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  1. #1
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    The African American/Black Soldiers

    This film documentary Bloods of Nam runs 55 minutes, even though the entire film or video is 1:15:32. It tells the experiences of the African American or Black American Soldier in the Vietnam War.


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    Part 1


    Saigon in the late 1960s

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    North Vietnamese Leader Ho Chi Minh

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    South Vietnamese Leader Ngo Binh Deim

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    The Viet Cong

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    U. S. Special Forces

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    African Americans in the Vietnam War: An Overview of How It All Started


    African Americans and or black soldiers have served in the military ever since America was explored and settled by Europeans, as well as by them. Black and mulatto soldiers served with the Spanish conquistadores. Freed black slaves served in the Spanish military. The first free black settlement in America which was recognized as a legal settlement by a government was Fort Mose near St. Augustine, Florida. It was composed of black soldiers loyal to the Spanish government. It was also a haven for escaped slaves from South Carolina and Georgia. Black and African Americans fought in the French and Indian (French and English) War and on both sides. However, they would make their mark as heroic and valiant soldiers during the American Revolutionary War in which over 5,000 participated including those who fought for the British.

    African Americans and Blacks would continue to served and fight for the now United States of America. From the War with the Barbary Coast Pirates (African American served on ships) to the Iraq and Afghanistan War, they have showed their remarkable courage and dedication, despite facing racism and discrimination. But there is one war that probably stands out among all the others, the Vietnam War. It would the first time that African Americans would serve and fight in every capacity of the military. It would be the first time that the U. S. Military would be “fully” (though certain de facto segregated units existed) integrated. However, it would also be the most controversial war in American history, a war that would divide the nation except for the Civil War. Nonetheless, a war that would cause a president not to seek reelection and lead to what many have claimed the assassination of a Civil Rights Icon and Peace advocate, Martin Luther King Jr.

    After America and its allies defeated the fascist regimes of Benito Mussolini of Italy and Adolf Hitler of Germany as well as the Imperial rule of Japan, its next threat would come from former WWII ally, the communist Union of the Soviet Socialist Republic, as well as communist People’s Republic of China. This period would be the start of what would be known as the “Cold War.”

    America’s involvement in Vietnam began in 1950, when the U. S. began shipping equipment in support of the French, who were still using old WWII equipment and were also unable to supply themselves with new equipment because they were still suffering the economic effects of WWII. However, after their defeat in 1954 by the Communist Vietnamese at Dien Bien Phu, the United States with the support of its allies, would assume the responsibility of making sure that the country of Vietnam would not become a communist nation, except in the North. Both sides the North and the South (democratic republic) would be separated along the 17th parallel in hopes that both could be united as one country, but that would never happen.

    In 1955, President Eisenhower sent the first American military advisors to train the South Vietnamese Army. In 1956 with the last exit of the French military, the United States assumed full responsibility for training of the South Vietnamese forces. The government in South Vietnam that the United States supported was led by Ngo Dinh Diem. As corrupt as his government was, he was staunchly opposed to the communist. However, favoritism of the elite, Catholic minority (Buddhist were the majority), and of his supporters combined with the suppression of opponents critical of his government, would lead to discontent among many South Vietnamese. But what would be the worse of the South Vietnamese government policies was their resettlement of the peasant population off of their traditional lands in hopes of preventing the communist from influencing them. In fact, it would work in the reverse.

    In 1959, the first American military personal would die in an attack by the Viet Minh (later known as the Viet Cong) guerillas at a strike at Bien Hoa. By this time the United State had from 750 – 1,500 military advisors training the South Vietnamese forces. Two years later, in 1961, President Kennedy who was staunchly opposed to a communist take-over, not only in South Vietnam but the entire Southeast Asia (domino theory in which if one falls to communism all will) authorized 100 Special Forces troops to South Vietnam including the famed Green Berets, whose mission was to work behind enemy lines in aiding the South Vietnamese. By this time United States military advisers numbered around 3,200. Their role was that of strictly advisors. They were not supposed to be in combat roles. However, their mission and the training of the South Vietnamese soldiers often found themselves in combat against the Viet Cong.

    In the meantime, Ngo Dinh Diem corrupt government became more oppressive. He quashed any protest and limited many freedoms. Buddhists were particularly targeted with raids and the killing of many. Student protests were suppressed and many arrested and jailed. Tired to the corruption of the Deim government but, nevertheless, firmly against the communist from taking over, the United States supported a coup in early November of 1963, in which Diem and his brother was assassinated. Ironically, a few weeks later, President Kennedy would also be assassinated. However, the new government in South Vietnam would be not any better. By this time the number of United States military personnel was 16,000, supposedly in non-combat roles. But accompanying the South Vietnam Army on patrols and in combat missions would prove otherwise and United States death were on the rise.

