Basil Paquet on his experiences in Vietnam
From - UM Libraries on August 13th, 2021
Basil Paquet, writer and Miami resident, gives a brief autobiographical sketch. In the 1960s, he attended the University of Connecticut, and Paquet talks about attending lessons in "Operation Rolling Thunder," the bombing campaign of Vietnam. He says that he studied the war from historical, ethical, and other views, and decided that the war in Vietnam was wrong. When Paquet was drafted, he hoped that his heart murmur would preclude him from passing the physical; when it didn't, he declared himself a conscientious objector. Paquet talks about the Johnson Administration's "Project One Hundred Thousand," designed to enroll one hundred thousand African Americans, who were not eligible to join the military with its benefits and pay before the Vietnam War required so many more bodies each year. He observes that most of the new 350,000 inductees were poor, undereducated, and Southern – and a huge number were black. By the end of the Vietnam War, African Americans accounted for 12% of combat deaths. Paquet talks about his eventual volunteering in 1966 to the role of a medic and his assignment to the 24th Evacuation Hospital in Long Binh, South Vietnam, in 1967. He remembers the atrocities and political corruption that he witnessed, speaking particularly about Laos. Paquet recounts three incidents that occurred during the Tet Offensive. The first was when an injured child was brought in and a priest wanted to baptize her, but Paquet prevented this “spiritual kidnapping.” The second was when a fellow officer who reminded him of “Little Orphan Annie at 25” freaked out and began to beat a Viet Cong prisoner in his chest wound; she was forcibly stopped. The third was when a Military Intelligence officer tried to coerce a 12-year-old wounded boy into giving secrets; Paquet insisted that the boy needed medical attention; the boy spat into his face, seeing no difference among any of these Americans. After the war ended, Paquet joined the VVAW, Vietnam Veterans Against the War, and joined a march on Washington. He talks about founding the publishing company "1st Casuality Press." He gives statistics on casualties and wounded.