...and was waiting to get out of the Army that October.
Myself and a lot of friends went thru a lot of changes while in Vietnam. I had no questions about the war when I went in - my country called and I went.
However, I became very anti-war once I was in country. For the first time in my life, I smoked marijuana. I smoked a lot of marijuana. I studied Buddhism. I read Herman Hesse's "Siddhartha". I wore a small jade Buddha around my neck with gold holdings. I let my hair grow out. I was an unkempt soldier. I was invited to Tet dinner by a Vietnamese family, which I went. I was lucky to get out of the country alive and with a good discharge. In my three years, I changed rank nine times - from E-1 to E-2 to E-5 - to PFC to Spc4 to PFC to PVT E-1 to PVT E-2 to PFC E-3 in my three years.
I remember how a couple of "white" GI's got beat up pretty good when we got the news that MLK Jr. had been assassinated. Many whites were afraid to be out alone. I knew nothing of Eugene McCarthy, only what I read after my return and later in life. I did not know that so many young people were protesting for us back here in the States.
After my first tour was over in Sept '68, I got orders to go to Fort Lee, VA but I did not want to re-acclimate myself to the Army life again so I volunteered to go back for another tour. However, I kept my old orders for Fort Lee to show my family where I was headed when I went home on a drugged and drunken leave. They never knew that I was going back to VIetnam until I was back in the country, probably with the longest hair of any GI in Vietnam. That was a big deal in '68. I was forced to get it cut.
Ironically, when I was escorted out of the country, literally, I was sent to Fort Lee, VA to finish up my last few months in the military. I had few duties except to march in a few parades for the generals and big shots and keep the barracks clean. I do remember leaving behind in Vietnam a large poster for my friends, with "WAR?" painted on it, in blood red, and with song titles and quotes from the White Album...
For several years, it was a difficult time trying to adapt to "real" life again. I hitchhiked around the country as a way to gather myself and try to get back on the right track. Everything was so boring.