Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Blog Post - Due 4/9: Our Guest Speaker---Dennis Mannion---All Classes Post Here

Despite the ongoing issues with lights and power, thankfully the show went on, and we were able to gain a greater understanding of an American soldier's perspective of serving in Vietnam.  I hope you were able to make connections between what Dennis Mannion shared and our reading of The Things They Carried.  Please take a moment to comment on the presentation, ask questions, or make connections between the presentation and the text.

133 comments:

  1. Michael Caminear Period 6
    It's really too bad that BHS was all crazy today with the electricity and the fire drill. I could have listened to Dennis for at least another two periods. What he had to say was interesting, enlightening, and to be given such an elaborate, first hand point of view on the Vietnam War is something that I will remember for a long time.
    The topic that stuck out to me the most was the fact that Dennis never really lost contact with any of the people he met while in Vietnam. The friendships were forged overseas and lasted well after they returned home. In relation to this, the primary thing that shocked me the most was the fact that Dennis may be able to contact the little girl he saw on the road by the two-story house. This really just boggles my mind because it is almost unreal to think that, after all that happened over the years, two people, who would have been worlds apart if it weren't for the war, are now able to contact each other and discuss what they had both experienced during the war and how, remarkably, fate lead them to meet each other. Another part that really caught my attention was Dennis' reasoning for enlisting in the Marine Corps. He literally mentioned every reason that an average person might want to join the military, like for glory, for your country, or for your family, and he disproved each one. He wanted to join because he was angry and wanted to do it as a life experience. This was not only very interesting, but it also made me think about The Things They Carried as well. In the chapter "On the Rainy River", O'Brien, never really gave an unequivocal reason as to why he ultimately decided to go to war. He simply made up his mind and told the readers that he went to war. This shows me that no one can really pin point a specific reason for why someone wants to go to war. It all comes down to the individual and their motivations. Overall, I really appreciated Dennis coming in and giving us such a phenomenal presentation.
    I do have a few questions for Dennis too though...
    Were you ever nervous while serving? Or did you ever regret your decision to enlist while you were in Vietnam?
    And what was the transition like from a marine, back to a civilian once you got back to the states?

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    1. Michael: Thanks for the kind words. To answer your Q's: 1) Hell, yes, very nervous at times, but not all the time. It's an oft-quoted line: Combat is usually long periods of boredom followed by short periods of intense terror.

      2) I try to live my life w/o regrets, and take each day as it comes. I can't say that I'd do it differently, because we don't get "do-overs" on major life altering decisions. Still, I hope that my children never have to endure what I went through. No regrets for me....just a hope that others don't have to go through it.

      3) Transition was realtively easy for me. I enlisted for three years and there is no way I was staying a day longer. I knew from the day I signed that I'd go back to college some day and get my degree. I had 14 months left in the USMC after Nam...Nov68 to Dec69. I spent the entire fall of 1969 playing football for the team at Camp Lejeune ( NC) so that was pretty cool. I also was in GITMO ( Cuba) for a 4 months as well as a Med Cruise ( across the Atlantic on a troop ship) to Greece/Turkey where we made landings with British and Greek Marines. Got to stop in Barcelona and Naples ( few days in each place) on the way over. I took a lot of emotional and psychological baggage with me when I got out of the Marines, but those 14 months helped in that process as well as the passage of the decades.

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    2. Very interesting. Thank you and I look forward to seeing you within the next few weeks!
      Mike

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  2. Hi Mr. Mannion, I just wanted to thank you so much for coming. I was truly intrigued by everything you said and you showed us. This presentation is probably I won’t forget in a lifetime. I wish you weren't cut off cause I really would like to hear more of it. I hope you can come back someday and finish your presentation. The depictions of your experience made it more realistic than Tim O'Brien's book. I was surprised that you had signed yourself up unlike most of the men did in The Things They Carried. So one question I have is did most men sign up for war or was the draft more prevalent? From your presentation, I realized the harsh reality behind war and how unethical things truly are. For example turning a semi- automatic into a fully automatic then shooting the water buffalo with the kid on it not minding if the kid was shot too, which is gruesomely cruel and awful killing someone that young and innocent. From The Things They Carried, I found a similarity between Linda, who died from cancer and a soldier, who died in battle. Cancer patients and soldiers are waiting for death to strike any day and if they make it out alive then they are stuck with the memories of the experience. Much like your presentation, when you described hiding in the fox holes from the mortars almost waiting for death to come or for you to be saved. All in all I appreciated you coming to us and talking about your experience in Khe Sanh; I understand how tough it must be to relive memories that you probably wish to suppress. I know thank you isn't enough, but thank you for your service to our country and for speaking upon your service. I usually don't invest myself in war stories, but part of your story that you shared with us during that time, Tim O’Brien’s book, The Things They Carried, and Louis Zamperini's Story, Unbroken, has casted a lot on my previous opinions. So after my other question I would like to ask why do you choose to speak about your experience? Is it beneficial or a hindrance? Was the first time you talked about your experience as bad as what Louis Zamperini had experienced? Also the last thing I wish to bring up is what you said last to us, probably the one thing I could never forget. You told us that war isn’t for heroic reasons or patriotism or pride and that its awful. If say I wanted to enlist would you encourage the experience or if you were given the chance to do it again would you do it all over again?
    Miranda Shao, Period 6

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    1. Miranda: 1) Draft: I don't know the stats on Drafted vs Volunteers for Vietnam ...I am sure if you Google it you can find the numbers. However, there is always going to be a "slant" with the numbers as there were plenty of men who volunteered simply because they were staying one step ahead of the draft. If drafted, you had no choices about what you'd be or where you'd go. Sign up with a branch of the service and you might get some choices.

      2) The first time I spoke about my experiences was 10 years after the war and whatever I said to those classes as Choate was nothing like you received -- pics and words -- at BHS. When I began to use the pics and all of that, my fairly regular bad dreams would stop for a few months, so that was a benefit.

      3) Do things differently or the same.... already answered above. I guess the point I'd like to stress is we really don't get "do-overs." Going into the service can have many benefits -- education, travel, pay, medical, etc...chance to see the world. Not every place is a combat situation.

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    2. Thank you so much for the reply! I hope you get to come back. Take Care!
      Miranda

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  3. First of all, I would like to thank you Mr. Mannion to give us the time to share your experience from the Vietnam war. I would also like to apologize for the multiple disruptions that occurred during the presentation. When I first heard from Mrs. Baker that a speaker is coming to talk about the Vietnam war, I thought it was going to be little boring discussion about the things we have already heard or know. I am not trying to offend you Mr. Mannion, but that’s what I had in mind. But that changed as soon as you began your presentation. I loved your presentation. The photos went so well with the experience you described. I can never understand the feeling of facing and surviving the war but I was so quickly flown by the presentation. I was deeply engaged and absorbed into the real war story. I am so glad that I attended the presentation. Mrs. Baker have been saying this since we began reading The Things They Carried, that “Dennis will make this book meaningful.” And she is absolutely true. You really made everything in the book come real to me. Like the amount of heavy materials soldiers had to carry, and importance of ration and dealing with normal health issues. Now, I have pictures in my mind for every time I will hear about the war. It was great to hear from a person who actually faced the war and gave honest responses.
    It always bothered me that Tim O’Brien’ stories were mostly fictional. I understand his ideas behind doing so, in order to make the readers feel and live the experience, but it really bothered me that it actually never happened. I feel delighted to hear honest, real and pure stories from the war. I really wish we could have stayed longer and listened to the complete presentation. But, it’s okay.
    Also, I have few questions to ask: You explained how America had changed when you returned home, How badly were you affected by the changed America? Would you recommend someone else to go to the war if the conditions are going to be alike to the Vietnam war? (I understand if you don’t want to share because the answers are too personal) Once again I want to Thank You Mr. Mannion for taking out some time for us to share your experience and Thank You for serving for US and us.
    ~Shilpa R Period 3

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    1. Shilpa: 1) I was so happy to be home alive and essentially intact, that I was beyond being affected by what was going on in America. I really wanted to move on with my life ( after my remaining 14 months were completed) and become a non-military person again. I really never gave much thought to the jerk on the plane or the kids at UConn who opted not to sit near me. I focused more on me and how I could get as much good possible out of every day. Not that I didn't ( and still don't) feel angry with Red Traffic lights or drivers who don't use their turn signals. Those things really bug me. I'd have to be honest and say that the UConn stuff seems to hurt more now than it did when it was happening.

