Texas Aggies in Vietnam: War Stories

Texas Aggies in Vietnam: War Stories

Texas Aggies in Vietnam: War Stories

Texas Aggies in Vietnam: War Stories

Synopsis

From its inception, graduates of the Agricultural and Mechanical College of Texas, now Texas A&M University, have marched off to fight in every conflict in which the United States has been involved. The Vietnam War was no different. The Corps of Cadets produced more officers for the conflict in Southeast Asia than any institution other than the US service academies. Michael Lee Lanning, Texas A&M University class of 1968, has now gathered over three dozen recollections from those who served.

As Lanning points out, "anytime Aggie Vietnam veterans get together--whether it is two or two hundred of them--war stories begin." The tales they relate about the paddies, the jungles, the highlands, the waterways, and the airways provide these veterans with an even greater understanding of the war they survived. They also allow glimpses into the frequent dangers of firefights, the camaraderie of patrol, and often humorous responses to inexplicable situations.

These revelations provide insight not only into the realities of war but also speak to the character of the graduates of Texas A&M University. As Lanning concludes, "these war stories are as much a part of service as is that old green duffle bag, a few rows of colorful ribbons, and a pride that does not diminish. In reality, there is only one story about the Vietnam War. We all just tell it differently."

Excerpt

For more than one hundred fifty years, Texas Aggies have answered their country’s call in time of war. From the Spanish American War of 1898 to the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, Aggies have stepped forward. Vietnam was no different.

Wars topple thrones, replace leaders, change borders, and leave death and havoc in their wake. Throughout history, the results of warfare have determined the future. The outcome of war has been the single greatest factor in determining what choices were available to peoples. Religion, politics, and philosophy have contributed to the twist and turns of history, but they exert their influence only when tribes, kingdoms, or nations unite behind a strong military force to win battles and thereby ensure a way of life.

With the passage of time, politicians and policy makers often become staunch allies and valuable trading partners with once sworn and hated enemies. For those who fight the wars and make the sacrifices, however, time does not necessarily change their opinion of those they faced on the battlefield. Warriors may forgive, but they never forget. Their stories are memories that do not fade.

History generally is written by gray-bearded academics and scholars. Their classroom education and teaching experience may be impressive, but few have experienced the exhilaration and smells of ground combat or felt the adrenaline rush when taking evasive measures to keep a telephone-pole-sized SAM rocket from knocking you out of the sky. The historians may accurately relate political, economic, and social events leading up to and following warfare, but they rarely, if ever, capture the fear, misery, hardship, and visceral reactions of those who actually fight the wars.

This book is not a history of the war in Southeast Asia; rather it is a series of snapshots revealing the inner truths of Texas Aggies who served there. Their words echo the pride, passion, fear, fatigue, and frustration that only veterans can truly comprehend. Many of the stories are those shared by veterans when they get together at reunions or over cold drinks in each other’s homes. Other stories have remained untold for nearly a half-century. These stories may not capture the whole of the war, but . . .

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