ATLANTA VOICES: MEMORIES OF VIETNAM
HIS VIETNAM WAR STORY
2nd Lieutenant, 3rd Platoon, Charlie Company, 2nd Battalion, 25th Infantry
Rick White was seduced by the military.
Right after high school there was an advertisement [that came on TV] and you see this paratrooper floating down. The camera follows him down, and he lands. He reaches up and grabs his risers and looks into the camera and says 'Feel like a man - Go Airborne.' That stirred something in me and soon after that I went into a recruiting station.
In 1967, recruiting stations were not busy places.
There were crickets in there. Nobody was in the recruitment station except one Sergeant. I mean, to have anybody come in the recruiting station in the middle of the Vietnam War, I’m quite sure it was a good thing for him.
White did his first tour in 1968 and came back determined to make the army a career.
I went through airborne school, jump school, Special Forces training and Ranger training so I was back here for about 13 months.
His second tour of duty was in 1970. Life as a foot soldier in the Central Highlands of Vietnam was pretty simple.
You’re in the jungle, you’re in the mountains, there’s no villages to concern yourself with, and so if you met anyone else and they weren’t Americans, they were the enemy.
He describes what it was like to engage the enemy.
The smell of battle is a smell like none other. You’re smelling gunpowder, you’re smelling blood, you can actually smell the anticipation, sweat and fear that emits from men in battle. You’re delivering fire, and you’re taking fire, and you’re watching out for your buddies and trying to take care of your men, and it’s as intense as you can imagine.