Yeah, yeah we all know about the Top Brass at the Pentagon, the Old Soldiers whose heads and shoulders are so festooned with brass that their necks are in danger of snapping when they fall asleep during cabinet meetings.

The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff is the highest military job in this here great country of ours.Those guys advise the President. (Yeah, Dubyah. I know. It's hard to believe.) But when Dubyah goes, there'll be another one after him, and he too will depend on the Joint Chiefs of Staff for military advice.

I'm not talking about those guys.

I want to introduce you to THE JOINT CHIEFS OF STAFF! The greatest Rock n Roll band ever to play the Republic of South Vietnam.

Oops. Ya got me there. That's right. There is no Vietnam Republic. That's because we lost the war.

Yep. Got our asses waxed Big Time. Not like Grenada or the Gulf, those electronical, automechanical, surgical political computer games. Nam was the real deal. Hand-to-hand. Look 'em in the eye.

Those sneaky little commie bastards knew how to fight. They'd been doing it for two hunded years. We just happened to come in on the tail-end of a couple of centuries of back-and-forth, a civil war you might call it. It was a kind of a "whoops!" sorta deal.

We shoulda taken one look and split, but we didn't. (That might have been a failure on the part of those other Joint Chiefs, but that's the history of politics in America. I don't know much about that.)

What I do know is that while your dads and uncles and grampas, some of you, (geezus) were fighting and bleeding and dying, around 1969 through 1971, THE Joint Chiefs of Staff were playing three gigs a day, from My Lai to LZ Waterloo, on runways, in hospitals and motor pools, come rain or come shine.

The Doors. Creedence. Steppenwolf. Dylan. Hell, even The Beatles. The Joint Chiefs covered 'em all.

It was the greatest Special Services morale-building operation in the history of American Warfare, if I do say so myself. Because it wasn't Bob Hope and Les Brown and his Band of Been Round and a dozen fucking cameras so the folks back home could see how we were doing all this good for our boyz. It was Rock n Roll for the Woodstock Generation, and the band was made up of G.I.'s. Grunts. Footsoldiers who'd been in the bush, who walked the walk, literally a Band of Brothers who could look you in the eye and say it simple: there it is.

I hung with these guys in another life. I'm starting to think about it now, thanks to E2 and all of you. One of these days I'll have it all set down.

You know, at night, six zillion miles from home in the jungle, sitting in some bunker smoking up, with the sounds of incoming in the distance and Elton John's first album on the cassette, the Joint Chiefs and I used to wonder if the brass knew what they were doing, letting us call ourselves The Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Deep deep deep in my heart, I hope they did.

Back: LZ Waterloo

On Vietnam:


  1. I was a prisoner in a Mexican Whorehouse
  2. A long time gone
  3. How to brush your teeth in a combat zone
  4. Libber and I go to war
  5. Fate takes a piss
  6. Thanks For the Memory
  7. Back in the Shit
  8. LZ Waterloo
  9. Saturday Night, Numbah Ten

Back in The World

a long commute
Andy X Kirby True
a tale of two Woodstocks
Buy a Gun
Dawn at The Wall
Feat of Clay
Funeral Detail
I was a free man once, in Saigon
The Joint Chiefs of Staff
the shit we ate

Breaking Starch
Combat Infantryman Badge
David Dellinger
Dickey Chapelle
Firebase Mary Ann
Garry Owen
Gloria Emerson
Graves Registration
I Corps
Project 100,000
the 1st Cav
The Highest Traditions
Those Who Forget
Under the Southern Cross
Whither the Phoenix?

A Bright Shining Lie
Apocalypse Now Redux
Hearts and Minds
We Were Soldiers

Log in or register to write something here or to contact authors.