The Wall Of Broken Dreams——Book Trailer

Posted in Uncategorized on May 1, 2014 by eldorado90

internet archives footage, personal stills and subtitles of content and reviews make up this brief book trailer for my novel “The Wall Of Broken Dreams.” Accompanying music is provided by by Hank Rice and the Starfires.

The Wall Of Broken Dreams

Posted in Uncategorized on February 17, 2014 by eldorado90

Book trailer for my novel “The Wall Of Broken Dreams.”
The video contains actual combat footage from the Vietnam War, still photos, subtitles of story content and book review quotes.
The video is accompanied by an instrumental titled “Hand Full of Blood” which was recorded by Hank Rice And The Starfires.” I also played drums on this recording way back in 1963.

Oh What a Night (A Room with a View)

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on January 21, 2012 by eldorado90

Oh What a Night
(A Room with a View)
by Duke Barrett
Bong Son, Vietnam-1966
At approximately 3 PM on yet another hot and humid September day, the 2nd squad of the reconnaissance platoons 8th cavalry, 1st airborne brigade, left our firebase and headed down a steep heavily forested hillside to set up an ambush. The mission? To kill bad guys I suppose. As a Specialist Fourth Class I wasn’t privy to much information. The one thing I did know, it was dead on monsoon season and we’d be sleeping out in the rain again.
At the firebase the platoon had been temporarily assigned a secure location, secure for a recon platoon that is. Perched high on a hill many klicks north of scenic downtown Bong Son, we provided perimeter security for an artillery battery. Unfortunately the high elevation of our position brought us even closer to an unforgiving sun. The poncho liners hung over our dug in positions mitigated the sun’s glare but failed to ameliorate an overabundance of mosquitoes and humidity.
Making sure we didn’t get too comfortable in our new digs, battalion hierarchy found something useful for us to do. Conduct another patrol. Wow, how’d they come up with that idea? It must have been at least twenty-four hours since our last patrol. They definitely had an imagination deficit, or so it seemed. I guess it must have been put away in a lock-box somewhere. Battalion would order up a patrol, we’d saddle- up
Redundancy and boredom were an ever-present problem because at times it seemed like all you did was follow the guy in front of you, who followed the guy in front of him, who was following orders from somebody who told him what to do. To stay sharp we had to fight off the cobwebs that tried to form in our mind. Aw, to daydream.
Sergeant Bishop was the patrol leader that afternoon as our squad of eight paratroopers descended down the hillside cutting, dicing and slicing our way into an even denser triple canopied covered valley.
We stopped to take a break at dusk. It seemed to turn from dusk to dark in a matter of seconds in the belly of the beast, the jungle. We’d stopped alongside, not on, but alongside a trail, a rather wide trail, to take a much-needed break. A good recon team almost never took the trail. Besides, that’d be too damn easy. We walked off of the damn things. Kept us alive.
At that point Sergeant Bishop checked his map to find out where the hell we were and then confirmed our position by radio with battalion. Hungry as hell, we broke out the c-rats and sat down in a tight circle perimeter on an already wet jungle turf for supper.
With our p38’s in hand, aka can openers, the feast was on. The menu consisted of ham and lima beans, ham and eggs chopped, chipped beef and other culinary specialties. These mouth-savoring entrees were only to be followed up with a small can of warm fruit. That and a canteen full of warm iodine tablet tasting water made one wonder what more could life possibly offer?
Stomachs filled, it was back to business. Following a short after-dinner stroll, we’d apparently reached our objective; a well-used trail, a possible corridor for enemy troops. The mission, to watch and listen for enemy movement and if possible, kill ‘em. Just as I thought, great!
We set up fields of fire on a steep embankment overlooking the trail by clearing the lanes of dense foliage, set up claymore mines to our immediate front and then settled into two-man positions for another comfy evening. You couldn’t beat these accommodations with a stick. Well-concealed only yards up and off of the trail, we followed strict noise discipline. Faces painted and dressed to the teeth in the latest camouflage look, we blended right into the terrain. Quiet as the surrounding greenery and ready for some shuteye, we followed the standard sleep and guard duty schedule of two hours on, two hours off, per individual.
Battalion, we’ve got a problem; our sleeping arrangements. See, that steep embankment wasn’t conducive for a good nights sleep. Oh well, who’s complaining? Gotta make the best of it. Battalion wouldn’t have cared any damn way.
