Charlie Company - What Vietnam Did To Us Author:Peter Goldman and Tony Fuller There were no homecoming parades for the million men and women who served in combat in the longest war America has ever fought, the only war it has ever lost. There were no brass bands or crowds cheering at the dock or celebratory speeches floating across village greens. The veterans of the failed United States mission in Vietnam returned inst... more »ead to a kind of embarrassed silence, as if, one of them thought, everybody was ashamed of us. They were obliged to bear an inordinate share of the blame for having fought at all and for not having won. Some paid a terrible further cost in stunted careers, shattered marriages and disfigured lives. Most have endured with that same stubborn will to survive they brought to the least popular war in our history - a war that has never really ended for them or for their countrymen.
This is a book about sixty-five of those nearly forgotten men who soldiered in the late 1960's in a gook-hunting, dirt-eating, dog-soldiering combat infantry unit called Charlie Company. They were boys then, nineteen or twenty years old on the average. The Army had snatched them up out of towns named Ottumwa and Puxico and Sun Prairie, suited them up as soldiers and sent them off to a place they could not locate on a globe to fight a war they could not understand. They served a year apiece there, those who survived, and then came back to fight a second war, this one waged at home and in the mind. They waged it alone for the most part, their stories and their scar tissue unknown even to their wives and parents. It was, one of them thought, as if they were the bearers of some unspeakable disease. Until a team of Newsweek correspondents sought them out between the late summer of 1981 and the spring of 1982, some of them had never been asked what they had experienced in the war, or back home in what the grunts in the bunkers of 'Nam thought of wistfully as The World.
Their story is not military history in any formal sense, it is not the record of great battles won or lost. Vietnam was not that sort of war, and Charlie Company's piece of it was fought over bloodied patches of ground that nobody really wanted anyway. Neither is this book a moral commentary on the war, or an analysis of its geopolitical origins and consequences, or an account of the travail of the Vietnamese people, or an attempt to assess the relative virtue and valor of those Americans who served as against those who chose not to. It is instead the chess game viewed - or. more accurately, remembered - by the pawns. It is a collective memoir of the war and the homecoming, filtered through layers of time and pain, anger and guilt, bitterness and forgetfulness.« less