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"Stay Alert, Stay Alive" (1967) - U.S. Army Training Film for Soldiers in Vietnam


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I recently came across a police training film from (most likely) 1965 called "Stay Alert, Stay Alive," which instructed officers on proper arrest techniques.

While searching for this on YouTube, I came across another instructional film with the same title ("Stay Alert, Stay Alive"), this one intended for soldiers about to deploy in Vietnam, and made in 1967 - it is completely unrelated to the above police video.

This 28'32" training video gives an interesting glimpse into the mentality of the American "brass" when it comes to conditioning soldiers for the rigors and realities of Vietnam, and will present you with words with which you're familiar, such as brigade (the chart on the right side of the page shows a "brigade" to be the only unit with four-figures (i.e., 1,000-9,999 ) of soldiers), division (the smallest unit consisting of greater than 10,000 soldiers), Brigadier General (the general who controls the brigade, in this case, William Pearson), Viet Cong, booby traps, and will show them to you in a way where they'll "stick" in your brain.

I understand people have strong feelings about the Vietnamese war, but it is an important part of American history, which is why I've chosen to put this in the History Forum rather than the Film Forum (its worth is primarily historical; not cinematic).

As you're watching, try and imagine the stress these children (perhaps "young men" is a better term) are being placed under, listening to the Brigadier General demonstrate what can happen to them with booby traps - they're being told to literally watch every step they take; when I was their age, I was mentally preparing for my next keg party, which is why I unashamedly call these unwilling participants - who would rather be *anywhere* but here - "heroes," because that's what they are in my eyes (I am in the minority, and would be considered unpatriotic by some, because I consider the young enemy soldiers to be placed in an equally heroic position - they didn't want to be there any more than our young men did). Towards the end of the video, as a soldier is walking around peering into drains bored into the ground, I was thinking just how easily the enemy could be waiting to ambush him in any of a dozen other places.

Maybe this permitted us to have an Eden Center, but at what cost? Yes, maybe one day we'll be friends with Iraq, North Korea, and other countries we've clashed with - is this what it takes to gain friendship? One generation tears countries apart, and the next makes amends? Perhaps this "strategy" (and, yes, I'm cynical enough to think it's a long-term "strategy") will work, but it isn't worth it, at least not to my eyes, which have become both jaded and wise, as I've watched tragedy-after-tragedy unfold through the decades. My antipathy towards bureaucratic "hawks," sitting in their cozy confines inside the safe boundaries of the United States, most certainly does not extend to the unfortunate soldiers who were forced into combat. And it most certainly *does not* include people such as John McCain, who is a legitimate hero to me - how dare anyone criticize that man for being captured and tortured? Don't like his politics? Criticize away (just not here :)), but to condemn him for being captured is simply immoral.

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