The blog editor of the 'Voice of a Native Son' asked me what I thought of the article about Patty Loew one-hour documentary she produced called “Way of the Warrior” which will be on the PBS network in November. This is what I sent him in an email:
I read the article about Professor Loew’s film “Way of the Warrior” and how the film chronicles the war stories and sacrifices of Native American soldiers from World War One to Vietnam. The article says the film is a counterpart to Ken Burns seven-part series ‘The War.’ Ken Burns in his film didn’t want to include Native Americans and Latinos that served in the second world war. Burns finally included them in bit parts after Native Americans and Latinos groups protested their exclusion. I know when I read about Burns not wanting to include Native Americans…All I could say was: so what else is new?
I am a Native American Vietnam Veteran! I know all about people in this country not caring about your military service! So it is commendable that Professor Loew is doing this film. There is some truth in her documentary about the stereotypes of Native Americans being perceived as super scouts in all the wars this country has been in…
I served in a combat unit of the 101st Airborne Division in Vietnam. Although I did walk point for four or five months. I don’t know for sure if that was racism or stereotype. (I do know in my last four or five months in Vietnam I did walk in the back of the squad where it was supposedly safe!) I saw very little racism in Vietnam and none out in the boondocks. Early on, in my tour of duty, my unit got in our share of firefights with the North Vietnamese Army, and the realization set in for us that death was always close by, and if we didn’t stay together we were all going to die out there.
I can’t say I saw any racism in the jungles of Vietnam, but there are many Native American brothers that served in Vietnam that had to hear the phrase ‘Indian Country’ when their fellow soldiers talked of enemy territory and to be called ‘Chief’ all the time.” I was lucky in more ways than one when I served in Vietnam!
I hope people watch this documentary ‘Way of the Warrior.’ when it is shown on PBS. Maybe they will appreciate the military service of Native Americans to this country after they watch it...!