Special Collections and Archives

Paul Cameron, Personal Narrative

Special Collections and Archives

Paul Cameron, Personal Narrative

Paul Cameron, Personal Narrative

Submitted via email, November 2, 2000


When the Kent State tragedy happened on May 4, 1970, I was with the First Infantry Division in Vietnam. Us guys always looked forward to getting a copy of the "Stars and Stripes" newspaper over there. When this awful event came to us on the pages of one of our only contacts with what's going on at home, we were just devastated. Responses were varied among the military population serving in Vietnam at the time of this news. Here are some of the comments from guys who shared this news with me in Vietnam on May 4, 1970:

  • What the Hell is going on at home? I thought things had calmed down since I came over here six months ago."
  • "Way to go boys! Kill some of those hippies for me too"
  • "Hey, look at these 'weekend warriors' ... their rifles actually fire instead of malfunctioning like ours do. Tell Nixon that we'll gladly trade rifles with them NG's."
  • "We're over here getting shot at by God knows who, and these bastards are home killing out own people."
  • "They're just carrying out Nixon's orders and we all know f***ed up he is. Don't blame those guys -- blame the politicians."
  • "I wish I was there ... I'd shoot four or five of those f***ing NGs to even up the score for what they've done."
  • "I can't believe it. I was just on that campus not five months a go. God ****, what's happening at home with all this bull****?"

And the list went on. Some were pulling for the guys in uniforms doing the shooting, some supported the politicians, some were behind the demonstrators. Vietnam was a terrible, terrible event in our lives. Kent State proved how badly that impact had become. Many of us in Vietnam at the time did not feel like we had much homefront support after reading the "Stars and Stripes" about the May 4th massacre on the Kent State campus.

Paul Cameron
SP41st Infantry Division
Di An, South Vietnam
Vietnam tour of duty from Nov. 1969-Nov. 1970