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Take it from a Vietnam veteran

Avila Beach

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Reading the articles on assault weapons in the July 16 issue (“What assault weapons ban?” and “Automatic arsenals”) ignited my smoldering disdain for combat weapons—mere toys for insecure children with dreams of macho grandeur. What else could these killing machines be used for other then eliminating enemy soldiers?
 
If someone would like firing bullets to their heart's content, enlist in the Army's Special Forces, the Navy Seals, or the Marines: There are still many opportunities in Iraq or Afghanistan to use guns on challenging targets.
 
As a kid, I enjoyed plunking my .22 in the local woods with my buddies Skip and Sully. Targets ceased being tin soldiers and evolved into communist soldiers trying to shoot my butt when I was in Vietnam 1965-1966 with the Big Red One. My rifle became my mistress, sleeping next to me in my Viet Cong hammock, embraced in my arms. The first several times I fired in combat were in self-defense. Later, after I became "comber ready," it became the tool of my trade in the great sport of killing the enemy; each subsequent death became an indescribable rush, a high the synthetics of drugs could never duplicate.
 
After my discharge, my father suggested I visit our woods with my dog and .22, thinking it might lift me out of my temporary morass; I politely refused, without telling him why. To this day, I have never touched a pistol or rifle. Maybe I'm afraid I'm addicted, enjoy it, and would start looking for targets.
 
I've taken men on patrols in enemy territory with whom I've felt confident and would never want a child living in a weapon fantasy there. I had a man like that with me in Vietnam, the last time I was fired upon, three weeks before discharge as I drove a jeep through an enemy ambush. Though the guy from my tent riding shotgun was never under fire before, he always mouthed his hate for the enemy and longed for an opportunity to "waste a few." When machinegun bullets began scattering along the bank adjacent to us, my "protection" grabbed the jeep's panic bar with both hands and began screaming, "They're firing at us, they're firing at us." I'm sure I'd find the same type of assistance from a phony living in la-la land with copious weapons.  

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