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The Need to Document our Experiences


It is important to document the lives and activities of A Company soldiers while in Vietnam. As the years increase the memories of our activities will fade and become more enigmatic and fragmentary. A realistic and very human account, will become more problematic and difficult to describe later in our own lives and make it harder for those who come after us to understand.

The U.S. Army has documentation that could, conceivably, cover a few volumes for A/1-11. However, because the military is, by its nature, a highly bureaucratic organization, it does not lend itself to documenting the personal or human element in war. Rather, the U.S. Army archives are oriented towards data that include; locations, dates, casualties, troop strength, intelligence, logistics, rosters, assessments -- such as "Lessons Learned," Daily Journals, After Action Reports, and many more data-oriented topics using appropriate abbreviations and acronyms. Individual soldiers' names are generally omitted, except as they appear on orders and rosters.

As we endeavor to document our personal involvement and history with A Company, we should take time for serious reflection. We should consider all that we did as individuals and as a group. Some things we try to forget, might well be worth recording, and some things, no matter how trivial they seem to us, are also important to document. We need to compile a complete picture.

Varying amounts of personal discomfort, suffering and personal catastrophe were our companions on a daily basis. In combat, tragedy was as close as the man standing next to you in a foxhole. These things the Army does not document; and these things were part of our lives. We need to document our own history. Just as we relied on each other in the past for our survival, we need to be self-reliant to record our history. We do not want to be a footnote in a textbook, or an impersonal numerical entry in an Army database.

Please consider your own experiences and our need to record or document them. We need your input, your personal narratives, or your accounts to fill in the many gaps that exist. We need to put a recognizable face to our war. If you were to go into any local library, or bookstore, and select a book about The Vietnam War, usually the most you will see about the Fifth Division is an entry about Lam Son 719, and if you are fortunate, an attached photograph. That is it for the Fifth Division!

If you have a personal story, or photograph, you would like to document and have posted, with your permission, to this website please contact the webmaster at the email address below. Multiple narratives (stories), and/or photographs are greatly appreciated and welcomed. Please participate.





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Charles Ames


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