My group for this project is doing Don McCullin’s photo titled, “Shell-shocked US Marine, Hue, Vietnam”. I am analyzing the legacy and current relevance of this photograph. For this first post, I used most of my time to find out the generic information on this image, to better understand what I need to look for to compare to current images from the War on Terror. Sadly, my research has not turned up the marine’s name yet; hopefully I can find the records of the different units stationed there and see if I can come across anything in my future research. It would be great even to just find information on the units stationed there during the Tet Offensive. Mr. McCullin took this photo in February of 1968, during the Tet Offensive in Vietnam. This offensive created one of the bloodiest and most noted battles of the Vietnam War. The Tet Offensive caused quite a large amount of destruction in Vietnam because the Viet Cong and North Vietnamese used the Tet Lunar New Year celebrations as a cover for their surprise attacks across the country. These attacks included the takeover of cities, rural areas and important ‘control’ centers throughout Vietnam.
From analyzing this photo, one can recognize the haunting stare given by the marine. This man has seen many things that will stay with him for the rest of his lifetime. This experience of shellshock caused short-term distress to soldiers and marines, but eventually alleviated over time. Sometimes it did not, but that did not have a specific name for a while, nowadays this is referred to as PTSD or post-traumatic stress disorder. During the late 1960’s into the 1970’s this debilitating problem facing armed forces instead went by the name of ‘combat fatigue’ or ‘shellshock’. Granted both combat fatigue and shellshock were short-term conditions, which men could move past if given enough time. With more advances in medical sciences, officials recognize that while these short-term conditions exist, there are long-term equivalents that some men and women cannot easily move past.
Information on the Tet Offensive:
Information on Combat Stress Reaction or Combat Fatigue