The veterans had returned. Please direct all licensing questions to firstname.lastname@example.org. The best books written by Vietnam War veterans offer insight into the war and first hand accounts of their experiences. “ From The Misogyny of the Vietnam War Article Sometimes the US soldiers would sneak into the villages and kidnap pretty looking Vietnamese. “Bill” Ehrhart joined the U.S. Marines when he was 17. And after seeing the images of the Vietnam War on television, after seeing the pictures taken by war correspondents, and after hearing accounts of war atrocities, most of the American pubic in the 1960s was inclined to agree. The Nominal Roll of Vietnam Veterans was prepared by the Department of Veterans' Affairs (DVA). They walked without a bath, a hot meal, or a good night's sleep. We look forward to meeting you. The roll contains information from the Service records of more than 60,000 military members who served during the Vietnam War. And they were young men. NT: You grew up in the shadow of World War II and served in Vietnam. A FilmReference.com article noted that American filmmakers "appeared more confident to put Vietnam combat on screen for the first time" during that era. ", Brooklyn native Eddie Neas was eager to be a Marine. Ehrhart, left, in October 1967 near Quang Tri, Vietnam, and today. By the end of the war, more than 58,000 brave service men and women had perished in Vietnam, and 304,000 were wounded during this longest American war. Even if your knowledge of the Vietnam War comes exclusively from Hollywood films and Texan textbooks that only refer to it as "that one the good guys lost," you've probably heard about the Viet Cong. Shortly before Dave deployed, he … At first, there were C-rations, ready-made wet meals served in cans, but those proved to be too heavy for special operations that required long treks on foot. But that's the only way you had a hot meal.". I had never really been to Vietnam the country. I had only seen the war. Photo by Brandi Redd Few American military conflicts of the 20th century were as controversial as the Vietnam War. In Vietnam the task force had no sense of defeat. Now, 40 years later, we must try to understand. It took their mind off what the war was about and helped if they didn'tt necessarily believe in the cause for which they fought. "It was as if I got to see it like a real country, to see the real people. Only 2% of officers were black. On the surface, it appeared to have worked. "War is hell" declares the handwritten slogan on a young GI's helmet in one of many famous photos of the Vietnam War. According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, about 30% of soldiers who saw combat in Vietnam experienced PTSD in their lifetime. Learn the stories of the brave soldiers whose names are inscribed on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. While drinks and companionship were always a draw, recreational drug use skyrocketed during the Vietnam War. The U.S. military has estimated that between 200,000 and 250,000 South Vietnamese soldiers died in the war. Even the front lines were punctuated with periods of inaction. That morning, as communist troops swept into … I survived because I was lucky and because I was not a city boy. Besides weapons, each of us carried an extra 30kg of personal material and food. Call us at . 2. The refugees had reached Australia. Contact Us Contact Us Larry Michael, a former infantryman in Vietnam, reported that "if you really wanted it hot, you broke up a claymore mine ... took the C-4 (explosive) out, lit it and then warmed it up. The Selective Service was organized as a random lottery in which men's birthdays were assigned a lottery number between 1 and 365, one for each day of the year. "I had seen a documentary about the war in 1983, and a man who was about my age talked about how beautiful Vietnam was, how vivid the colors were, how they seemed to vibrate," he said. These men had access to all the luxuries of home, including getting to sleep in a bed, eating hot meals, drinking at bars, and shopping at a well-stocked commissary. The land was a dangerous enemy by itself, but its biggest threat was the dangers it concealed. While the symptoms of trauma were suppressed in the short term, the effect was something like putting a Band-Aid on a broken leg. In honor of National Vietnam War Veterans Day on March 29, signed into law in 2017 by President Donald J. Trump, AARP spoke with six veterans of the war about their most vivid memories — and about what they want Americans today to know or remember. Marijuana and Heroin Use During the Vietnam War . If you have any further questions, please don't hesitate in asking or come over to r/AskHistorians , which is … During the Vietnam War, many black and white soldiers formed close friendships. Reported cases of mental breakdowns among troops dropped to just 1% during the Vietnam War compared to 10% during World War II.  