The War Within Us

I have spoken little of places and times, units, and organizations to be nonspecific to those things. There were many battles and conflicts in Vietnam, some repeatedly fought, year after year, by the United States and other countries as well, before our involvement in it. This book is not an account of anyone’s triumphs or any political aspect of whether the war was right or wrong. This writing accounts for conflicts, mental and physical extremes of just one soldier’s experience, and the ability to cope with his friends’ and enemies’ deaths. I never had any enemies in Southeast Asia, just different people on different sides. However, being naive, young, and uninformed about worldly things was undoubtedly a significant handicap when I willingly stepped into this mudhole of life and death here in Vietnam. We should not honor any war but honor the young and older men and women that participated in it, willingly or not. As a born-again Assembly of God Christian young man, it was hard for me to fulfill my military obligations at times.

Render to Caesar that are Caesar’s and to God the things that are God’s. (Matthew 22:21 [KJV])

Let every person be in subjection to the governing authorities. (Romans 13:1 [KJV])

I did not save the war, nor did I contribute to its result, but I did go home with everything I took over there, except innocence.

My primary motivation to write this book was Richard Snook, with whom I grew up with, and we were very close. We were going to join the Army and go off to war together as young boys, as we were. He was eleven when he took his own life, and I was twelve. I never got over it and still cry about all that. I have never talked or written about my past life as a young person going to war, and now my present life is coming to an end. I should say something about that time when I was young and naive and went to war.

Refer to the song by Peter, Paul, and Mary: “Leaving on a Jet Plane” (1967).

Refer to the Australian song by John Schumann: “I Was Only 19” (2006).

As in all things past, throughout our lives, like wars, we should not relive them nor forget them, lest we repeat them.

--Cory Jones