I Ain’t No Fortunate One

It’s amazing to me how particular sounds have such a strong emotional effect on me. For instance, I still can’t hear the sound of a helicopter flying overhead without getting a sick feeling in my stomache and without ducking, no matter where the incident might take place.

Although I’ve developed a taste for Chinese cuisine, even Vietnamese, I still refuse to go to a Vietnamese restaurant because the sound of Vietnamese being spoken in the background affects me so strongly. There’s nothing more gut-wrenching than having your radio frequencies jammed at night with Vietnamese when your out in the jungle.

Maybe it’s not too strange, then, that when it comes to strong memories or feelings I almost always think of music. Maybe I’ve just seen one too many movies, but there it is. I measure my life and its emotions as much in songs as I do in stories or events

Fortunate Son

Some folks are born made to wave the flag,
Ooh, they’re red, white and blue.
And when the band plays "Hail to the chief",
Ooh, they point the cannon at you, Lord.

It ain’t me, it ain’t me,
I ain’t no senator’s son, son.
It ain’t me, it ain’t me;
I ain’t no fortunate one, no.

Some folks are born silver spoon in hand,
Lord, don’t they help themselves, oh.
But when the taxman comes to the door,
Lord, the house looks like a rummage sale, yeah.

It ain’t me, it ain’t me,
I ain’t no millionaire’s son, no, no.
It ain’t me, it ain’t me;
I ain’t no fortunate one, no.

Some folks inherit star-spangled eyes,
Ooh, they send you down to war, Lord,
And when you ask them, "How much should we give?"
Ooh, they only answer More! more! more!

It ain’t me, it ain’t me,
I ain’t no military son, son.
It ain’t me, it ain’t me;
I ain’t no fortunate one.

It ain’t me, it ain’t me,
I ain’t no fortunate one, no no no,
It ain’t me, it ain’t me,
I ain’t no fortunate son, lord no no
It ain’t me, it ain’t me.

Creedance Clearwater Revival from Willy and the Poor Boys

Considering my personal experiences in Vietnam, perhaps it’s not surprising that my favorite protest song is “Fortunate Son” by Creedance Clearwater Revival. I never joined the protests against the war after I got out of the Army out of deference to my friends who were still fighting there, but I never supported the war and to this day I still resent the rich Republican son-of-a-bitches who advocate war but who hid in the National Guard or Army Reserves while the rest of us did their fighting for them.

Now, lest you think that I was somehow retarded or overly patriotic (Isn’t that a redundancy?), I had joined R.O.T.C. years before in the naive belief that in a democracy everyone owed an obligation to their nation to serve. Besides, I had never even heard of Vietnam when I joined.

My unit was one of the first Armor units sent to Vietnam, so we got the top officers from Fort Knox to fill the empty officer slots. It was considered quite a coup to get combat duty in Vietnam because it was considered crucial to later promotions. Oh, lucky me, I thought, I who had never in this life time considered a career in the Army.

Before my unit was sent to Vietnam we drafted men from southern California to fill the unit up, trained them for six months, and took them off to fight. My platoon ended up with three whites in it: myself, my platoon sergeant, and an E5 from Canada. All the rest of the men were either blacks or Hispanic. Now, I know there were a lot of minorities in southern California, but statistically there’s no way that draft could have been handled fairly. There must have been a hell of a lot of colleges in California to hide in, or a draft board composed of middle-age whites who thought they needed to keep the white boys home to protect the home front.

Hell, I didn’t even think much of it then. I was much too busy trying to get these 18 year-olds ready for combat and trying to teach them enough to keep themselves, and me, alive. By the time I was relieved of my command in Vietnam I would have died trying to save each and every one of them. For a short time, I was closer to them than I have ever been to anyone in my life.

I even volunteered to extend my tour of duty in Vietnam so that I could stay with them until they, too, finished their tour of duty. When told that I would be assigned to duty in Saigon instead of staying with my unit, I quickly dropped that idea. The war meant nothing to me, but my men meant everything.

That tour of duty in Vietnam changed me in more ways than I could ever explain, probably for the better and for the worst, but I have never, unless for a moment or two, regretted it.<

Let me just say that I don’t have “star-spangled eyes,” and it would take a hell of a lot more than a cannon pointed at me to make me sing ”Hail to the Chief,” particularly if it were a Republican Chief.

6 thoughts on “I Ain’t No Fortunate One

  1. THANK YOU FOR THE SACRIFICES THAT YOU AND YOUR BROTHERS DID FOR US. I AM PROUD TO TELL PEOPLE THAT MY FATHER WAS IN VIETNAM. AND I AM PROUD TO HAVE FOLLOWED IN HIS FOOTSTEPS. AND NOW IT IS MY TURN AND I WON’T LET YOU DOWN. BECAUSE YOU DIDN’T LET US DOWN. YOU WENT WHEN YOU WERE CALLED.

  2. i was not around during nam, in fact i am only 16 and completely ignorant to the whole situation besides that it happened. i do however know that there were people there risking thier lives and now i live in a better place because of it. thank you to you and every one else who risked their lives

  3. Thanks for this site. It is a heartfelt and eloquent expression of an important point of view that I think is too often ignored.

    We owe our freedom not only to brave men and women who have fought, but also to brave men and women who have told the truth.

  4. christin, our people who fought in Vietnam were betrayed by the leaders of this country, just as the people serving in Iraq are now; with lies and cooked statistics.

    And after all the deaths and maiming, the loss of life and limbs and dignity and respect, no…you DON’T live in a better place for it. We didn’t win that war. We didn’t even place or show. Our people were sacrificed for nothing.

    Next to nothing. Their sacrifice is now being used to fuel the death and dismemberment of more of people on the field in Iraq while the government (none of whom ever spent a day in combat) rattles their sabers and pushes to spend more of our blood…YOUR blood…in even more countries.

    I remember that war. I opposed that war. I lived to regret that I treated badly those who fought it but I can’t regret opposing the war itself. I oppose this war. I don’t want to see you end your life in 2 years in defense of a pack of lies that started it all.

  5. i have a feeling people were mislead about the vietnam war, me only being 19 years old and studying alot of different views from vietnam i believe we lost the fight in Vietnam due to lack of support within the U.S. IIf people supported our troops and supported the war our advancement in Vietnam would have been way stronger than it was, also my understanding is that we didnt even use half of the “fire power” as we had because of our lack of support. We have to understand what that country was going through and the flow of communism was a major threat at the time. I also know i was not there and i dont know first hand, but i am however joining the Navy soon and training very hard to become a SEAL and i hope to serve our country and save any person from mistreatment or any perosn who is not free. Please email me back so i can get a better understanding from your views and i can have a better educational understanding of the war in general from a person who was there first hand

    Thank you for serving this great nation, I do appreciate your valor

    ~Dom~

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