I used “The Killing Zone” for some of my research on the Vietnam War, one of the turning points of my protagonist. In his book, Frederick Downs recounts:
‘A man pointed to the hook sticking out of my left sleeve and said:
“Get that in Vietnam?”
When I affirmed his guess, he replied.
“Serves you right.”
Of one thing I am certain; none of the men I knew who served in Vietnam deserved to die or to be maimed, either physically or mentally.’
Downs said that, twenty years later, when he returned to Vietnam for the first time since the war, he recognized the hatred he had held onto all these years for the ‘dinks’ was for “an enemy less than human” but, suddenly, he knew better. He recognized a reflection of himself in the natures of a Vietnamese man and his son.
So true! Here’s my perception as I wrote it in Pieces of You:
I wake each day waiting for him to call to me. Then I remember that he was put in a box and the box was covered with dirt. You know, Ban, it hurts more than when the mule stepped on my foot last year. This pain is in my heart. It must have broken into more pieces than my foot.”
Now tears were pouring down the boy’s cheeks and he began to wail, a sound that pierced the invisible listener’s soul. (more…)