Journal Postings

Group D

02/05/02 (Platoon)

 

Roxann Biberstine

Wow.  I don’t even know where to start, and I apologize if this ends up being a great deal of random thoughts rather than a beautifully composed college paper.  I’ve just spent the last half hour searching the web and trying to decide what site to include on this reflection.  The funny thing is, it was not my normal frustrated search for something decent to use for some class.  I was actually reading the pages.  This one I just finished, while it may not be usable for a research assignment, was written by the wife of a vet with PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder), and was beautiful and horrific at the same time (http://members.tripod.com/~Firebase_Freedom/ ).

Another site concerning PTSD was from a college professor and had a sickening introduction :

"I haven't really slept for twenty years. I lie down, but I don't sleep. I'm always watching the door, the window, then back to the door. I get up at least five times to walk my perimeter, sometimes it's ten or fifteen times. There's always something within my reach, maybe a baseball bat or a knife, at every door... Once when my daughter was younger and I was that way, she came up behind me and before I knew it I had her by the throat up against the wall. I can still see her eyes. I put her down and just walked out of the house without saying anything to anybody and didn't come back for a week."

Anonymous account from a Vietnam veteran (Shay, 1995).

(http://www.cofc.edu/VietnamRetro/swickert.html )

There were numerous scenes I just couldn’t watch throughout the movie. I don’t know.  At the beginning of the movie, “Chris” said he basically wanted to get out of his comfortable life and learn something.  It is horrifying to recall the story the movie told and the lessons he was learning.  I hated the man he was becoming.  The first glimpse of that was in the village where he was making that boy “dance.” It was like he lost it.  The scary thing was that he wasn’t even the worst the men.  When he came to his scenes, the other guy in his platoon brutally murdered the crippled boy…right in front of his mom.  At least for Chris, every now and then, he would have a heart.  I hated that scene.  I was completely bawling and felt like throwing up.  How can anyone hate that much to lose sight of the fact he or she is killing and traumatizing another human?  Watching the senseless killing of the wife for her legitimate screaming, the daughter’s response, and the ransacking of the town were too much.  Then they raped the village girl.  At least at that point, “Chris” had begun to care again.

The civil war that “Chris” referred to at the end of the movie was also disturbing.  As if it weren’t enough that they were brutally killing the enemy, they were also turning against the men they were supposedly working with.  The hate towards both the enemy and their own soldiers made me so upset.  Even though I totally agreed with “Chris” that Barnes (?) was a cold-hearted murderer, I was really hoping that he wouldn’t kill him in the end.  Something still wasn’t right about it. 

I can only imagine the physical and mental torment these men went (and still may go) through.  I’ve heard stories before of how people were traumatized as a result of the things they experienced during war.  I was thinking about that throughout the movie, so I decided to search the net a bit concerning that topic.  While I haven’t been a very vocal pacifist in the past, watching and reading about such ugly actions encourage me to be a bit bold in this conviction. It’s not that I don’t agree with pacifism; I do.  I simply haven’t made it a huge priority.  No matter what the ultimate good could have been, there were still individuals killing individuals…and all of those individuals had lives, friends, families, and feelings.  It just puts the whole war thing in a different perspective when you look at those fighting as actual people/individuals.

In closing, I found the movie both disturbing and powerful.  I’m glad that it didn’t really glorify war. It ended with a profound thought: “We fight ourselves. The enemy is in us.”  Hopefully, we can find movies like this more than an entertaining way to pass the time.

 

Matt McMahon

It is really hard for someone of my generation to really know the feelings people had about the Vietnam war.  Since we weren’t there during that point in time it really doesn’t mean that much to us.  I feel like our kids will be the same way when they hear about the world trade center on September 11.   Since they weren’t there they won’t understand about how the world was glued to their television sets for two weeks. One thing that sticks out to me is the fact that a lot of people were not even sure what we were trying to accomplish over there. I have talked to many people that were there as well. The mental effects of Vietnam are still felt by some of the soldiers today. The movie really makes you try and put yourself in the shoes of the soldiers on the front line. It shows you how messy and brutal the front line really is. You actually try to see yourself walking through the jungle, swatting the insects off of you, and checking every nook and cranny you come to for the hiding Vietcong.

