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Mark Webb

Many Vietnam veterans, like Webb, have conflicted and complicated recollections of their service due to the draft, the controversial nature of the war, and the hostility they often faced back home on their return.

Mark Webb was born in Michigan in 1949 and served in the U.S. Army from 1968-70. Like many returning Vietnam veterans, he encountered hostility back home from a majority of the civilian population.

In his interview, Webb discusses the effects of anti-war sentiment, detailing how soldiers arriving home would change en masse into “civies” to try to escape notice, and how he only “came out” as a Vietnam veteran nearly 20 years after he had served. He also talks about his identity as a Vietnam veteran.

Interview Excerpt

This segment comes from the edited transcript of Webb’s interview, pgs. 15-17.

WEBB: Now, when I came back from Vietnam the first time, I flew into Oakland Army Air Terminals so there were no protesters there. There was nothing- it was like, get your clothes and go home-

HUNT: Mhm.

WEBB: -for your leave. I extended for six months in Vietnam in a non-combat role.

HUNT: Mhm.

WEBB: I was doing security which is basically sitting in a bunker. Um, um, in a R&R, uh, Place called Eagle Beach.

HUNT: Mhm.

WEBB: It was, um, in I Corps. Uh, so the second time I came back- this would’ve been in June in 1970. I flew into Seattle-Tacoma, and there were young protesters there getting in everybody’s face.

HUNT: Mhm-hm.

WEBB: Um, yelling and spitting and stuff. And it’s, woah. And it was, y’know, some of the- the senior guys- like sergeants- they were being accosted and called baby killers. And finally they just ‘Damn right, I killed babies and I’m going to kill you next. Come after me.’ [laughs]

HUNT: [laughs]

WEBB: But it wasn’t- it was that kind of thing- it was-

HUNT: Wow.

WEBB: So- so when I came- when I got out of the army, I just didn’t advertise the fact that I was ever in it.

HUNT: Mhm.

WEBB: And that went for a long time.

HUNT: So- so you sensed, that um, I think first thing you said was that the- the protesters or the- a lot of the animosity in the civilian population, it would get more targeted towards upper enlisted.

WEBB: Yeah, the more stripes you had or if you were an officer, then that’s- they’d come after you.

HUNT: Mhm.

WEBB: I was a lowly E4.

HUNT: Mhm-hm.

WEBB: So what do I know? But I went in the bathroom and changed too. I didn’t- [laughs] I’m not going to wear my uniform in this.

HUNT: Oh wow.

WEBB: There were several of us in there changing.

HUNT: And so- so that- that would be when you first got back.

WEBB: That would be coming home, yeah.

HUNT: Mhm-hm.

WEBB: On the- on the- so it was, um, Tan Son Nhut to Alaska to Seattle-Tacoma, and then on to Detroit but that was in civilian clothes.

HUNT: And from there on, you found- found it natural to just blend in and-

WEBB: Well, it was hard to blend in with my haircut.

HUNT: Ah. [laughs]

WEBB: You had a GI haircut, you couldn’t undo that, and everybody else is wearing long hair.


WEBB: Just walking around with a buzz cut.


WEBB: That pretty much says- a sign on your chest says ‘GI’.

HUNT: Ah. [laughs softly]

WEBB: But, yeah, just kinda’s- when you get back to the neighborhood, you go to your- to your people you went to high school with, your friends, since what have you-

HUNT: Mhm-hm.

WEBB: And- and that was okay.

HUNT: Mhm-hm. [pause] You just needed to get back into your circle and then-

WEBB: Yeah, because the people that knew you growing up, aren’t going to call you baby killer.

HUNT: Right.

WEBB: They may- most of them didn’t even ask, y’know, it’s like, did you- You know, others didn’t say, ‘did it suck?’ and you go, ‘yeah, it sucked.’ ‘Sorry man.’

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