WHEN IS A SOLDIER A HERO?

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In 1965 U.S. military had formed full forced units for Vietnam, and in one of the first units was Michael D. L. He was a 17 year old male who signed up for the military not knowing he was going to be one of the first units to leave to the troubled country of Vietnam.

While in the war, the only thoughts going through Mr. L mind were “Just try to stay alive, don’t do anything stupid.” In the war they were given specific orders and had to follow those exact orders. If they were told to leave to a place, they went with no argument, during Vietnam there were many deaths between both sides, and explosions everywhere.

In the beginning of the war, Mr. L was scared and tried his best to stay alive, but then after a while he became calloused towards death. “You had to make yourself calloused, or if not you would go crazy and or not survive.”

He believes that the Vietnam War should have gone on, for the fact that the U.S was an ally to Vietnam and they had a signed treaty. “People these days don’t respect treaties like they used to” he said. “The military never lost the war in many Vietnam U.S. soldiers’ eyes, the politicians lost the war if it wasn’t for the fact that certain politicians came into control, got in the way, gave ridiculous orders, and didn’t let the military do their jobs, the war would have been over sooner than 1975 when it really ended.”
As an example to his statement he and others were told to go over a hill called HILL 22, three different times, losing 100 or so lives, because politicians said to. “We were doing great in the beginning until the politicians and press butted there noses into the military business. I think the Democrats are the worst at it,” he said.

They didn’t get close to one another. It was more of comradeship meaning they would just socialize with each other. “It was like this, I’ll watch your back if you watch mine. We couldn’t get attached it would have been difficult to let go of those who died.”

During the war the military had twenty million gallons of an herbicide called “Agent Orange”. They used this to kill off vegetation for military to get through the jungle better. This herbicide has since been found to cause many medical problems. Most Vietnam veterans in their 50’s and 60’s have had, or currently have, medical problems. L. has had a heart attack and cancer and he is still suffers with new illnesses frequently. He still calls himself “one of the lucky ones.” Michael L's younger brother, Alan, also a Vietnam veteran, died in July 2008 of a brain tumor thought to be caused by Agent Orange. He was only 57, an early age to die.

“Nobody set out to be a hero, out of those that did many were injured or worse, killed” Mr. L said. While in the war he received several medals including a Purple Heart. The medal he treasures the most is his Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry. He received this medal for saving a troop from an ambush.

“Most movies about the Vietnam War are bulls***, if someone wants to see a movie that closely resembles what U.S. soldiers were going through I would recommend “We Were Soldiers.” Mr. L. said. The other Vietnam based movies he has seen are “politically leaning” and don’t accurately show the reality of the war.

Mr. Lovelett says he never had the personality to let what happened “get to” him. For many veterans the war had a much deeper and longer lasting impact on their lives.

“I don’t feel like a hero because U.S. soldiers were treated like dirt when they got back home. On our return home we were spit on and much more,” he said with an unhappy expression. Mr. L personally experienced this on his was home in 1966. He was only 18 at the time. While waiting at an airport in San Francisco, finally on his way home, a young girl about 19 or 20 spit on his uniform and called him a “baby-killer.” “Lets’ just say to this day that was the only girl I ever hit in my life, and I thought for sure I was going to jail, but after the police and air security had heard the story they looked at me and told me to have a nice flight and sorry about that.”

Why doesn’t this amazing man feel like a hero? Because of the politicians, media, and people who wouldn’t butt their noses out of military operations, and the people who don’t understand that soldiers are there for their country, and for their people.





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