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NOTE
: THE DEFINING GENERATION is a project begun by Doug and Pam Sterner in 2002 and completed in 2006. Initially is was prepared for publication as a book, however with their changing focus to development of a database of military awards, was postponed indefinitely so they could concentrate on that larger, more important work. The stories found herein however, need to be shared, and they have consented to make this compilation available in this format. While each story can stand alone, it is recommended that for continuity, readers will be best served by reading the chapters sequentially from first to last.

 

The Defining Generation

-

Defining the New

 

The Green Beret

 

By
Don Bendell

 

 

My hair was long, with one blonde stripe,
The surfer's streak . . . my father griped.
I'd listen to the Beach Boys sing,
And thought that I was "everything."

My sandals laced up to my knees,
With cut-off cords, no BVD's.
I was a hippie, and a bum,
And joined the Army to have fun.

They changed my mind with morning runs,
Grenades, and push-ups, bombs, and guns.
They shaved my head and made me hurt,
And more than once, I ate some dirt.

In OCS, they said, "Now quit!"
But I said, "I will finish it!"
Then came the day and that gold bar,
Then jump wings and my brand new car.

And soon, I won my green beret,
Then left to fight so far away.
In Vietnam, I fought with pride.
My cousin fled up north to hide.

POW's beat and caged,
While back at home the peaceniks raged.
Jane Fonda made me yell and scream,
When friends died who were on my team.

That war was fought by blacks and whites,
While Johnson fought for civil rights.
I was a drunk, a doper, too,
But I got sober in that zoo.

Then I got sick, was almost dead,
The war still raging in my head.
They shipped me home; and told me, "Stay!"
Then I could only grieve and pray.

We won the battles, lost the war,
And I felt like a used-up whore.
I gave my all, my heart, my soul.
The passion really took its toll.

And then I tried civilian life,
Three kids, a house, and my first wife.
I didn't like neighbors, jobs, or stress,
And made my life a stupid mess.

I've raised myself: God helped me grow,
Since I left that war so long ago.
I've had some laughter, shed some tears,
A wife I've loved for twenty years.

My innocence gone and life now changed,
Some folks still think that I am strange.
That war defined us, that's for sure.
It really made me more mature.

I have a code of honor still
And pray I'll never have to kill,
But know that I will never run . . .
I'm not that boy who was a bum.

 

 

During the decade and a half that the United States military was involved in the war in Vietnam, some two and a half million American men and women served in country (within the geographical area of Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, the surrounding waters, or in the skies over this region). The bulk of these were conventional soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines not at all unlike their fathers who fought in World War II. Only a very small minority of the American combat force was the elite men of the Army Special Forces.

Despite their diminutive size in proportion to the overall American presence, the men of the Green Berets earned 17 Medals of Honor, more than 10% of the 160 total awards to members of the U.S. Army and nearly 7% of the overall total of 246 awards. Eleven of those seventeen heroes did not survive their moment of valor to ever wear the award.

A further glance at those seventeen awards reveals another notable statistic. Three of these Special Forces heroes were ethnic minorities and a fourth was a foreign-born Hungarian. In the Army Special Forces the playing field was level for every volunteer. A man either made it, or washed out, based solely upon his ability to do the job.

Even while a revolution for civil rights was brewing at home, on the battlefields of Vietnam the young soldiers who traveled to foreign shores to free the oppressed had already learned and proven, what had yet to be understood in American society.

The Defining Generation: Copyright 2006 by Doug and Pam Sterner
All Rights Reserved

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Cover & Introduction
     Preface
Out With the Old
     The Defining Generation

I. - Defining the New
     John Fitzgerald Kennedy
     Roger H.C. Donlon
     Robert Robin Moore
     Barry Sadler
     The Green Beret

II. - Defining Equality
     When Worlds Collide
     Dr. Martin Luther King
     Jimmy Stanford & Vince Yrineo
     Milton Lee Olive, III
     Specialist Lawrence Joel
     Sammy Lee Davis
     Black MOH Recipients - Vietnam War

III. - Defining the Role of the Sexes
     Evolution of a Husband
     Remember the Ladies
     Rosie the Riveter
     Dr. Marguerite Guzman Bouvard
     Linda G. Alvarado
     Karen Irene Offutt
     Women in Military Service
     Lieutenant General Carol Mutter
     The Modern Woman in Combat
IV. - Defining Human Rights
     My Brother's Keeper
     Who is My Brother
     Christopher Dodd & Christopher Shays
     Peace Corps Politicians (Memories)
     Don Bendell
     Sir Edward Artis
     General Colin L. Powell

V. - Defining Entertainment
     Life Imitating Art
     Troubled Waters
     Guess Who's Coming to Dinner
     Brian's Song
     All in the Family
     Adrian Cronauer

VI. - Defining Dissent

     From Berkeley With Love
     The Pen and the Sword
     General David Shoup
     Muhammad Ali
     John Forbes Kerry

VII. - Defining the Future of Politics
     An Act of Congress
     All Politics is....Hereditary?
     Hillary Rodham Clinton
     Condoleezza Rice
     James Henry Webb
The next Section is scheduled for posting on May 20, 2011
VIII. - Defining Memories
     Jaime Pacheco
     The Glory of their Deeds
     Jan Scruggs
     Delbert Schmeling
     Peter C. Lemon

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS:
The authors extend our thanks to the following who granted personal interviews for this work
: Roger Donlon (MOH), Robin Moore, Don Bendell, Jimmy Stanford, Vince Yrineo, Sammy L. Davis (MOH), Linda Alvarado, Karen Offutt, Lieutenant General Carol Mutter, Sir Edward Artis, General Colin L. Powell, Katharine Houghton, Adrian Cronauer, Jan Scruggs, Delbert Schmeling, and Peter Lemon (MOH).
Our thanks to the staff of the following who either wrote or allowed reprint of their own works for this book: Dr. Marguerite Guzman Bouvard, Don Bendell, Congressman Sam Farr, Congressman Thomas Petri, Congressman Mike Honda, Congressman Jim Walsh, Governor Jim Doyle, and Scott Baron.
Our special thanks also to the staff of the following who provided information and fact-checked the chapters related to their subject: Staff of Senator John Kerry, Staff of (then) Senator Hillary Clinton, Staff of Senator Jim Webb
A SPECIAL THANKS also to Dr. Marguerite Guzman Bouvard for his assistance in writing and editing the entire section on the Role of the Sexes.

 

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