Sometimes It’s Better To Let It Go…

Updated: January 15, 2014


By RU Fan – James

On July 2, 1976 the Country of Vietnam was unified under the flag of Communism after the United States cut off all military aid to South Vietnam. Many of those that wore the Uniform in Iraq were not even born yet.

Flash forward 38 years and many of us are now experiencing the same feelings of loss, betrayal, and left wondering, did my brothers died for nothing? These feelings are warranted. I spent a night losing sleep and asking: what was it for? Why are my brothers gone? Why did I destroy my body for a people that didn’t care about defending their own country? My anger at those individuals that drove across the Iraq/ Kuwait border and kissed the ground like they had just fought their way out of Bastogne was overwhelming.

Then I took a second to think about what I had seen and done and survived in Ramadi and later in the Ninewa province. I took a moment to think of the good things that my brothers and I accomplished. The difference between Ramadi in February of 2007 and the difference just a few short months later after AQI realized they stood no chance against us and attempted to escape us by fleeing into the dessert. I thought about the good memories that I made pulling guard on a bridge across a canal in the middle of the dessert in the winter watching my water bottle slowly freeze. I thought about the experience I gained as not only an Infantryman but as a man as well.

loneAs I thought about this I thought I couldn’t be the only one that felt this way—there has to be someone out there that felt the same as me. I talked with a few of my brothers at the office and many felt the same as I did. They were proud of the work they had done in Iraq and, for the most part, were not surprised at the failure of the Iraqi Security Forces to keep the peace. I thought of my Uncle that served during Vietnam and how it must have felt to watch North Vietnamese tanks role into Saigon and smash down the gates of the former U.S. Embassy. Probably about the same as I felt watching Al Qaeda flags being flown down the streets of Ramadi. Once again a striking comparison between our war and the war in Vietnam.

I woke up after a long night of tossing and turnin,g looked at my four month old daughter sleeping, and thought to myself—we did everything we were asked to do. Like our brothers that fought during Vietnam, we went where our country asked and we fought with honor. We braved roads that exploded every day and we fought a tough well trained enemy that was not afraid to fight back. Many of us went back once, twice, three times—some, many more. We fought for our brothers next to us we experienced the highest highs and lowest lows. While I had every right to be angry for the situation in Iraq, I also owed it to myself and brothers to not let that anger eat me up, the truth is…I’ve moved on.

So, why should you move on? First, I’m not saying it’s not bullshit—it is. I more than anyone wish that we could go back and put that group of trash back in their place. However, that’s not going to happen for now. We’re done in Iraq and, pending something real serious happening, I don’t see us going back anytime soon. So unless you want go back like Johnny J in First Blood Part 2 then you may have to wait for a while.

The Second reason to move on, and probably the most important, is you’ve earned the right to live a full and happy life. Even if you just spent 12 months checking ID’s at a chow hall you’ve still done more than most.

So because I said so and I’ve earned it is as good of reasons as any. They will never get rid of the fact that our brothers died in a place not of their choosing. They died in a crap hole of a country, yes; and the ones that didn’t die had their lives changed forever. They carry the scars on the outside and in. It unfortunately is a club that too many of us belong to.

However, unlike our brothers from another unpopular war, we have the benefit of history to help us. We can let go of the anger and disappointment that many of us still carry and was renewed very recently. We have the chance to not wait twenty years to let go of our anger. We can only do this together, but we need each other—like always we are strongest together.

If you take anything from my words, take this: your service in Iraq was honorable and there is no one on this planet that can tell you anything different. Whatever branch you served in, whatever crap hole in Iraq you briefly called your home, you belong to a brotherhood. And those of us that served with you will always be there for you. Never, ever doubt that you made a difference and don’t allow anyone to ever say it was not worth it.

Opinions expressed are that of the author and do not necessarily reflect that of The Rhino Den or its parent company, Ranger Up.




  1. Paul Dayes

    January 15, 2014 at 11:09 am

    Thank you for writing this. I was wondering if I was the only one who felt this way…

    Kosovo 2002
    OIF 2003-2004
    OIF 2009-2010
    OEF 2013

  2. The Heath

    January 15, 2014 at 11:54 am

    Right on.

  3. David W (Bill) Richards

    January 15, 2014 at 11:59 am

    Very well written.
    You said it like it is today, and was during the vietnam war.
    We’re proud of you and the accomplishments you have made in your service to our country.
    To those that are currently serving and those that have served, thank you and GOD BLESS OUR COUNTRY.

  4. Sig

    January 15, 2014 at 8:16 pm

    And for those of us who only did OEF… Well, our turn is coming. =/

  5. leftoftheboom

    January 15, 2014 at 9:46 pm

    While I can appreciate the feelings of the author my own are different. I view the war as an exercise in which we allowed the “freedom fighters” of Islam to spend themselves for their beliefs.

    They were not over here doing it and we were not dropping bombs on our own neighborhoods. The entire military got a full course education in combat operations, insurgency, tactics, and every skill from first aid to call for fire. We lost brave fighters doing what they signed up to do. We lose nearly as many from accidents in peacetime.

    I shed no tears from my time and I am not angry. That is not to say I wasn’t but I am not now. And my peace is that we protected our home.

    I am not particularly interested if you don’t agree with my viewpoint. But someone said it much better than me.

    “It is foolish and wrong to mourn the men who died. Rather we should thank God that such men lived.” George S. Patton

    “No bastard ever won a war by dying for his country. He won it by making the other poor dumb bastard die for his country.” George S. Patton

  6. Justen

    January 15, 2014 at 10:32 pm

    I enlisted in 2010 expecting to go to war. Unfortunately I never had the opportunity of serving overseas anywhere. So to all of my brothers who have deployed, Thank You for doing a good job over there.

  7. d

    January 16, 2014 at 5:27 am

    “We lose nearly as many from accidents in peacetime”. WTF? false. Hey love the article keep writing James!

  8. Olson25

    January 16, 2014 at 8:48 pm

    Good article, I felt the same way when I heard the news. James, what unit were you with in Ramadi?

  9. Gerry

    January 17, 2014 at 9:20 am

    Well said brother! Those of us who fought in Vietnam DID have the same experience you did when Saigon fell. Just like you we had to come to grips with the realization that what we did was honorable, and for a nobel cause. Don’t you EVER forget that what you did was just as nobel and honorable. Never let anyone try to diminish the sacrifices you made, and never let anyone slander those who made the ultimate sacrifice. As a helicopter crew member in Vietnam we learned many life lessons. This is just one of them: Do not fear the enemy, for your enemy can only take your life. It is far better that you fear the media, for they will steal your honor. Never allow that to happen.

    U.S. Army
    1st Aviation Brigade
    Phu Loi, RVN
    12/69 to 7/71
    Call Sign Hexmate

Get notified of new Rhino Den articles and videos as they come out, Also, find out before anyone else about new product launches and huge discounts from RangerUp.com, the proud parent of the Rhino Den.

  • Videos (The Damn Few and more!)
  • Military-inspired articles
  • MMA (and Tim Kennedy) coverage
Close this window

Join the Rhino Den / Ranger Up Nation

Read previous post:
War of Words

  By SGT Awesome When people think of debate they often think of a bunch of rich lobbyist mouthpieces at...