Lying back on the wet ground, we swatted away mosquitoes and stared up at the pitch-black tripled canopied ceiling as we awaited our prey. Couldn’t see a damned thing. It was black as the ace of spades, certainly not a room with a view. Extremely uncomfortable, we longed to be in the comforts of that dug in foxhole back on the mountain’s top. You know that saying, “you don’t know what you got till its gone?” Sho ‘nuf is true. A little sun, no matter how hot, sounded pretty good. Lord only knows what was crawling around us. Compared to where we were, that firebase seemed like a Holiday Inn.
Just when you thought things couldn’t possibly get any worse, they did. Damn rain, and lots of it. After all it was monsoon season and Mother Nature didn’t disappoint. All of a sudden the thought of lying on your back on the wet ground, on a steep embankment, sounded pretty good. See, that was before the rain started. It rained so hard it became impossible to lie down without feeling you were being waterboarded. To make things worse we started to involuntarily slide down the embankment toward the trail and literally dug in our heels to stop our forward motion over the claymore mines that we’d so carefully positioned.
Try as we may, it became more than an effort to keep from being washed down the embankment. In our haste to stop our downward motion we were forced to grab onto available vines and branches, all the while hoping to God that no one would accidentally squeeze one of the mine handles by mistake, causing a premature explosion. The mission, like us recondos was in peril. Virtually blinded by the dark and with no idea of how long the intense rain would continue to fall, things couldn’t have gone more swimmingly, so to speak. The only thing we could do was hold on, onto anything that is with the exception of those claymore handles.
Fearing the deluge could have swept us onto the trail, we became nostalgic for the immediate past. The reason? The trail, that big trail we fought so hard not to be swept onto, had taken on a new life. Real life, that is. Life in the form of troops, wet enemy troops, like hundreds of live, wet enemy troops.
Outnumbered approximately a hundred to one, our options became limited. We held on for dear life and selfishly prayed for our own survival as an enemy company, if not regiment, passed by only a few feet from our sixteen wet feet. I prayed to God that we didn’t have a hero amongst us who felt it his patriotic duty to “open-up” on the enemy. He or She apparently answered my prayers. Not a shot was fired in anger, or fear for that matter. Hell, the weapons were so waterlogged they probably wouldn’t have fired any damn way.
In the dead of night, the only thing we feared was fear itself. Well, fear and the hundreds of passing disgruntled enemy soldiers. The only thing we could see were the moving vines and branches pushed aside by the heavily armed, water-logged alien beings to our immediate front. The fact that we were damn near on top of them, or possibly right under their feet, damn near speed bumps, proved to me beyond a doubt that they were about as anxious to confront us, as we were they. Misery loves company.
For more than an hour, possibly two, or what seemed like an eternity, the enemy passed by, all the time unaware of our existence. I am certain that we, the recon team, invented “stealth” that soggy evening. The sound of the pouring rain fortunately drowned (no pun intended) out any sounds one with normal hearing would’ve been able to hear. To insure our well-being we turned off our radio, clamped our mouths shut so as not to hear our teeth chatter and prayed our hearts wouldn’t rip right out of our new fashionable but yet functional tropical jungle fatigue shirts.
Mercifully, dawn arrived right on time. In what could very well have been the longest night of our lives, mine for certain; proof of the existence of a large enemy force had been left behind. The trail, covered with hundreds of footprints, discarded wrappers, cigarette butts, human waste and trampled foliage, bore witness to what we almost saw.
Relieved and happy to be alive, we turned on our PRC-25 radio and called in our sit-rep. Oh, and by the way, our painted faces were damn near lily-white by early morn. Aw, you just can’t beat a good shower. They’re really refreshing. Know what I’m saying?
Following a thorough recon of the immediate area, we again broke for a meal and a smoke. Those that did smoke lit up to settle frayed nerves. After consuming more tasty c-rats and some now lukewarm water, we took a new look at our even newer lease on life. We then climbed back to the mountaintop to the Holiday Inn where one could see life from rooms with a view, for a well-deserved rest.

The Good Old days? “It’s All Good!”

