Vietnam War Poetry

It Was Only Yesterday
For my husband...
SP4 T. Godwin
US Army, 183rd RAC 1st AVN


by: Oksana Godwin
© Copyright 2008


He’s been in “the world” 38 years now.
Yet somehow,
It seems only yesterday innocence of his youth was taken away.

A carefree, long-hair, hippie-freak kid one day,
Sex, drugs and all that free love,
Who wouldn’t want to stay?
Especially when your only 18 anyway.

Then the “NOTICE” came.
First reaction “I ain’t leaving this action!”
But he new, he could not dishonor his family name, nor bring about any shame. 

He tried to run, but didn’t get far.
Reported three days later after hitting some bars.
He was young and scared, but he knew,
like it or not, he had a duty to do.

So he shed his hair, his carefree ways.
He learned a lot about himself during those boot-camp days.
When he boarded that plane he already knew, his world would be changed before he was through.

He saw and heard what no young man of 18 should.
He even stayed longer so little brother wouldn’t have to see, smell or hear the guns of thunder.

And still today, through nightmarish hazes,
He can clearly see all their faces, feel the fears and taste the tears.
He dives for cover, screaming inaudible screams!
Totally lost in those nightmare dreams!

Fear overcomes me!
I call his name, hoping to bring him back here again.
Finally, he opens his eyes.
Looking around, still terrified, he says,
“Wasn’t it only yesterday they died?”              

Oksana Godwin August 4, 2008


I am not computer savvy, but I  would like to submit this poem I wrote for my husband, a Vietnam Veteran.  He was there from June 1968 to January 1970.  He was drafted.

I did not know my husband when he was an 18-year-old hippie who got drafted.  I do have a brother who was drafted when he was 19.  He ended up enlisting in the Air Force.
But this poem is for Terry Godwin whom I met when he was a 45-year-old man. 

The Vietnam War (police action actually) was my war.  I was a young teenager who saw her friends get drafted, go off to a place none of us ever heard of, and some never came home.  It seems that every generation has their war, this one was mine.

I have been asking Terry questions about his experiences during the war, but just like everyone else who’s been there, he won’t tell me very much.  I say “very much” because I have actually managed to get approximately 4 things in 15 years that happened to him!  Which of course I will not speak about either. 

However, because I do know the man, have been there during his nightmares, and have found myself part of those nightmares at times, I had this poem to write from my side of the street. 

When I read this poem to my husband he said “you got that so right, how did you manage to get into my head?”  Well, I didn’t get in his head, I just happened to be a part of his nightmares, and I ‘v had some of my own.  I felt his fear and terror during those nightmares he was having, and couldn’t help but be part of them. 

So this is where the poem came from.  I was sitting at my computer one night and it just  came to me.  It took me all of 5 minutes to write, but even I was surprised at the outcome. I would like to share this with others because he said I had hit a cord.  Perhaps this will help someone somewhere to place a finger on a feeling.  I don’t know, I just hurt for all these men, who were young boys when they left.  My heart still aches for their lost innocence.

Oksana Godwin August 4, 2008 Logo
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