Ho Chi Minh, a communist Vietnamese revolutionary leader, returned to North Vietnam in 1959. This started the Vietnam War, which lasted from 1959 - 1973 when the U.S finally withdrew. More than 3 million people were killed; half were Vietnamese civilians. About 58,000 Americans were killed and over 300,000 American soldiers were injured. (Vietnam War Statistics). Ho Chi Minh's goal was to establish the Democratic Republic of Vietnam and to rid Vietnam of French and Japanese occupiers. The French were not willing to give up their colonies easily. This started a war between the French and Vietnamese. For years, Ho Chi Minh tried to get the U.S to help him but the U.S stood strong with its Cold War foreign policy of containment, which meant preventing the spread of Communism. Ho Chi Minh tried to give the U.S military intelligence on Japan but the U.S still denied him. As the fighting between the Viet Cong and the South Vietnamese continued, the U.S. sent additional advisers to help South Vietnam. When the North Vietnamese fired directly upon two U.S. ships in international waters, on August 2 and 4, 1964, the United States created the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution. This resolution gave President Johnson the authority to act on further involvement. In March of 1965, President Johnson sent the first troops to Vietnam. (The History of the Vietnam War). In 1968, my grandfather was drafted, trained, shot, and discharged. The story of my grandfather's survival follows.
Russell E. Sherman was nineteen years old when he was drafted into the military. He was stationed for eight weeks in Fort Jackson, Columbia to complete basic training. His day started with a five a.m. run. When he got back to his barracks he was expected to start cleaning, even though no amount of cleaning would ever be able to satisfy the Drill Sargent. The routine after the platoon got done running was that they had to clean their boots so that they could go out and march but once you were done marching you had to clean your boots once again just to complete other drills.