Posted in Nostalgia, Vetnam veteran Authors/musicians, Vietnam vet authors and musicians, Vietnam Vets, Vietnam Vets and Authors, Vietnam War on July 6, 2010 by eldorado90

               The Good Old Days?      “It’s All Good”!

 

As the years go by many of us old troopers long for days of old. Many a day I hear, overhear or engage in conversations of those days when we were young and in the military. A trying time for many of us for sure. Inevitably someone labels said days as the good old days. My question; why do we refer to those days as the good old days? Were they? Well, yes and no. I’ll offer a suggestion as to why we believe they were and why they may not have been all that they’ve been cracked up to be.

Do we really long for the days of basic training where we got up at ungodly hours of the AM only to be harassed? Well, not me. Do we really long for the days we left the comfy confines of our bedrooms at home in order to sleep in an uncomfortable bunk bed in an old dilapidated wooden firetrap with forty or fifty other guy. Well once again, not me. Do you long for mystery meals that were passed off as breakfast, lunch and dinner in the mess halls? I hate to be repetitive, but you know, not me. Wait! How could I have forgotten? KP. Good God almighty! Literally peeling potatoes, cleaning grease traps and washing dishes, pots and pans in the wee hours of the morning, all the while being given the evil eye by an overweight E-5 or E-6. I mean these mess hall NCOs never met a mystery meal they didn’t eat. Ya, they were the good old days all right.

But hey, think back, it only got better. How about the barracks latrine? Need I say more? I didn’t think so. Depending on your training posts and time of year, there just wasn’t anything better than standing in formation as you waited and waited, braving the elements for times that seemed to have no end. Ya, the good old days.

Sleep, you know, that pleasure of life experienced as a child, an adolescent or a teen. Who knew that according to the Unpublished Military Doctrine of Sleep, that one of the most important aspect of a teen’s life, sleep, was overrated? Don’t need no stinking sleep. It’s good to walk around in a daze for the first thirty to forty minutes of the early morn. Builds character, right? Ya, those were the good old days.

Now, the PT, that’s physical conditioning for you civilian types. I’m all for it. At the time of my induction I happened to be in shape. Obviously I was young and somewhat athletic. As a result of my conditioning I had no trouble with PT and it certainly enhanced my ability to navigate difficult terrain as an Army “paratrooper/grunt” both in Vietnam and stateside. On the other hand if one was overweight, non-athletic or in just plain lousy shape, PT proved to be difficult and cadre made life absolutely miserable for them no matter how noble the reasoning. I would be willing to wager that few of these unconditioned souls at most, if any, remember those days as the good old days.

Once you completed your basic training you were presented with the opportunity to travel this great nation of ours en route to yet another training facility. If you were of a certain skin complexion, in the South of our country where numerous military installations were and are, while in-transit you could legally be relegated to specified restrooms, water fountains and lunch areas. I mean can you imagine being on your way to or coming home from a new assignment, Vietnam, or anywhere for that matter and having to deal with that nonsense? So I ask, were those the good old days? I don’t think so and I can damn well guarantee that anyone who dealt with such situations has a different take on this subject.

No, in many respects those weren’t really the good old days. Those were the young days of our lives, our youth. That in large part helped make them good. The days when our bodies and minds were ripe for any and all stimuli be it good or bad. I believe that when we long for the good old days what we really are longing for is our youth and subconsciously the innocence that was stolen from us in those days and since. I mean look at the popularity of “oldies but goodies” radio stations or “retro” Camaros. These are but two examples of good things that come to mind. It goes without saying that many days and many things were good but there were also plenty of bad things in the, you know, good old days.

If you really think about it, the good days are the days we are alive. The days we see our spouses, kids, grandkids and friends. The days both present and past that aren’t filled with strife, conflict or Heaven forbid, tragedy. We miss fond thoughts of a time in our lives when we were in our formative years. We are nostalgic. Most people are and there is nothing wrong with that. It’s romanticism with the past. A time in our lives when we had not yet become so troubled with financial woes, politics, relationships or life in general.

In reality, the good old days can be yesterday or today. Sure we have problems, but most of us have a pretty decent life in spite of the onset of ailments. Nowadays some of us have bad knees, feet, backs, arthritis or other health issue. In the good old days those ailments were for older folks like our parents, relatives and their friends. Not us, we were young and tough and could lick anything they threw at us. How the hell did we become them?

