome home.
  • Jim RauJim Rau Member Posts: 3,550
    edited November -1
    I must agree, when the 'real' bullets were flying (both ways) it was not what most of us expected, BUT my rural up bringing was a real ace in the hole.
    1. We have been butchering our own animals, chickens, hogs, and cattle not to mention hunting and butchering the game, so I was VERY familiar with 'blood and guts'.
    2. Because we did hunt and learned to track and stalk it was a big help when it came to 'sneaking and peeking'.
    3. I was a very good shot and knew the meaning of 'fire discipline', not just spray and pray.
    That said, it did not render me immune to PTSD!!!
  • cercer Member Posts: 826 ✭✭✭✭
    edited November -1
    I totally agree with the mindset of all posts above. I didn't expect the welcome home I recieved. i withdrew into myself and stayed drunk (self medicated) for 18 years before i got help from the VA and veteran groups mostly Combat Marines Black,White,Brown and Red VN Vets. They helped me cope with things that had hurt me mentally for years. (this may not make a lot of sense to you but it has helped me)
  • dheffleydheffley Member Posts: 25,000
    edited November -1
    My grandfather fought in WWI and WWII. My father fought in WWII and Korea. Those were their wars from the standpoint they were in them, but they were our wars from the standpoint that we were all American's and we were all patriots.

    Back then, we still started out the day with the Pledge of Allegiance and a prayer. Imagine!
  • Rick S.Rick S. Member Posts: 33 ✭✭
    edited November -1
    I can relate. WWII. Dad was in Navy. Two uncles in Marines. One uncle Tarawa and Saipan. He was wounded 6th day when "surrendering" Japanese in a cave changed their minds and touched off the explosives. Other uncle, Saipan and Okinawa. Friends dads all WWII vets. I knew I was going to join the Marines from the time I was 19 years old.
    It didn't take long after landing at DaNang to realize this poop was for REAL!
  • Rick S.Rick S. Member Posts: 33 ✭✭
    edited November -1
    WHOOPS! Change that to wanted to join when I was 10 years old! poop, already had a Purple Heart before my 19th!
  • Alan RushingAlan Rushing Member Posts: 9,002 ✭✭
    edited November -1
    River Rat -

    Can not disagree with you.

    I had also noticed many guys that stood about as if they were passively on the other side of a movie or TV screen ... seemingly not noticing that it was for real and that those pieces of metal were being shot and thrown at them. [:(]
  • River RatRiver Rat Member Posts: 9,022
    edited November -1
    The tough part was not knowing which civilians were loyal to the other side. Creepy feeling sometimes. I envy the WWII vets for knowing all the French loved them and all the German citizens didn't trust them.

    I'm probably oversimplifying things, but if I were in Afghanistan today I'd feel the same creepy way.

    WWII was perhaps the last old-fashioned war, and Vietnam was the first of the new. People within a country warring over ideology, rather than nationality, and you can't tell them apart. That was a culture shock.
  • v35v35 Member Posts: 13,200
    edited November -1
    All the French DIDN'T love them. I met vets who shot their way out of traps in post war France.
    One of our company officers in Korea shot a few Frenchmen in North Africa with a Thompson. No love lost between them.
    In discussing where we'd be posted after Army Service School in 1953, I heard unfavorable reports from those who did a tour there and good reports about American Army life in Germany and Japan.
    I was lucky and went to Korea for two winters in a tent.
    John Wayne was no hero of mine. Many actors and public figures joined up and put their azzes on the line. During the War, strong patriotism was universal. You'd have to be in a critical war job or missing a leg
    to be accepted since all families had relatives in the Services. John Wayne played the patriotic game but dodged military service with a thin excuse. Many people can't separate actors' personna from the parts they play and many actors tried to maintain their screen images in their off-screen lives. He was successful at it to a lot of people both then and now and talked a good game. His contributions as an actor then were greater than if he'd been a soldier but better actors
    rushed to volunteer to do their duty.
    He was an actor who successfully played the Gung Ho patriot part on and off the screen but nothing more. Maybe some of it was to offset the Draft Dodger image.
  • kimikimi Member Posts: 44,741 ✭✭✭
    edited November -1
    I was rarin' to get to the NAM before the war ended back in the Summer of '65, and probably within 30 days of being there in early '66 knew that the government hadn't the slightest intention of trying to win it. That was the beginning of a very long downer that persists to this moment. I would not give a plug nickel for the whole lot of the SOB's that was in charge of the war.

    Added: In the massive draft of World War II, 50 million men from 18 to 45 were registered, 36 million classified, and 10 million inducted.[22] Which indicates that 80% of the men who registered stayed home during the war.

    John Wayne, born in 1907.
    What's next?
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