Memorial Day
Monday, May 28, 2018
Washington, D.C.

To the Vietnam Wall

Dear Wall,

When will we rid the Earth of the Waste of War?

From “salting the earth” so “the enemy” could no longer grow food and were starved;

To the mustard gas of WWI that tormented survivors and the soil;

To the Agents Orange, Green and Blue which killed more Americans since the Vietnam war “ended” and continue to kill and poison countless Vietnamese and poison the soil so poor farmers cannot survive;

To the Depleted Uranium shells of the war on Iraq whose deadly work will continue for millennia.

When will we rid the Earth of the Waste of War?

Roger Ehrlich
Raleigh, N.C.

(written in the vigil tent of Swords to Plowshares Memorial Belltower)

In May 1968 I was “asked” to join the military after getting into trouble (possession of CANNABIS) while @ Beaverton H.S. (class of 1969). I was naive and completely ignorant as I joined the Marines to go to Vietnam and get a medal. I only wanted one. While in boot camp (MCRD San Diego) my Platoon 1001 was composed of volunteers and about seven or eight draftees. It was those educated persons that exposed me to reality with information I never knew.

But for fill in; while in boot camp I learned it was a United Nations action we were in thus WE are the Unwilling, Led by the Unqualified, to do the Unnecessary, For the Ungrateful.
I already had been aware of SIR WE HAVE MET THE ENEMY AND THEY IS US.

One man’s soldier is another man’s terrorist was new to me.

Another line I recall was the question of WHAT is the difference between the Boy Scouts of America and the United States Marine Corps? The answer being Boy Scouts have adult leadership.
Ultimately I was a F**k up as I was discharged administratively for LSD in June 1969. I had turned eighteen two months prior. When I got home, I was classified 4-F after I had passed those G.E.D. tests for my certificate of Equivalency to my classmates. My 1970 lottery draft number was 297. DD215 upgrade was in June 1972. I was mentally down for a long time before I finally accepted it was what it is.

In 2002, I began receiving Medical care and in 2009 I received a Non Service Connected disability pension and I am doing a lot better mentally. Reading has really helped too. William Broyles Jr., Karl Marlantes, et al. I felt I was right when I saw Robert McNamara said WE were WRONG terribly WRONG in 1995, and I still study the Pentagon Papers knowing those what-ifs. While the National Defense Service Medal is only a firewatch ribbon for most it is still worthy of respect. I believe when you make your enemy human again, PTSD is inevitable.

Survivors’ guilt: When you walk past the War Memorial the names you see, some you may recognize, but you know damn well your name was supposed to be there too. For Veterans every day is Memorial Day. Independence and Veterans Days comes only once a year.

I should add the fact that while home on leave in October ’68, I wrote a letter to the Commandant of the Marine Corps (breaking the chain of command) stating my newly formed opinion that I did not support the war in Vietnam but would go if sent. Upon arrival at next duty station the First Sergeant was on me like flies on feces as the expression goes and it only went downhill from there until I took the trip that made the NCO In Charge and Officer of The Day to call in the Office of Naval Intelligence who charged me as a communist conspirator and possible White Viet Cong infiltrator!

While awaiting discharge I was assigned personnel section where I noticed the morning report was always incomplete and also my service number was incorrect within our records and I wanted to correct that which lead to time in the air conditioned computer room using BOOLEAN LOGIC to fix the errors in our records leading to a complete and accurate morning report and a promotion with a medal of Commendation for Efficiency for my NCO. He tried to give me credit but was deflected by the officer presenting the citation. It was his signature for the Master IBM card file and time use in the computer room. This time frame is as HAMBURGER HILL was raging 11,000 miles away. My guilt has always been that was where I was supposed to be too. But for LSD.

Semper Fidelis,
Wesley Ellis