      2) If conditions were going to be like Nam ( or Iraq or Afghanistan), I would NOT recommend them to anyone. Take care, Dennis

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    2. Hi Dennis, I am so glad that you replied to us, taking out some of your precious time for us students. Thank You again. Also, I too am happy and delighted that you came back home safe.
      ~Shilpa R

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  4. I really enjoyed the presentation today from Dennis. I am looking forward to him coming back to BHS to hopefully finish the presentation. The one part that really surprised me and probably will stick with me was the part where he was talking about his trip back to the east coast from Vietnam. He said that when he got on the plane the man next to him had asked where he came from and when he said Vietnam the man wanted to move his seat as soon as possible. At first I didn't really understand why the man had wanted to move. I forgot that the veterans from Vietnam were not looked at as heroes at the time. For a few minutes I had to keep wondering why the man had wanted to move his seat so urgently because today it is so common to thank a soldier or veteran and it just seems unheard of to do that to a soldier or veteran of any war, no matter where it was.
    Another very interesting thing was that he remembered so much from the whole experience, like specific dates and stories about people and small little details about his time serving. This truly shows how much of a mark a war can leave on a person. It really sort of stains the mind with memories. This is one of the themes that Tim O'Brien was trying to convey in his novel "The Things They Carried." For example in the chapter "The Sweetheart of the Song Tra Bong" the girl goes from a sort of girly girl to someone wearing a necklace of tongues just from experiencing the war. Experiences that make someone change that much are most definitely going to leave a big mark in their life, and in result probably a lot of memories.
    Overall I enjoyed listening to Dennis's story and seeing all the pictures in his presentation. I wish we could have had more time to hear the whole story and I hope he will return to our class someday to finish the presentation.
    Jessica M. Period 6

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    1. Thanks, Jessica, for your comments and your insights. "Sweetheart" is one spooky Chapter in Things, and you make a great and valid comparison to it via my remarks. Dennis

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  5. Hi Dennis, I apologize for the entire world seeming like it was against you today during your presentation, but first off I'd like to thank you for your service and this fantastic presentation. Over my "long" 17 years of life I've heard my fair share of war stories from veterans, parents, aunts, uncles, and etc. However, yours today was so much different, and better. The way you explained things and how much they "sucked" and how "not honorable" they were was the most human thing I've ever heard. For once, it made sense to me that someone was unhappy with their experience and didn't feel like a hero. You said. "I'm no hero, I didn't do it for the country, or my parents, etc." You went to war because it was something new to do and then you realized that it was a truly terrible experience, and for me that lightens the load on my life. Humans were bread to be imperfect beings and having someone who wasn't the A+ five star general who saved mankind from aliens talking to us is a really nice change. The suffering and small bits of fun that you were able to articulate to us in such great detail made your story so much more of a believable and gut wrenching experience. The things they carried was a nice story helping us understand some of the pain people suffer from war but you, you made it so much easier to understand that we are human, we make mistakes, and we need to solve our problems in different ways because war just isn't the answer.
    Sonny G. Period 6

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    1. Also I was wondering if you could go back and change signing up would you?

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    2. Sonny: Very, very thought-provoking stuff in your commentary. Makes a whole lot of sense to me. Thanks.

      As for you added on Q: See my above remarks about "Do-Overs." Dennis

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  6. I know it's already been written here a hundred times, but it really is unfortunate the presentation was cut short by factors out of our control. What mattered most to me hearing this perspective of the war was that it had a real human side to it. More specifically, it wasn't just like any of the other movies or stories I've heard about Vietnam (or just war in general) where every soldier is fighting for someone back home, for the idea of freedom, or for the people beside them. It shows a very human side of a soldier to hear that they enlisted for no particular positive reason. I'm no veteran or historian, but it seems strange that today was the first time I heard a personal account of this even though the war is known to one that wasn't even favored by many of the soldiers. I also can't help but wonder how many other veterans try to reconnect the pieces of the people they met and the places they went decades later as much as Dennis seems to do. Once again, when you read these stories and watch the movies, you don't realize that the war can stay a huge part of their life (outside of their mind) even once the war is over. For instance, I was really surprised and interested upon hearing how, through the magic that is the internet, Dennis was able to learn more about the dog and its master that he briefly met during his service - or how he talked to other people who had seen that same young girl.
    What hit me the hardest, though, was learning about how veterans were treated right after the war. Personally, I could never imagine going out of my way to avoid somebody who fought in a war - no matter how much I was against it. What almost angered me was the fact that these people didn't even know if each veteran was drafted or if they enlisted voluntarily. The story of the plane ride stands out to me even more than hearing of people who were avoided or spat at, though. Its honestly hard to picture (though I'm not questioning its truth) somebody actually requesting the help of a stewardess to get as far away as possible from a veteran. What's even stranger is that all these people who showed hate towards veterans then are mostly still alive and very much "normal" people in today's society. I wonder how they reflect on their actions now.
    Cameron O'Neill P.6

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    1. Hey Cameron: When I tell audiences about the plane story and the "I need another seat guy," I often wonder how he's fared all these years. Chances are that if you are that totally clueless about people, you don't remember much about other people in general. I do wish sometimes, though, that he had a chance to see all that I did in my life -- 4 kids (all doing great); 30 years an English teacher and 36 years a football coach, but as I said, he probably wouldn't "get it" anyway. Dennis

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  7. Hi Dennis, I enjoyed your presentation very much, and relating to The things they carried made it even more interesting. There are a lot of things that seems like they can compare to each other, and I think even though both you and Tim O'Brian have completely different stories they are still kind of equal. I thought you had a great presentation even though you got interrupted a couple of times which was very unfortunate. There was one thing that struck my mind when, and this can be read in the chapter "Night life" in the Things they carried. In this chapter O'Brian talks about soldiers who go crazy and starting to hallusinate. I understand that this probably caused a difficult situation for everyone, and I dont know if you have ever seen this, but it was just something that I wanted to question as I now had the chance.

    Christian Frich
    period 6

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    1. Christian: I never saw or even heard of anyone hallucinate on the battlefield on in a rear section either. Not saying it doesn't happen. I never saw it.

      Best, Dennis

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  8. Hi Dennis, I know it was out of all of our control but sorry for the lighting and electricity problems. Just wanted to let you know that I thoroughly enjoyed your presentation and I wish I got to hear all of it. I though It was interesting in how you related your experiences to the ones in TTTC. I wanted to know how much of the stories in the novel are accurate in your opinion to your time in Vietnam. We have been discussing how to tell the fiction pieces from the non-fiction pieces in the books and for some reason I have been having difficulty with that assignment. Its hard for me to be able to tell make that differentiation when I have no experiences to back up my thoughts. Maybe you could help me out. I was so intrigued by the story of the little girl that you saw. I dont know why that particular story stuck with me so much from your presentation but it did. I think it had to do something with the way that you believed maybe she could have been a dream and then all that time later you found out the truth. That truly is amazing to me. Sorry again about the lights and thank you for taking the time to talk to us and also thank you for your service.
    Elena Muniz
    Period 3

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    1. Elena: I am glad that the photos of Francoise and her family resonated with you. Others in the blog posts have mentioned her too. Maybe, by the time I come to BHS again ( either later this year or next year), I will have learned more about her and her brother. I did learn last week that their mom died ( cancer) in 2007. The founder of our Khe Sanh vets organization told me in a phone call on Monday that he had had a letter 6+ years ago from the brother ( now in his late 40's) describing his mom's last years. And in the same week that I was at BHS, my friend sent out a "trial letter" ( just a few sentences) to Jean-Marie's last known address in France. He has assured me, that if his letter gets answered by Jean-Marie, he will send me the address to me, and I will write and try to track down the sister too. I'll be sure to let you know if that happens. That would be something.

      Dennis

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  9. Out of every war story I've heard in my life, or will hear, this was one of the most memorable ones. And not just because of the lighting and power issues we faced. I'm glad he took the pictures he did, and that his mother didn't throw them out, because it helped emphasize his point and helped us to envision the war better. I particularly liked the stories in which he shared. Not necessarily the "war stories" we're used to hearing. Mr. Mannion really told the stories that made the war real. Like his first experience with rounds flying over his head and hiding in his foxhole. Or drinking the tap water and getting sick and having to deal with that sickness while at war. He really let us feel the realities of the war instead of the heroic facts. In the book, O'Brien talks about a good war story and how a true war story is different than a good one. O'Brien says a true war story will leave the listener with nothing to say but "oh" or "wow" and that's exactly what the presentation left me with. When he showed us pictures of the civilians, it was way different than I pictured the natives in the book. Then he added, "I'm glad I wasn't around them much" or something along the lines. I thought that this was interesting. Would Seeing the civilians be putting a face to the enemy? Like it said in the book, The enemy was Charlie and he owned the night. That made the enemy scary and you could imagine various people as who you're fighting against. But then being there and fighting the natives, literally killing innocent people and destroying their homeland, does that put a different face to the enemy? A more innocent face that you don't want to harm? And if you don't want to harm the person you're there to, what are you doing there? Besides that, I'm still quite confused why people back home treated veterans so rudely. Maybe I'm not clear on all the details but it just doesn't make sense to me that people can be so rude for what reason? Also at the end of the presentation something that I won't forget, what really surprised me, and what I'm glad that I heard a veteran say, is that war is not heroic. And coming from a person who's been in war, you have to believe their perspective. But what's interesting to me is that society makes it up to be, and I'm curious to know why.
    MaryColleen Whitney
    period 2

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    1. MaryColleen: You certainly have questions stitched into your commentary. I'll do my best.

      1) Civilians seen while on convoy protection duty: My comment about being glad that I did not have to be around them was not about "making my enemy a faceless individual and thus not human. On the contrary, you have to understand that Vietnam was a divided country and there was a DMZ ( Demilitarized Zone) that divided the North from the South. For 98% of my time in Nam I was just below the DMZ where NO CIVILIANS were allowed to be. If an individual was in or around the DMZ they were fair game. It was US Army and Marine units south of the DMZ who had to deal with civilians being mixed in with the enemy. It must have been a real problem sorting out who was who, and I am glad that I did not have to deal with that. Where I was, you could fire at anyone out there, but in areas w/ civilians, American forces often had to get permission from higher authorities to fire first or wait until they were fired at before responding.

      2) The US was a divided country in the late 60's and 70's. The war had gone on for so long and so many lives shattered ( on both sides) that many people here hated the soldiers for being over there. Didn't matter if you were drafted or signed up -- you were evil. At least that's the way a lot of Americans thought of the military.

      3) Not sure if any wars we have fought except WW2 have been justified or legit, but we seem to keep finding ways to sent young people into Harm's Way. Society makes it seem heroic (and noble, good, necessary, etc) as a way to entice young men and women into wanting to join and fight.

