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A Day in May
� 1970
by: Richard A. Randall
 

The following copyright letter is in response to a student's survey. Permission to use the letter for a report or research is granted on condition that the following references are included:
Day In May, by Richard A. Randall, published at Vietnam War Stories, 1997.
    
A Day in May is not the type of letter I want to post on my homepage, because it enforces media stereotyping of the typical Vietnam Veteran. Not posting it would be to ignore the fact that Vietnam War casualties for combatants and civilians were horrendous! Consider:

Combatants Killed in Action: 1,382,430
Combatants Wounded in Action: 1,772,465
Combatants MIA/POW: 2,503 (Allied Forces)
Civilians Killed, Vietnamese: 3,500,000

[For a detailed list of battle casualties, review, Body Count]

I ask that you put yourself in the midst of Vietnam combat, 18 or 19 years old, and scared --I mean, really scared. But first, consider English Warrior-poet Wildred Owen, who was killed in combat in the fields of WWI France, November 11, 1918--the last week of the war. Wildred Owen once said: "Above all I am not concerned with Poetry--my subject is War, and the pity of War ... the Poetry is in the pity." And now, for the moment, you are Richard, and at the same time you are the villager-mother. So, read Richard Randall's story and know the truth--the tragedy--of Wildred Owen's pity. 

A Day in May
� 1970
by:Richard A. Randall

A week before Memorial Day I received an email message from a young lady, asking if I was a VietNam Vet and willing to answer some questions for a class report she was doing. The following are the questions and my answers:

1. Q: What is your name?
    
A: Richard A. Randall, Cpl (E-4) USMC 2114698 K/3/3 F/2/7 CAC/CAP-32

2. Q: What was your role in the war?
    
A: USMC, Infantry and Pacification team

3. Q: Where were you stationed while in VietNam?
    
A: Đà Nẵng TAOR (Tactical Area Of Responsibility) and North (Hue/Phu Bai/DMZ and into North Vietnam on one mission by mistake...)

4. Q: What was your attitude towards the war when you went and what are your feelings about the war now?
    
A: I volunteered for the Marine Corps three weeks after the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution was passed. I volunteered for VietNam service, and I had to fight to get it. I believed, and still do, that I owed those survivors of those who went before the same guarantees of Freedom that I was given.

5. Q. Please describe the most memorable thing that happened to you during your stay in VietNam.
    
A: I remember being on a Company sized operation with K/3/3 in May of 1966, I think, where we had swept through a TOTALLY deserted ville ... We had taken sniper fire all day and lost some people, either wounded or killed.
     It was near dark, so we set up in a graveyard on a knoll. My fireteam's position was facing back across the rice paddy towards the ville. All of a sudden, there was this flood of slowly walking people coming across the rice paddy towards us. No weapons, no overt threat, just A LOT of people. Women carrying babies in their arms, old men, old women. Just walking towards us from a village that, minutes earlier, was totally empty.
     The Captain [Name omitted], if I remember correctly, ordered machine guns up and to open fire on these people. There was a woman carrying her maybe six month old child in her arms in the front of the group that was approaching us. I watched as a slight tug hit her arms, and the baby's head was gone. The look of horror on her face only brought laughter from me. Many died that day.

6. Q: How were you treated upon your return after the war?
    
A: When I came "home", my first purchase was an AR-7, semiautomatic .22 cal. rifle. I was not going to be put in the position of the Army vet who had to frag some people at LAX upon his return (Fable or truth, I believed it then). I had no Peace, no solace, from family or friends.
     I drifted into drugs (LSD, speed, cocaine...anything that was adrenaline like) trying for the high I knew, and the acceptability that I sought so desperately.

7. Q: Have you been to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, The Wall in Washington, D.C.? If so, describe your feelings and what it meant to you to be there. If not, describe what having a memorial means to you."
  
  
A: When I even see a picture of "The Wall", I mist up...I cry...There is no greater memorial in my mind, my heart. I have not been able to get back to DC since coming to CA in 1972, but I have seen the "Moving Wall", found friends, and cried deeply. This healing thing is NOT a one-time shot. It is to be a lifelong process, interrupted by fits and starts of reality, none of which was as we, any of us, had anticipated it to be.

Be at Peace, my Brothers...
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