Getting Shot in the Ear During the Vietnam War

"Goodbye everyone," I said to the sad crowd of family members seeing me off.

"Bye. Don't get hurt," my mother said to me as I was leaving.

"Hello...wake up!" my best friend, Ed said to me.

I've had the same dream over and over again for weeks now. The dream takes me back a few months, when I was just leaving The States for the Vietnam War. I never thought the war would last this long when I signed up to serve my country. Right now we're at the height of the fight, and so far we Americans have been doing pretty good. I'm not the highest authority position in the army, but I'm not the lowest either. Everyday here is the same--hot and dangerous. Luckily, however, neither my friends nor I have been wounded yet. Right now I'm just going through the usual morning routine--taking in a quick two-minute breakfast, and then quickly washing up before heading out for another long day in the combat zone. After I gulped down my breakfast with a sip of water I grabbed my gear and ran out.

"Darn it," Ed said to me as we were heading out.

I could see what he meant--it looks like we were going to get shot at pretty badly today. We quickly took our positions and began doing what we were trained to do. I took out several targets in the first few minutes, and thanks to my good luck and fast reaction time I had successfully dodged every shot that came in my direction. Overall, today didn't seem to be that bad. I raised my canteen and took a few sips of water before once again donning my weapon and aiming and pulling. Aim. Pull. The sequence that had been so gruesomely drilled into every soldier's head before being deported. In the beginning it's hard to do because you're so used to seeing targets where the bodies are. But later it just becomes a fight for survival and all sense of humanity is lost, I grimly reflected to myself. I quickly looked around to see how my friends and comrades were doing before focusing on my task once again. Some people yell at me for always looking at my friends because I make myself a target, but what I didn't yet know is that if I didn't keep looking Ed would probably have ended up dead. Let me explain.

During one of my "observation periods" I saw that one of the enemies was pointing his gun toward Ed. I thought Ed could deal with him with no problem, but then I noticed that Ed was aiming for another target and didn't see the other soldier. Before I realized what I was doing I was yelling incoherently while making myself airborne, my landing destination being my best friend. As I started to fall out of the air I thrust my arms out with all my might, knocking Ed into a ditch in front of us, as I prepared to fall in there myself. "Thank goodness," I thought to myself, realizing that I was just barely able to save my friend.

I started to get up when I realized there was sweat running down my cheek. I wiped it off with my hand and when I was brought my down, in my perepheal vision I noticed that my hand was stained scarlet. I brought my hand close to my face for observation before realizing that the warm, pomegranate-red liquid hand was blood.

I was just beginning to wonder where it came from when Ed said, "John--you're bleeding."

I don't really remember what happened next, because it all goes black there, but I do know that if it wasn't for the adrenaline still pumping through my veins I would have been screaming and writhing on the ground in pain.

After I woke up I learned that the moment I pushed Ed out of the way the other soldier fired his weapon. Since I had already pushed Ed to the ground, instead of hitting his target the other soldier hit me, in the ear. I was then rushed back to the States where I could get proper and immediate medical attention. After I had fully recovered the doctors told me that it was a miracle that I had survived, as the bullet was lodged in my head, only centimeters away from my brain. Even though I was happy to still be alive I lost 70% of my hearing in that ear because of being shot.

After I was released from the hospital I was rewarded in a special ceremony in which I received a Purple Heart. A lot of my friends and family keep telling me that what I did was very heroic and brave, but I don't consider what I did very special. My friend was in danger and I saved him. Given the oppurtunity, I think just about anyone would risk their life to save their friend's.

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Voice Peer Response - Julia
Hey~ I'm julia from Korea. This is one of the best stories I've read so far. It is really interesting and honestly, I couldn't stop reading it till the end of the
story. I grabs the attention through out the story and reveals the conflict very well. It was very satisfying and pleasing while carrying out the tension
very well. Good Job!
A. The tone of the writing: 5/5
The tone of the writing adds interest and is appropriate for the theme.
B. Interaction: 5/5
I felt a strong interaction with the writer beyond the words. I felt like I was talking to him through the story. Good job :)
C. Risk: 4.5/5
The writer constantly takes risk, but sometimes, it sounds like you're telling too much of the story.
D. Expository: 5/5
The writing relfects a strong commitment to the topic.
E. Narrative: 4.5/5
The writing is honest, personal, and engaging and makes me to think about and react to the story. Good Good Good!

