Greetings! I'm Gary Jacobson, of B Co. 2/7 First Air Cavalry. The song playing is, "Johnny Gone For A Soldier." Please don't scroll down until you hear it.
I have my fighting gear on, humping the radio for our Platoon Leader. I'm just about ready for our patrol out into the killing zone. Wanna come along? I know someone's waiting to kill me out there...maybe today...maybe 100 yards away...maybe tonight, but I can't think about it. A soldier thinking too much about what can happen will break down totally. You can't afford to lose your edge. They say when you become a man you must put away childish things. Well, to become a soldier, you have to put away the boyish thinking you had back in "The World," that's for sure. You can never completely quell the fears all around you every minute, every day...but you can hide them way down deep where they don't stare you in the face.
Here I am out in "the park," (L to R)Isenbardt, Oertel, and me...just boys really, but war is a tough, man's business where you have to grow up quick or you're not going to survive one firefight.
Look at my draft photo below...I look so young. Only months separate the pictures above and below. Look at that "deer in the headlights" stare below. I had no idea...no idea at all what was going to happen...the horrors those eyes would see. Come to think of it, maybe not knowing was a good thing. This was the end of my boyhood... Nothing would ever be the same again! Was it worth it?
For that little southeast Asian charade
For that fiercest of games we played
They gave no welcome-home parade
Fighting for freedom...far and away in Vietnam
Knee deep in mud, blood and fear
Fear thatís lasted many a bloody year.
There was no ticker-tape parade, or such
No hurrahs...no cookies...no punch
Not so much as a half-hearted cheer
For surviving hell our most excruciating year.
Though we didnít ask for much...
By a grateful nation we wanted only to be heard
Wanted folks to hear our tales of warís absurd.
We had so bloody much hurt to get off our chest
For devotion to duty honored with our countryís best
Just wanting to be recognized
For boyish youth in cruel war sacrificed
But America was just too weary of war
To welcome back boyhood soldiers war bore.
Men sorely staggered by warís bloody insanity
Face now a bleak destiny
Futures beset with demonic fearís depravity
I guess thatís why folks back here couldnít see
How young value systems were twisted for eternity
How on young boys was impressed warís barbarity
Giving rise to upheavals witnessed in warís inhumanity.
So embarrassed, folks back home gave no parade,
No welcome home accolade
For warriors wounded in body and spirit
Soldiers disillusioned, lied to, desolate...
Men laid low by moral depravityís greatest hit
Were turned away while countrymen on us spit.
Folks back home called us every conceivable name
For erstwhile young princes held such contemptuous shame
Calling us depraved baby killers, castigated with blame.
Weíd so much to talk about of where we did roam
But found the only ones welcoming our arrival home
Were our mothers...and beastly traumatic stress syndrome.
Seeing the war daily on television made
Vietnam a condemned charade
People just too uncomfortable to honor with a parade
Returning warriors with souls burned-out
Whoíd seen too much, no doubt
Waving the flag, all hale to their glory shout
Vietnam veterans buried ďissuesĒ down extra deep
Deep down in the dank where scary demons yet creep
Regurgitating violence that plumb our soulís great depths
Forevermore haunted by comrades-in-arms' deaths
Recurring memories of warís hot fiery breath
Is it any wonder, vets now walk...so unafraid of death?
Parades are reserved for conquering heroes, glories to flaunt
Not for those whom Namís deep, dank jungles still haunt.
Not for those with compounded fears from a foreign land abused
With dread inlaid by vagaries of a non-caring world confused
Our fears earned fighting for home, freedom, beloved land
Great horrors, our people, did not even try to understand.
Beloved countrymen did not, would not, could not hear
Would not try their best to comfort a fellow manís harrowing fear
By a nation we loved, unceremoniously denied
Promises not kept by a country we with all our hearts loved,
For honor given, our country gave dishonor...
Yet Vietnam veterans still dream of the ticker-tape parade
Dreams still blow in the wind of a welcome home fusillade
For that war of a surety won by the blade
Lost only by politicianís bumbling charade
Our sacrifice in honor deprecated
Enslaving promises forever subjugated...decimated...trampled
That parade that should have been...
But never was...our nationís great sin...
Hello God, Iím a soldier
Risen from the fighting far below.
Iíve sacrificed my life in warís bloody frontier
Contending for right till I felt that final blow.
I wonder if here thereís a place for me
Who fought the good fight on earth so brave and bold?
Is there a place for men of liberty
On heavenly streets paved with gold?
I come on golden stairway to heaven, humbled before Thee.
Relieve Thee mine foolish wartrapping's absurd.
Oh gracious Saviour grant me this approbation's decree
Accept this weary warrior into Thy fold by celestial word.
To avail sweet peace, this grizzled warrior
Seeks serenity's happiness at Thy throne.
I will obey Thy will, not mine be done, sweet Saviour
Melt mine sword into plowshares, at Thy command,
lain shield and buckler by to atone.
Slings and arrows of war I've forsaken
Repudiating the ways of manís inhumanity to man
In Holy vows of purest love I've taken
Learning lifeís lessons taught below in conflicts of man.
Dear Lord, I know there are causes worth fighting for
Love, honor, and integrity...that men might be
I bow to heavenly law that on earth Jesus bore
I'm now in God's Army, defending Divinity,
I'm once more gung-ho for Christ
A Christian soldier in paradice
In virtuous battle ready to pay any price
Put on the armor of righteousness against my foe...
Put off this worlds sin and vice.
Dear Lord, I'll earn my stripes as a heavenly draftee
Thee wilt see!
Fresh bore from war, I'll be all the combat ready angel I can be
Deploying newby angels to paradisiacal booneys with glee
To join forces with me, to insure heaven stays free.
First I'll establish a perimeter of defense with my mates
Around Thy Holy base camp at the Pearly Gates.
From "palace guard" into the Netherworld I'll fire-for-effect
Establish a field of fire citizen angels to protect.
I'll guard Thy Celestial Kingdom from denizens of hell
Who I got to know in Nam pretty durn well.
While walking thy golden streets on patrol
I'll give evildoers heavenly hell, my M-16 on rock-an-roll!