    With a new American president in Lyndon Johnson, North Vietnam thought an increase in violence would get the U. S. to agree to a peace settlement. In December of 1963, they began an escalation of the war which resulted in an immediate success. By March 1964, they controlled over 40% of South Vietnam. Their military strength was composed of 35,000 guerrillas and 80,000 irregulars. They were supplied by the North Vietnamese by way of the Ho Chi Minh Trail, a trail that extended 600 miles that ran along the borders of Vietnam in the North through Laos, Cambodia, and South Vietnam. It was the major supply route to the Viet Cong (later North Vietnamese Regulars) from North Vietnam. The route was heavily covered with foliage and nearly undetectable from the air.

    Despite the fact that the South Vietnamese Army was over 300,000 strong and supported by U. S., air attacks by the U. S. came under anti-aircraft fire and with terrorist attacks occurring in Saigon, the Viet Cong continued to gain territory, popular support, and became a threat to Saigon and the South Vietnamese leadership. However, with advice from his advisors to increase the U. S. military effort, President Johnson was still reluctant to send more military forces and take more military action in South Vietnam. But that would soon change.


    Last edited by the moor; 02-13-2021 at 10:12 PM.

  3. #3
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    Part 2


    The Ho Chi Minh Trail

    vietnam ho chi minh.jpg


    vietnam black soldier 9.jpg


    African Americans protest the war at home.

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    African American troops honor Martin Luther King Jr.

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    African American soldier in a mood of reflection.

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    African Americans in the Vietnam War: An Overview of How It All Started


    During 1964, the U. S. began to escalate its military role except for the use of U. S. combat troops. They aided the South Vietnamese navy in attacks along the North Vietnamese coast, attacking and destroy radar and landing South Vietnamese troops in destroying bridges and other infrastructures. U. S destroyers sailed into North Vietnamese water to conduct electronic surveillance and the bombing of the Ho Chi Minh Trail by the U. S. in Laos had begun.

    The North Vietnamese wanting to show its resolve due to the increase U. S. military action took bold steps. They chose to attack a U. S. destroyer instead of the faster patrol boats used by the South Vietnamese in attacking its coast. On August 2, 1964, the USS Maddox, a destroyer in the Gulf of Tonkins came under attack from three North Vietnamese torpedo boats. Even though the Maddox was in international waters, three torpedoes were launched and the Maddox came under machine gun fire. The Maddox responded with its 5-inch guns and was soon aided by aircraft from the U. S aircraft carrier Ticonderoga. One of the attacking boats was left dead in the water while the other two were damaged. The USS Maddox was not damaged and there were no U. S. casualties.

    To show that the U. S. would not be deterred, President Johnson ordered another U. S. destroyer, the USS Turner Joy to the area. Shortly after it arrived, on the night of August 4th or 5th both destroyers reported attacks by the North Vietnamese in which they reportedly sank two boats. However, long after the fact, analysis would show that the attacks did not occur. There was no visual sighting and radar showed no boats in the area. But U. S. officials in Washington were convinced from reports of special intelligence and from other ships that an attack from North Vietnam had occurred. President Johnson responded with air attacks against the North Vietnam in which an oil facility and about 30 North Vietnamese navy vessels were destroyed. The U. S. lost two aircraft.

    On August 7, 1964, Congress passed the “Gulf of Tonkins Resolution.” It gave the President board powers to conduct military operations in Vietnam and to aid and protect members of the Southeast Asian Alliance. However, President Johnson would take no action because of the coming presidential elections. Meanwhile, Viet Cong raids on the South Vietnamese and U. S. forces grew as well as U. S. casualties. To show the South Vietnamese government and the U. S. that they could strike anywhere, on December 24th Christmas Eve, the Viet Cong car bombed the heavy secured Brinks Bachelors Officers Quarters in Saigon which housed U. S. military officers. The attack killed two U. S military personnel and injured 60 other U. S. personnel and South Vietnamese civilians. A few days later, the Viet Cong took over a village near Saigon. When South Vietnamese troops arrived to clear them out, they were soundly defeated by the Viet Cong. However, this would only be the first of several defeats of the South Vietnamese Army by the communist Viet Cong.