Call us at . Soldiers on both sides faced many difficulties and challenges during the Vietnam War – including climate, terrain, the complex political situation and unclear military objectives. The average age of U.S. soldiers in Vietnam, nineteen, was three years lower than for American men during World War II and Korea. Others died of overdoses before they could even make it back. ", He met a former North Vietnamese soldier. Three Vietnam War Veterans Share Their Stories W.D. The other agony is much like the 9/11 survivors experience. They were a bunch of jungle-fighting guerrilla warriors who killed American boys via night-time ambushes and terrifying traps. They walked with heavy rucksacks, carrying everything they would need to survive in the difficult terrain. Of course, whether they could vote or not, the U.S. government viewed these men as potential soldiers the minute they turned 18 and became eligible for the draft. They carried the fear that at any moment, a surprise attack could kill them. HANOI, VIETNAM—Forty years ago, on April 30, 1975, Nguyen Dang Phat experienced the happiest day of his life. Be the first to submit a tribute honoring a vet from the Vietnam War! ‘Last Draftees’ details experiences of Vietnam War veterans Three Vietnam War veterans from Las Vegas say the draft should be abolished. Instead, the military developed long range patrol rations to take their place. ", By the time he arrived at Huế in Feburary 1968, he was "already a seasoned infantryman, having fought for months in the jungle. We Were the Biggest Threat to Our Own Safety. Whether in the thick of the jungle or deep in the rice paddies, the landscape was strange to the U.S. soldiers, but it was familiar to the Viet Cong, who expertly hid themselves in the land. In addition to speed, officials also supplied soldiers with painkillers and steroids to increase their stamina, strength, and aggression on long-range missions. He had been to that very same battle [at Huế]. I saw no eyes clouded with resentment." But many faced challenges back home, and some still do today. The rations were commonly compared to wet dog food, and the only way to heat them up in the field was by resorting to potentially dangerous explosives. Le Carre's books grappled with betrayal, moral compromise and the psychological toll of a secret life. They hid landmines and booby traps to inflict casualties and heighten the fear American GIs felt with every step. The main problem with most of those books is the complete lack of Vietnamese voices. Some of these men were career military officers. The Viet Cong were frequently one step ahead, hiding in the trees or blending in with the locals, so the villages were never really secured, and the locations of the guerrilla fighters remained uncertain. HANOI, VIETNAM—Forty years ago, on April 30, 1975, Nguyen Dang Phat experienced the happiest day of his life. After returning home, Vietnam War veterans experienced PTSD in record numbers. Bucks County poet Bill Ehrhart, 68, recounts his experiences in Vietnam in several poems as well as his 1983 memoir, Vietnam Perkasie. "The bullet hit the top of my helmet, and it shattered into fragments," he said. He said his first return visit in 1985 changed his perspective on Vietnam. Marijuana was grown all over Vietnam, and many soldiers had their first experiences smoking it overseas. Australian military history overview: Vietnam War 1962-1975. "I had been accepted to four colleges, but I signed up," he said. "Pieces got stuck in my skull, but they never reached the brain." The form this memory takes is linked to the present and helps frame the boundaries and content of political discourse today. I was able to replace all those memories of the war with memories in color. The Vietnam War helped shape a generation of Americans, none more than the 2.7 million who served in Southeast Asia. PTSD was not known until after the Vietnam War; before Vietnam it was known as Shell Shock or Combat Fatigue. SOLDIERS TELL TRUE STORIES OF THEIR WAR. All rights reserved. Soldiers also had their blood sucked by leeches who made their homes in the rice paddies. Ian McNeill, The Team; Australian Army advisers in Vietnam, Australian War Memorial, Canberra, 1984, p470 'Australian soldiers who fought in Vietnam were imbued with the notion of serving an honourable cause at the nation's behest. The Vietnam War was the first American war in which its troops were fully integrated, a development that was supposed to turn the page on a ghastly history of … For Cohasset, Mass., 1969 held the worst eight months of the Vietnam War, when 5 of the town’s soldiers were killed in action. Soldier Recalls Vietnam War Battle Experiences U.S. veteran Caesar Smith gives a first hand account of the fighting conditions in Vietnam. And for the men who served in Vietnam … Some Viet Cong soldiers were uniformed and highly trained, however, most were volunteers and reservist farmers who received only occasional training, if any at all. Places like the Philippines, Hong Kong, and Thailand were popular among the younger crowd who wanted to have less family-friendly fun. Their book, “Last Draftees,” was