Dear Journal, I feel sick. Not as in a cold I mean disgusted to the core after the terrible actions I witnessed earlier today. It was inexcusable and makes me question the point of us really being here in Vietnam. All the bases, villages, even deep in the jungle were compacted with bullets being fired in every direction. I could hear yelps of soldiers falling into booby traps, an advantage the Vietnamese had. They knew the land, we did not. It was totally unexpected too, I mean after all it was Tet (Vietnamese celebration of the New Year). It wasn’t any ordinary form of Guerilla Warfare either; people were dancing, joining social activities, and just having a good time. The idea of an attack on this day was furthest from our minds, but that’s when it happened…the music stopped immediately, and people started shooting everywhere. They caught us completely off guard, the Americans were doomed. Before I was just patrolling one of the cities, a pistol clutched to my belt and no other weapons. Looking around seeing people enjoying themselves, then in a blink of an eye it turned into a blood fest. I couldn’t believe it and on a cultural holiday? I knew it was planned from the start, and I was right later discovering it wasn’t just the area I was in but all over North Vietnam. I ran and hid, knowing that at this point I was desperate. Watching behind a bush I could smell the stench of Agent Orange on the leaves, and once I looked up I noticed one of my comrades fall to the dirt dead next to me. I squeezed my eyes shut “That will not be me” I whimpered to myself, “I will survive this”. I knew I had to go out there, I maybe a lot of things but I for sure was not a coward. I took a deep breath, grasped my gun in both hands, and began to rise slowly but fierce. That’s when I saw her; she met my stare as well. A beautiful woman with long black hair, in her early twenties, determination in her magnificent green eyes, and a bomb behind her back waiting for the perfect moment to chuck it at me. I knew what I had to do even though it went against everything I believed in, I had to shoot her. I didn’t want to and I really hoped once I raised my gun she might run off and throw it somewhere else, unfortunately she did not. Instead she raised the grenade over her head and aimed it directly at me. I had to act quickly, the pain inside hurt deeply but my duties were too important to let emotions blind me from them. I pulled the trigger. Without looking back at the corpse I ran off to the other side of the village where more shooting was going on, but not without seeing an older married couple run in the direction of the girl I had just murdered with tearing streaming down their faces. By the time I headed over to the other side it was all over. Bodies were tattered and blood covered the ground, luckily I saw one of my commanders studying the location like myself and was able to jog towards him. We retreated back to a minor base that the Vietnamese surprisingly hadn’t reached and aided the surviving soldier’s wounds. It’s been over 24 hours since I shot that girl but I can’t stop thinking about it. In training we learn to not care so much about who we kill as long as it’s considered the enemy, but the fact that I had to do that to someone who probably wanted to look like a hero to her family guilt’s me harder then I have ever before, especially since I know if I was her I would have done the same thing.
March 17, 2011