    With the possibility of a communist victory in South Vietnam now apparent, President Johnson who had been reluctant to get the U. S military involved on a broader scale now decided he had no choice, if he wanted to keep South Vietnam from falling into communist hands, as well as possibly the rest of Southeast Asia. In early 1965, Johnson ordered a major deployment to South Vietnam of U. S. ground, air, and naval forces in preparation to be used in combat.

    On March 8, 1965, 3,500 U. S. Marines landed near Da Nang in Vietnam. In July, the U. S. 1st Infantry Division (Big Red 1) landed in South Vietnam. Although the purpose was to defend the South Vietnamese from the Viet Cong, the 1st Division saw action immediately in a search and destroy mission. This aggressive action would sit well with Washington who wanted the U. S. forces to be more in a defensive posture. However, General William Westmoreland lobbied for more of a U. S. offensive role by insisting the U. S. with its more mobility, firepower, and well-trained troops could defeat the enemy within two years. Added to this was the poor showing of the South Vietnamese Army against the Viet Cong. With the Americans now taking over the fighting, the incentive and desire of the South Vietnamese Army declined, if the desire and declined wasn’t already there. The Viet Cong would also prove to be an elusive, stealthy, and resilient foe. By the end of 1965, 200,000 U. S. troops and military personnel were in South Vietnam.

    With a new government in South Vietnam hopes were better but not that much. Corruption still prevailed but not as much as under Diem. More liberties were restored and the economy was thriving because to the U. S. dollar. However, the poor and the peasants in the rural areas were the ones who were suffering where the war was mostly fought. They were caught in the middle and between the fighting.

    North Vietnam backed by the Soviet Union and China was more determined than ever for a communist victory. Their continued support of the Viet Cong and later with North Vietnamese Regulars would add greatly to their chances of winning or at least bring a peace settlement. Threats also from China as well as Soviet Union that an escalation of the war or an invasion of North Vietnam by the U. S. would bring them directly into the war. Fear of a larger war or even WWIII would be likely.

    With the Vietnam War now seemly at a stalemate and the number of U. S. causalities increasing in the thousands and steadily rising, dissention and opposition in America to the war was also steadily increasing. Protests against it were increasing, particularly among the young and the educated. Young adults avoided the draft by escaping to Canada and others burned their draft cards. But what was probably the most disturbing was that the war was begin broadcast on American television into the homes of Americans. Americans got to see close up the horrors of war.

    In 1968, the North Vietnamese and Viet Cong took the war further. They launched attacks against 35 of the most populated cities and towns across South Vietnam. This would be known as the Tet Offensive. Americans had finally come to the conclusion that the war in Vietnam wasn’t worth the dying of American soldiers. Protest to end the war increased among more of the American population. America had become a divided nation due to the war. In March, President Lyndon Johnson stated that he would not seek reelection for president.

    However, there would be one group who probably had every reason to complain about fighting in the war. But they would, nevertheless, go willingly, serve honorably, bravely, and distinguishably. They would be the African Americans soldiers.


    Last edited by the moor; 02-14-2021 at 12:17 PM.

  4. #4
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    Part 1


    vietnam black soldier 7.jpg


    vietnam black soldiers 4.jpg


    An African American soldier during the Vietnam War looks at a wall monument built by the Việt Cộng that reads: "U.S. Negro Armymen, you are committing the same ignominious crimes in South Vietnam that the KKK clique is perpetrating against your family at home."

    vietnam black soldier 5.jpg


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    African Americans in the Vietnam War: Their Service


    Roughly 300,000 African American soldiers served in the Vietnam War. They would make up 16% of all draftees, even though they made of only 11% of the U. S. population. In 1967, the United States drafted 63% of all eligible African Americans for the war. However, only 30% would be eligible for service. While that same year the United Stated drafted 31% of all eligible whites for the war and only 63% would be eligible for the war.

    Still in need of manpower for the war, the United States would lower the standards for draftees. In 1967, Project 100 would be implemented whereby educational standards would be lowered, as well as mental and medical standards that would have been otherwise a rejection. This would make 40% of all 246,000 draftees of the Project 100 African Americans.

    As the war waged on many began to see disparities in the draft as it related to the number of African Americans vs. the number of whites. Draft boards had few African American on them. States like Mississippi, Alabama, Louisiana, and Arkansas had none. In 1966, drafts boards in the United States composed of only 1.3% African Americans. Only Delaware had equal representation of African Americans as composed to the population represented. In 1967, the NAACP National Defense Fund and the American Civil Liberties Union file a lawsuit against the State of State Carolina demanding that they stop drafting African Americans because no African Americans served on the state’s draft boards. In 1970, African Americans composed 6.6% nation-wide of all draft boards, yet still below the representation to the population.