released last month. Regardless of race, some men chose to enlist in the Vietnam War before their numbers came up, knowing they would be assigned better details if they went voluntarily. But after Martin Luther King Jr.'s assassination, the racial violence that had been bubbling up in cities across America finally reached Vietnam. Somewhat pejoratively called REMFs ("Rear Echelon Mother F*ckers") these soldiers had a comparatively cushy experience in Vietnam. In a war where morale was already weakened by unclear objectives and uncertain outcomes, unfriendly encounters with the Vietnamese civilians they were ostensibly liberating only made matters worse. They fought together and returned home to build lives, families, and communities across the country. They had to bear the dual burden of guilt for the brutal atrocities that had been committed and shame for the failure to bring home an American victory after such a drawn-out war. The army headquarters at Long Binh boasted such amenities as a go-kart track, swimming pools, weight rooms, mini golf, an archery range, an amphitheater that frequently hosted live shows, and even a brothel — officially unsanctioned but well-trafficked. Marijuana was cheap and easy to come by, but commanders were more concerned with the surge of heroin usage among enlisted men, which reached epidemic levels by 1971. The influx of American tourists was a catalyst for Bangkok's massive growth in the 1960s, as the construction, finance, air, retail, and hotel industries boomed to accommodate the influx of soldiers looking for a good time. His name is etched on Panel 13E, Line 123 on the Vietnam War Memorial in Washington, D.C. NBC journalist Frank McGee, who spent nearly a month living with soldiers of the 101st Airborne Division recalled that "Nowhere in America have I seen Negroes and whites as free, open and uninhibited with their associations. The New York Times described heroin addiction as "the Army's last great tragedy in Vietnam." In June 1970, a group of American soldiers stationed in Vietnam huddled together to write a letter to an antiwar newspaper in Berkeley, California, called the Ally. The 1980s was a time to tell the stories of the Vietnam War. He was treated on the field and continued to fight. But in the meantime, there were hours and even days where there were no Viet Cong to be found, no fights, and nothing to distract them from the monotony. Over the course of the Vietnam War, the military prescribed more than 225 million tablets of speed to U.S. soldiers, earning itself the title of American's first "pharmacological war." ". Men like Troyer had to deal with several frustrations particular to the war in Vietnam. As time went on, civilian casualties continued, American soldiers grew increasingly frustrated with the locals' reluctance to help, and suspicion and mistrust increased on both sides. When the grunts weren't walking or being shot at or eyeing the locals with suspicion, they were waiting around for something to happen. These Vietnam War photos are a key part of understanding soldiers' experiences during the conflict and provide insight into operational specifics that were unknown to the press. The veterans had returned. They used Agent Orange to raze the tropical foliage, destroying the environment that the Vietnamese were using against them. They walked for days and weeks at a time, patrolling the land for Viet Cong guerrilla fighters or members of the North Vietnamese Army. So the grunts kept walking. After returning home, Vietnam War veterans experienced PTSD in record numbers. And if the land wasn't actively killing them, it was making them miserable. "The land itself could kill you," remembered Tim O'Brien. Ehrhart teaches literature at the Haverford School. Civilian casualties were common, and many local villages were disrupted, if not outright destroyed, by the arrival of U.S. soldiers, so it's no surprise that locals often viewed American soldiers with distrust and hostility. Hawaii was the most popular destination for soldiers who had families, since dependents were allowed to meet them in Honolulu and spend some time with them. By 1971, 10-15% of lower-ranking troops were returning home as addicts, and over 1,000 were returning as criminals, having been charged with heroin-related crimes. Many young NVA soldiers died along the way before they ever got into the fight because of sickness (malaria). This page contains the first-hand experiences of Vietnam War Veterans Albert French - He joined the U.S. Marine Corps in 1963 after graduating from high school. The Armed Forces during the war and even today is the most successfully integrated institution in our society." In 1982 the Vietnam Veterans Memorial was dedicated in Washington, D.C., inscribed with the names of 57,939 members of U.S. armed forces who had died or were missing as a result of the war. Jan C. Scruggs. Their book, “Last Draftees,” was released last month. The belief that the antiwar movement was antagonistic toward Vietnam-era soldiers still has a deep