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A veteran still fighting for othersMay 26th, 2011 at Thu, 26th, 2011 at 2:52 pm by markklaas
Robert A. Boyd is an interesting man who went through hell – Vietnam hell.
He was a CIA-trained special operations sniper – skilled with weapons and jungle warfare – during his tours of Vietnam in 1967-68. He survived the horrors of the war, the Tet Offensive, and came home a different man, a torn man. The war remains with him – to this day.
“I never left the combat theater,” he said. “I brought it home with me.”
Boyd, a longtime South Sounder, is an author of a book detailing his experiences and those of his fellow soldier. Today, he is working to improve conditions and ensure benefits for veterans. Today, he continues to suffer himself, a 64-year-old veteran with PTSD and other ailments.
To learn more about him and his compelling book, visit his website, www.codenamelitefoot.com.
I had a chance to sit down with Boyd. The man was generous with his time and his many experiences. His story appears Thursday evening online at www.auburn-reporter.com and in print Friday.
We covered several aspects of the war, from weaponry to policies.
Here are some parts of the interview that didn’t make the printed story:
Boyd said the common soldier wasn’t trained or equipped properly for a different kind of war.
“The normal, everyday individual who was sent into Vietnam was not trained to be there,” Boyd said. “It was an on-the-job, live-or-die situation, and a lot of these kids died because they were ‘Vietnam stupid.’ … What I saw in the faces of these kids … I mean, I was a kid myself … we were all full of ourselves. We were told that we were the best. We were told we could get the job done. We worked to that end. What I found in Vietnam … is that kids were sent in with no understanding.
“A lot of them didn’t have a good education. A lot of them joined the military just because they needed some kind of structure in their life,” Boyd said. “But when they got to Vietnam, they stepped into a meat grinder. They literally did. They were fighting an enemy who had years of training to fight in their own country. … These high school kids had no real jungle combat training.”
The military equipped the U.S. soldier with the wrong weaponry. The M16 was a bad choice, he said.
“The M16 (rifle), in particle, got so many people killed because the first weapons taking into the country didn’t function right,” Boyd insisted. “Our guys were told they didn’t need to clean them … they were self-cleaning … and they jammed. And sometimes half the guys who went on patrol came back dead because their weapons jammed.
“The Vietcong were winning because they had superior weaponry … the AK, which is a helluva weapon. Even today, it’s listed as one of the top weapons of all-time.”
Boyd had high marks for the Marine.
“I never saw a Marine I couldn’t be proud of. They were good men.”
On his actions as a sniper:
“I reacted the right way. I think that’s about all I can say about that. I reacted the way I was brought up to react, told to react. And I have tried to live my life that way.”
Was the war win-able?
“No. … We never made any headway in that country, and I never ran out of targets.”