    African American composed 11% of all U. S. troops. However, out of 400,000 officers, only 8,325 were African Americans. This constituted only 5% in the army and only 2% in the other armed services. Out of 1,342 generals and admirals only Lieutenant General Benjamin O. Davis Jr. and
    Brigadier General Fredrick E. Davison were of that rank. There were no African American admirals.

    African Americans were also more likely to serve in combat units. African Americans composed 23% of combat units. In some units like airborne, they composed up to 45% to 60%. The navy had the lowest amount of African American personnel. In 1971, only 5% of sailors were African Americans and less than 1% were officers. In 1966, African Americans enlistment rates were 50% which was twice that of whites. In 1967 it was 66.5%. Many attribute this to the economic situation of African Americans, the training the military offered to benefit them later in civilian life, the want to prove themselves as soldiers just as good as any white, and the opportunity the GI Bill offered in terms of an education. However, in 1968, enlistments would drop to 32%.

    African Americans would have a higher causality rate compared to their representation. In 1965, African American composed 25% of troop causalities. In 1967, it had fallen to 13%. In total, 7,243 African Americans died during the war composing 12% of all deaths of which 96% were army and marines. The percentage of those wounded and suffering from the mental effects of the war such as PTSD would be comparable.











    Last edited by the moor; 02-17-2021 at 02:05 PM.

  5. #5
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    Part 2


    African Americans had to deal with racism in Vietnam, just like they did at home.


    vietnam racism 2.jpg


    African American soldier dances with Vietnamese woman. Many times they were not allowed in the Vietnamese clubs or bars because they had been told by whites that they were bad and even had tails.

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    vietnam black soldiers 17.jpg


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    African Americans in the Vietnam War: Their Service


    As African Americans face racism and discrimination at home, they faced it in Vietnam. Although it more subtle during the beginning of the war, it would escalate and become more opened after the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. Following the assassination, some white troops at Cam Ranh Base wore KKK robes and paraded around the base. At least three incidences of cross burnings were reported as well. Confederate flags were flown at Da Nang Air Base for three days. Confederate flags were attached and painted on jeeps, tanks, and helicopters. Following complaints from African Americans soldiers, the flags were briefly banned but were soon allowed after Southern politicians complained. Graffiti on bathrooms stated that African Americans were the enemy, not the Vietnamese. African Africans were also discouraged in taking pride in their Black Identity such as giving each other the black power salute and wearing dashikis. One was told to remove a ‘Black is beautiful” poster from his locker. Black culture and norms were initially not acknowledged. They didn’t have access to African American hair products, soul music tapes, books or magazines. Publications and speeches about African American culture and history were restricted, with some commanders banning speeches of Malcom X and the newspaper of the Black Panther Party. The Armed Forces Radio Network played mostly Country and Western music. Most of the military barber were white and frequently had no experience in cutting African American hair or had received training of how to do so. Even though the military was now integrated, the racism remained.

    Towards the end of the war things began to improve to make African American soldiers feel more comfortable. African American haircare products and dress like dashikis were added to the base exchange. There was more diverse music and black bands and dances for entertainment. The base book stores carried books about African American culture and history. Military barbers were trained in cutting African American hair.

    In 1968, racial incidents began to occur almost on a regular basis in Da Nang, Cam Ranh Bay, Dong Tam, Saigon, and Bien Hoa. Similar incidents occurred elsewhere. A race riot broke out at Long Binh Jail. It was the worse race riot in U. S. Army history. Between December 1969 and January 1970, 33 incidents of racial violence occurred. In 1970, there were 1,060 reported cases of racial violence. An investigation and the creation of a committee to study racial bias of African Americans in the armed services was established. It prompted one reported to state, “the biggest threat to the U. S. military was race riots, not the Viet Cong.”

    African Americans stated that they were punished more severely than their white counterparts. African Americans comprised 34% of all court-martials, 26% of all non-judicial punishments, and 58% of the prisoners in Long Binh Jail. They were denied promotions and disproportionately assigned menial jobs more than whites. They complained the white NCOs always put African American soldiers on the dirtiest details. This was something of which both the Johnson and Nixon administrations were aware. African Americans would train new white soldiers who would go on and pass them in getting promotions. They also complain that they would stay in grade too long or longer than white soldiers. However, their complaints were rarely taken seriously. From 1966 to 1969, commanders had failed to report 423 allegations of racial discrimination. From 1968 to 1969, only 10 out of 534 racial complaints were deemed legitimate.