grip on popular memory and political culture. "I wanted to go to Vietnam, but for my own reason," he said. Instead of being stationed on the front lines, they might be assigned a support detail on one of the rear bases. Regarding your father's viewpoint of American soldiers, I have written a post about the truth vs. reality of popular depictions of Vietnam War era American soldiers. In honor of National Vietnam War Veterans Day on March 29, signed into law in 2017 by President Donald J. Trump, AARP spoke with six veterans of the war about their most vivid memories — and about what they want Americans today to know or remember. Wallace Terry, a black war correspondent for Time, described seeing "thousands of Americans who found their common humanity on the front, where they shared the last drop of water, where they gave their lives for each other. LRPs were freeze-dried, dehydrated field rations that came in waterproof bags and were much lighter than the bulky cans soldiers had previously carried. B: John William Baber War: World War, 1939-1945 Branch: Army Air Forces/Corps Service Location: European Theater Theme: First, Serve: Athletes in Uniform Joe Baca War: Vietnam War, 1961-1975 Branch: Army Service Location: United States; Vietnam Theme: Patriotism Theme: Voices of War John Philip Baca War: Vietnam War, 1961-1975 Branch: Army Service Location: Phuoc Long Province, Vietnam The American Soldier in VietnamMore than 2.5 million American men served in Vietnam during the war. Ironically, one of the most agonizing parts on the Vietnam War for many soldiers, including my husband, was returned home – the long, shameful walk through the airport as strangers shied away in quiet judgment. However, infantrymen whose successes were determined by enemy body count were untrained and ill-equipped to make the cultural advances that would win people over. By Staff Writer Last Updated Mar 25, 2020 7:28:07 AM ET American soldiers stationed in Vietnam were met with an unexpectedly horrific experience. During the chaotic final weeks of the Vietnam War, the North Vietnamese Army closes in on Saigon as the panicked South Vietnamese people desperately attempt to escape. Contact Us Contact Us What's New > Overcoming PTSD: 3 Vietnam War Veterans’ Stories. A U.S. But so were the swarms of mosquitoes that spread dengue fever throughout camps, and with the 30 different kinds of venomous snakes whose bites would prove to be fatal. The use of pharmaceuticals to artificially suppress combat trauma may have contributed to the explosion of post-traumatic stress disorder cases among Vietnam veterans after the war. Still, tensions between black and white soldiers were low at the onset of the war. 40% to 60% of those were either in combat, provided close support or were regularly exposed to enemy attack. Most who join the military and go to war are young—18, 19 years old—and many have never been away from home. Nov. 12, 2006 Updated: Jan. 11, 2012 3:23 a.m. ... in Vietnam that he got to see in our … If they wanted recreational drugs, most Vietnam War soldiers didn't have to go farther than their military doctor. That idealism faded away as the war progressed, as the U.S. sent more troops, more resources, and more money overseas, as more and more young American men failed to come home in one piece. The Booby Trap … "Not bad for a 17-year-old," Ehrhart said, laughing. Regardless of what you thought about the Vietnam war, the fact is 2,709,918 Americans served in Vietnam, representing almost 10% of their (very large) generation. In 1969, doctoral student David Stodolsky recognized the problem and sued the government. In some cases, the luxuries even exceeded the ones the men would have gotten at home. ... An Oral History of the Iraq War by the Soldiers Who Fought It Show More Show Less 6 of 7 ONE-TIME USE ONLY ... in Vietnam … Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC. Black soldiers complained they were unfairly assigned worse details and that they received more frequent punishments and fewer promotions than their white counterparts. ", Said Ehrhart, "I call that my trip of the heart.". We've got an advance excerpt from the 15th Pike Logan novel. Our focus is on friendly, helpful advice and great service for every customer. The Vietnam war effected soldiers physically with strain of fighting in the jungle but it also effected soldiers psychological mind set. The Vietnam War is as remote to them as the War of 1812 or the War of Jenkins’ Ear. Yes, the Viet Cong and the North Vietnamese Army were trying to kill them. At times, Vietnam resembled "a hated, dreary struggle" that dragged on and on with no end in sight. Check it out here. Retired Trenton ironworker Carl Dileo, 69, was 18 when he was drafted in 1966. Viet Cong were adept at blending in, sometimes taking cover in villages. Soldiers were permitted six days and six nights of leave during their one year tour of duty. Our focus is on friendly, helpful advice and great service for every customer. American troops, with their vastly superior firepower, had