IAmA former Marine rifleman with Vietnam service 1968 - January, 1973 (in Vietnam in 69), AMA
I am, as you can probably guess by my name, just the son of this particular vet. I've been seeing all the historical AMAs and I thought reddit might appreciate this. This is also a throwaway. He doesn't want even the slightest possibility of this being linked back to him. I'm sitting at he and my mom's house and will be asking him these questions while he keeps his nerves calm by watching Olympic women's beach volleyball.
If I post anything as myself, it'll be in parentheses.
A PM'd Question:
Q - I wanted to ask your dad a question but I saw the AMA too late. I completely understand if yall are done with it and he's not interested in more questions, thank you for everything for the Reddit community, and his service for our country too.
I've asked this in other soldier's AMAs, but never got a response. I'm very interested in combat from a psychological standpoint. I simply wanted to ask your dad about his first "contact"/"firefight"/etc with the enemy. The first time he was shot at and had to shoot back. What happened? What was your first reaction? What emotions were you feeling, what was running through your mind, etc?
If it's something he doesn't want to talk about, or he is simply tired of answering questions, I understand. Thank you.
A - No, I don't mind, I'm trying to put it in order. It was on a squad-size patrol which was under strength, probably 11, 12 guys. It was a situation where we were surprised and they were surprised, there were like five NVA and it was very quick, extremely, extremely quick. It couldn't have lasted more than 12 to 15 seconds. There was probably, between all of us, everybody involved, 300 to 500 rounds fired. Nobody on either side was hit. We broke contact immediately and it was a situation where everybody just kind of drew down and responded to all the training we'd been through for weeks and weeks and weeks. No fear involved or anything, just kind of pure adrenaline, like woah. And most of us, rather than try to - it was more giggling relief, and I tend to do that when I get extremely nervous about this, is get the giggles.
Rather than detailing any fear or dread involved with it, it was more the relief in giggling over the fact that it was over with. Shock and amazement. And then just carried on. But you kind of built on that as to what to expect in the future with the possibility of more drastic results, always. I hope it gives you some kind of insight into it. It's a very difficult question, that might be why you got so few responses. But thanks for your interest.
EDIT: Going to bed for the night! We've been going at this for like nine hours according to the post time, it's 3:00am, I've pretty much never seen him stay up this late. It has been therapeutic for him, I think. He genuinely appreciated all the thanks he got. He seemed shocked by it. It's not something he's heard much and I could tell it was getting to him, suddenly hearing it from so many people. While he is relatively open about it, he only did this because I asked him to, and he doesn't talk with much of anybody about it except for me and my mom occasionally and my cousin who served in Iraq. He might answer more tomorrow morning if there are anymore questions.
Thank you all for the questions, I really think you guys did a good thing for him. And me, too.
EDIT: We're about to be done for good, but for more enlightenment on this subject, we strongly encourage you to please refer to the encyclopedic knowledge and great wisdom of MakesItAboutNam.