    Racial tension caused internal divisions, sometimes causing African American soldiers refusal to fight. One incident near A Sau Valley caused 15 black soldiers in refusing to fight. In the navy a race riot occurred on the aircraft carrier USS Kitty Hawk. Black and white sailors attacked each other with chains and pipes, resulting in the arrest of 25 African Americans but no whites. On the aircraft carrier USS Constellation, African American sailors organized to investigate the unfair non-judicial punishment among black and white sailors. Six of the organizers received less than honorable discharges, with rumors that 200 black sailors would receive the same. Later about 100 African American sailors and a few whites stage a sit-in to protest. Many of them would be resigned with a few being discharged.

    As in the United States, the Black Identity Movement was in Vietnam as well. African Americans began to show solidarity by calling themselves ‘Bloods.” They distinguished themselves by wearing black gloves, amulets, and bracelets made out of bootlaces. They also used of series or set of handshakes which became a standard handshake among African Americans in the states. African American enlisted men as well as African American officers often greeted each other with the Black Power Salute. African American solidarity groups formed in all branches of the military. They went by names such as the Minority Servicemen’s Association, Concerned Veterans Association, Black Brother’s United, Zulu 1200s, Black Liberation Front of the Armed Forces, Blacks in Action, Unsatisfied Black Soldier, Ju Jus, and Mau Maus. The Air Force had 25 such groups. On the USS Constellation a group formed called The Black Fraction.

    Some African American and white relationships would eventually grow into friendships. This was caused mainly because of their dependence upon one another in the field or combat zones. The enemy saw them both the same, and in those moments, they saw each other the same.
    African American soldier’s support for the war would wane. They initially believed that America was protecting the sovereignty of the democratic constitutional government of South Vietnam to stop the spread of communism in Southeast Asia. However, after the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. and his opposition to the war, anti-war sentiment began to grow among African American soldiers, as well as among some whites. They saw a war that benefited U. S. corporate interest rather than the freedoms and concerns of the Vietnamese people.

    Due to the prevalence of social and racial discord during the war and institutional racism within the military and racism after the war, caused many African American to use drugs, not just marijuana but highly addictive drugs such as heroin, which was easily available. African Americans were also less likely to view the Vietnamese as less than them, as did many whites. They could identify with their economic situation and as a non-white group. They were also less likely to approve or rationalize the use of unnecessary brutal violence against the Vietnamese than whites. In other words, they were less likely to dehumanize them. African Americans soldiers suffered from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) at a rate of 40%, much higher than whites.

    Despite their courage and valor, African Americans still faced racism upon their return home. They suffered a higher rate of drug abuse, alcoholism, unemployment, and homelessness than their white counterparts. In 1981, only 20% of them felt that their Vietnam experience was positive.


    African American Vietnam War Medal of Honor Recipients:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_E._Warren_Jr.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Anderson_Jr.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oscar_P._Austin

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_L._Canley

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rodney_Maxwell_Davis

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_H._Jenkins_Jr.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ralph_H._Johnson

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_Calvin_Rogers

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ruppert_L._Sargent

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clarence_Sasser

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clifford_Chester_Sims

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eugene_Ashley_Jr.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Webster_Anderson

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Maud_Bryant

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lawrence_Joel

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dwight_H._Johnson

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Garfield_M._Langhorn

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Matthew_Leonard

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Donald_Russell_Long

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Melvin_Morris

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Milton_L._Olive_III

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Riley_L._Pitts





    Explicit language but this is the talk of men who have been in physical combat as well as the mental combat of racism.




    Wallace Terry was the reporter in the above interview. Here he is again giving his thought about the war.




    Last edited by the moor; 02-17-2021 at 02:10 PM.

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    subs for later


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    Soul Alley

    soul alley 1.jpg


    The children of African American soldiers of Vietnamese women faced discrimination worse than other children born of non-African American soldiers. They were called "children of the dusk." However, many would be relocated as well as other Amerasian children in America.

    soul alley.jpg


    Soul Alley South Vietnam


    Just after the 1 a.m. curfew one day last week, 300 heavily armed American and Vietnamese MPs, civilian police and militiamen, supported by 100 armored cars, trucks and Jeeps, swooped down on a narrow dirt alley in Saigon and sealed it off. As their house-to-house search began, G.I.s groggy with sleep and drugs scampered in every direction, a few over rooftops, trying to escape. Their women followed, some stark naked, some wearing only pajama bottoms, as spotlights from two helicopters above played on the bizarre scene. When the roundup ended four hours later, 56 girls and 110 G.I.s, including 30 deserters, were hauled off into custody.

