Greg Kleven went to Vietnam in December 1966 as part of the 1st Force Recon, a deep reconnaissance unit of the Marine Corps. He was medically discharged in 1967 after being shot in the back; he received a Bronze Star Medal for meritorious service in a combat zone. What follows is an except from a conversation I had with him earlier this year in Ho Chi Minh city, where he resides and works as an English teacher.
“One of the lessons that the Vietnam vet brought that no other vet had was that we were the losers.
For the first time, America didn’t get what they wanted. For the first time, they were defeated. And that’s good to know. Because the next time you go you’ll think about that. But it’s completely ignored. We didn’t learn the lessons that we could have learned from the war.
If I could do anything in my life it would be to write a book that’s so anti-war that it would stop kids from joining the military and thinking that it’s a path to manhood. Because I learned that the hard way.”