The PBS documentary, The Vietnam War, by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick featured U.S Marine veteran and Perkasie native, Bill Ehrhart. He was a guest on WNPV’s Comment Please By Univest Monday afternoon.
Ehrhart enlisted in 1966 after convincing his parents that it was the right thing for him to do. Ehrhart says he was not prepared for the situation when he arrived in Vietnam in 1967 and soon found himself questioning his decision to enlist and why the United States was in Vietnam. Ehrhart, who took part in the battle for Hue City during the Tet offensive in February of 1968 says he did some soul searching after he returned home in March of 1968.
“I spent the next three years and two months trying to tell myself that I don’t know what’s going on over there and I don’t understand it but it’s not my problem anymore. I got all ten fingers I got all ten toes, it’s somebody else’s problem. All through that period I’m engaged in incredibly self destructive behavior. A lot of drinking and driving and when I got to college I did a fair amount of marijuana.”
But then a moment of clarity came to Ehrhart on May 4th, 1970 over an incident that shocked the nation.
“When the Ohio National Guard killed those kids at Kent State and I saw that dramatic photograph it was like lancing a boil. It was like a volcano finally erupting. I realized there’s got to be some connection from what happened to me in Vietnam and how I’ve been feeling ever since and I wanted to know, what happened, my country, the wheels are falling off.”
Ehrhart says, the documentary did a good job at pointing out how deceitful the Johnson and Nixon Administrations were in delivering information to the American people. He says they both lied over and over and over again. Ehrhart was awarded the Purple Heart after being injured in Hue City. Ehrhart is currently an English and History teacher at the Haverford School.