      Dennis

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  10. Hi Dennis,
    I truly appreciate you coming to our school to speak to us about your experiences during the Vietnam War. I have read about the Vietnam War in history textbooks that simply state the historic events, dates, and important places, but it does not truly resonate the real stories and experiences of each individual that fought in the war. To me, the war I heard about in the textbooks are just facts, but what I heard from you and other veterans are true history. Although we, as an audience, can never feel or experience the hardships and struggles that you endured during the time, we can acknowledge our gratitude for your service when you come speak to us.
    As I glanced at the photograph of you from your high school years to a picture 3 years later during the war, I was extremely shocked at how war could physically change someone. It was as if I were staring at a young boy who completely morphed into a man. You made the war feel real to me because you did not filter any of the stories about your motives for enlisting and then about experiencing some of the most difficult times. I was deeply touched when you told us about the bombs in Khe Sanh that nearly wounded and killed, if it were not for the hole in the ground that saved your life. It must have been the most frightening moment to not know whether you would live or die within a matter of seconds..
    When I heard about the man who did not want to sit next to you or the college students in UCONN who did not tolerate the war, I felt a sense of betrayal by our country. I kept wondering, how people could degrade veterans who risked their lives for our country. Even though many people during the time were against the war, to me it is unjustified to treat any human being so lowly after having experienced such traumatic incidents in war. As I felt anger and frustration just from hearing about the way veterans were treated, I cannot imagine how you must have felt.. It shows the ignorance of our society and how blind we can be.
    I also want to shed light upon what I really learned from this presentation. I learned that war should not be glorified and that the psychological, physical, mental, and emotional devastation of war should not be endured by any individual, especially at a young age. It robs young men of innocence and of the protected and sheltered life that we are comforted by at home. I was not completely against war, but from hearing your presentation, I believe that there should be an alternate way to mend disputes. There really are no winners in war when people in both sides are wounded and killed for supporting a cause that they were forced into.
    I would like to finish by asking some of the lingering questions that I had for you. Did you experience post traumatic stress after the war? How did your attitude and behavior towards life change after you returned back home? Do you regret some of the decisions that you made?
    I truly enjoyed the presentation and I wish I got to hear the whole story. Thank you very much!
    Reitsuma Panta
    Period 3

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    1. Reitsuma: PTSD is a wide-ranging set of emotions and reactions from a traumatic event in the past and the key word is past. I have some of them -- acute startle reaction; REAL impatience with drivers in cars who drive poorly or inattentively; images ( of Hill 861) that constantly enter into my thoughts; not being able to forget dates and events; interrupted sleep; feelings of isolation; to name a few -- but thankfully drugs and alcohol never became crutches for me. I take the long, one day at a time approach to life and living. Doing these presentations helps too as I get to mourn and to honor friends of mine who did not make it.

      I have answered the "attitude and behavior" question and the "regret question" in comments already. We don't get do-overs for major life-altering things. Life and decisions made in it are linear in that we live from birth to death without really being able to go back and re-think or re-do. The key is to, hopefully, make the right choices as often as we can.

      Dennis

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  11. I really enjoyed the entire presentation and was bummed out that it got cut short. I have always been a fan of war stories and real stories told from first hand accounts are always the best. Even though it did relate to The Things They Carried, i almost felt as if they were different because they were different. Sure it was the same war and same place but the experiences were different. The memories were different. The reasons of being there were different. Telling your own history of it made the whole thing so much greater. The pictures were great too, minus the green tint. They showed how it really was. No vivid description was needed. I could see what the hills and the bunks were like. The weather conditions and people you were with. I also liked the plane story. You hear abput all the hate that the veterans got from going to a war most of them didn't even want to be apart of, but hearing how that man moved his seat because he didn't like you that much, it's almost childish. People risking their lives to help another person or group of people should be honored for putting others before themselves, no matter how unpopular it was in the nation. People can be really stupid sometimes, it's sad. I'm really glad that i got to see the presentation today because it gave me a better feel of what is was like to be living in such a confusing time in America's history.

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    1. Alec: Thanks for the nice insights and commentary. I enjoyed your take on the pics and stories. And, yes, it was a confusing time in our history.

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  12. Hello Mr. Mannion,
    Thank you so much for coming in and talking to us; it was an enlightening experience that will stay with me for a very long time. Hearing about the war from someone who personally experienced it brought out aspects of the war that I could not grasp from merely reading a book. Seeing the pictures that you took during your enlistment was also amazing. The conditions that you were exposed to and the situations that you got caught in, such as when you were barraged by mortar fire, are simultaneously extremely interesting and extremely terrifying. The part of your presentation that I most thoroughly enjoyed was the story of the French family that you came across and the fact that you were able to follow up with other veterans and find out who they were. It was very interesting to hear about the house and how the Marines made the family leave their plantation. What also amazed me was how the man attempted to journey back, and that he died in a plane crash, not by a bomb or bullet near his house as feared by many. I find it amazing that you still keep in contact with many people that you met along your way, and even more amazing that you're attempting to track down the girl that you saw on the roadside. Your story is one that was truly astonishing, and I would like to thank you over and over again for coming and sharing it with us. Thank you for your time and thank you for your service to our country as well. I am truly grateful for the experience that provided for me yesterday.

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    1. Hey Charlie: You are not the only one to mention the French family and their lives there. I was not sure if I should put them in my presentation -- you and your classmates were the first to see and hear about them -- but I am so glad that I did. In some ways we're all connected one way or another, and the number of good people "out there" far outnumber the bad. It's a tiny thread of connection -- but a thread none-the-less -- but now you are linked to Francoise and her brother Jean Marie even though you will probably never meet them.

      Best, Dennis

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  13. Jake Swanson
    Period 2
    I would first off like to thank you Mr. Mannion for taking time out of your day to present your side of the Vietnam War. I really enjoyed listening to your interesting stories about the war such as the little girl on the side of the road in Vietnam. What really surprised me was that you were still able to track down that family even after all those decades and I hope you get the chance to meet that family in France.
    I feel terrible that after the war many people wanted to avoid you like the man on the plane even after you were nearly killed in your foxhole. I think you said it well when you said, "The only positive thing that came out of this war was that Veterans are now treated better than before."
    Thank you again Mr. Mannion and I hope you can come in again and finish your presentation without any electrical problems!!

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    1. Hey Jake ( I have a son named Jake and I'm partial to that name): Thanks for your take on the presentation. I have not totally tracked down that family yet, but with computers and a shrinking world you never know. I'll keep trying. Thanks again, Dennis

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  14. Thank you Dennis, for dedicating your time to come in to speak in front of us, about your experiences in Vietnam. I really enjoyed your presentation, because just like the book it provided real life experiences that almost all of us can't relate too. Your pictures were extremely helpful in creating a picture in my mind, so I could see what you and many others who served in the war really experienced. I know you talked about joining the war because it gave you something to do, but have you ever thought about your decision to join the war and wished that you didn't sign up for it? Your presentation had some similarities to The Things They Carried as Tim O'Brien and you both didn't have a real big reason for joining the war. Once again I would like to say thank you for coming in to speak with us. Your stories and memories did a great job of providing first hand insight into the life of a Vietnam solider and veteran. Thank you so much for offering up your time.

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    1. Ryan: Reasons for joining and thinking about that and wondering if I'd do it differently have been answered above. Thanks, though, for your comments and the link to Things Carried. Dennis

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  15. Mr. Mannion,
    Id like to thak you for coming to BHS today to present your time at war. Other than all the electrical problems the school endured, I for one got alot out of that presentation. It was inspiring to see that you had the courage to open up to the students about your academic issues. Notre Dame is one of my favorite schools so I was a little jealous to see that you went there.
    Overall, hearing about your experiences made me realize the importance of thanking soldiers for everything they have done for our country. To keep us safe and to serve there country. Brave, courageous, proud are only a few words I cant think of to show who these soldiers are. Iv seen many movies and documantaries about the Vietnam War, but Iv never felt so close and interested as I did today. Knowing that the person presenting to us was the soldiers in the pictures was amazing.
    Knowing that he was treated differently after he served for our country and the people is heartbreaking. Even more that the people he served for were the people who disrespected him.
    I for one want to thank Mr, Mannion for presenting to us today everything he had.
    Dalton E Period 3

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    1. Dalton: So you like/follow the Fighting Irish, huh? My dad, my next younger brother ( I have 3) and my only sister graduated from there. I'm the only one who got "asked to leave." In fact my brother was right behind me there. He was a freshman when I was a sophomore (and already on academic probation). It is a magic place, though. I want to thank you for your comments and insights. Go Irish! Dennis

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  16. I greatly appreciated and enjoyed the presentation from Mr. Mannion's presentation. It provided a true perspective of the Vietnam War. I personally enjoyed the presentation because everything was straightforward, unlike The Things They Carried. In TTTC by Tim O'Brien, you did not always know what was true and what was made up. O'Brien states a couple times that not everything is true and that in order for someone to understand the truth they need to be told a lie. Otherwise, there were connections between TTTC and Mr. Mannion's presentation. One specific thing I can connect is that neither Mr. Mannion nor O'Brien participated in the war to do it for their country or anything else. Overall, the presentation was amazing, it gave me a better understanding of the war (even though it will be impossible to ever fully understand) and the other enjoyable aspect was that Mr. Mannion provided pictures. The pictures gave me the capability of actually visualizing the scenery from TTTC.
    Gabby White
    Period 3

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    Replies
    1. Thanks, Gabby, for your comments. My students always had a tough time comprehending O'Brien's "true and not true" war story issues, and I am not sure I ever did a good job explaining or rationalizing his stance. To my way of thinking, some of combat is so bad -- think hideous -- that telling it truthfully is just not possible, so glossing over it or altering it helps you deal with it w/o having to be 100% accurate. Best, Dennis

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  17. Dear Mr. Mannion,
    Your presentation really caught my attention and I was intrigued and interested the whole time. It was really great, and I'm definitely disappointed that time had to be cut short because of all the power problems. I honestly could have listened you talk all day.
    The stories you told really gave a look as to what being in Vietnam was like. I know nobody really knows unless they have been there, but what was spoken about, and how you said it, really gave a better understanding to what is like in that war. One of the stories that really surprised and also disgusted me was when you spoke about the man on the plane that switched seats after to speaking to you about your time in Vietnam. How anyone could disrespect not only another human being, but one who was serving for the country, made me sick. How did you take that? I cannot believe that soldiers were also protested against and even spit on.
    I know you claim the time you served was not heroic or patriotic, but you still deserve recognition and thanks. So thank you for not only your presentation but for your time served in Vietnam.