I have actually had the chance to talk to a machine gunner on the frontlines of the war and from what he described to me was portrayed in the movie to almost every word. Not just the war with the Vietcong, but the war between the men in the platoons as well. Personally I can’t believe how anybody was able to keep their wits about them at all over there. Especially the young ones such as Charlie Sheens character plays. These kids are sent over there to do something they really have no idea about and have not had much training at all. They just know they are suppose to kill the people who aren’t Americans. A lot of this war was fought at night making things even worse. The people the soldiers would see working the field during the day would be out carrying a automatic weapon shooting at them at night.

As someone born in the 80’s, I feel that this movie does a really good job of portraying the war from a soldier on the front line. I have watched a lot of movies about Vietnam and to me this one at least is close to the picture I see in my head.

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/vietnam/intro.html

This website has the intro for a television series about the war, but if you look into it farther it actually has information telling basically head to toe what each side uses as weapons, clothing, and food. It tells about what weapons were used such as tanks, aircrafts, choppers, and grenades. There is a very detailed timeline of events and in the Who’s who part it has stories of many of the people from each side that were involved in this war.

 

Kelly Sander    

This is the website I chose to use for my journal entry.  This is the main page http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/vietnam/, but the page I want to focus on is http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/vietnam/trenches/mylai.html

This website really doesn't have anything to do with the war itself, but is a Vietnamese communist newspaper.  I just thought this was interesting and decided to include it.

http://www.nhandan.org.vn/english/today/index.html

I must admit that in my years of schooling I have never gotten the chance to learn about the Vietnam War (probably because it is such a controversy among American citizens that either they don't want to talk about it or they don't want to remember it).  I am interested in learning about it though because my father served in the United States Air Force on an aviation-refueling unit.  I have talked with him on several occasions and he tries to be patient with me as he explains what it was like during the few final years of the war.

I would like to base my response on two things from the movie.  First of all, I would like to talk about the attack on the farming village about half way through the movie.  And second of all I would like to comment on Charlie Sheen's characters quote at the end of the movie that said in layman's terms "we were fighting against ourselves."

I was absolutely shocked to see the soldiers attack the farming village.  I paused the movie and asked my father why they shot the man running away.  He explained to me that there were lots of "innocent" Vietnamese that were either acting as spies or helping the Viet Cong soldiers by providing them with food and shelter.  This village was one such village and they shot the man running away because he was most likely running to inform the Viet Cong where the American soldiers were.  I was very disturbed at watching them attack the villagers the way they did.  First of all most of the people in the village were probably innocent and did not know where the guns were being hidden or how to contact the Viet Cong.  Second of all I thought that we believed in "innocent until proven guilty" or does that not count in war?  When Charlie Sheen's character had pulled a teenage boy and grandmother out of a hole he was strongly encouraged to kill him.  When Charlie refused, "Bunny" beat his skull in.  Tom Berenger's character was questioning a man, a woman was killed because she tried to defend her husband, a little girl witnessed her mother die, a teenage boy was beat to death, the village was burned, and all the people were removed from their village.  Pausing, my dad explained to me that this happened frequently (though he personally never had to witness it).

So I decided I wanted to see if I could find another similar story and unfortunately I did.  I read the story of My Lai Massacre.  It said "A military commission investigating the My Lai massacre found widespread failures of leadership, discipline, and morale among the Army's fighting units."  While the attack of the village in "Platoon" had some merit and some reasoning behind it, this one did not.  They attacked women praying and children playing.  I must ask, how is it that a war can change people so drastically?  Or is it that the people really were this way to start with but their feelings were amplified by the adrenaline rush associated with infantry?  Why is it that men who take an oath to protect and serve also take revenge on civilians?  Is it because they resented the fact that they were there?  Or is it because they wanted revenge?

At any rate, I think that Charlie Sheen was right when he said, "we were fighting among ourselves."  Within one platoon there were both good and bad soldiers.  For example, Sgt. Elias fought for the good and fought to prevent unnecessary killings of his soldiers through tactical warfare.  The soldiers following Elias were for the most young and fresh blood, maybe even a little naïve.  On the other hand, Sgt. Barnes was a career soldier and enjoyed the adrenaline rush that came with fighting and killing at close range.  The soldiers following Barnes had been in for awhile and felt resentment towards the United States government for putting them in this position and took out their aggression on "innocent" civilians when there were no Viet Cong around.  I am sure that this was a common thing as in the case of the My Lai Massacre.

