"I'd Rather Be Forgotten Than Dishonored": An Oral and Life History Project with a Vietnam Veteran

Hayley M. Hasik, Stephen F Austin State University


More than 2.7 million Americans served in the military during the Vietnam era and roughly 40,000 of them as helicopter pilots in Vietnam, yet scholars are still trying to understand the Vietnam experience. There is little doubt that the war played an influential role in the lives of that generation. Yet, many Vietnam veterans refrained from talking about their service, making it difficult to study and understand their experiences within the existing historical narrative. Using the life history of Warrant Officer James Scott, Hayley Hasik argues that Vietnam veterans—particularly helicopter pilots—are an underrepresented group that, through oral history, can provide an alternative narrative to enhance our understanding of the war and its aftereffects. Gathering primary sources and understanding how the individual fits—as an individual—into the larger historical narrative provides Vietnam veterans with a “voice” and helps give validity and meaning to the abstract.