 We complained a lot about lack of sleep, KP, harassment and all other aspects of that, dare I overstate, traumatic experience? Okay, I overstated it. Anyways, that’s how we survived it. Complaining has its place. The American Soldier, Sailor Airman and Marine are natural complainers. I know I am. I still complain, ask my wife.

 When I look in the mirror I see a weathered and worn face with the absence of hair follicles on the top of my head, gray stubble on my chin and face and the telling eyes of one who has seen things that prove not all days of old were good. Let’s hope that the life changing experiences we’ve seen and done in the good old days, to include the Vietnam experience, were educational, built character and helped to make us a better person. I sure hope so. Having said that I would only be kidding myself if I truly believed that all of those days were good. It’s kind of like making lemonade out of lemons, or whatever that analogy is.

As I sit here and rant, the arthritis in my hands and right foot are a bit of a nuisance. I watch what I eat so as not to raise my cholesterol and blood pressure. I wrestle everyday and have for many a year with a temper that occasionally flies out of control. At present I’m ahead on points. I’m also nostalgic for my younger mind and body but wouldn’t trade my wife, kids and grandkids to get either.  One more thing, I sleep less than I used to. Hey, maybe the Army was right. Sleep is overrated.

In today’s jargon “It’s all good!” is a frequently used response to the question of “ how you doing?”  I like that answer and find it to be quite descriptive. In my mind it more or less qualifies the good with the bad.  I believe it’s fair to say that these are good days, certainly not all that good, but you know, not all that bad. If you were to ask me “how am I  doing?”  I’d have to say, “It’s all good!”

.

Memories of my Induction

Posted in Vetnam veteran Authors/musicians, Vietnam Vets, Vietnam Vets and Authors, Vietnam War with tags , , on June 25, 2010 by eldorado90

 

In the spring of 1965 rumor had it that the draft was going to get all of us no-account punks who roamed the streets, off of the streets of the factory town I grew up in, Kenosha, Wisconsin. Well they weren’t just whistling Dixie. The good old US of A went and got itself  militarily involved in some God forsaken place in Southeast Asia known as Vietnam, and needed bodies, young male bodies, and I qualified. I received my “Greetings” (draft notice) letter from Uncle Sam in April of 1965  and was instructed to report at 6:00 AM, June 17th, 1965, to the local draft board at the KYF buliding, also known as the Kenosh Youth Foundation, downtown Kenosha, Wisconsin. Being quite familiar with the location, I had no problem finding it since I was once a member of the Kenosha Evening News Golden Gloves Boxing team in 1962 and 1964 and our training facilities were in the basement of the KYF.

            So after a series of goodbye parties, hugs and kisses from my family and a thought to be romantic farewell from my fiancé, myself and a host of other conscripts who’d been rounded up off the streets of Kenosha, reluctantly reported in the early AM to the KYF for the purpose of induction into the armed forces of the United States. On that morning of the seventeenth of June, 1965 we boarded a Milwaukee bound bus that would take us to the official Southern Wisconsin Induction Center for our physical, and if healthy, our formal induction ceremony. Well as luck would have it, I was fit as a horse, a small horse but nonetheless fit. They wanted me; they really, really wanted me.

 Nothing terribly remarkable had yet happened that day and before I knew it, I had been sworn in as a Private in the U.S. Army. Terrific! Shortly after the swearing in all volunteers and draftees were bussed to the train station in downtown Milwaukee where we caught a train that took us Southbound to Louisville, Kentucky, twenty miles from our final destination of Fort Knox, Kentucky. Talk about whistling Dixie.

            Within a short time I came to realize my life had changed, and not for the better. Chaperoned by MP’s, we weren’t afforded many liberties, and as a free spirit I found this aspect troubling. As we passed through the cities of Chicago, Illinois and Indianapolis, Indiana, it became apparent from our assigned seating arrangements that we’d only be afforded a passing glance of what the cities had to offer its visitors. It had also become apparent to me that we weren’t visitors who were passing through, but instead, cargo. That’s right, just United States Military cargo, in assigned seating, passing through. Apparently the possibility of conscripts going AWOL was a concern for those in charge. The MP’s kept a tight leash on us.

