The Vietnam War was the first war televised, with Americans able to watch battle footage daily. From then on we often see one side of war on our TVs. However, four Vietnam Veterans shared what it was really like to serve during a recent War and Remembrance panel discussion at Del Mar College.
Being drafted into the war was hard, especially just graduating from high school. Many didn’t know what to expect during their training and entering the fields of Vietnam. However, after the war, many saw opportunity within the military as a career, which led to inspiring family and friends to enlist and serve.
Ramiro Chavez was a student at Del Mar college in 1967. He spoke about his experience at the college and then in a span of a few days his life has changed.
“From a student to a musician to being drafted into the war — that’s how fast your life can change,” Chavez said.
One thing did stick with them all: the smell of humidity, heat and the jungles.
“To this day I remember the smell,” Carlos Garcia said.
The conditions were rough in the country, and the people either hated them or liked them. They couldn’t allow fear to cloud their minds because they knew they had a job to do.
Many soldiers were in the jungle and mountains for days on end, surviving ambushes and bullets flying above. If they ran out of water, they drank from the river. If they ran out of food, they looked around in the jungle for something edible.
“War is hell,” Jose Ramirez said.
Listening to men who fought in the Vietnam War gives a different perspective from what was aired on television. Memories from any war are hard to relive, but it serves as history that books and documentaries do not cover.