October 04, 2015

BS? The Craigslist Vietnam Vet "I met you in the rain on the last day of 1972" Trope --- UPDATED, BUMPED

john-rambo-vietnam-vet.jpg

Since one of the reasons I started this blog a decade ago is that I wanted an outlet for my inner a**hole, I might as well get this off my chest: That Boston Craigslist "I met you in the rain on the last day of 1972" post every one is talking about? Yeah, that one. The one every one thinks is so touching. So touching and moving that it's gone super viral?

My BS detector is on overdrive on this one.

Why?

Because it plays into all the Vietnam Vet Hollywood archetypes. And those archetypes, like so many tropes imagined by a leftist Hollwyood, simply aren't true representations of veterans in general or of Vietnam Vets in particular.

Let's start here: The Suicidal Vet:

When the bottle was empty, I made for the door and vowed, upon returning, that I would retrieve the Smith & Wesson Model 15 from the closet and give myself the discharge I deserved.
Except that it isn't true: Study: No link between combat deployment and suicides

At least for recent vets:

Of the suicides, 3,879 were service members who did not deploy and 1,162 were those who did participate in OEF or OIF....

Those figures translate into a suicide rate of ... 18.86 per 100,000 person years for those who [deployed]

The civilian [suicide] rate is 18.8 per 100,000, according to Army and National Institutes of Mental Health calculations.

Ok, now why was this "vet" so depressed? Because he had bombed poor innocent Vietnamese:
One week prior, at the behest of Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger, I'd flown four B-52 sorties over Hanoi. I dropped forty-eight bombs. How many homes I destroyed, how many lives I ended, I'll never know. But in the eyes of my superiors, I had served my country honorably, and I was thusly discharged with such distinction.
Now, I've known a lot of Vietnam Vets over the years. Vets with complaints. Complaints about the VA. Complaints about Tricare. Complaints about the dirty smelly hippies who spat on them when they returned home. Complaints about the dirty smelly politicians who abandoned the mission. Complaints about dirty smelly Hollywood directors depicting them as monsters who are only one step shy of psychosis, suicide, or mass murder.

But the only vet I've ever been introduced to that complains about killing people in Vietnam were on TV or in the movies.

Seriously, it was a stupid archetype back in the 1980s when John Rambo was getting harassed by the man and when Ron Kovic was celebrating his shared birthday with Ho Chi Minh's on the 4th of July. And it continues to be stupid.

Ok, sure, there are some pretty effed up vets. But look around, there are some pretty effed of people everywhere. And their veteran status usually has little to do with said effed up status.

And then there's this mysterious woman who he just happens to meet while both of them are ducking in from a rainstorm:

And then I saw you.

You'd taken shelter under the balcony of the Old State House. You were wearing a teal ball gown, which appeared to me both regal and ridiculous. Your brown hair was matted to the right side of your face, and a galaxy of freckles dusted your shoulders. I'd never seen anything so beautiful.

When I joined you under the balcony, you looked at me with your big green eyes, and I could tell that you'd been crying. I asked if you were okay. You said you'd been better. I asked if you'd like to have a cup of coffee. You said only if I would join you. Before I could smile, you snatched my hand and led me on a dash through Downtown Crossing and into Neisner's.

Wow. Just, wow.

Yeah, I think I've seen that commercial before. Let's just hope they were both chewing the right gum. TV tells me it makes all the difference. Did they have Mentos, the freshamker! in 1972?

Then in just a few short hours this (hot and wet, no, seriously -- it's a hot chick who's all wet in the rain) angelic woman gives him hope. The kind of hope that only a sweet, yet kind of hot, and soaking wet woman can give a man reason to live.

It's Full Metal Jacket meets Serendipity.

I hope they cast John Cusak in the movie. He was the bomb in Hot Tub Time Machine.

And you know what. Despondent Vietnam Vet. Alcoholic. With a gun. In the city on New Year's Eve. 1972.

Where have I seen that before?

Oh, yeah, Lieutenant Dan in Forrest Gump.

