I enjoyed reading Doing Battle. The fact that it was a soldier’s first hand account of war made the scenes so vivid in my mind. Fussell did not even intend on joining the army. he was interested in photography, not the army. He joined the ROTC not because he was interested in the army but because he liked the uniforms and how important he felt wearing the uniform. He enjoyed being in the ROTC but it did nothing to prepare him for actual war. Everything seemed “sugar-coated”. Fussell said the ROTC never prepared them for war, never giving the slightest idea of what they should expect. It seemed to me that Fussell went into war with misleading expectations. I thought it was good that Fussell and the other men were given time to continue their college education before being taken to Camp Robert.
I did not like how Fussell and others were told they were going to become officers but they were treated like dirt while at Camp Robert. The way they were treated in boot camp was awful. I understand the army was probably trying to make them stronger by being harsher, but it seemed like the army’s harshness was unnecessary. Things like not being able to drink water from breakfast until dinner or not being fed a half-way decent meal is not making the soldiers stronger, but was hurting them. Even in boot camp, the men were not given a realistic view of what war would be like. I found it interesting how Fussell found himself becoming a changed man. He found himself finding power in shooting a gun or learning to kill enemies in self-defense. It was somewhat saddening to see how the army had changed Fussell, changing a young college student into a “killing machine.”
In Greatest Generations Come Home, it spoke of the process soldiers went through to become prepared for war, called the “hardening process.” The soldiers were made tougher through different activities like marching 25 miles, with soldiers “enduring bloody, blistered feet.” I feel bad for the soldiers who had to go through that process, but I think it was necessary. In my opinion, it is better for the soldiers to be prepared for what war will look like, rather than go into war and being blind-sided by the true colors of war. The mindset the army instilled into its soldiers was interesting. Just like in Fussell’s case, nothing mattered except for learning to shoot guns but more importantly, learning the art of war. I enjoyed reading about how the soldiers remembered home while at war. The way the book said they held on to the small things was touching. While at war, the men learned to appreciate the smallest reminders of home, whether it be a picture or anything containing memories from home.
It was sad how the veterans were expecting to return to an America where the civilians completely understood what the veterans had gone through. In reality, while the civilians wer supportive of the veterans, they had no idea how to relate to their emotions and had no idea what the veterans had experienced while at war. While I was reading, I could not imagine what the soldiers were experiencing as they waited to return home after the war. They must have felt so overjoyed and I wonder if that joy was enough to cover the horrors of war they had experienced. I understand the soldiers overseas wanted to return home quickly, but I think the government should have slowed down the demobilization process just a bit. Bringing so many veterans home at once would cause shortages in jobs, money, etc. By spreading out the return of troops, the civilians and civilian life could offer more to veterans, getting one group settled while another one came in. To me, that would be more reasonable.
It was refreshing to see troops being welcomed home. In the past wars, we have seen a lack of civilian respect and appreciation to the veterans. This time, the troops returned to warm welcomes from family, friends, and civilians alike. The reason for this was probably because this war hit home, when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. These men were fighting to defend their country, which was most patriotic especially in the eyes of the civilians.