Island Brothers/Island Blood: The Stories of Samoan Vietnam War Veterans

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Akuna, Peter
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Throughout the Vietnam War, America and other allied forces that supported the South Vietnamese government awarded their courageous soldiers with distinguished medals for their extraordinary and exceptional bravery in combat. Yet, the recipients of these prestigious awards attest that their fallen comrades are the bona fide beneficiaries and heroes—the recognition of these soldiers’ deeds of valor in Vietnam was bittersweet knowing that many comrades perished in battle. This deep-seated sense of loss and survivor’s guilt caused some surviving soldiers to never disclose or revealed their notable services. Further, the controversy surrounding the Vietnam War affected the surviving soldiers in a heavier way; the unwelcome and disrespect they experienced when they returned to the United States (U.S.) caused many Vietnam veterans severe distress, for they had risked their lives. The anti-Vietnam War sentiment created an atmosphere of distrust among Vietnam veterans which forced the soldiers to conceal their war history and make it known to only a few, if at all. Most veterans remained silent about their experiences because of embarrassment, fear, anger, aggression, or trauma. Many veterans, to this day, continue to struggle with the debilitating effects of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), as well as sleepless nights and mental and emotional torment consistent with war violence. This project aims to collect and tell the stories of Samoan Vietnam veterans who made enormous sacrifices during the war. This will, hopefully, fill the gap in the literatures and make known to the world, and especially the consciousness of American citizens, the sacrifices of these Pacific Islanders. The service and unfortunate casualties of Samoan Vietnam veterans are generally unrecognized and unappreciated in the dominant narratives of American war histories.