Regarding your June 10 editorial “Rep. Price pushes for studies on gun violence”: I applaud U. S. Rep. David Price for his efforts to allow research by the CDC to collect data on gun violence. I fought in Vietnam with the Marine Corps as a young lieutenant. One of my lasting memories is how many casualties, dead and wounded, were accidents by friendly fire. Most Americans know that 58,220 Americans died in Vietnam. What they don’t know is that 10,786 or 18.5 percent were from non-hostile causes such as friendly fire, truck accidents, drownings. Of the 14,836 Marines killed, 1,752 (11.8 percent) were from non-hostile causes, and of that number 400 (2.8 percent) were by “misadventure” or friendly fire. This doesn’t count the wounded or near misses, and we were all well trained!
These events occurred within proximity to me: Nov. 21, 1965 – Sentry fired on friendly. Hit right leg, not serious. Nov. 23, 1965 – Lieutenant inspecting lines. Shot in neck. KIA. Dec. 2, 1965 – Shot himself in leg with .45 cal. pistol. Dec. 22, 1965 – Shot himself in leg cleaning .45 cal. pistol.
I was almost killed by a sentry my first night in Vietnam. Months later when I was a seasoned combat veteran and cleaning my .45 pistol, suddenly out pops a round. How could I do such a stupid thing? We were all armed 24 hours a day seven days per week, but followed a protocol.
Outside the post-exchange at the Da Nang Air Base was a 55-gallon drum slanted on its side and surrounded and supported by sandbags. We pointed our weapons into the drum and pulled the trigger. Beside the drum was a sign. Clear all weapons before entering the store. All covers off weapons, magazines out, bolts to the rear, muzzles pointed up. No smoking in main store.
I believe knowledge is power, and if we as citizens become aware of how many “wounded and killed” we have here in the United States from firearms, maybe, just maybe, we can pass some sensible firearm laws.
Colonel USMC (ret)
The length limit was waived to permit a fuller response to the editorial.