            At approximately 9:00 PM that evening, our group of soldiers to be arrived at the train station in Louisville, Kentucky, where we were met by a few surly and burly NCOs  from the Fort Knox training center, our destination. An astute observer, hell, even a moron could tell immediately that these guys weren’t all that friendly. The welcoming staff of non-coms unsmilingly guided us toward awaiting Greyhound busses for transfer to Fort Knox. In the late PM of the seventeenth, we finally arrived at our destination, the infamous army basic training center. Terrific.  Up to that point, all in all, things had proven to be a bit unpleasant, but uneventful.

It was at the moment of arrival at Fort Knox for us new guys that our lives were changed forever. Not to be left to wonder, we were greeted by a handful of informative but snarling, screaming DI’s who excitedly fell into character the moment the busses arrived. The DI’s paced back and forth, like hungry lions in a cage, in wait at the bus stop, so all on board could see. Anxious as any thespian whoever longed for the curtain to rise, these anxious DI’s couldn’t wait to perform their tough guy, tough love role and cherished every moment of their performance. I’d like to say the same, but can’t.

Once we disembarked our more than comfortable mode of transportation, the Greyhound, unaware it was to be our last comfortable moment for some time, the DI’s started to scream at the top of their lungs. Without seeming to care they abused their vocal cords and voice box to the point of hoarseness.  Bulging veins in their necks testified to the damage being done by expanding thrice their normal size. Smokey the Bear DI hats were fully tilted to a point where the brims balanced on their noses, only enhancing the intimidation effect.

Intimidation ruled. Proverbial chickens with their heads cut off came to mind as the intimidated green recruits tripped and stumbled, try as they may to obey the command of the screaming heads, to make a straight-line formation. The voluminous, vocally enhanced cadre bestowed thought to be humorous names upon the new recruits, like “f*^*-up,” “s**^-head,” “s_*^ for brains,” “lard-ass,” “maggot” and “faggot,” to name some of the not so clever monikers used by the intimidators. It became clear as a bell to those with half a brain why these guys were in the military and not writing for the “Tonight Show.”

With order attained and the tripping brought to an acceptable level, we marched off to supply where we were issued brand new army threads, also known as fatigues. No military themed wardrobe would’ve been complete without matching hats, socks, underwear and boots, and to top off this smart new ensemble, a matching duffle bag to put the crap in. Clothed to the teeth, we were then marched off to our new housing facilities, also known as barracks, where we were assigned sleeping quarters. In the Vietnam-era, army barracks were state of the art facilities, nineteenth century state of the art that is. Long, narrow, yellow wooden firetraps with two lines of double bunk beds covered by extremely thin mattresses.

  It was now a little after midnight; in fact it was now June 18th. Thinking to myself, wow, what a long day a long day! Time sure does fly. Funky and unappealing as the sleeping arrangements were they looked awfully good to a weary bunch of conscripts and volunteers. Following a little more harassment from the cadre, we were finally allowed to get some much-needed sleep. Around 12:30 am on the eighteenth, we put those weary bodies to bed. No sooner did my head hit the pillow and I was out like a light. Bad analogy. It couldn’t have been but 3:15 am, less than three hours since I laid my weary but fit army body down, only to be rudely awakened by a blinking, unshaded 100-watt light bulb directly over my head. That, coupled with the annoyingly loud voice of one of our DI’s, screaming for us to, “rise and shine, ladies,” caused me to think, oh-my-God!

 The humor was killing me. Well, that and the fact that I’d only slept about two hours and forty-five minutes. It wasn’t the longest day of my life, but the shortest night of my life. Come to think of it, I guess you could say it was the first of many to come of the “longest” days and “shortest” nights of my life.