    Emma Salvatore period 3

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    Replies
    1. Emma: As far as the guy on the plane (and your question, "How did You Take That?" ) goes, I simply let it slide. I was SO happy to be coming home alive and reasonably intact, that I didn't process it much beyond "F him and the horse he rode in on." The stewardess came back after the move and asked it I was OK and hoped that I wouldn't "cause any trouble" and I told her that I had too many ghosts to carry around already....didn't need any more. And I left it at that. Best, Dennis

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  18. Dear Mr. Mannion,
    I know you must hear it a lot, but thank you for everything you have given to our country. You sir, are a true hero to me.
    I enjoyed your presentation, as it gave me much more respect for the brutality and intensity of war. For me, yesterday made it real. I realized how big of a deal a 13 month tour is, as it affects the next 70+ years of your life. Just the fact that you remember that Christmas (in 1968 i believe?) like it was yesterday puts things into perspective. I cant even vividly remember Monday of last week!
    You can say that war is not heroic or brave or patriotic etc, but the fact that you did it still makes you someones hero. People owe you their freedom, their safety, and even their happiness, and I thank you for everything you have given.
    Sincerely,
    Ben Greenvall

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    Replies
    1. Hey Ben: Thank you for your comments. They are much appreciated. By the way, Christmas '67 not '68. :) Have a good rest of the school year.
      Dennis

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  19. Thank you Mr. Mannion for coming to talk to us. I was really disappointed that the presentation was cut off by our technical difficulties because I got a lot out of it. The stories you shared helped me to make a real connection to the book we read. By hearing from someone that experienced it first-hand, it seems more real. One of the things you said that stood out to me was the disrespect and hatred directed at soldiers returning from Vietnam. It's really sad because people that served should be treated with so much more respect than that, since they've experienced things that we can't even imagine as civilians.
    The biggest question I have for you it whether you regret the experience. Would you change whether you served, or was the experience too valuable? I hope you can come back, because I want to learn more about what it was like to serve in Vietnam. Jessica L. Period 6

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    1. Jessica: I have answered this earlier (more than once), but I am going to add a bit here. Asking whether I have regrets and would I change ( if given the chance) and not join the military back in 1966, is a hypothetical question because we all know that people can't do that. So, in answering this type of question as simply as I can, I'd have to say if the all the circumstances were the same I'd opt not to have enlisted. But there is a comfort level in saying that because I know going back for a do-over isn't remotely possible. The experience was valuable, but that's easy for me to say as well because I have lived 46 years since Vietnam and I am blessed with good health, healthy children, none of my wounds were disfiguring, no loss of eyesight, no missing limbs, and no paralysis, etc... I would not wish my experiences over there on anyone ( esp my kids), but those experiences have given me this simple code of living: There really aren't any real terrible days in my life.

      Best, Dennis

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  20. Dear Mr. Mannion,
    I loved your presentation on the Vietnam War. It was interesting, and the pictures allowed me to understand better what it was actually like there. Thank you for taking your time to talk to us, we all appreciate it. I found it tragic that there were many veterans who were disrespected. I was wondering if you would agree with Tim O'Brien's idea that when you're in war you no longer are fighting for freedom or America, but instead just for the man next to you?
    Jackson Mariotti

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    1. Jackson: You hit a home run out of the park with that question. There is no doubt that O'Brien's comment about "what one fights for" is spot on. Grunts fight solely for the people to their left and right. Not for the over all goals or the mission; not for the country or the flag; they simply endure and take it because not doing so would endanger those closest ( on the ground ) to you. It's the purest form of a buddy-system that know of. Great question. Thanks for it.

      Dennis

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  21. Dear Mr. Mannion,
    I really enjoyed your presentation on the Vietnam War. Seeing your pictures helped me to finally understand what it was like there. While reading the book it was hard for me to picture what the land and conditions where like. You briefly said that you where injured, I was wondering how that happened and if you received a purple heart because of that.
    Julia kendzierski period 8

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    1. Julie: ( Sorry did not get to your question in the right order). I was very lucky injury wise in that while wounded twice I was never forced by the injuries off the battlefield. I was injured by 82mm mortar fragments on 6April68 on Hill 861. Pieces of shrapnel hit my helmet ( and I will talk about the "custom work" on did on my helmet when I come back to BHS) and my right arm and back (after going thru my flak jacket) and I was knocked out by the force of the explosion. I was also injured in the summer of 68 -- shrapnel again from an arty round -- and I have 2 Purple Hearts. None of that is heroic stuff; just pure fate. I was very, very lucky.

      Dennis

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  22. Dear Mr. Mannion,
    Your presentation and pictures about your experiences at war were really touching. Hearing your first-hand experiences reminded me how important it is to thank the men and women who have served as it is not easy I'm sure. Your great pictures helped me to understand what life was really like for a soldier. As for questions, I wanted to ask about what other men you were with carried with them. It was very interesting that the poem you carried while at war went with two other men to war as well. I was wondering what the most common item you saw was and what the most unique item another soldier that you knew was carrying.

    Casey
    Period 8

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    1. Casey: Not an easy question to answer as infantrymen carry a wide assortment of items. One of the most common items I saw carried were those small bottles of Tabasco Sauce. In the U.S. military today their MRE's ( Meals, Ready-to-Eat) almost all contain a tiny bottle of the stuff, as it's invaluable in making bland food taste better. That as particularly true in the Vietnam ( '57 to '73) as the food items in our C-Rations had been canned in the early 1950's. I also saw knives of all sizes, mouthwash (?), Instant Coffee in small jars, paperbacks and comic books! Most unique is me: I brought my Converse Black Low sneakers with me to Nam and used them from time to time. If I had gone the whole period with the presentation, I'd have shown you a photo of me wearing them! LOL. Dennis

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  23. Dear Dennis,

    Thank you so much for coming to speak to our english classes. Your experiences were brought to life in a very different way then I have heard or read war talked about before. I really enjoyed the pictures that went along with your presentation. While reading The Things They Carried, it was challenging to put a true picture for many of the stories and it was refreshing to have an image to go along with what you were saying. Your story about the little girl, especially was very interesting. What a bizarre situation to be across the world at war and walk by a young, innocent girl outside her home. I feel like many of your stories would make a good book. I hope you come back to finish your presentation, I would love to hear more.

    Eleanor Hall
    Period 3

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    Replies
    1. Eleanor: Thank you very much for your thoughts and sentiments. Very, very much appreciated by me. Dennis

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  24. Mr. Mannion,
    I would just like to thank you for such a wonderful presentation. I have never seen such honesty and pride in any presentation. You really brought me into the experience, and gave me and insider view into the life of a Vietnam soldier. This is something that no book or movie could do, and the touches of personal information made it like an autobiography.The photographs in the slideshow really stitched it all together, and I feel as though I have been inside your life. The stories about how ashamed you were at first of the photos, but then came through to treasure them. It really brings a great level of morality into it, and I don't think that I could have gotten the experience your brought anywhere else.
    Mike B Per 3

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    1. Mike: Just a slight correction -- it wasn't that I was ashamed of the photos ( even though I never took any photos of wounded or dead people on either side), it was more like I was sick and tired of everything connected with war that I didn't want any reminders.

      Best, Dennis

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  25. Dear Mr. Mannion,

    I really appreciate that you took the time out of your schedule to speak with us. I found your presentation refreshing and honest. The pictures that you took were powerful and i'm so glad you decided to use them in your presentation. I was especially intrigued when you gave your own personal opinion about the war at he end of your presentation. I was wondering if you could elaborate more on how you felt while in Vietnam and if your opinion towards fighting changed or remained constant throughout your life?

    Sincerely,
    Cassidy M.
    Period 6

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    Replies
    1. Cassidy: I think I have answered this above, but to be clear, asking how I felt in Vietnam ( 13 months) is like asking anyone how they felt a year. I had all the ranges of emotion that anyone would have with some emotions/feelings being a lot more tense than "usual." You know: happy, sad, discouraged, disappointed, pleased, care-free, tense, etc. I cried at times because of the deaths of others and I had tear in my eyes at other times from laughing so much. You name it, I could probably connect to it from there.

      As far a the view towards fighting/military goes, I'm a realist and I know that the world can be dangerous and threatening to us, so we have to have a military force ( it's always been that way ) no matter how much John Lennon had a plan in his song "Imagine." That being said, use of that force should be the last thing we use...not one of the first.

