Erick W. Miller
Can you imagine being waist deep in history and actually playing an active part?
Imagine this bit of history is a daily life or death situation. A situation which could alter the course of the world and every minute part of this bit of history is crucial. Now imagine a numbing kind of amnesia afflicting you as you played your small but essential part in this deadly moment in history.
I’m writing about Operation Texas Star from the annals of the 101st Airborne. During this operation, the 101st accrued one third more casualties than the 30,000 men of four different American army divisions who crossed into Cambodia accompanied by 48,000 troops from the Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN). The Cambodian Incursion captured the whole worlds attention while our blood-bath in northern I-Corps went unmentioned.
I can’t help or explain my amnesia. I’ve been shot at, rocketed, mortared, bombed, and Napalmed. I suppose that coupled with the stress of being a point man has something to do with my partial amnesia. I also suppose that my country’s amnesia was for different reasons. Selfish reasons which only insult the dignity of the heroes who participated in Operation Texas Star.
This wasn’t a ‘Normandy’ type operation involving 200,000 troops. It was an operation that involved myriad gunfights in company and platoon sized elements, each isolated by impenetrable jungle so that the few men that we saw as we looked around were the men we had to count upon.
In such small unit fighting, an individual feels very alone.
My intermittent amnesia started in mid June, 1970. Our country’s amnesia seemed to start in 1968. Even though our troops all over Vietnam in that year performed miracles, the media reported it as a disaster for America. That made it more popular for the press to report on the progress of the ARVN than the continuing heroics of American Soldiers and Marines.
The ARVN seemed to be doing well because they inherited areas of operations that were already made safe with the blood of Americans.
If America’s collective amnesia ever goes away, all the history books would have to be thrown away for they have been teaching lies for years. Textbooks that were written by draft dodgers for other protesters and draft dodgers to teach from. Indoctrination would be a more accurate word than teach since teach means to impart knowledge. Knowledge comes from knowing the truth and the truth has been withheld. My nephew, in the year 2002, saw a mere three pages glossing over Vietnam in his history book while ‘chapters’ are devoted to WWII. I hope that in my lifetime, I will see the truth be taught in schools, instead of only now being revealed in paperback books that only other Vietnam veterans buy and read, but it probably won’t happen.
Erick W. Miller 9 Nov. 1997 Re-written and revised 2 July 2002