He began speaking out against the war. He wrote letters to his base commander, letters to generals, letters to the secretary of defense and to the President. “Why are we here?” he wanted to know. Now he saw death everywhere, and he could not pretend that he bore no responsibility for it he refused to carry a gun.
He spent more and more time with Vietnamese — gathering intelligence was part of his security job. The information he obtained about possible attacks against the base was usually accurate. Though he did not know it then, Brian now concludes that his newfound Vietnamese friends were Viet Cong. They liked this large, affable, talkative American. They trusted him, as he trusted them, and the relationship worked to their mutual advantage. The Vietnamese would warn him of where and when a strike might be expected, and Brian would have his men removed from the area. The strikes would occur, American materiel might be destroyed, but his men would be safe.
One day, after a mission that left only rubble where a village had stood, Brian saw a young Vietnamese woman lying in the dirt. She was barely more than a girl, perhaps eighteen. Brian remembers, “I picked her up. She was dead and her eyes were open. I saw my eyes in her eyes. I thought, “My God. My God. This could be my sister.”
He almost cracked. He took his Swiss Army knife and stuck the blade into his own palm, and watched the blood drip onto his pant. He wanted to wake up from a bad dream, and he wanted to wake up at home. But it was not a dram, and he could not wake from it.
Just five months after his arrival under fire, Brian’s superiors shipped him stateside, to England Air Force Base in Louisiana. Julie was there to meet him, and they set up[ housekeeping. They joined the local Unitarian Church, and Brian put Vietnam out of his mind. Or so he thought.