David Donovan: U.S. Forgetting Vietnam's Lessons

David Donovan is the pen name of scientist Terry T Turner, of the University of Virginia. He served in the US army from 1967 to 1970, and saw frontline action in Vietnam. He has written a number of books about his experiences there.

If you could feel the heat and sweat of the tropics. If you could hear the noise of battle and sense the fears.
If you could put yourself on the other side of the world where you are the selectee of your government to advise and help a unit of foreign fighters defend their village.
And if you and that unit are at this moment in combat but they are being slow to react, you might come close to understanding how I felt one day in 1969 in the Mekong delta of Vietnam.
The enemy were in a nearby tree-line. They had taken us under fire, and bullets were cutting leaves from the trees.
We already had wounded - one man shot in the foot, another in the side. Everyone had gone to ground and the Vietnamese officer, my counterpart, was down behind a small dike with some of his soldiers. He was fixed in place, not taking the lead.
I was an American infantry officer there to provide assistance when possible and leadership when necessary. Frustrated at our slow reaction, I ran toward my counterpart intent on getting him to lead his men. But as I made my way, a background programme had already begun running in my mind. It asked, "What are you doing here? Is this ever going to mean anything?"..

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