the upper hand face to face, but the Viet Cong deliberately avoided large-scale conflicts where they could be outgunned. It’s an experience that changes soldiers, and those changes last a lifetime. Upon hearing the news of MLK's death, some white soldiers paraded around the base at Cam Ranh Bay in KKK robes, openly cheering the news. John "Chick" Donohue in 1967, on his way to Vietnam (inset). The 1980s was a time to tell the stories of the Vietnam War. The Vietnam War killed more than 58,000 Americans. Most grunts passed through the rear bases on their way into or out of the field, but they didn't stay long. Dileo was shot in the head. Most crucially, they carried mosquito repellent and dry socks. Nguyen’s book draws on 54 oral history interviews with veterans of the Republic of Vietnam Armed Forces (RVNAF) and their relatives. That's not to say the drugs deserved all the blame for the difficulty veterans faced after returning home. Upper-class men could afford to stay enrolled in university or get a doctor's note from a hometown physician to obtain a get-out-jail-free card that poorer men couldn't access. In contrast to World War II, American soldiers in Vietnam served individualized tours of duty rather than remaining attached to their units throughout the war. "We were each teamed up with a student studying history," he said. A gay soldier’s story of Vietnam and after Mar 13, 2020 | 0 Larry Sanders writes about serving in the army, where he could have been arrested for being gay during a very unpopular war Military personnel also liberally prescribed antipsychotics such as Thorazine, which numbed the psychologically traumatic effects of combat. Although the war in Vietnam caused a lot of grief and unrest in our nation and the war left lasting effects on its veterans, not all were affected negatively; many were able to grow from their experiences in Vietnam, learning about themselves and gaining a new respect for … Nominal Rolls. ... Veterans Memorial is names — more than 58,000 names of men and women who were killed or missing in action during the Vietnam War. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Medical professionals could also declare someone "unfit for service" for medical conditions ranging from ulcers to anemia. But in Vietnam, it was the most sought-after goal of every soldier, the beacon of light at the Soul Shaking Experience It was August 1968, and I had been in Viet Nam less than 20 days with no idea how quickly my life was going to change. There was a glimmer of light on the horizon for bored, anxious, hungry soldiers in the field, and that light was their annual R&R. We weren't soldiers: growing up with Vietnam War stories on screen. Neas, 68, who lives in Rahway in Union County, recently retired after running his own telecommunications company. Officially, their goal was to take back South Vietnam from the communists, find and eradicate the Viet Cong, and secure the hearts and minds of the locals. Soldiers were tasked with the job of winning over the hearts and minds of the local Vietnamese population, convincing them that Western liberation from communist forces would improve their lives. I also traveled with a long bamboo pole. My brothers were both in college, they were doing their thing, and I felt this was my own thing to do.". The Americans fought back with bombing campaigns that laid waste to villages, and sprayed napalm that burned the skin off fighters and civilians alike. "I met him on the street one day, and I spent the night with his family. Now I was fighting 24 hours a day, seven days a week.". Vietnam War Veterans share a common bond. Some of 2020's best military movies are 50% off for the rest of the year from streaming service Vudu. These Vietnam War photos are a key part of understanding soldiers' experiences during the conflict and provide insight into operational specifics that were unknown to the press. The most common loophole was the college student deferment policy, which excused any man enrolled in college or graduate school. But they ultimately couldn't defeat the guerrilla fighters. Soldier's Stories. One thing soldiers didn't have to take their mind off things — the one thing that was almost impossible to come by — was a good, hot meal. Vietnam War Veterans share a common bond. Between the rain and the sweat the grunts were never completely dry. "It was such a waste of life on both sides, such a waste of youth. The NVVM is exploring an oral history project to record Veteran stories. Although the research from various historians is necessary for Americans to understand the events of the war, we must also take time to appreciate the complicated experiences of those who participated in Vietnam. B: John William Baber War: World War, 1939-1945 Branch: Army Air Forces/Corps Service Location: European Theater Theme: First, Serve: Athletes in Uniform Joe Baca War: Vietnam War, 1961-1975 Branch: Army Service Location: United States; Vietnam Theme: Patriotism Theme: Voices of War John Philip Baca War: Vietnam War, 1961-1975 Branch: