Why I Went to War
by Robert D. Robinson
(Temple City, Ca.)
I had been living in Manhattan Beach, California for three years. The girls were beautiful, the wine was cheap and the first two years of college were free. Then, in 1967 I got married and six weeks later got drafted.
Several things went through my mind. Canada was one of them. Jail was another. I didn't know enough about the war to commmit to either of those ideas, and my family has served in every war they have ever given, so in I went.
I was trained as an 11C20 (Infantry Indirect Fire Specialist) and got orders to RVN, Americal Division. I had a problem of conscience with the Thou Shalt Not Kill commandment. Given my MOS and AO, it set up a paradox for me.
I went to the Priest that married us and told him of my situation. This man was an eloquent opponent of the war but he never once tried to move me politically to his point of view. For that, I respect him to this day.
I told him my concerns and he gave me a copy of the St. Francis Prayer to read and an assignment to read it until I understood it, then to return for another conversation. I did that.
He asked, "Where are you with this prayer?"
I said, "The first part says,'Lord make me an instrument of thy Peace...'. If someone is being harmed and I can bring Peace to that situation by killing the one doing the harm, I believe that I am in line with the teachings of the Church."
This anti-war Priest said, "You're right. God Bless you. I'll pray for your safe return."
I did as much as I could for as long as I could. I paid a high price for what I learned there, but not as high a price as the enemy in front of me did, nor as high a price as some of my team members. I would not take a million dollars for what I got there, but it would take more than a million to get me to go back.
I am proud of my service there. I am more proud of what I witnessed in my team members and others, under the worst conditions possible. People like Val Kilmer and Jane Fonda are either ignorant or stupid and I have neither the time nor the inclination to help them figure out what they ought to already know. And nothing they can say will ever change the way I feel about the men in my unit, the men and women in my uniform and the other uniforms of this country, nor for the way I feel about the Flag for which they stand.
Although I nearly died in the process, the Army made me what I am today. I am grateful for that, and grateful to be alive.
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