A little micro nonfiction from Vietnam Veterans


At recent meeting of the war memoir writing group at the Miami Valley Veterans Museum, I introduced the participants to an approach poet Anna Caters uses which I call creative non-fiction micro-fiction with American haikus. This is a rather long descriptor; however, it explains that these veterans were recording experiences from their military lives with a few words (I advised using 100 or fewer although micro can be up to 300), The story is then followed by an American haiku in which the author may express a reaction to the story using three lines of poetry. Japanese haiku use syllables in the lines as follows, 5,7,5, and usually have an image from nature. We Americans are independent rebels and do whatever we like, but we usually use three short lines.

Mel Shane wrote as follows:

Got my first assignment after training because I was a college graduate. A month later I discovered I had been “bought” for 15 pounds of Army coffee at three times the going rate.

Good, relieved,

happy, wanted, and

at the same post.

I was only spit on once – the day I came home from Vietnam at the San Francisco airport where we landed- through a chain-link fence by a curly-haired, blonde guy, maybe 21 or so.

Tired after

15 hours of flying,

Stupid son of a bitch.

Nov. 29, 2023

Mark Bradley wrote:

Served during the Vietnam Era and it still haunts me today when I recall servicing the C-141 jet cargo planes coming into our Alaskan air base with all the fallen soldiers aboard: a chilling experience indeed. It , however, is their gift, their sacrifice, that allows us to enjoy the peace and freedom of our nation, the U.S.A.

Service but called on with

more duties to perform,

No danger in Alaska.

Nov. 29, 2023

Roger Jones wrote:

Arrived on Sept. 13, 1966, at Da Nang Air Base, Vietnam, and we were awaiting orders so we could go to a new unit in country. The clerk from 1st M P Bn began calling out names of those who would be transferred to the M P Bn. His voice seemed so familiar. When my name was called, I stepped forward. I couldn’t believe who I saw: my neighbor Jim Reece from Steubenville, Ohio. We were halfway around the world. Who knew!


We just looked at each other.

Lo and behold-

Nov. 28, 2023

Steve King wrote:

Had been out of the Navy a few months when I got word from my best friend that one of our buddies had died, drunk and killed in a car wreck. This same best friend wrote me a letter soon after telling me about how he and a friend were drinking and lamenting the death of this man. That very night, lightning struck twice. My best friend was worried that his friend was too drunk to drive. He was and he, too, died.

I was absent, but

would my presence have

made a difference?

Nov. 28, 2023

Nick Mott wrote:

When I was in country in Nha Be, Vietnam, I got a bad throat infection, and the Navy medical corpsman decided it was beyond his expertise to treat, so he sent me to the hospital in Saigon, an old French hotel. An Army surgeon took one look at my throat and decided he needed to do some cutting. It was a mess with blood, crap, and crud everywhere. Afterwards, he directed me to a line of military men waiting to get shots of antibiotics. I got in the line and soon discovered that most of the men in the line were being treated for sexually transmitted diseases. Once the medical staff looked at my papers, they treated me so much better than they had treated those other guys.

Glad I was there

for the right reason:

No bar girls for me.

Nov. 30, 2023

Vivian B. Blevins. Ph.D., teaches telecommunication employees from around the country and students at Edison State Community College and works with veterans. You may reach her at 937-778-3815 or [email protected].

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