Vietnam War Uncertainty in Fallen Angels by Walter Dean Myers
773 Words4 Pages
Uncertain of his future goals, seventeen-year-old Richie Perry, a black high school graduate from Harlem, travels to Vietnam to fight in the United States Army. When Richie leaves basic training for Vietnam, he harbors a host of illusions about the war and the army. He confidently believes that the medical profile he has received for a knee injury will be properly processed and prevent him from engaging in combat. He also believes in the flurry of rumors about imminent peace and in the prevalent romantic myths about warfare.
When Richie first arrives in Vietnam, he befriends Harold “Peewee” Gates and Jenkins, two new recruits assigned to the same squad. A sergeant assures them that they should encounter only easy, light work, as there is not much fighting near Chu Lai, where their company is stationed. These rumors prove to be wishful thinking, however, when the three new soldiers arrive at their camp; Jenkins is killed by a land mine during the squad’s first patrol. Richie is deeply shaken and longs to communicate his terror and horror to his family, but he finds himself unable to write the truth to his mother and his brother, Kenny.
As Richie witnesses ever-increasing levels of destruction and brutality, he begins to doubt whether there is any straightforward morality in war. He sees that the line between good and bad is often ambiguous. He also becomes disillusioned with the selfishness of his commanding officers, particularly the company commander, Captain Stewart, who i...