An American Soldier’s Story of Vietnam
9,087,000 American soldiers fought in the Vietnam War (1955-1975), with a striking 25% of these total forces “in country” being draftees. In other words, men who did not ask to fight.
58,000 of those American soldiers died during this war compared to what we believe to be 2 million civilians from both North and South Vietnam. 1.1 million were North Vietnamese/ Viet Cong and 200,000 to 250,000 were South Vietnamese soldiers.
Mike Somers, retired soldier of the army, was an impressionable young man at the time. He had dropped out of Cal Berkley in 1963, when, as he puts it, “Vietnam was just heating up.” As someone who was ‘at loose ends’ with little to no plan for his future, he enlisted one year ahead of the draft. Today, in 2018, it’s hard to imagine a person willingly joining the fight for a war that was so publicly rejected.
What came next? He spent his “…first year in the army going to school.” They trained him in physical and military skills, preparing him for the combat that lay ahead. The rest of his time there, he learned how to repair the electronics in his army aviation – what would ultimately be his role during his two-year “camping trip” in Vietnam.