The Vietnam War is one of the long-standing wars in the United States that contributed to the death of different individuals, including soldiers. Despite different soldiers taking part in this war, only a few individuals have been able to come out and give an account of the actual events that transpired when this war was taking place. One soldier by the name of Philip Caputo is one of the individuals who documented a step-by-step analysis of the actual events during this war and how his life as a soldier was negatively affected by the time this was calming down. According to Caputo, the Vietnam War is to be blamed for taking the lives of different individuals, especially soldiers. Despite such aspects, Caputo notes that the war transformed him from a young man filled with optimism to a tired, delusional, and cynical war veteran. Before joining the war, Caputo was a staunch idealist. However, upon joining the war, his idealism was slowly altered, and his thinking and ways of living were replaced with an ambivalence of the war. Through Caputo’s narration, he offers a narrative of how the Vietnam War climate acted as a booby trap and an enemy which made him commit numerous mistakes which haunt him to date (Caputo, 27). Although the United States has undergone numerous wars, no person has ever come out and given an account of what transpired. However, by giving a narration about this war, Caputo provides his readers with an account of how the end of this conflict left him opposed and emotionally attached to it. This essay, therefore, seeks to offer a step-by-step analysis of how Caputo’s experience provides room for understanding about the American Vietnam war. Additionally, this paper will provide insights into how Caputo’s experiences help us learn and emphasize the other soldiers who took part in the Vietnam War.
How one Soldier’s experiences lay a foundation for gaining insights about the Vietnam War.
The United States has been involved in various wars with different nations. However, when analyzing the Vietnam war., it is one of the wars that had huge impacts on the United States together with its citizens. Before the war, no person knew that America would be involved in a long-standing conflict with its neighbors. However, the war escalated to a divisive conflict between the communist government in the other and Southern parts as time progressed. The escalation of The Cold war between the Soviet Union and the U.S led to the killing of 58,000 Americans. However, the total mortality reported cases accounted for approximately 3 million individuals (Burns, n.p).
Although different individuals were either directly or indirectly affected by the Vietnam War, the soldiers are groups that have never healed from the experiences and the environment they were subjected to when on the battlefield. Most soldiers had not expected to experience a hostile environment; however, according to the existing literature, most combat soldiers experienced violence (Burns, n.p). Additionally, the soldiers who took part in this war lost their family members and friends hence predisposing them to post-traumatic stress disorders. Despite the negative encounters experienced by these soldiers, most of them have never healed from the experiences; as a result, they have remained adamant and never want to share their stories. As a result, by Caputo coming out and sharing his experience on behalf of the other soldiers, although the provided information may be scanty, it provides us with the platform of reflecting on some of the ordeals experienced by the combat soldiers while on the battlefields.
The Vietnam War affected both the communities, different countries, and families apart from the soldiers. Most soldiers who joined the army during this period were dedicated to protecting their beloved countries and transforming their lives (Burns, n.p). However, most soldiers were in shock when they started experiencing different aspects after joining the army. For example, when analyzing Caputo’s experiences, joining the military as a soldier took a tool in his life from the time when he agreed to be recruited until when he went back home as an ordinary civilian. When reading his book, the prologue part reveals how all the soldiers had allusions. However, Caputo notes that the atmosphere is to blame for the intoxications that most youth experienced during this period (Caputo, xii).
Caputo notes that he experienced a huge emotional and physical deterioration throughout the period that he was taking part in the battlefield. By outlining these aspects, Caputo offers a general idea of how the Vietnam War took a toll on all the men who took part in the battlefields. At the start of his memoir, Caputo notes that most youth who joined the war had a lot of pride in their countries. As a result, they were more than ready to travel and raise their country’s flag high (Caputo, 51). However, upon reaching the battlefields, they were converted into killing machines and were required to execute innocent lives on several occasions. Before joining the other men on the battlefield, most soldiers were needed to fight as a group. As a result, upon reaching Vietnam, most of them were taken through various training sessions before being allowed to fight the enemies on the battlefield. For instance, the new recruits underwent training in different aspects, including firearm handling and engineering. Despite the measures instituted to make these soldiers proficient, it is easy for one to doubt whether the training sessions were sufficient to prepare one for a huge war. By describing the incidents that took place, Caputo sheds more light on the events and experiences of different soldiers in the Vietnam War.
How Caputo’s experience from enlisting to Training to Deployment assists in understanding Other Soldier’s experiences.
Caputo’s enrollment in the Vietnam War followed a distinct path. His interest in being a soldier in the Vietnam War began in 1960. During this year, Caputo was enlisted for training and what followed later was his deployment in Vietnam as a soldier in 1965. By carefully analyzing the turn of events from his enlisting, training, and deployment, he is able to offer a first-hand experience that can be used to generalize the experiences of the other soldiers. Before enlisting, Caputo was a naïve youth who lacked an understanding of how the world operates. However, after joining the other soldiers, he gradually experienced erosion in this morals and way of doing things, an aspect that further pushed him to frustrations and detachments from his home (Caputo, 253). Despite the Vietnam War being a lengthy conflict, it reached a point where it de-escalated and ended. At this point, Caputo states that most of the soldiers experienced bloody skirmishes, emotional and psychological attrition and this almost led to the collapse of their well-being (Caputo, 2444). Due to these encounters, Caputo was converted from a person who was filled with hopes to one who believed the Vietnam War was a disgrace to American society.
Most youth who joined the army, including Caputo, had different ambitions when joining the army. However, Caputo states that his opinion concerning the war changed slowly as time went by. For instance, Caputo believes that the U.S did not have any clear intentions since they were acting like a brute and bullish invaders whose primary aim was to gain control over their enemies (Caputo, 257). Subsequently, Caputo notes that some soldiers were only deceived into joining their peers on the battlefield. Thus, Caputo’s narration provided a platform for understanding the other soldier’s experiences.
Main Challenges of using one person’s story to generalize about others.
Different individuals, especially the youth, enrolled as soldiers from when it started to when it ended. When on the battlefields, every soldier had a distinct experience and given an opportunity to share their experiences; their stories would have been different. One aspect that remains a mystery about the Vietnam War is that the undertakings were hidden from the American spotlight. Only a few individuals got the opportunity to watch what happened on their screens. Due to the numerous deficits, it was challenging to gather detailed information or even get a clear view of the whole Vietnam War. As a result, Caputo’s story on his experiences helps to inform us about the events in the war. However, since Caputo is the only person who gave an account, it raises the question of the effects of using one person’s story to generalize about the others. Using this style may lead to false assumptions, conclusions, and even making defective decisions. This may, in the long run, lead to misunderstandings concerning what took place in the war.
The Vietnam War resulted in the loss of lives of different individuals and negative experiences from a large section of the soldiers. Despite the miseries associated with the Vietnam War, Caputo’s narration offers a step-by-step revelation of the negative encounters of the soldiers during the war. Through this information, we can get first-hand information about the vices and immoralities that took place in Vietnam.
Burns, Ken, et al. The Vietnam War. Penguin Random House Audio Publishing Group, 2017.
Caputo, Philip. A Rumor of War: The Classic Vietnam Memoir. Picador USA, 2017.