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      The Wannabe: Their numbers seem to grow      

Jim Johnson, Coach of the Toronto Blue Jays decided he would tell his ball players about his fighting experiences while in Vietnam. He fought hard while he was with the USMC. He told his players the HELL he went through while serving his country. He told his wife about the death that was always around him; about all of his close friends who never made it home. He was both admired and respected. He'd survived the war and went on to become Coach of a Major League baseball team. He had done well for himself! It wasn't until one of his players decided he would honor Jim with an insignia from his old unit in Vietnam that is was discovered that Jim had never served in Vietnam. Jim had sadly "assumed" the rank of those story tellers known today as THE WANNABE.

I returned home from Vietnam after my tour with the USMC and experienced much of what many of us did. Rejection anger and at best apathy. I was never spat upon as some of us were. I never spoke of my experiences while in Vietnam. My family; mom and dad, younger brother and sister never asked about it and my former highschool friends' opinions on our involvement in the Vietnam War was clear; we simply didn't belong there. My ex-wife had been a flower child and though we never argued about Vietnam, we just never discussed it. I believed as many of us did; just put it in the past. We did what we thought was right; we honorably served our country and we had done what was expected of us as American citizens.

The strong feelings that nearly tore our country apart during the 70's regarding our involvement in the Vietnam War are well known. Our country survived, however, and went on to Honor the men and women who paid with the ultimate sacrifice. The 50,000 plus names listed on the black granite WALL in Washington, DC is probablly one of the biggest testamonials for the Vietnam Veteran and our country's healing. Other towns across our country also have Memorial Walls, they fly the Black POW/MIA flag and yearly Memorial parades remember those who served in ALL wars.

Movies were made about Vietnam; many of them filled with either exagggeration or events that simply never happened. Many of us either don't watch them or if we do, we watch them with a myriad of feelings: there's anger, depression, tongue-in-cheek and at times we're even able to laugh at the absurdity of some of these movies.

But then there are those who have seen these movies. They have seen all of them. They take it upon themselves to tell everybody about their "make believe" experiences while in Vietnam. These people have read articles and books on Vietnam and have spoken with Vietnam Veterans about the war. They've probably watched the History channel when the Vietnam War was being told. They have accumulated enough knowledge and information to convince the people they spew their lies upon that they too were one of the many brave servicemen who put their life on the line. They have many war stories to tell. They have gone throuh HELL and come back the other side a stronger and wiser person. They tell their listeners that they were just doing the right thing, however, if one of these listener's happens to be a "real" Vietnam Veteran with a question, the WANNABE suddenly reverts to, "I really don't want to talk about that part of the War."

These pretenders and liars are a despicable bunch. Their total disregard for those that gave their lives so they could lie about their ficticious tours are doing such dishonor to our real HEROES that I am experiencing difficulty. I used to just shrug the wannabe off with the belief that as sick and disgusting as they are, they weren't hurting anyone. I no longer believe that's true. Their false "heroic" stories of bravery do hurt. They hurt every person who "really" served. These wannabes need to know how much harm they're really doing by spreading their dirt. They probablly don't care but they also have to know that one of these days they'll run across the Vietnam Veteran, if they haven't already who won't just walk away from their BS stories but will also teach them a lesson they're unlikely to ever forget.

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Copyright 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003   Roy E. Stanford.