Left in Hell

"They were careless people...they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness, or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the ...

War and Journalism

When I see an embedded reporter like, say, the late David Bloom of NBC (a great reporter and sorely missed), green in night-vision light, crouched behind a berm, whispering into his mike while guns and ...

Baby Killers

Last week I wrote a piece called "Chimps with Nukes." When I had a draft I e-mailed it to a bunch of old soldiers to see if anybody thought I had left anything important out. ...

Chimps with Nukes

In Jared Diamond's book The Third Chimpanzee, he points out that we share about 98 percent of our DNA with chimpanzees, which is not much greater than the difference between chimps and bonobo pygmy chimps. ...

Forgotten Valor

Where have all the soldiers gone? Gone to graveyards every one. -- Pete Seeger, 1961 James Francis Walter Ford's death was certain, but his life remained a mystery. After he was accidentally struck and killed ...

War Art

The polar opposite of painting a still life of flowers

"I made 473 drawings on one assignment in Vietnam. February and March of 1967, in Dong Ha in the DMZ. Sometimes I could use art to shield myself from what was going on around me. ...

Why aren't there any Vietnamese names in the Obituary column of the UT?

Matmail: Why is it there are never any Vietnamese names in the obituary column printed in the San Diego Union? -- Mort Schwartz, Clairemont According to the local Union of Pan Asian Communities, to find ...

The 30-Year War

Harry Constance accuses Charles Watson of cowardice during Tet offensive

August, 1997. It is a sunny Saturday on Coronado's Orange Avenue. Bay Books is having a ball. Half a dozen ex-Navy SEALs sit at tables inside, each autographing the book he has written about his ...

Top Brass vs. Low Church

This is the joke among the Navy's evangelical chaplains. "Question: What do you have to do to get promoted in the U.S. Navy? "Answer: If you're a Roman Catholic, you've got to be able to ...

Sealed Fate

The ethics of outing fake military heroes

When is a SEAL not a SEAL? Too often, says Darryl Young, an ex-SEAL who trained in Coronado. Young heard of so many many SEAL impostors that he helped form a group called the "U.S. ...

I Don't Ever Tell Death How Not To Take Me

They went from MCRD to Khe Sanh, Con Thien, Dewey Canyon, and finally San Diego

A lot of them — the kids, I mean — went to boot camp, came out of boot camp, got on an airplane to Vietnam, and went straight to the DMZ (Demilitarized Zone). One such ...

I Quit, Love Clifford

Shell-shocked letters from Vietnam.

Prompted by a second glass of wine, Clifford’s dad said, “The way I treated my son, pushed Cliff into that war, I wouldn’t blame him if he accused me of intentionally wrecking his life.”

I Need Time to Recuperate

Quentin Young and the pandas

It’s easy to see why Su Lin became a big zoo attraction. In newsreel footage, the panda clowns amicably in a basket, then chews on her keeper’s arms and grabs at his legs like an oversized cat.

Fighting Words: The Vietnam Books

The war had a vocabulary so different from the rest of the world that it was almost a language apart.

Veteran Readers The first three Vietnam Vets whom I asked, "What novels about the Vietnam War have you read?" hadn't read many. All three served in the Marine Corps, all were in boot camp in ...

River Rats, part two

A story of unruly sailors in a makeshift navy: The war on the Mekong

I awakened late and sat on the edge of the litter, feeling like crap. I had no idea what time it was. My watch was gone. It was probably lying in the road outside the ...

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