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“You learn to psych yourself out, to overcome the fear.” (Video interview, 32:57)

   Fred Carl Venrick
Collection image
Fred Venrick [detail from video]
War: Vietnam War, 1961-1975
Branch: Marine Corps
Unit: 2nd Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment
Service Location: Okinawa Island, Japan; Vietnam; San Diego, California; Camp Pendleton, California
Rank: Sergeant
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For Marine Corps Sergeant Fred Carl Venrick, basic training, and then jungle training in Okinawa, presented challenges that he had no difficulty in meeting. It was not until he landed in Vietnam in June 1965, and saw wounded Marines and casualties in body bags, that he was hit with the realization that war was not a John Wayne movie. In his interview, he narrates the frustration and terror of going on patrol, the atrocities that can happen during wartime, and the black humor of day-to-day life in country—and the need to put up an “emotional defense perimeter” to cope with what he witnessed.

Interview (Video)
»Interview Highlights  (5 clips)
» Part 1 
Download: video (48 min.)
More like this
»Vietnam War: Looking Back, Part 2
 Video (Interview Excerpts) (5 items)
Jungle training in guerrilla warfare on Okinawa; working hard and playing hard; machine gun training; importance of this training in preparing him for combat in Vietnam. (02:43) Getting word of and participating in Operation Starlight; at first, still felt like he was in a movie; seeing casualties and wounded Marines; realizing this was the real thing. (03:09) Coping with losses; putting up a defense perimeter; just feeling happy to be alive; doing what he had to do to move forward; post-traumatic period when he came home. (01:17)
Moving through a small village as part of a larger operation; trying to make headway but taking fire from villagers; mortar attack; frustration of soldiers; surprise attack on Marines by villagers. (02:22) Incident in which a new guy tripped a white phosphorous grenade while out on patrol; sights and sounds of the situation; could hear echoes of screams reverberating through valley. (01:10) 

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  The Library of Congress  >> American Folklife Center
  October 26, 2011
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