      Dennis

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  26. Dear Mr. Mannion,

    Thank you for coming to speak with us, I really appreciate it. I wish BHS didn't have so many technological difficulties the other day because I could have listened to your stories for a much longer amount of time.
    Every time you changed the photo on the slide, I was intrigued. I wondered what was happening, where is this, and who are the people. Your photos where a true eye opener. Being able to see real visuals really made me think and picture what war was truly like to experience. It's hard to understand today what the living lifestyle was for a soldier because of the way war is portrayed in books.
    I also liked how you referenced the book "The Things They Carried." Not only that I liked how you were open with us about your past and childhood. It really made your audience feel comfortable and have a connection with you.
    Your stories were full of knowledge and you have so much more to tell us...so I hope you come back to BHS to finish your presentation. I am looking forward to it.
    Also, do you like the book "The Things They Carried?" Do you like the way it portrays war and makes the reader believe something that isn't true?

    All the best,
    Caroline M.
    Period 2

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    Replies
    1. Caroline: I started using TTTC before it was a book. Sometime in the early 1980's Esquire Magazine published a short story entitled "The Things They Carried." It was to eventually become the first chapter of the novel some years later. I cut out that short story -- no locating it on-line in those prehistoric times -- and I made copies for my English classes to use. When the book was published (1990) I had kids buying the book and using it in class 2 or 3 years before it was even approved by the Wallingford Board of Ed! :) I thought the book was powerful and just about every chapter could stand on its own as a short story. Yes, it's about an infantry platoon, but it's also about growing up, being accountable, loss, grief, enduring, and personal choices. Two examples ( it's hard for me to totally remove my teacher hat!): 1) Parental Expectation -- all teens deal with it and as does the soldier who's dad keeps writing to him about wanting him to "win all those medals." 2) Life Altering Decision Which Will Close Some Future Doors Forever and Open Others: The "On the Rainy River" chapter is when Tim sees the letter from the DRAFT BOARD on the table and his heart skips a beat! Whatever decision he makes ( get drafted, flee to Canada, go to jail, join another branch on the military on his own, etc) his life will change forever. All of us face huge decisions at times in our lives -- I'm pregnant...now what?; I don't want to go to college but my folks insist on it...now what?; they won't pay for college, but I do want to attend...now what?; heroin, you say, hmmm...now what?; I want to break up with my long time girl/boy friend...now what? -- and there are consequences no matter what we choose.

      As for the truthfulness of O'Brien's account, it's a novel ( based on his experiences getting drafted after college and going to Nam) so it's fiction. He can say whatever he wants as the author; you as the reader have to decide what resonates best for you. A lot did for me.

      Dennis

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  27. Today at 9:10 PM


    Hi Mr Mannion
    I wanted to start off by thanking you for coming to our school and telling us your story. I felt very personally attached to your presentation because I grew up hearing war stories from both my grandfathers who served in the Korean War and WWII. All of your pictures made it seem like I was right there. The most interesting part of your presentation was how you were able to connect The Things They Carried to your own experience. The story you told about the poem that your carried in your helmet that you then passed down to two of your students that entered the war really touched me. It was as if it was a good luck charm for safety. A question I would like to ask you is how did war change your outlook on life and how did it change your everyday life when you returned home?
    Thank you so much for everything you've done,
    Michaela S.
    Period 3

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    1. Michaela: Thanks for the commentary and the question. I sort of answered with others above this, but I will add this: My 13 months over there really gave me an appreciation for the gift we all possess: Life. One has to value it and treat as such. I have never been a goal-setting person although I do know that there are many people who set goals ( daily, weekly, yearly, etc) and strive for them. No issue there from me; it's just not the way I approach it. I have more of a "get the best out of every day that you can" philosophy. Make every day count as often as you can.

      Dennis

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  28. Dear Mr. Mannion,
    Thank you so much for taking your time out of your schedule to come and talk with us. I really enjoyed reading "The Things We Carried" in English class, but after having listened to you and your stories, I began to gain a deeper meaning of the war. The pictures you shared with us gave me a visual of what you experienced. I really found the pictures of the young girl and her family from France to be the most interesting. It was weird how you coincidentally met another veteran who saw this family as well. I know you said that you knew the locations of where the children from this family are today. When do you think you will get in touch with them? If soon, I'd love to know the outcome of you talking with these people. Again, I thank you for your time and I learned a lot.
    Claire Paterson
    Period 3

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    Replies
    1. Claire: I am working on tracking down the two "kids" who are now in their late 40's or early 50's. The founder and president of our Khe Sanh Veterans group was in touch with their mom in France decades ago and 7 years ago he had a letter from the son ( Jean-Marie) who lived in a different part of France than his mom. He wrote in the summer of 2007 to say that his mother had died ( cancer). Just a few weeks ago, our guy wrote a 3 sentence letter to Jean-Marie at the 7 year old address. He told me that if Jean-Marie writes back, he will send the address on to me so that I can write to him and locate his sister Francoise too. That would be a wonderful thing. I'll keep you informed ( through Ms. Baker) about my progress.

      Dennis

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  29. Dear Mr. Mannion,
    I would like to first thank you for your service, and also let you know that everyone who attended the assembly greatly appreciated you finding time to come speak to us high school students. I apologize for all the disrupting technical difficulties that took place during your allotted time, because like many other students I could have listened to you for a full day. My favorite part of your presentation was your attitude towards war, and how despite some good memories, you relayed war to us as it truly is, brutal. There was no sugar coating in your explanation, and that's what people need to hear since its the truth not some manipulated version of war. Sitting there in the auditorium, I could have closed my eyes and pictured your descriptions and stories like a movie in my head just going by their depth, and they evoked a good deal of emotion imagining being in your shoes. You had no humility when explaining the stories about the mortars, and the convoys, but those small details made the stories complete. Your unique way of presenting allowed me to briefly see into the eyes of a soldier, see the things they saw, and feel the fear they did. I also liked how as the bell rang you said to us not to see you specifically as any hero,but question our own society for sending people to war in the first place, and finding necessity to fight rather than search for peace or compromise. I would like to ask you if your mindset about killing changed once you joined the fighting compared to your thoughts before the war. Also, what are your thoughts about, "The Things They Carried," and do you believe it is a reasonable interpretation of what war is really like? Thank you for helping me see war from a new, but improved, and realistic perspective.
    Sincerely,
    Alyssa Case
    Period 3

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    Replies
    1. Alyssa: I really had no mind-set about death ( theirs not mine) on the battlefield prior to Nam other than that it was drilled into us at boot camp that it was our job to make sure more of the enemy died for their country than us. In the middle of it all, I became so focused on surviving myself that I paint scant attention to all the death and destruction....you go into automatic pilot.

      As for "Things Carried, " I answered that in big response earlier, and I don't know if the word "reasonable" can be attached to war because it is not a reasonable place. Still, O'Brien takes a short period of time in the war and narrows the focus. It is very helpful in showing one part of zillions of parts that make up a war. I hope this helps.

      Dennis

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  30. Dear Mr. Mannion,
    I'm very glad you were able to come in and speak with us! Despite the massive amount of distractions, the PowerPoint of pictures coupled with your story was an amazing experience to behold. The honesty of your reasons for joining and the stories behind every photo were incredible. I'm glad your mother kept those photos because they gave immersion as well as a better understanding of the stories you told us. I have only one question: while you joined the service for reasons you thought inadequate, would you do it again? I can't wait until you come back in to speak with us again!


    Have a fantastic day!

    - Jared C. , Period 2

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    1. Jared: Knowing what I know, probably not. But again, if all the circumstances were the same -- flunking out; hanging out at home; angry parents, etc, -- I'd do it again. But I'd be bitterly opposed to my sons going to a place or a war like that.

      Dennis

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  31. Hello Mr. Mannion,
    First, I would like to thank you for coming to talk to us! It was a very unique experience that I am lucky to have been a part of. Reading a book as capitvating as "The Things They Carried" is a wonderful experience but to also have the privilege to hear you tell your story, it something truly special. To hear your honesty and view your photos first hand made reading the book so much more real. My question for you is: Have you read the "TTTC" and if so, what is your opinion on it?

    Thanks for coming to talk to us!

    Skylar Sandler

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    1. Skylar: I have really indicated my feelings about the book in earlier posts. In my 30 years at Sheehan I taught mostly seniors. For the longest period of time, most kids thought that One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest ( not the movie, please) was the best thing they read. But from 1990 on, I'd have to say that at least 50% of the kids thought that "Things Carried" was better.

      Both great books. Dennis

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  32. Dear Mr. Mannion,

    Thank you not only for your service, but for your honesty as well.
    To know that as a young man you were influenced by the country's glorifying portrayals of World War ll, I deeply valued your warning that war does not glorify a man.

    When I hear stories such as your own or I look to works like Tim O'Brien's The Things They Carried, it is evident that the Vietnam War can never be glorified as World War II was because it was a war with no light at the end of the tunnel; one that revealed the senselessness of war itself.

    It had few heroes and countless victims.

    I must say that I find it repugnant how you fought in one of the most tragic wars in US history only to be spurned by the very country you fought it for.

    No man deserves that.

    On another matter, I deeply value what you shared with us in your presentation.
    I find it fascinating how the photographs you took while in Vietnam meant relatively nothing to you at the time, yet have in time grown to be powerful mementos for not just you, but for other veterans as well.

    A question I would have for you would be in regards to the portrayal of the Vietnam War in film and literature.
    Are there any portrayals you feel are most truthful or are there any portrayals that you feel misrepresent the war?

    By the way, I wish you luck with your search for the French girl and her brother.

    Sincerely,
    Dan Lalor
    Period 2.

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    1. Hey Dan: As I said above, I am working on the French family.

