Chicago, Saigon, American Embassy discussed on Mental Illness Happy Hour
It was January thirty first nineteen sixty nine hundred sixty eight the opening day of the Ted offensive. So the shit storm of the Vietnam war. That's what changed everything. It changed. Politics changed the thinking in more than anything to change the mind of the noted news, anchor, Walter Cronkite. Yeah. So it was a shit storm in Thomson Newt? Airbase was under attack small arms fire. Everybody was all the soldiers around the berm facing outward. Helicopters gunships flying over smoke billowing from Saigon, and it was. I was just dazed. And that's the first place when I went on a second aircraft, a helicopter Huey to go up to a place called Ben wa. I was told get outta those khakis. You look like target Lieutenant and we we quickly flew over a little berm and then you could see Saigon it was under attacked the Viet Cong had penetrated the American embassy. The large force came in and took over the Newport bridge and many Americans died there. They had fighting at the racetrack. The Chinese section called show lawn in the cemeteries, and. The city was not secure. It may be around the embassy where they finally beat back that Viet Cong offensive. But the city was still somewhat occupied, and and men were men were dying Americans. So yeah, that was my introduction. So let's talk about the part of your story that interests me the most because you know, we've, we've heard stories from people about the nam and the logistics of this and that. But I, I would like to know emotionally, what's the arc. That somebody goes through from, I might get drafted to, I'm drafted, or in your case you enlisted so he could choose which branch to go into. To landing to your assignment to some of the things you encountered to transitioning back home. I would love to know the the inner life. What you're thinking about yourself, what you're thinking about the world, you're placing it, the war, our government, all those kinds of things. Right. Very good question. And for me. I didn't want to go in to the army. I didn't want to go to Vietnam. What I wanted to do was do what I loved, which was painting drawing. So I applied to the school of the Art Institute in Chicago, fantastic school. That's what I wanted to do. For some reason. They didn't want me and I received a rejection letter. Now, I had the chutzpah to take my letter. I got on the l. train and went down and I went into the school and I asked to the s the secretary can I speak to the guy who signed my rejection letter and after an hour and a half, he saw me, you know? So I asked him, I said, can you reconsider this? And he kind of stumbled and said, no. And then I said, well, why did you? Why did you reject me? Wasn't my academic performance in high school or was it my art portfolio? And he said both and stormed out. The secretary was standing at the door and she said, Mr. Duffy's time to go. So at any rate, what happened was I got home and shortly thereafter I received a draft notice. I still didn't want to go into the military, but with the draft notice I knew. From talking to my friends down in LVN beach in Chicago in up in Rogers park that the draft notice Mentz they could pick you for the marines for the navy for the army, possibly the air force, but mainly the marines. I didn't want that and they would assign you wherever they wanna. Do a sound you within that branch? Exactly. And what your what your job was. So I was pretty good in mathematics, and I took some tests and I said, why'd like to be a road surveyor? And he said, we can do that for you. So I did enlist in who served the draft where it would have been potluck, went into the military and was sent to fort Polk Louisiana. For the initial training and then sent to fort sill for the survey trainy. Hold that thought, we'll come. We'll come back to that, but tell the story about bringing your draft card in to that room. Well, the draft board in our neighborhood was up a long flight of stairs. Let me describe this neighborhood in Chicago..