Vietnam, They Ask, So What Was It Like

Wartime photographs by Vietnam veterans, with words taken from the poem, Vietnam, They Ask, So What Was It Like, by Sgt Clyde B Canny of the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment
From an exhibition curated by Marissa Roth

Vietnamese fishermen heading out in their sampan to the South China Sea from the port in Nha Trang, Vietnam Michael Olson — U.S. Army, Specialist 4, 981st M.P. Sentry Dog Nha Trang, Vietnam 1969-70

Vietnamese fishermen heading out in their sampan to the South China Sea from the port in Nha Trang, Vietnam
Michael Olson — U.S. Army, Specialist 4, 981st M.P. Sentry Dog
Nha Trang, Vietnam 1969-70

Vietnam
They Ask
So What Was It Like

I felt so young

I felt so old

I felt so hot

I felt so cold

sometimes wet

sometimes dry

Joe Kempt, 1st Squad machine gunner from Louisiana, East of Tay Ninh, Vietnam July 1969 Bill Noyes — Sergeant E-5, 3rd Platoon, B Company, 2nd Battalion of the 22nd Regiment, 25th Infantry Division Vietnam September 1968 – September 1969

Joe Kempt, 1st Squad machine gunner from Louisiana, East of Tay Ninh, Vietnam July 1969

Bill Noyes — Sergeant E-5, 3rd Platoon, B Company, 2nd Battalion of the 22nd Regiment, 25th Infantry Division
Vietnam September 1968 – September 1969

still can hear

the choppers fly

a weapon fires

someone cries

some would live

some would die

the still of night

till cannons roar

knock mighty trees

to jungle floor

the smell of life

the smell of death

a newborn baby

draws first breath

it don’t mean nothin’ *

but that’s a lie

now there’s time

to stop and cry

take the hill

let it go

we still ask why

do any know

 

*This expression was commonly used to defer painful reactions to battlefield experiences to a time when they could safely be processed.

Unfortunately, for some, that time has yet to come.

USO performance at Fire Base Rawlins, Tay Ninh Province, Vietnam, November 1969 David Fahey — Spec 4, US Army, 25th Infantry, 4th Battalion, 23rd Mechanized Infantry Brigade Vietnam and Cambodia, September 1969 – September 1970

USO performance at Fire Base Rawlins, Tay Ninh Province, Vietnam, November 1969
David Fahey — Spec 4, US Army, 25th Infantry, 4th Battalion, 23rd Mechanized Infantry Brigade
Vietnam and Cambodia, September 1969 – September 1970

Sergeant Burgie, my best buddy in Vietnam, Cambodia, May 1970 David Fahey —Vietnam and Cambodia, September 1969 – September 1970

Sergeant Burgie, my best buddy in Vietnam, Cambodia, May 1970
David Fahey —Vietnam and Cambodia, September 1969 – September 1970

Mortar batallion, Cambodia, May 1970 David Fahey — Vietnam and Cambodia, September 1969 – September 1970

Mortar batallion, Cambodia, May 1970
David Fahey — Vietnam and Cambodia, September 1969 – September 1970

Boy with his little man, Tay Ninh Province, Vietnam, November 1969
David Fahey — Vietnam and Cambodia, September 1969 – September 1970