      Literature / Films: There has not been a lot of excellent fiction, but "Things Carried" is very, very good. Another, that was a NY Times Top Fiction book a few years ago is Matterhorn by Karl Marlantes. He was a Yale grad ( English major) who received a Rhodes Scholarship for graduate study in London for a year. Upon return he entered the Marine Corps as an officer and spent 13 months in Nam from mid-68 to mid-69. He was in the Khe Sanh area (after I was there), and his novel took 30 years to get published. It's descriptions of combat and what people go through is incredible.

      No real great films that I have come across yet. There are aspects of Platoon that I thought were well done -- but not all of it. Full Metal Jacket has its moments too, but it's not a very accurate portrayal of actual fighting. The film that I feel best speaks to the issue of veterans returning home is Coming Home ( 1978) which won an Oscar for Best Picture and Best Actor ( Jon Voight). It's riveting and if you like music from the 60's the soundtrack is awesome.

      Rambo movies do us all a dis-service. Same for that genre of all POW rescue films.

      Thanks for the Q's and comments. Dennis

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  33. Stephanie Durso Period:7
    Like many have stated with everything that happened that day it didn't faze his presentation at all. I like many were disappointed that the presentation was cut short. He was informative though still interesting. Explaining the true affects of war and how it changed him. While also giving us a perpective of why people join wars and that things weren't always the way things are now. What Mr.Mannion did was give us a real life approach of what was written in The Things They Carried. Hopefully we get another chance to hear more of his presentation because from the part of the presentation we have seen we have been taught what veterans truly went through and still go through. Thank you Mr.Mannion for sharing memories of war because it has informed the affect war has on the soldiers long after they have returned from war.

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    1. Stephanie: Thanks for the kind words and your insights. I'm happy that I could make connections to "Things C." Best, Dennis

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  34. Hello Mr Mannion thank you so much for coming to our school and being the guest speaker. I appreciate you coming and sharing your story from the marines, i know it wasn't easy to share that experience with us, but i appreciate it so much. Im so sorry that BHS had problems with the lighting, i wish that didn't happen because i wanted to hear the rest of your story, it was so intresting to listen to. I hope you come back and finish your story so i can hear the rest of it.

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    1. Theresa: Thanks for this. I will make every effort to get back to BHS and finish up.

      Dennis

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  35. To all of you who posted about the presentation: I really appreciate the kind comments and the insightful questions. It will take a few days ( nights) to answer your questions, but I will do so by replying to each post starting at the top. If a question is identical, I will reply but essentially say that I have answered that question already.

    If time and schedules allow -- and Ms. Baker can work the magic -- I'd be more than happy to come back. In reading the comments about what you saw and heard, I know that you'd learn more and have more to reflect on. Hope you have a good vacation. Be sure to tell someone today that you love them.

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    1. Thanks, Dennis---I am trying to work the magic! :)

      Delete
  36. Hello Mr Mannion thank you so much for coming to our school and being the guest speaker. I appreciate you coming and sharing your story from the marines, i know it wasn't easy to share that experience with us, but i appreciate it so much. Im so sorry that BHS had problems with the lighting, i wish that didn't happen because i wanted to hear the rest of your story, it was so intresting to listen to. I hope you come back and finish your story so i can hear the rest of it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Theresa: I do hope to be back at school in May or June to finish up the presentation. Thanks for your post about the visit. Dennis

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  37. Hello Mr. Mannion!

    I've been mulling over how I should respond to this post for the past two days and even now, the right words allude me. I found Mr. Minnion's presentation to be terribly fascinating? Mr. Dennis opened my eyes to the true horrors of war? Thank you for your service? None of those words fit. Somehow, they feel empty, overused, and superficial. Mr. Minnion, your presentation was terribly terrifying. The way you recalled your experience made me feel as if I had been there with your younger self as he survived a fate worse than hell. My heart lurched every time you introduced your friends as ghosts. Your matter of fact tone as you described these horrible events... The detail with which you described them... How many years have you really spent in Vietnam? The way you tell your story... It gives me the impression that Vietnam followed you home and remains with you to this day... Mr. Mannion, your presentation made me angry. I'm downright furious that such a thing as war even exist. I'm livid that so many people have had to endure your pain. My heart feels like its on fire every time I recall you talking about the people who were affected by the nonsense that was the Vietnam war. When I think about those people who isolated you upon your return home, I get the most intense urge to give them all a well deserved verbal slap. However, it also made me happy. I smiled when you talked about your friends sending you the last slice of pizza, and y'all making an under the counter deal to get the parachute, and you meeting the little girl. Your honesty, your humor, and your compassion brought your story to life and gave it humanity. I will never forget how excited you were as you told us of your funnier misadventures. You should really look into training a dog of your own to bite your friends in the butt. Haha. Mr. Minnion, thank you. Thank you for your service. Thank you for honesty. Thank you for your humor. Thank you so, so much for giving us your story and your insight. I'm desperately looking forward to seeing you again. As for questions? Hmmm. What was the most beautiful thing you saw in Vietnam?

    Have a lovely day!

    Iana W
    Period 2

    - Iana-Lee W

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    1. Iana: I loved reading what you had to say.....very much "spot on" as the British would say. Thanks for all of it.

      I'll have a photo to show when I can get back to BHS that will answer your "most beautiful" question. Sorry for the tease, but you will have to wait a few more weeks. :) Dennis

      Dennis

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  38. Hi Mr.Mannion,
    Thank you for taking time to speak to us. I really enjoyed the presentation and wish we had more time! The pictures you had we're very touching because there was a bigger meaning behind all of them. For example the dog story and how you wanted the dog to bite your friend. I was fascinated with all the stories you had to share. You also made many connection to your own life experience to "The Things We Carried". Like in the book they talked about the water Buffalo and you explained a similar experience. Thank you for serving our country and taking time to talk to us. I truly enjoyed meeting you.
    Sincerely,
    Rachel C

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Rachel, for for your words and your thoughts. I think you'll learn a bit more when I can get back there. Best, Dennis

      Delete
  39. Hello Mr. Mannion!
    I enjoyed listening to what you had to say about your experiences with the war. It really had me thinking about the book "The Things We Carried" and the personal connections you had. I found it interesting that the war changes you as a person, and how you carry it with you through your everyday life. You mentioned how not a day goes by where you don't think about something that happened during the war. Another part I found interesting was the bomb that almost hit you and your friend. It's how an experience can change you. I really enjoyed listening to everything you had to say. I really learned a lot.
    Have a good day!
    -Taylor Miller

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Taylor: I appreciate your reactions and your commentary. Thanks much, Dennis

      Delete
  40. Dear Mr. Mannion,

    Thank you for taking your time to coming out and speaking with us. I found your presentation to be very interesting and I loved how you told us everything in detail. I was also pretty impressed that you remembered all the dates to which things took place. The pictures that you had shown us were very powerful and i'm glad you used them because it helped me understand what you went through. I loved how you gave us your own opinion about the war at the end of your presentation. But I just want to say that I have never seen such pride and honesty in a person while presenting something they went through and I would like to give you credit for doing such a wonderful job. I would also like to add that while reading the book The Things They Carried, it was hard picturing what they went through during the war. But with your pictures and you telling everything in detail, it was much easier to understand. Also the stories that you had told us, made it easier to understand the book now. I just want to say thank you for sharing your exeprience with us and also thank you for risking your life for this country. You are a true hero.




    Sincerely,




    Karisma Patel

    Period 7

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    Replies
    1. Karisma: You make some valid points here, but I gently have to disagree with the hero comment at the end. I am not and I wasn't. I'm not being cute here, I just don't see it that way. I put a lot of people -- esp my parents -- through 13 months of mental hell and it was something I did ( enlisting) that I didn't have to do. I was very lucky...not heroic. Best, Dennis

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  41. Dear Mr. Mannion,
    I thought your presentation was truly amazing despite all the complications with the power. It was a truly great experience to hear what it was like to go to Vietnam from someone who experienced the fighting first hand. I can't even imagine what it would be like to go through war and even though you don't consider being a solider as and extraordinary act of bravery I still have a tremendous amount of respect for you and all you went through. I know that we didn't get to hear all of your presentation and I hope that Ms.Baker can schedule a time for you to come back because i would love to see the rest of your photos. In the Things They Carried OBrien talks about death and the difficult task of coping with it, I was wondering how you dealt with the things you saw in war and if they effected you when you return the the US. Thank you so much for coming to speak to us and I hope we get to see you again!
    Hannah Beatty
    pd.6

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hannah: Good questions and if you had posted earlier, I'd have much to say. I did address these issues further up the page, so please look for them. One thing I will say here (but will elaborate when I return to BHS) is that I went back to that hill in July of 2000. The ONLY reason I made the trip was to say good-bye and to come terms with the deaths of 28 Marines there. When people die in combat, it is often only a single event in a larger, hectic, day/night and you don't have the chance to mourn or pay proper respects. That always haunted and bothered me, and I knew decades ago, that if I could go back, I would. And I did.

