Vietnam War veteran interview

Subject: American History
Type: Analytical Essay
Pages: 5
Word count: 1476
Topics: Interview, Stress, Vietnam War


One of the historical events that took place between 1960s and 1970s was the Vietnam War also known as the Resistance War (Gibbons and Conrad W., 2014, P.42).The War actually started in 1955 to around 1975. The fatal event left around 2 million civilians dead, and for that reason, everyone who lived between those periods will vividly give a narrative of the event. James Burns is one of those people who lived at the error of the war and it is the reason I chose him as my interviewee so as to let me really understand what the Vietnam War entails. According to me I can say the fetal war left those who lived in the error of the war with the Post-traumatic stress disorders. Post-traumatic stress disorder is a mental disorder which develops people who experienced scary events such as fatal wars. Among the questions that I had to inquire from the interviewee so as to prove my statement were as follows:

  1. How old were you during the Vietnam War?
  2. What were you doing during the war?
  3. Did the war affect your living?
  4. What was your source of information for the war progress?
  5. What memory vividly reminds you of the war?
  6. According to you was the United States a hero, villain, or fool in the Vietnam War?
  7. What do you have to tell the current generation about wars?


James Burns was born in 1941 and at the beginning of the Vietnam War he was at the age of 14. With the interest in military James Burns was recruited into the military. He underwent the military training in 1958 where he acquired the tactical techniques that made him survive the terrifying Vietnam War. It is being a militant that made him to get involved in the war since such event in any country or state makes militants part and parcel in the protection of the civilians (Melanson and Richard A., 2015, P. 93). It is with my interviewee younger age during the beginning of the war that made the fatal events stick to his mind to date leading to psychological stress.


In 1959 James Burns was recruited into the military and it was in 1961 that he was promoted to be the head of the military helicopter crew with the title of chief crew (Gibbons& Conrad W., 2014 P. 5243). In 1964 he was stationed in Philippines where their duties were among others to use helicopters and rescue their colleagues who were fighting the first Southeast Asian war. It is at this mission when James Burns saw his colleagues being killed but he could do nothing since the enemies were also firing at their helicopter.

James Burns’ helicopter was among the first unit to be sent to the Southeast Asian with the mission of coverage and rescuing their military officers in the war. It is on these missions in 1966 when the fetal event known as the Gulf of Tonkin occurred; this is an international confrontation that the American military decided to fight directly in the Vietnam War (Melanson and Richard A., 2015, P. 95). James burns stayed in the Southeast Asian war till 1996 where he returned to America.

In 1967 James burns was back in Vietnam War, this time stationed at Nha Trang, Vietnam. This time being a well trained soldier he flew as a door gunner where he was tasked with firing and maintaining the armament in the helicopter. Their unit, the 19th special operation squadron was termed by the American military as the best ever at that time. Those missions, the interviewee said were very secretive since the United States at that period was reporting to the world that they were not participating in the war yet they were (Gibbons and Conrad W., 2015 P. 44). Therefore, their helicopters were never marked not even with an air force flag, and if they were to be shot down their helicopters could not be identified. This fighting technique was called the “secret war”. In 1968 the interviewee was back to the states.

In 1969 James Burns was taken to another mission in Thailand, where this time round being in charge of flight engineering and the main door gunner on their aircraft. This time round their squadron the 20th squadron was known as the “Dust devils” since they were inserting and recovering teams further north. In 1970 he returned to the United States of America and was never assigned any other duties in Vietnam War (Melanson and Richard A., 2015, P. 95).

Despite being given a lot of awards such as five distinguished Flying Crosses among others, the interviewee expressed much psychological traumatic stresses such as nightmares, and for that reason he mentioned to avoid flashing back to those hard moments of the war.


James burns missed his family members especially his young daughter and son while he was in the war. Many of his Colleague members of his unit were killed and that left a mark in his mind that he has remained thanking God that his life was not taken in the line of duty (Gibbons and Conrad W., 2014, P. 45). Their helicopter was shot down after he had returned to States and many of his colleagues died.


Air force radio remained the source of information during the entire period of the war. The stars and stripe news papers also supplied some information, and they were always up to date as far as the Vietnam War was concern. While at the state the interviewee mentioned to have followed the state of the war in TV stations like everyone (Gibbons and Conrad W., 2014, P. 47). It is while at the states that the interviewee mentioned to have acquired lots of stress disorders since he would watch his colleague soldiers being gunned down in war.


Some vivid memories got stuck in the interviewees mind since the end of the Vietnam War. Among those memories is when they would attend some missions that their enemies would discover their colleagues hiding places and his plane could land and rescue them while on fire (Melanson and Richard A., 2015, P. 98). It is on such occasions that his colleagues could be wounded and some could be killed, such ordeals still remained in my interviewees mind to date.


James burns said United States made the right decisions to join the war since it was aimed at stopping the war from spreading and to assist the people of Southeast Asian (Gibbons and Conrad W., 2014, P. 47). It was however, sad for him since they did not accomplish the goal of winning the war, they lost. The reason that they lost a lot of service men in the line of duty also remained lingering in his mind since most of them were his friends, but what could he do? Freedom is said not to be free and it was a do or die strategy. With the reason that the United States pulled out of the war, James Burns felt United States went to the war as a hero but ended up being foolish by dropping out of the war hence losing the battle.

What do you have to tell the current generation about the war?

The interviewee’s advice to the current generations about the wars is that fighting back is not the best way of solving a problem. He said fighting only leads to massive loss of lives and properties and instead of going to war conflict resolution works better than that. He encouraged both parties coming together to solve disputes and if defeated to arrive at an agreement third parties such as neighboring countries or states can be called upon to help end the disputes.


The Vietnam War that took place in 1960s and some part of 1970s brought with it a lot of Post-traumatic stress disorders to those who participated (Melanson and Richard A., 2015, P. 99). According to my interviewee, James Burns, one of the air force soldiers who participated in the war had a lot of bad memories about the war that always leaves him in tears. Some of the memories includes: His colleagues perish in cold blood due to the war, missing death by a whisker while shooting back and his colleagues’ plane crashing after he was back in the States. Therefore, those who participated in Vietnam War suffered from psychological stress and thus they need psychotherapy interventions such as counseling so as to get reed of the stress disorder.

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  1. Gibbons, Conrad W. The US Government and the Vietnam War: Executive and Legislative Roles and Relationships, Part IV: July 1965-January 1968. Vol.310. Princeton University Press, 2014
  2. Melanson, Richard A. American foreign policy since the Vietnam War: The search for consensus from Nixon to Clinton. Routledge,2015.
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