(I'll grant that in Forrest Gump it's 1971 turning to 1972, while in the Craigslist trope it's 1972 about to be 1973 -- but, come on, that's still pretty on the nose)

So I'm just not buying it. It plays into too many stereotypes. This reads like some short story written in an MFA workshop, a Learning Annex course, or English 101 down at the local community college taught by a would-be Hollwyood screenwriter who just can't get a meeting with Oliver Stone to pitch him this incredible treatment.

Then again, maybe I'm just a cynical jerk with my own false archetype of the typical veteran who came home, got married, had kids, paid taxes, and who's biggest problem with Vietnam was that the a**holes in Congress cut off funding to the South just before columns of Soviet tanks pushed into Hanoi and when that archetype is challenged my default position is to cry bullsh*t until there's some compelling evidence to the contrary.

But that's just me.

UPDATE 10/04/2015: Apparently, it's not just me. Thanks to all the vets in the comments who agreed that this was BS. Not only BS, but BS written by someone who had never served in the military.

I'm going to post a few of their comments above the fold. I hope they don't mind. I've corrected some of the spelling (I know, ironical) because they didn't know I'd post them. Also, Italics and bold are mine. I've also added a couple of links for clarification:

Dude dropped 48 bombs on four missions?

I was with the 91st SMW, partnered with the 91st SBW in Minot. So I did a little research and viola!

For a B52, Their normal bomb load was 84 bombs internally and 24 bombs under the wings.


48 bombs on four missions?

Just my 2 cents.....

Posted by: BCAz

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I think going from Linebacker II, which ended on the 29th, to sitting in an apartment in Boston with suicidal thoughts barely two days later just strikes me as too quick and utterly nonsensical.

Also, what kind of a man recognizes 'teal' as a color? [Ed: I know teal is a color. I know it has something to do with green. But honestly, I couldn't tell you the difference between teal and any other kind of green]

Horsesh*t!

Posted by: STV

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The person who wrote this knows little about the US military.

A pilot of a large fixed-wing bomber is ALWAYS a commissioned officer. Officers don't get "discharges". A "discharge" is what enlisted men get.

Furthermore, no pilot who has gone through years of training in the military, is going to act surprised, shocked and somehow horrified that he will actually have to drop bombs from the bomber he has VOLUNTEERED and trained to fly. That's like a heart surgeon, after years of medical school and internship, suddenly becoming sickened by the idea that he might actually have to transplant a heart.

Makes no sense.

Posted by: Wolfenberry

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And this one, just .... because:
Craigslist is a fine place to post creative writing, especially if it's bad.
In this case a mish-mash of plagiarized bits.
People believe what fits their narrative, obviously.

I posted this a few years ago on Halloween:

MISSED CONNECTION

You: running, screaming, bleeding a bit

Me: hockey mask, heavy breathing, relentless.

Let's do it again at the same campground this year,
bring some friends.


Posted by: Storm Saxon's Gall Bladder

Bwahahahaaaa!

So, it's pretty close to official: This is a HOAX

Any other thoughts?

UPDATE 10/05/2015: Okay, maybe the last update on this one. Check out a similar post by Thomas Wictor, who has maps and photos and stuff, and who confirms:

The bombing missions that still haunt him were called Operation Linebacker II. Since he says that he’d flown his sorties a week before December 31, 1972, that would mean he flew the Christmas Eve missions....

Nope. The December 24 sorties hit Thai Nguyen and Kep, not Hanoi. And the December 23 raid also avoided Hanoi....

Finally, the fake bomber pilot said that he was discharged (separated) from the Air Force and back in Boston within a week. The B-52s used in Operation Linebacker II flew out of either U-Tapao Royal Thai Air Force Base, Thailand, or Andersen Air Force Base, Guam. Therefore the writer would’ve had to turn in all his gear, fill out the paperwork, wait for it to be approved, and then fly to an Air Force separation center in the continental US. The closest such center to Boston is Seymour Johnson Air Force Base near Goldsboro, North Carolina.

So the pilot mustered out of the air force, flew to North Carolina, was separated, made his way to Boston, and found a studio apartment, all in a week.
Impossible.

This little essay is slander and a form of stolen valor

Amen brotha!

By Rusty Shackleford, Ph.D. at 11:44 PM | Comments |