      Delete
  42. Dear Mr. Mannion,

    You're presentation was very intriguing. I took a lot out of it! I learned more of what it was like to be a soldier in Vietnam and what you had to go through. I found out what it was like to be a soldier in some of the heaviest combat in the war; and I learned what you went through upon your arrival back in the United States. Since I read the book The Things They Carried, I was able to connect the book more to real life and it made the literature that much more special. I was a little disappointed that due to the power issues we weren't able to finish, but I hope you come back soon!
    Tyler Mahoney
    Period 7

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Tyler: I am pretty confident that a return to BHS and the completion of the presentation will be a GO! Thanks for your kind words. Dennis

      Delete
  43. Pat Cunningham
    Period 7
    Dear Mr Mannion,

    I loved your presentation about serving in the Vietnam war and all of the things that you had to battle while you were over seas. It allowed me to get a greater understanding of the Vietnam war and actually how bad it was to be over there fighting. I wish that we could have finished your presentation because I was very interested with the entire thing. I am possibly going into the Marines and your presentation helped get some history about the Marines. I hope that some day that you will be able to come back and we could hear more of your presentation. Thank you for coming to present to us anyway!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Pat: As I just typed above this: I have every confidence that I'll be back to finish up. Please talk to me about the Marines when I am back. I just want to make a few points about that. I am neither for nor against it; I just want you to understand the options and opportunities. Dennis

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  44. Dear Dennis,
    First off I just wanted to thank you for coming to our school and sharing your experiences in Vietnam with us.Your stories were very intriguing and really illustrated how things were over in Vietnam during the war. one thing that really stood out to me was the story where you heard the mortars go off at your camp site, and how fate determined whether or not you lived or died that day. i just found it so insane that you looked at that situation that way. You didn't try to run far away, because you only had a few seconds before they hit. all you did was stay put in the foxhole, and whatever happens,happens. i just found it crazy how at least in that story, you "cheated death" in a sense. anyway i couldn't thank you enough for your service over seas. i know with all the Vietnam war protests, it must have been hard to go, and especially return back home. Thank you

    Riley O
    Period 2

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Riley: Believe me, the time you are getting shelled is NOT the time to be running. You really can't outrun that stuff anyway....even if you knew which direction to go. Too dangerous (and deadly) a choice. Better to get below the nearest ground cover and pray or cross your fingers or BOTH. In addition, it was not hard to come back come home at all ( no matter what the protests were all about). It was a happy, joyous moment in my house....especially for mom. And I was so happy about alive and well that nothing could have dampened those emotions.

      I appreciate your taking the time to write. Best, Dennis

      Delete
  45. Online Jobs of Data Entry, Copy Pasting, Add Posting, Clicking, Web Surfing, Website Visiting, Article Sharing, Data Sharing, Google Business Plans, Investment Plans, Genuine earnings from home.
    www.jobzcorner.com

    ReplyDelete
  46. Dear Mr. Mannion,

    First I want to thank you for coming to BHS to speak with us. I loved viewing all your photos. They all had different meanings behind them. I believe that your photos just opened my eyes to lots of different things. It's hard to actually visualize the true living lifestyle for a soldier from just reading books about war and such. I liked how you referenced the book "The Things They Carried." I really appreciated that you were open with us about your past and childhood. It really made your audience feel comfortable and have a deeper connection with you.
    I would love to hear more of your stories and I really hope you will visit BHS once again to continue your amazing stories. I’ll be looking forward to it!! And some questions I have for you is, was the way Obrien described the war the way you experienced it yourself? And did you enjoy reading “the Things They Carried?” and make relations to the book to your past?

    Period 6
    Vicky Seok

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Vicky: I have responded with a lot of commentary about "Things," so see above and way above in the blog. :) The event that O'Brien described and uses as the background to his book was nothing like my experiences. In addition, he was Army and I was a Marine -- big differences. However, his describing the death of one of them ( Kiowa) and how the platoon dealt with it certainly did resonate with me. I know full well that sort of loss, and like the character Tim in the story, I too went back to Vietnam ( in 2000) to come to terms with those losses. More about that when I come back to school. Dennis

      Delete
  47. Dear Mr. Mannion,

    First I want to thank you for coming to BHS to speak with us. I loved viewing all your photos. They all had different meanings behind them. I believe that your photos just opened my eyes to lots of different things. It's hard to actually visualize the true living lifestyle for a soldier from just reading books about war and such. I liked how you referenced the book "The Things They Carried." I really appreciated that you were open with us about your past and childhood. It really made your audience feel comfortable and have a deeper connection with you.
    I would love to hear more of your stories and I really hope you will visit BHS once again to continue your amazing stories. I’ll be looking forward to it!! And some questions I have for you is, was the way Obrien described the war the way you experienced it yourself? And did you enjoy reading “the Things They Carried?” and make relations to the book to your past?

    Period 6
    Vicky Seok

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. V: Been there, done that! Look up one post ^

      Delete
  48. Dear Mr. Mannion,
    Thank you for coming to BHS to speak with all of us about your time in Vietnam. I learned a lot about the war and was able to obtain a more personal perspective on the war. The photos really portrayed to me how laid back the war may seem at one moment, but then at the very next your life could be a great risk. What touched me the most was the story you told about how you were on the plane and the man sitting next showed you no respect and asked to sit away from you. I find it ridiculous how men who risked there lives to better the world have to come back to such cruel treatment. I can't thank you enough for your service overseas and your honesty when telling these stories.

    Period 2
    Joe R

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    Replies
    1. Joe: Thanks for the nice words and the sentiments. All these decades later, whenever I think about that guy on the plane, two words come immediately to my mind:

      Butt Crack!

      Bye, Dennis

      Delete
  49. Dear Mr. Mannion,
    It was a huge shame that we had problems with the power the day that you came, and that it cut your speaking time short. First of all I really want to thank you for coming to speak to us about your experiences, I know for some veterans that's not an easy thing to do. The photos that you showed us were really interesting, and gave me an idea of how life in war could be, that it isn't necessarily all action every moment, that it can be a little calm at times. I think my favorite was the picture of the old hot dogs and beans that you were cooking in a can for breakfast one day, I just liked that and your comments on that. Even without the pictures the stories that you shared were just amazing to listen to, some of them were just so striking. Like how you said you pretty much signed up because you were bored one day. Or the one about how Vietnamese kids would yell and call you guys number one hoping for treats, but if they didn't get any would start yelling mean things and give you the finger, and how guys would sometimes shoot the water Buffalo when the kid started this. My favorite story that you told either, was either the one about how you and your friend got the parachute for your tent, how you were going to get in trouble for it but your friend gave the officer whiskey to change his mind; then everyone wanted to be in your tent. Or the one about the German shepherd and his handler, and how he was the only one the dog would listen to. But the story I probably found the saddest was the one about the man who wanted to sit away from you on the plane, or how when you went back to school the other students would always sit a seat away from you. I think one of the most disappointing things this country can do is treat those who went to war for us that way, they shouldn't have tried to punish you guys, you didn't start the war. Even if you signed up just because, I want to thank you sincerely for the service that you did overseas, and to apologize for how you were treated when you came back. I would also like to say that you did a great job when you came to speak, it was really interesting and very informative without being boring, plus you kept talking even when the lights were out and kept it interesting. A question I have for you is, did you ever feel the urge to write down your memories from the war after you came back to help you? Was it easy or hard for you to get back into the normal daily routine of civilian life, do you think you ever truly get back into that routine? And what are your thoughts or feelings about "The Things They Carried"? Even though I'm sure you've heard it a million times, thank you once again.
    Sincerely, Leah Braley
    Period 6

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    Replies
    1. Leah -- Wow, can you write! It was a treat to read all that wrote. Two of your three Q's have been more than answered ( "Things" and back to civilian life). I have written a few memory pieces and just about everyone I meet and interact with about Vietnam urges me to write and write and write. Even my kids tell me that. I'm very close to starting that process. Best, Dennis

      Delete
  50. It really is a shame that Mr. Mannion didn't have enough time to tell all of his stories. All the kids were excited about the electricity and the fire drill. I would have loved to hear more of his stories about the Vietnam War. If we had enough time he probably would have told us more stories.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Patrick: I am in communication with Ms. Baker about a return visit. I do think it can happen, so keep your fingers crossed. Dennis

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  51. George Hartlin P.7
    Dennis was very deep about the war he even went into detail about his life leading up to the war. I honestly took a lot of interesting facts out of his presentation. Vietnam was crazy but for him to come back and still feel comfortable about talking about it really made me see how brave he really is because that war scared so many. I hope Dennis can give a longer presentation in the summer so we can hear more about the war from a true soldier. I never knew how valuable a parachute was on the ground until he explained how it could be converted into a makeshift tent. Dennis's graphic details helped shed light on the little known facts about the war like how much the little things meant to the soldiers over seas. My one question would have to be did you ever see any WW2 Japanese bunkers in the jungle? Overall Dennis was really great and I was thankful to here the war straight from the man who served during it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. George: Thank you for this. I do think I'll be back, but it probably won't be in the summer! May or June. LOL. I was involved in the Vietnam War and the people we fought against were Vietnamese. The United States fought against Japan in World War 2 -- I wasn't even born then as that war ended in 1945 and I was born in 1946. I saw plenty of bunkers that were Vietnamese, but none made by the Japanese. The amazing thing about both wars is that even though we fought terrible battles with both those countries and their people, the United States now considers them friends, allies, and business partners. Too bad we could not have done that from the start. Thanks, Dennis

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  52. Ahmad Zaidi
    Dennis, Thank you very much for your presentation on the Vietnam war. This presentation really helped me connect to the war in a way the book never did. Even though the book told stories but they seemed distant but your stories and pictures actually took me to Vietnam.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ahmad: Thanks for your comments. I am glad the presentation connected with you and with "Things Carried." Dennis

      Delete
  53. Mr. Mannion,
    I thought that your presentation was incredibly intriguing. I always find war stories very interesting, especially the soldiers' opinions on them, and yours was no different. In fact, yours went beyond this standard with the pictures, which were a perfect addition to the presentation. Your presentation helped me gain a more personal understanding of Vietnam, and put the audience in to your shoes, as best as the situation would allow. I truly appreciated your honest outlook on the war, and how you told us the true reason you enlisted. Thanks for enriching my knowledge of the war, you truly were intriguing to listen to. Hopefully you can come back soon.
    Aidan Deane, per 6.

