Combat soldiers in Vietnam War had slightly different experiences compared to their counterparts in world war two. This is because, compared to world war two where young men, trained or untrained were ambushed to fight. They had no idea of where they were going and were green on most of the experiences they would later have. It was mainly because of the experiences of their forefathers that the government realized on the need of training and preparing their soldiers for the battles ahead (Longley, 89). However, this does not distinguish them from the after-war experience, which was both traumatizing. Despite the training that the combat soldiers are taken through, the war experience is always different and new each day. The soldiers in Vietnam War, just like their fathers in the Second World War had to fight psychological battles in their minds. Scenes of dead bodies (some of whom were their fellow soldiers and others who are simply innocent women and children) having to die for no apparent reason still rang fresh in their minds. In this paper, we draw a comparison between world war two soldiers and Vietnam soldiers with reference to works by Kyle Longley; Grunts: The American Combat Soldier in Vietnam.
The end of the second world did not only teach the world a lesson but the United States. What they had taken for granted was now to be implemented and if possible practiced to test how efficient it was. Military power and war preparedness was in the heart and mind of every political leader. They had to look for strategies that will ensure they are well prepared for war. what was however running though the mind of the veterans who had just participated in the war was different. To them, the world or the country should not be found in such a situation where they have to fight. What they had experienced was traumatizing and their wish was that he world lives in peace for ever more. However, they also felt if such a thing must happen, then the soldiers need to be prepared psychologically and physically for what they were to encounter.
It would however be ironic for the leaders not to make any plans and simply hope that war does not happen. America had economic prospects, which only required them to be safe. They had to be more prepared for war and thus the need to train the soldiers. The training process was just as challenging as the war itself. Considering the fact that they were not aware of what they would encounter required going through extensive training (Oppenheimer, 94). They were prepared both physically and psychologically. This is generally a moment of isolation from their parents as they are taken to unbearable environment just to have a feel of what a war zone is like. They were not only trained to use weapons but also their hands. This was both for offensive and defensive purposes. The training was even more discouraging with many trainees held between proceeding and giving up.
The preparation required them literally feel like they were fighting apart from the fact that they were not targeting an opponent (Appy, 67). Otherwise, they were to literally spent sometime in the bushes, go without some essential meals, manage harsh climatic conditions and literally stay away from their families without any form of communication. This was already hard for the trainees to bear yet it was a shadow of what it would feel like being in the battlefield. The difference between the Vietnam War and the Second World War was that the former was rather planned and the latter happened automatic. In the Vietnam War, the American people had the ability to decide whether it should happen while in the WW2, many of them had no idea of what was happening. This made it even more challenging for the soldiers to fight as they thought they were still being used as puppets to fulfill personal desires of politicians.
The Americans felt that there were other strategies that would be used to solve the issues between the Palestinians and the United States. To make matters even worse, the issue in question was not affecting America directly. It is as if they went for battle on behalf of another nation they thought was weaker in terms of military. The United States ad special interests in the region and therefore fighting a battle they would have avoided. In as much the veterans of the Second World War were fighting to protect America’s geographical well being, those of the Vietnam were kind of fighting to satisfy the ego of few politicians. They were made to kill innocent people and fight a war they did not understand how the outcome would benefit the people of America.
War experiences have never been good irrespective of the training that soldiers go through. It is always a time when the soldiers have to put their personal interests and desires aside and fight towards a common cause (Myers, 37). This is usually done with the hope that no matter the outcome, somebody somewhere will either benefit or learn a lesson. The main advantage of the Vietnam War compared to world war was that the relatives of the soldiers knew where their people were fighting. There were also follow-ups where relatives would receive not only news about their injured and dead relatives but also their dead bodies when they died. This made them to be more at ease as the government was also concerned about the well-being of the family.
Appy, Christian. Working-class war: American combat soldiers and Vietnam. North Carolina:
University of North Carolina Press, 1993.
Longley, Kyle. Grunts: The American Combat Soldier in Vietnam. London: M.E. Sharpe, 2008.
Myers, Walter. Patrol: An American Soldier in Vietnam. London: HarperCollins, 2005.
Oppenheimer, Martin. The American Military. California: Transaction Publishers, 1971.