             

Brittney Selden 

http://www.wm.edu/CAS/ASP/faculty/Lowry/Amst2000/projects%202000/Stone/public_html/Stone_bio.html


I have never really done any research on any directors. I found the information on Oliver Stone interesting. I found it interesting that the director of this movie being viewed was actually in the Vietnam War. I like how he attempted to re-create the characters existing when he actually was in the war. Oliver Stone showed what the Vietnam War had left with him. 

 

Bukombe Shindika 

 

Jon Spradling

http://www.emotionalfirstaid.com/volume1/number3/30.html

In this article it goes into detail the after effects of war participants.  Symptoms and causes for such things as mental breakdowns and psychiatric problems.

Now as for the movie Platoon that I viewed at 11:36pm on feb.4 2002, I was left feeling a bit weesy.  I would never,ever,ever, want to have to endure such an environment of violence and sincless murdure.  I feel Taylor said it best at the end of the movie in a couple of quotes.  The first quote I particularly like was when he said, "The war is over for me but will be there the rest of my days."  This is why I chose to look up the post war syndrome article.  After watching this movie I can see why a soldier who was lucky enough to make it back home who, more or less, be crazy.

The other quote that I think is a very good statement for every on to grasp ahold of, was when, at the end, Taylor stated, "But be that as it may, We have an obligation to build again for those of us who made it, to teach to others what we know and to try whats left of our lives to find a goodness and meaning to this life!"

 

 

Scott Van Eman

The Vietnam War is a something I am not that familiar with. In my history courses of the past we never seemed to go into the war much, in some courses we never even touched on it. It seems like such an important part of our country’s history, yet it is something that is not often talked about.

I thought Platoon was a good movie concerning the war. It gave me the sense of just how terrible the war really was. It seemed so less organized than the other wars of our country. When I think of the U.S. army I think about organization, power, and precision but in Vietnam it seemed like it was just the opposite. It seemed that the soldiers and even those in charge didn’t have a good idea of what their objectives were. I have also seen other Vietnam War movies such as Full Metal Jacket and Apocalypse Now. I think Apocalypse Now is the most shocking of all the films. It really gave me a sense of how little the war meant to the soldiers. It seemed like the whole thing was just chaos.

My website is a section of the Vietnam War internet project website. It is made up of 80 letters a Vietnam soldier sent back home to his family. I thought it was interesting to get a glimpse of what these men were going through. I can’t even image being in that situation; not only are they taking human life and endangering their own, but a lot of these guys didn’t even believe in what they were fighting for. It was most definitely a terrible situation for any person to be in.

I think Vietnam proved to our country that you can not make people fight for something they do not believe in. It seems to have really affected our country today when it comes to possible wars or conflicts. Now, we need to know what we are fighting and why we should care. I think it took away our country’s feeling of invincibility and made people more aware of the realities of war.

Website: http://grunt.space.swri.edu/pocindex.htm

Letters home from a soldier during the war

 

Philip Whitley 

 

Ryan Zeman

I found the movie Platoon to be very interesting.  There were two major issues that stuck out to me the most.  The first one was how they were killing so many innocent people, for almost no reason.  That really bothered me; I did not feel that was the right thing to do.  For instance when they were in the village where the Vietnamese people lived and they were torturing that innocent kid that was mentally handicapped.  Then they started shooting and him and telling him to dance.  Then one soldier beat him to death with his gun.  The boy only had one leg and could not talk or hear, that really made me angry.  I could not find that in myself to kill a harmless young man especially with his mom standing right there.  The other issue that stuck out to me was how much they drank and smoked, not just cigarettes but marijuana.  It seems like that would hinder their vision and cause them to struggle in battle.  I would not want a bunch of drunk or high men defending our country.  On the other hand it seems like they needed to do something to pass the time, but they could have found something better than that.

I found a website, http://spec.lib.vt.edu/archives/blackwomen/viet.htm , that had to do with the killing of many innocent human beings, American and Vietnamese.  There are some pros and cons about the war and it seems we could have spared so many lives if we would have handled the situation differently.  I do not understand why there were so many merciless killings in this war.  We could have avoided this and saved thousands of lives.

 

 

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