One could not determine friend from foe, so all Vietnamese became second-rate distrusted humans who were killing our precious young men. I was seduced by circumstance into shunning the weighty
5 In the x-ray room; our Viet Cong friend to the right
message of the Hippocratic Oath I had recited upon graduation from medical school. My moral compass morphed from the stateside moral code of a secure nation to the “you’re not in Kansas anymore, Toto” war-zone moral code.
The wounded Americans were treated preferentially; the Vietnamese casualties were overflown to their (ARVN) hospital in Hue, where survival was circumspect. There was no Vietnamese blood-banking system. As a priority, the American precious lifesaving liquid was given to our boys. A limited supply was available for the ARVN wounded. The outdated blood was sent from our blood bank to the ARVN hospital in Hue.
These disclosures may horrify some. They should, but visualize your son’s desperation as he screamed in unrelenting pain with his life’s blood oozing from his wounds onto the ED concrete floor only to be directed to a drain by the spray of water from a nearby hose.
Dehumanizing the Vietnamese people was part of the war-zone moral code and condoned putting American boys first in line for treatment. Would I be capable of defaulting to the stateside code upon returning home? Many who served are still in limbo wanting to engage their original stateside-default moral code so to be capable of navigating normal society but are unable to completely shed their guilt or even create a boundary around the perceived sin of succumbing to the war-zone moral code.
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