The Real Tunnel Rats
If you would like to know more about the bravest of the brave forgotten soldiers of Vietnam, google “tunnel rat” and you will find a wealth of information there. Most of these young men—or boys, really—were drafted. They didn’t ask to be sent to Vietnam. They went and they served and they died and some lived. Many of them did not deal with the experience as well as Eric Tucker.
I wish we as a nation remembered them more fondly. I wish their nation had welcomed them home from a lost war with as much distinction as the soldiers displayed while serving it. Unfortunately, a war-weary nation could not find it in itself to do so. But that is our own failing, not theirs.
On an historical note, you may be interested to know that a good deal of the Vietnam scenes I described were drawn from actual events. But they hardly did the reality justice. The tunnel systems, for example, were far more complex than I described. Google “Cu Chi” and you will see what I mean. The Vietcong did deal heavy damage to our troops from the tunnels. The description of underwater entrances is accurate. The Tunnel Rat name and motto, and the initial reaction to them by their commanders, is drawn from historical anecdotes. The weapons used, such as Captain Tucker’s treasured P38, are historical. The Tunnel Rats did develop specialized demolition systems to blow up tunnels, and the Vietcong did seed the tunnels with booby traps and venomous creatures.
It boggles my mind that men actually went down in those tunnels. The background image for this section is a photo of an actual tunnel entrance. Would you go down there?
As Colonel Feldman said, “One can scarcely imagine a more hazardous mission.” Truer fictitious words were never spoken!