 

Memorial Day

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on June 4, 2010 by eldorado90

Patriotism and Politics
On this most sacred of federal holidays, Memorial Day, we take time to honor “The Fallen” of
all of our wars. It is a day set aside to pay tribute to those who had made “ The Supreme
Sacrifice”, not to recreate or shop.
In May of 1868, General John Logan, General of the Grand Army of the Republic, placed
flowers at the graves of both Union and confederate soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery. As
one would expect, this act was not without controversy. By 1890, this ceremony was followed by
all Northern states, but met with resistance from the Southern states. Whatever would we do if
we could not politicize things of this nature? Memorial Day was not to be about division, but
rather reconciliation.
For many a year to follow, May 30 was recognized as “Decoration Day.” In 1971 Congress
passed the National Holiday Act, bringing us the three-day weekend and the out door barbecue.
My point here is not to give a history lesson, but to discuss “Patriotism” and what exactly do we
believe constitutes it.
On this day, a most sacred day for us combat veterans, I involuntarily revisit the past. Years ago,
in Vietnam, 1966 to be exact, a dear friend of mine, a Sergeant Bishop and I engaged in a heated
argument over which of the two of us were more patriotic; Bishop, a volunteer or myself, a
draftee. What a stupid argument. Not only was it a dumb thing to argue about but also to make it
even more ridiculous was the fact that we had it out in the jungle for all of mankind, animals,
insects, snakes, God, and the VC to hear.
Since those days of old, Bishop and I have shared many a laugh in regard to said argument. As a
draftee, I obviously was the true patriot. After all, I could have gotten a deferment or gone to
Canada. I didn’t, I was there in the Nam. How much more patriotic than that can you get? He on
the other hand wanted to be there. Temporary insanity I guess. Case closed.
I KID! Honestly. How ridiculous of a conclusion could that be? Which brings me to my point.
The things I see and hear by the politicians and pundits on television and radio lead me to believe
that some of these people think they have a lock on the true definition of patriotism. This is
nothing more than pure politics and stupidity and to that I say “BS”.
Patriotism should be measured by a different yardstick than anything imperical. It is too
complicated and emotional of an issue emotional to defined in a simplistic term. Inevitably
patriotism becomes a political issue.
Those who served prison time for their anti-war beliefs were as patriotic as any one who got a
questionable medical or student deferment. I would argue that they were even more patriotic.
They believed that to participate in war was wrong for America and were willing to pay a price
for it. Many a citizen in the Vietnam-era thought of them as cowards. How could that be more
cowardly than a self-serving deferment on the guise of an asthmatic condition or another year of
school? You hear what I’m saying?
On a certain day in Vietnam, as Bishop and I lay there ducking hostile machine-gun fire, we
shared a laugh about that patriotism argument that we had. We concluded that we were both
patriotic, or stupid, or maybe both.
So in conclusion, I’d say that patriotism comes in many a form. Obviously not every one who
received a deferment for whatever reason was trying to beat the system, though many were.
Patriotism can be and is expressed in many ways. No one has a lock on patriotism or its
definition. I doubt that many of those who’ve made the “Supreme Sacrifice” gave a damn about
what we nowadays refer to as red America or a blue America or for that matter, a South
America. They died for America period. That’s it, be it in vain or not.
Beware of charlatans who define patriotism in a simplistic way. Let us not politicize this issue or
be so quick to judge. God bless them all.
Duke Barrett

Vietnam Vets/ Veterans

Posted in drummers, Vietnam War with tags , , , , on December 28, 2009 by eldorado90

Vietnam (vet) and all things related. All vets welcome. All PEOPLE welcome. Drummers, I’m one of you as well.
Where did the years go? Seems like yesterday that I was over there. I don’t want to remember too fondly of those days. More than anything I guess I miss my youth, not those endless days humping the hills of the central highlands.
Time spent over there changed my life forever. I’d like to think for the better except for the occasional temper flare ups I experience. I believe I’ve acquired an anger problem. No PTSD, or so I’ve been told, just periodic anger. Seems it could be a by-product of combat.
In an effort to visit the past in a constructive way, I’ve written a book, a novel with Vietnam as the driving force. It was an emotional experience and I would like to believe a cathartic one as well. I’d suggest writing as a tool for working out memories both good and bad.
I spent years as a working musician and I am positive that music was my Savior. At least it got me to my mature years without landing in jail. As a drummer, I believe I was able to beat the frustrations and some of the anger that had enveloped me to my benefit. Also made a living at it until I started working for the post office 28 years ago. Still play on a part-time basis though, so I find writing to be a good substitute.
Well, this is my first post and hope to do more. I’m sure that I’ll screw  a few things up as I navigate through this learning process. Oh well.

 If you or a friend, loved one or you are just an interested party in what goes on in the minds of us vets, write it here.