  • My favorite parts:
But later it just becomes a fight for survival and all sense of humanity is lost, I grimly reflected to myself.
Given the opportunity, I think anyone would risk their life to save their friend's.

Peer Response - Jiyeon H

Criteria A (INTRO & CONCLUSION) - Grade : 4.5

- Your intro is really interesting. It starts off with where you're not at, somewhere else. The use of short dialogues and tention always interests the reader. Well done!
Your conclusion, however, sounds a bit too much like an essay. Although it is quite clear in showing what you (your grandfather, more likely) think and what happened to you after the war, I think that you could put it in a more interesting way, like your intro. Maybe, you could depict that very scene of you getting rewarded, and what you thought just then. That might be a good idea.

Criteria B (TRANSITION & FLOW) - Grade : 4

- Your ideas do connect very well, because they are listed in chronological order. I think that because of that, it seems to me that you're writing something more like a diary entry than a story. However, your series of events seem to be well connected. It has places where tension is present, and that keeps the story flowing and interesting at the same time. If you could just work on the 'too much of a diary' part, I think that your story will be a great one.

Criteria C (SEQUENCING & DETAIL) - Grade : 4

You have shown details and descriptions in your story. Your use of adjectives are very good. I can get a clear image of what you're trying to talk about. Your sequencing of the story is in almost perfect chronological order, but you have shown enough tension and interesting elements that I don't think that it's too much of a worry. Your sequencing nicely fits into what you're trying to say, and I like that. Keep it up!

Criteria D - (PACE) Grade : 4

You have effectively used the element of 'pacing'. You obviously have an idea of when to stop and elaborate, and when to just skip and move on. If you work on that a little bit more, add more tension to the climax, you'll be able to interest the reader much more.

Criteria E (TITLE) - Grade : 0

- Sorry, I can't give you a grade for your title, because you don't have one. Remember : all stories have a title, and that titles are extremely important in capturing the readers even before they read a word of your story. So, you do need a title. Title actually counts as one of this week's grading criteria.


- I see that you're trying to give a message to the readers, that being brave in front of a major crisis will make you proud. Your story flows well, like I've said before. Your sequencing and organization, although not perfectly, matches what you're trying to say. Generally, if you could work on some chronological problems and not-being-so-direct aspects, you'll be able to write a really interesting story that will make the writers THINK. Your story is currently a bit too direct in showing what you believe in. That's why it sounds a bit like an essay/diary. Show, but at the same time, try to hide some of what you believe deep inside the story.

Peer Response- Lynn H

1. On the level of story-telling: if you were the King (or the aliens), would you allow this story-teller to live another day? If no,why not?
I would let this story teller live, because the plot is great. It has excitement, and it has a good theme. Keep this story and expand on it, and it can this can be a strong one.

2. Think of plot—is it original? (If an adaptation, is it creative or interesting to you?)
No, it isn't very original, but I think you can make it original by personalizing it. What did this really mean to your grandfather? I would like to hear more about his friendship and loyalty to his friends, and his thoughts about it. Did he ever regret his actions, or did he think it was the right thing to do even after he found out that he was 70% deaf?

3. Think about conflict. Does the story have a natural conflict? Are there complications that add enough suspense, tension, or interest? Is there a climax that satisfies you? Is the resolution satisfying? What could be added or changed?
I like the conflict of the character risking his life to save his friend, but I thought suspension could be built throughout the story. The story is too short to explain this whole experience. Expand more about the tension of being a soldier in the Vietnam War, deciding to save his friend by risking his own body, and the recovery. I love the climax, but tension can make this story even more interesting.

4. Think of characterization—are the characters realistic? Individual? Do we get a good sense of character from many of these: description, dialogue, narrator's opinion, discussion from other characters, the character’s own actions?
The character could be explained more. Although from the action of saving his friend shows true loyalty and braveness of the character, dialogs could help the reader picture him better. Insert dialogs between your grandfather and his friends, the medic and your family, that will "show" the story better.