    Known as Soul Alley, this 200-yd. back street is located just one mile from U.S. military headquarters for Viet Nam. At first glance, it is like any other Saigon alley: mama-sans peddle Winston cigarettes and Gillette Foam Shaves from pushcarts, and the bronzed, bony drivers of three-wheeled, cycles sip lukewarm beer at corner food stalls as children play tag near their feet. A closer look, however, shows that Soul Alley is a very special place. The children being bounced on their mothers' hips have unmistakably Afro-Asian features. A sign in the local barbershop proclaims: THE NATURAL LOOK HAS ARRIVED. Green Army fatigues hang from balcony railings to dry in the sun. Black G.I.s talk and laugh, their arms around slight young Asian girls.

    No Whites Allowed. Soul Alley is home for somewhere between 300 and 500 black AWOLS and deserters. They escape arrest by using forged ID cards and mixing with the even greater number of G.I.s who are still on active duty but prefer spending nights here, away from the drabness of their barracks. There were roughly 65,000 cases of AWOL last year, and the Army estimates that about 1,000 soldiers will become deserters this year (no racial breakdowns are available).

    Whites who venture into Soul Alley do so at their own risk, as two military policemen learned a month ago. Five minutes after they drove in at mid-morning in their Jeep, they walked back out—minus the vehicle and their weapons. The Army has known about Soul Alley and its deserters ever since the haven sprang up three years ago, and MPs have frequently staged minor raids and roundups. The incident with the Jeep sparked the biggest raid yet. But even if the brass cleaned up Soul Alley, its residents, rather like the Viet Cong, would soon drift back or relocate in another, similar spot.

    Easy Living. For many Soul Alley AWOLS, the living is easy. Explained one: "You get up late, you smoke a few joints, you get on your Honda and ride around to the PX, buy a few items you can sell on the black market, come back, blow some more grass, and that's it for the day." Rent for the second floor of a brick house rarely runs to more than $40 or $50 a month, including laundry and housekeeping services. Hustling is the name of the game here. This gives everyone plenty of money for anything from soul food at a restaurant called Nam's to hi-fi equipment, television sets or even heroin. Here is how the system works:

    From an army of papa-san forgers, the AWOL gets his phony ID and ration cards. He goes to the PX, buys an expensive item, such as a refrigerator, for as little as $71.50 in military payment certificates (MFCS). On the open market, he can sell it for $500 in MFCS. Markups on TV sets and stereo sets are almost as high.

    Special Signal. Despite such amenities, life in Soul Alley can be lonely and miserable. Many of the AWOLs would rather be back home, but cannot leave Viet Nam without facing arrest and court-martial. Some would like to stay in Soul Alley, or something like it, but wonder whether they can. "I don't want to go back to the States, and certainly not back to Houston, Texas," said a black G.I. who is married to a Vietnamese. "They would call me a 'nigger' and my wife a 'gook,' and they would never leave us alone. But I can't get a civilian job here when I get out of the service."
    Besides, many have found that they jumped from one form of racism into another, since Vietnamese often do not like dark-skinned people. Add to this the harassment by MPs, the sense of being without a country, and the day-today hassle to raise money, and the frustrations can grow unbearable.

    One G.I. summed it up: "It ain't the rules; it's the man. Same as back in the world. A black man is the only one they grab for spitting on the streets. Over here if a bunch of brothers get together to blow some grass, right away the officers get uptight; in the next barracks over, white guys are doing the same thing, but nobody bothers them. The regs [Army Regulations] say you can grow your hair this long, but the first sergeant says he don't care what the regs say, because he don't like no black man with a 'Fro."

    This sort of feeling has given rise to a special variation of the intricate signal that black soldiers in Viet Nam exchange when they meet. The standard greeting includes two taps on the chest —meaning "I will die for you." In Soul Alley, some blacks add a swift downward motion of the hand—a stroke to kill.


    Soul Alley was also a place where drug use was rampant. Many African American soldiers and later whites soldiers would become hooked on heron. For the toll of the war especially for African American soldiers, drug use would become an escape.




    Last edited by the moor; 02-23-2021 at 03:01 PM.

 

 

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