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Supporting Materials for Sir! No Sir!
Why I'm Still Alive
My name is Terry Whitmore. I am 21 years of age. I was born in Memphis, Tennessee; I have an average size- Negro American family, 3 brothers and 2 sisters.
Soon after graduation from high school I received a letter from my Selective Service Board, asking me to report for a physical. After this I received another letter which gave me the choice of volunteering now or being drafted later. So under these circumstances, I was inducted voluntarily into the U.S. Marines.
In training, I was taught the old military way, do now and ask questions later. I had somewhat of a head start on most of the fellows because of my previous training in high school. I had been a captain in the NDCC (National Defense Cadet Corps). Therefore, on entering the Marines I was already an expert rifleman. But on becoming a Marine the training was very, very hard.. Day in and day out the word "kill" was constantly pound into our heads. We were taught to uphold the long traditional history of the Marines as being the best America had to offer.
After receiving orders to Vietnam, I felt it would be an honour to serve my country, for I was told the war is for freedom. Also on receiving orders, I did the way I was taught, do now and ask questions later.
For six. months, I fought in the fearsome Jungles and hill tops of Vietnam and during my stay I must admit, I killed and destroyed and burnt everything in my path.
My unit was composed of young men, around the ages of 18 and 21. My commanding officer was out for revenge after losing a brother in the conflict. After his arrival within two weeks the young men were turned into a mob of blood hungry animals.
On December 15, my company was on patrol when we ran into a large force of NVA. Before we could move out, the enemy spotted us, forcing us to fight. My platoon was then cut off from the rest of the Company. The enemy laid a perfect ambush, which sent, the men tumbling to the ground. Only two of us were able to get away. Afterward I heard the cries of my Commanding Officer calling my name. Without thinking of the danger I rushed out into the open to his side. The enemy had a clear view of me and could have taken my life very easily, but he didn't. Why? After picking the wounded officer up they hit him again, still never hiting me. Why? I managed to get him to safety.
By this time help had come down from Con Thien. Man and tanks were moving in and jets circled the air waiting for the sign to drop their bombs. Myself and a buddy were wounded and left behind as the tanks retreated and the jets began to shell the surrounding area. While I laid praying, I said to myself if I made it out of this one, I would never cone back to another one. And thank God I did make it out after three hours. A company of mitt came down to get us. I was rescued and transfered to a hospital. That was the last time I was on a battlefield and it will stay the last.
While in the hospital at Cam Rhan Bay, President Johnson awarded me with the purple-heart and the bronze star for my actions in battle. I was treated like a real hero, but deep down inside me the big question "Why?" Why did he shoot my white buddies and let me go? Was it because he knows that the black man has as hard a time as he does? Did he know I was being forced to fight him, and did he know that when I got back I would still be fighting a war? Did he know this? I wonder!
By some of you I may be labeled as a coward or some sort of "ism". Well I'm not an "ism" and I'm not a coward. It takes more guts and Balls to say NO! I'm not going, rather than to say Yes Sir, I'll go to Vietnam. I've been there once, and I had to desert to keep from going back, and listen tome fellows .... 1 know what it's like.... WAR IS HELL!
Ask yourself, why are we fighting in the Nam? Viet Nam is having a family problem, between the North and South. When we had family problems. (the Civil War), Viet Nam didn't come and interfere because it wasn't their business. Just like this, it's none of our business what Viet Nam does.
The war is destroying our highly educational culture of the American people. If LBJ is so educated, why can't he compromise and talk things out instead of using our blood and our lives?
Some of you have nothing to do with the war. But I know you have relatives or buddies that do, that are right now laying in some mud hole or yelling for help. He's a long way off and you can't help him, but, you can bring him home. I know that it is hard to take individual actions. But you can form groups and help the fellows in the Nams, bring them hone. And for those of you that are engaged in the Activity on the battle fields, I would advise you to do "like wise" and follow me and hundreds of others, and remember it takes guts TO GO but it takes Balls to say NO. Anybody can have guts but only a man has balls.
The Second Front, vol. 1, no. 2