Vietnam And The Spitter, Myth or Fact?


June 2, 2012 by David Gillaspie

A Korean War Memorial in the front room

Wayne B. Gillaspie’s Purple Heart, Silver Star, China Service, Korea Service, and Marine Corps Medals

Myths did so much to explain the world before science kicked in.

Greeks and Romans worked it out with their gods and prophets, their burning bushes and Mt. Olympus.

David Sirota likes working the mythology, too. But why pick the myth of the over-salivating person at the airport hacking one up on a guy just in from Vietnam?

Picture a soldier in his tiger stripes, called in from the field and sent home on a plane because his time was up. No shave, no shower, just get on the bird and get home. This is a guy used to most variations of bodily fluids, the least threatening being a loogie from a slobbering load in an airline terminal.

The reason Sirota calls it a myth is because no one put a boot in the face of a spitter. If that happened there’d be more documentation than the JFK assassination.

Instead, soldiers did what soldiers do, they soldiered on. They follow orders and if they can’t cut it, their commanders find someone who can.

Take a look at Sirota and think of meeting him in the pugil stick ring in bootcamp. Can this narrow headed spinner take a hit? Can he get up when he doesn’t feel so good? Or would he cut loose with the bodily fluids while he refused to engage?

Would he spit up on himself?

All the brave guys in their comfortable shoes see themselves as leaders, as generals and admirals, not soldiers who started their military lives as trainees. The spitting on soldiers story is true, but the location is different.

As a soldier in the Gerald Ford army from 1974-1976 I was spit on.

After failing the drill for handling a rifle salute at Fort Ord my drill sergeant jumped in my face with his Smokey the Bear hat brim bouncing off my forehead like Woody the Woodpecker while he screamed and sprayed all over. It was frightening, it was shocking, and oddly enough it was sort of funny seeing someone that worked up so close up.

What did I do? I stood in front of the platoon and took it. That’s what soldiers do, they take it, whether it’s a hill, a country, or a howling nut case.

Sirota might be many things, a writer, a talker, a tool, but he’s no soldier.

These are soldiers whose names come from the Oregon Vietnam Memorial. You’ll notice similarities.

David J. Ellefson

David B. Lentz

David Torres

David J. Bystedt

David G. Russell

David C. Orfield

David N. Cummings

David R. Blackman III

David F. Popp

David A. Johnson

David L. Ross

David L. Smith

David E. Bramsen

David L. Judy

David L. Harding

David B. Beglau

The only bodily fluids these guys and everyone else on The Wall get are tears.


4 thoughts on “Vietnam And The Spitter, Myth or Fact?

  1. Steve Kindred says:

    You have to remember, Sirota is an entertainer, different only in ideology from Rush Limbaugh. I.e. not to be taken seriously.

    • David Gillaspie says:

      Good point Steve, and thanks for coming in.

      It’s fun banging on Sirota, but the Viet Vet guys I talk to say nothing’s going to change how that war went, spit or not.

      If you’ve read that nations fight current wars with their last war’s tactics, then Vietnam comes into better focus. From air support, to air evacuation, the guys on the ground look more like bait to draw fire than soldiers in combat like WWII. No one wants to feel like bait, and no army wants to send their guys to certain death, but we’re supposed to believe ‘that’s war.’

      And it is.

      Smart guys full of big dreams of life ahead died as a symbol of America’s willingness to trade blood. Early baby boomers lined up like their daddy’s did and went to Vietnam. It’s still an odd word to say.

      In my time I’ve coached first generation Vietnamese kids and thought, ‘tough guys.’ I get that same Civil War feeling I get when I hear a fine southern accent: ‘brother you would kill me dead.’

      But you let it go, right? You have to, you’re expected to. Driving a Mercedes doesn’t mean you’re a death camp boss any more than a Lexus means you’re a bonsai headchopper.

      Looking at a Samsung monitor doesn’t put you in step with North Korea any more than eating at a Vietnamese restaurant means you’re Jane Fonda’s spiritual twin.

      At this point more time has passed between Vietnam and today’s wars than WWII from then. It’s got to be depressing to know Iraq and Afghanistan carry ‘nam on ’em.

      But that’s war, that’s what they call it. At the end of the day we remember a selection of time, of what happened, not the dominoes that fell or didn’t fall to make it happen. Then we get to complain.

      My favorite bitch is Robert McNamara. He was a bomb efficiency expert in WWII and a body count guy for Vietnam. Talk about a tool.

      Thanks again, man,


  2. markmmullins says:

    screw the fluids and those that produce them

    • David Gillaspie says:

      There is a time for spitting on someone? Probably not, but I make exceptions for behavior, not ideology.

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