We were eighteen years old, and we had just begun to love the world and to love being in it; but we had to shoot at it. The first shell to land went straight for our hearts. We’ve been cut off from real action, from getting on, from progress. We don’t believe in those things any more; we believe in the war.
From All Quiet on the Western Front, by Erich Maria Remarque
My job was simply to report on casualties, enemy as well as our own; casualties due to hostile action and those due to nonhostile causes - the accidents that inevitably occur where there are large numbers of young men armed with lethal weapons or at the controls of complicated machinery. Artillery shells sometimes fell on friendly troops, tanks ran over people, helicopters crashed, marines shot other marines by mistake.
Philip Caputo reflecting on his duties as a casualty reporting officer (via vietnamwarera)
It was my first Mas-Cal, short for mass casualty situation, and although the instructors back in basic had warned us what to expect, no amount of warning could have ever prepared me for the sheer numbers of mutilated young bodies that the helicopters kept bringing to the 71st. ‘Now you’ll see how we really earn our money,’ Slim said. The emergency room floor was practically covered with blood. Dozens of gurneys were tightly packed into the ER, with barely enough space for medical people to move between them. And the helicopters were still bringing more. Dead bodies in Glad bags were lined up outside the ER doors, to be moved to the morgue as there was time. The moans and screams of so many wounded were mixed up with the shouted orders of doctors and nurses. One soldier vomited on my fatigues while I was inserting an IV needle into his arm. Another grabbed my hand and refused to let go. A blond infantry lieutenant begged me to give him enough morphine to kill him so he wouldn’t feel any more pain. A black sergeant went into a seizure and died while Carl and I were examining his small frag wound. ‘Duty, honor, country,’ Carl said sarcastically. ‘I’d love to have Richard Nixon here for one week.’
Lynda Van Devanter, operating room nurse (via vietnamwarera)
I can’t get out. I can’t finish with what I’ve got. So what the hell can I do?
Lyndon B. Johnson (via vietnamwarera)