Army Service Location: Phuoc Long Province, Vietnam The seemingly endless war, fought by American GIs thousands of miles away, had lost whatever sheen it might have had in 1955, when Americans at the height of the Cold War, committed to the Western ideals of freedom and democracy, were determined to stop the spread of communism in Asia. The ways we remember the Vietnam War concern more than just the past. On the ground, American soldiers and diplomats confront the same moral quandary: whether to obey White House orders to evacuate U.S. citizens only–or to risk treason and save the lives of as many South Vietnamese citizens … Usually, it was in the jungle, where you had to look for ambushes. The building at 727 Tran Hung Dao in Ho Chi Minh City – also known as Saigon – was a building that housed American service members for much of the Vietnam War. We look forward to meeting you. He fought in the Tet offensive of 1968. Far from returning as conquering heroes, they returned home to a stagnating economy, scarce GI benefits, little government support, and an unwelcoming populace. Thompson’s Hill (April 9-10, 1968), by Richard Dieterle. Rick Duggan (far left) and fellow soldiers from the First Air Cavalry's Bravo Division with a bottle of Rock and Rye in hand. ", Neas was shot in the back. Overlooked because of 'medal quotas' 50 years ago, the courage of three young men who saved the lives of Australian soldiers during the Vietnam War has finally been recognised. They described their feelings towards the war they were being made to fight: We here at the 86th Maint. Since large-scale warfare was rare, soldiers could go for weeks without encountering enemy forces, but far from being a respite, the quiet only heightened the tension. According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, about 30% of soldiers who saw combat in Vietnam experienced PTSD in their lifetime. The American Soldier in VietnamMore than 2.5 million American men served in Vietnam during the war. The draft wasn't the only problem. But many others were poor or working-class teenagers who enlisted or were drafted into the military right out of high school. However, because of the way the draft was set up, men assigned the lowest numbers were more likely to be drafted than those with higher numbers. the Vietnam War, historians have found varying answers to questions about the war. It helped them mellow out, it helped them continue fighting. The 52-year-old Duckworth will tell of her life from her childhood in Southeast Asia and Hawaii to her 23 years in the Army... © Copyright 2020 Philly.com. Heroes of Vietnam: The Stories of Fallen Soldiers. "I wanted to be a Marine for all my life," he said. Soldiers knew there would be another surprise attack, they just didn't know when, and the not-knowing could drive them crazy. If you are a veteran, know a veteran, or are related to a veteran, and would like to place a personal story on the Online Veterans Tribute, please mail it to: American Veterans Center 1100 N. Glebe Rd. The Vietnam War was He served as an infantryman with Echo Company, 2nd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment in Chu Lia, Vietnam in 1965. According to James Fallows, these loopholes "were designed to allot American talent in productive way," but resulted in "the starkest class division in American military service since the days of purchased draft deferments in the Civil War.". we run into the enemy concealed and dug in — death of Thompson — we return, enemy flees — the face of death — Thompson’s body lost at Đà Nẵng — our FO shells enemy night convoy — After Action Reports. Via Cat-uxo.com. When he told his parents, they were livid, not for any ideological reasons, but because of concern that he'd be hurt or lose his life. But many others were poor or working-class teenagers who enlisted or were drafted into the military right out of high school. "To be honest, I wanted to know what it was like to shoot at someone and have someone shoot at you," he said. "I spent three weeks in the hospital," he says, "and then went right back.". I was 17, so I couldn't go over there for another year.". Since World War II, little research had determined whether amphetamine had a positive impact on soldiers’ performance, yet the American military readily supplied its troops in Vietnam with speed. I was overwhelmed to be back. Caesar Smith was a career military officer who served two tours in Vietnam. 58,318 names of American men and women who died in the war are etched on the black granite slabs of the Vietnam Veterans … For the Americans, every casualty, every dollar spent, and every anti-war protest back home chipped away at the conviction that this could ever be a winnable war. The draft lottery proved to be unfair in another significant way. And when it wasn't raining, it was hot and humid. I stood on the spot where I had been shot, but it's so different now. Rations to take their place difficulty veterans faced after returning home for.! 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