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Vietnam-Perkasie: A Combat Marine Memoir Book Review

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Vietnam-Perkasie: A Combat Marine Memoir Book Review

Vietnam-Perkasie: A combat marine memoir Book Review

W.D. Ehrhart's Vietnam-Perkasie: A combat marine memoir is a baffling detailed first-hand account of the war America loves to forget, from the perspective of a youthful U.S. combat marine. Ehrhart's memoir intends to unveil the real frustrations and moral confusions a U.S. soldier in Vietnam experienced fighting in a horrifically violent and costly war with disturbingly ambiguous objectives; using lucid details and powerful descriptions of the relationships with various marines and day-to-day confrontations with both Vietnamese citizens and Vietcong, Ehrhart successfully depicts the extraordinarily maddening nature he intended America to fully understand about the Vietnam war.

With a swift surge of zealous patriotism, the naive high school graduate, W.D. Ehrhart found himself plopped in the heart of a treacherous U.S.-Vietnamese military conflict with no way out. Like many other soldiers during war, Ehrhart underwent a personal voyage of discovery, where he began to wonder, not just about the nature of war and the feelings roused by killing and seeing death, but the broader horror about the truth of the Vietnam war. Shortly after arriving in Vietnam, Ehrhart immediately began to realize to the harsh realities of fighting an enemy with no face. The second day in Vietnam, Ehrhart describes witnessing a group of bound detainees (Vietnamese civilians), consisting mostly of old men and women, with a few younger women and children, being maliciously abused for no apparent reason. In reaction to the appalling sight of the civilian group being pitched and kicked off the amphibious tractors onto the sand "in a quick succession of thuds, groans, sharp screams, snapping of breaking bones, and soft crying," Erhart demanded to know what the hell was going on, meanwhile grabbing the nearby participating marine, Corporal Jimmy Saunders by the arm and saying, "They aren't even prisoners. They're just civilians! We're responsible for those people! Aren't you going to do something?!" With no detectable emotion, Jimmy responded "You'll understand soon enough." (W.D. Ehrhart, Vietnam-Perkasie, 25)

Ehrhart's moral convictions ultimately began to diminish as a result of repeatedly carrying out blatantly cruel orders and a growing resentment for the Vietnamese's sinister and evasive retaliation. Ehrhart started realize that his marines were so hostile towards Vietnamese civilians because the line between enemy Vietcong and innocent civilian was fine one. Ehrhart gives an eerie description of the being surrounded by countless potential Vietcong enemies disguised as an innocent civilians, saying "…Vietcong could turn up anywhere covered the coastal plain—an invisible enemy perpetually watching and waiting behind the unreadable faces of the peasants in the paddies and markets and conical straw hats." The major turning point of Ehrhart's experience in Vietnam took place when Trinh quit the U.S. marines not long after Ehrhart's beloved girlfriend, Jenny suddenly cut off all communication. Trinh publicly scolded three U.S. officers for their disgusting ignorance and reckless use of brutish war tactics, when yelling "You do not know what you are doing, goddamn you! You are ruining everything, and I am not going to help you do it any more! You are hypocrites and fools, and you are giving my country to the communist buzzards! Leave my people alone, you goddamned mercenaries! Take your ignorance and go home!" (W.D. Ehrhart, Vietnam-Perkasie, 145) Trinh initially began to aid the U.S. marines in hopes to expel communists but quit after six years of witnessing the U.S. ignorantly fuel anti-Americanism and worsen the military conflict by arrogantly showing no regard or respect for Vietnamese tradition, culture or religion.

Ehrhart quickly began making a name for himself in the marine corps, rising and rank and earning numerous stripes and badges for an exceptional display of courage, good judgment and other specific military feats (like being shot/wounded, in the case of the purple heart). A surge of relief from the haunting thought of jenny off experiencing "free-love" came when Ehrhart was on his R&R in Hong Kong. Ehrhart met a tall blonde beauty named Dorrit; in the time he was with her, all the hell he had been going through seemed to melt away when he looked into her face. Unfortunately, R&R passed too quickly for Ehrhart; despite Ehrhart's staunch reluctance, he had to return to his new station further up North, where the danger of NVA became more real than ever to him. Once he settled in the new battalion command post, Ehrhart began doing less intelligence

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