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    Replies
    1. Aidan: Must be the drinking water in Branford....you kids can write. Some very nice compliments in here -- by you and about me -- and it's not often to see the words "enriching" and "intriguing" showing up in one sentence. Well done. Thanks for your reaction/impression. Dennis

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  54. Thank you so much Mr. Mannion for coming to BHS and sharing your personal experiences with us. After reading a book like "The Things They Carried" it really puts things into perspective to hear from someone who was there and has experienced the things that the book depicts. The use of a slideshow of your own pictures, was really impactful and meaningful and told us more than words on a page could ever do. I really hope you can come back and visit us soon.
    Justin Campos Period 3

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    Replies
    1. Justin: Thanks, and I do hope to be back. Keep putting the pressure on Ms. Baker, but be sure to use the word P L E A S E a lot when you do!

      Dennis

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  55. I really enjoyed the presentation. I would like to thank Dennis Mannion for telling us his story. It really illustrated what being at war is like, and how scary it can be. If I do remember correctly, he did return to the war after being home for some time. One question I have is what made you want to return to the war?
    Amy B.
    period 8

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    Replies
    1. Amy: You wrote this: "If I do remember correctly....."

      I am writing to say this: "you did not hear me say that." No way was I ever going to go back to Vietnam. 13 months was more than enough for me. I was wounded there twice, could have died on numerous occasions, so no way was I going back. Best, Dennis

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  56. Conor Duffy
    Period: 7
    Thank you Mr. Mannion for sharing your personal experiences with us students. You really defined how it must to be in the war and how hard it was. Hearing from you, it sounds that you really tried to make the best of it. The presentation and pictures really helped me connect to the war and how it must have felt. It gave me a bigger perspective of how the war affected everyone at the time. The book, “The Things They Carried” sounds almost similar to your stories that you told. How you explained your personal story, it really does show that anyone can end up in the army/war. We really appreciate that you shared your time to show us your presentation. We hope that you can come back to BHS again!

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    Replies
    1. Thanks, Conor, for this and I am glad that it helped make some connections for you. See you soon, I hope. Dennis

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  57. I would like to give a big thanks for Dennis Mannion coming to our school to explain his story in the war. It must have been hard to come up and explain his story about the everyday struggles in the war, especially when a lot of his friends and teammates were killed. He is a true hero for defending our country and also being able to tell many teenagers what it was like. America needs more people like this.
    Nick Temple
    Period 8

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    Replies
    1. Nick: Thank you for your passionate response. I'm not comfortable with the words hero/heroic. Finer people than me did a lot more than I, but I do thank you. Dennis

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  58. Jonathan B
    period 7

    Thank you Dennis Mannion for taking the time out of your busy schedule to come to Branford High School. All of the information you presented about your life in Vietnam was extremely inspirational. Your life in Vietnam put further information out there that can compare to "The Things They Carried". I am grateful that you were able to share even tho the power cut down on alot of the time you were with us but thank you.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Jonathan: Thanks for your comments. Glad that it helped with getting a better sense of "Things Carried." Dennis

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  59. Jordyn B.
    It was an extremely eye opening experience and I am very thankful that I was able to listen to your story, Dennis Mannion. I sat in the front row so I was able to see the real color of all you photos, and I wanted to start off by saying how beautiful those pictures were. They really brought life to your story and made it much more personal. Also, to hear you say how because you and other veterans were treated so poorly was somewhat worth it because it created much better accommodations, help and respect for veterans, was quite moving. Thank you for your service and thank you for taking the time to come in and talk to my class.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Jordyn, for your uplifting words, and you are so right, the true colors of the photos are really beautiful. Dennis

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  60. Hi Dennis,
    I really enjoyed your presentation. It was truly eye opening. I got chills listening to some stories and tears at the other. I think it's so awesome you are going to track down that little girl, so amazing. The pictures you showed during the presentation were absolutely breathe taking. They really made your story more personal. Thank you so much for taking the time to talking to our classes.
    Teagan

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    Replies
    1. Teagan: Any relation to Ed Mockus who was connected with Yale? It's been years since I have spoken with Ed, so if you are related, say hi to him for me.

      If not, forget I even mentioned it. :) Thanks for your kind words. Dennis

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  61. Dear Mr.Mannion,

    Thank you for coming into our school and presenting everything to us. The way you described your experiences allowed us to connect with you and the story. The pictures you brought along was something very different that I've never seen before in other presentations. It had to be one of my favorite parts of the presentation. The way you went into detail about the parachute and tent, the German shepherd and his trainer, the food there, and the Vietnamese kids, there was just so much detail in your stories it was the raw truth about war. The truth that movies and books don't tell you. Your real experiences gave us a look at what war is actually like. The story that hit me the hardest was when you were on your way home on the plane after serving and the man said he wanted a seat far away from you. I could not believe that someone could be so cruel to you after you served for the country to protect us. I noticed a lot of similarities to the book we read The Things They Carried. Much like how the Vietnamese children would beg for stuff. You told us a story similar to that how one boy would ask for candy and if you didn't give it to him he would swear at you. Also like the girl at the house. In the book there is a whole chapter on a girl they see dancing while her house is burning down and how the soldiers watch in fascination. Just like that little girl you saw on the steps, everybody was amazed by seeing her. This was by far the best presentation I've seen and I can't thank you enough for serving our country and taking your time to come talk to us. One thing I wondered was, how did you cope with things when you arrived back to the states? Was it hard blending back in to your normal lifestyle?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Cayla: Another well written and very insightful commentary. Thanks for all your kind words and use of specific examples from the presentation. I really have answered both of your great questions earlier. Please take a look back up the blog a ways. Sincerely, Dennis

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  62. Dear Mr. Mannion,
    Thank you for coming to speak to our English classes i really enjoyed the stories you had to tell. Before i get too much into this I just want to say that when you were an English teacher at Sheenan you had my dad, uncle and aunt as students! i thought that was pretty interesting to find out when i got home that day. Anyways, thank you for sharing your stories along with your pictures. The pictures really helped me understand a little bit more how it was when you were in Vietnam. they helped me imagine what it was like for you. I am very glad your mom did not throw any of them away! I really also liked how you went into war, not that i liked it but I thought it was a very interesting thing. Usually people go into the war because they want to serve their country like you said, or because they are interested in war, but you went in because you were mad you had said. I liked how you talked a little bit about the book "The Things They Carried." It really was good for us because all of us read that book so we were familiar with all of that.
    Thank you for coming to speak with us. I do not think I have any questions for you at the moment but if i think of any then I will save them for when you come in to finish your presentation.
    Chaylea Finn P. 2

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    Replies
    1. Chaylea: Please say hi to the Sheehan High people for me...esp your dad. And thanks for your remarks about the presentation. Best, Dennis

      Delete
  63. After hearing Dennis Mannion come and talk to us, I was able to understand more about what happened in war. When reading the book, The Things They Carried, I learned a lot about what went on in war and most things were new to me. However, knowing that a lot of the book was made up, it was hard to believe that situations they mentioned actually happened. Mr. Mannion’s story about his experience made it easier to understand what it was like because I knew it was real. I like how the slideshow helped put his words with the pictures. Thanks again for talking to us.
    Holly Parker p. 2

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    Replies
    1. Holly: To be clear: Tim O'Brien ( the author) did graduate from college and even though accepted into grad school, his draft notice came up and he went into the Army. He fought with an infantry company in the exact province of Vietnam that the book is set, and he went back years later to try to make sense of it all. Just like the character Tim in the book. So, even though it is fiction and "made up" there is a lot of it that is true....even if he tells you that it's not. I know that this can make us crossed-eyed with frustration at what we are reading about in 'Things," but don't get too far away from the fact that he was in a platoon like that. I hope that helps you a little. I heard Mr. O'Brien read his short story ( The Things They Carried) at an educational setting way back when it was just the short story and not a novel. When he was finished and the applause died down, he said to the standing-room only audience, "I guess many of you probably have a lot of questions. I don't have any of the answers," and with that he walked off the stage! Weird. :) Best, Dennis

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  64. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  65. Mr Mannion, it was truly a pleasure to be apart of the audience a few weeks ago. I don't think I stopped listening for a single word, even during the power outage. It was hard to really get in to the book for me, but having someone stand in front of us and reminisce on their own life was absolutely captivating. I want to especially thank you for sharing two stories (along with photos) that I found particularly moving. First, the adventure you and a classmate had at Notre Dame climbing to the steeple, and second, the day you and another soldier had a very close call with a mortar. Thank you for taking the time to share with us and even respond to our feedback, and of course thank you for serving our country.
    -Aaron Radulski

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    Replies
    1. Aaron: Thanks for the comments and it does prove you were listening closely. The ND Golden Dome climb was a priceless thing -- not to be copied by very many -- but I SHOULD have been studying instead. Best, Dennis

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  66. Mr. Mannion, it was a great experience being in the audience while you were giving your presentation. I've always found war stories interesting and yours was no different. I was hooked the second you started speaking. After reading "The Things They Carried" I did begin to understand things that had happened in the war, but parts of that book were fiction. Listening to your presentation helped me gain a better and more personal understanding of the Vietnam War and helped me visualize the shocking truths of it. It's a shame the power outage caused the presentation to end short, I hope you can return and speak to us again some day.
    Thank you very much for taking time out of your day to speak with us.
    - Aodhan Dunn
    Period 6

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