5. Think of word choice, imagery, and details. Do they help you see and hear and experience the story? Do any word choices need changing?
The imagery isn't strong enough. Use more details about what the character saw, and what he heard. Right now, the story only "tells" how it was. Instead of telling, "SHOW" the tension, the danger in the war.

6. On the level of "culture"--what do you think this writer is trying to reveal about the culture he/she lives in? Summarize what this story tells/shows about its culture in a sentence or two.
In the American culture, loyalty towards friends is valued and appreciated.

7. Does this revelation of culture possess much insight or show you something unique? Do you get a picture of cultural practices? Of gender roles, love relationships, family roles, habits, religious practices, beliefs, food, social expectations, etc.? Should anything be thrown out? Added?
It isn't a deep insight of the culture, but it is very interesting. Expand more on the "loyalty" part. Ask yourself: is this an social expectation in America? WHY?
Another idea here: you can show family roles and religious practices in the recovery part of the story. How did your family react to your grandfather's injury? Did all of them think it was the right thing to do, or did some think that your grandfather should have saved himself first?

8. What areas of the story need the most improvement?
More imagery is needed and the climax comes too quickly.Expand the story to do this. The first part of the story where your grandfather is checking if his friends are okay could be expanded by adding his actual thoughts and concerns, and detailed description of the war place. The second part could build the tension even stronger, by adding his "to save him or not" conflict. Describe what made him think that he should save his friend. Also, since this is the climax, SHOW how dangerous the situation was! This part has A LOT of potential, so focus on this part the most. The last part--the recovery--can be expanded by adding your grandfather's thoughts on his own action, and the reaction from his family. What is the Purple Heart Award? Maybe you can make describe more on him receiving the award, too.

9. Summarize the theme of the story in a sentence or two. Don't just summarize the story, or say what its topic is--that's not theme. "Theme" is what the story reveals about the topic. So put your theme statement in this sort of pattern: "This story reveals that (topic) is (message about the topic)." Do your best here. You'll show the writer what his/her story DOES say, as opposed to what the writer WANTS it to say.
Even though you might get in danger, loyalty to your friends is important. It is the noble action to be able to risk your life for that of your friends, because loyalty is a great value.

Raliegh's comment= That was great it had my attention from the beginning and it kept my attention. . That was great if I were the alien king I would so let you live. I thought that you had a very inventive intro. your transitions were great they flowed from paragraph to paragraph. The pacing was ok it was a little fast and all the sudden slow. it flowed vary smoothly. i will give you a 4.

Mac Goutell- Peer Response:

The introduction was excellent in my opinion. I was trying to figure out what you were talking about and where you were going, it was an excellent way to grab my attention. However, as I got into the meat of the story it unfortunately, became less and less interesting. It is INCREDIBLY difficult to write about something that you have never actually experienced. Sentences like, "I took out several targets in the first few minutes, and had successfully dodged every shot that came in my direction" make it extremely obvious that you have never actually experienced combat. A soldier can't "dodge" a bullet. Bullets are effectively invisible and moving so fast that even if you could see it your reflexes are no match for the speed it is going at. Try dodging a paintball(relatively slow in comparison to a bullet) if you dont believe me. Survival in a battle is mostly a matter of luck not skill. Actually, I've never been in a battle either, so I shouldnt be commenting on it, instead, my suggestion to you would be to go on the internet or to a library and find some war books or articles, written by actual veterans. I think that you will find war is somewhat different than what you seem to be imagining.

Luke A:

I think that your sentenc fluency could use a little work but over all i thought it was good. I thought it was creative of how you used the pauses in your dialogue but some times it did not always let the sentence flow like i thought it should. Most of your sentences were purposfull and i thought that you started each sentence with a creative begining.Your grammer let the sentence flow fluently and your descriptions fit in to what u were trying to say. I would give you a 4 so just keep working on it!!

*Feel free to edit directly on my current draft, just using a different font color so that I can see the changes you think I should make.