Few of us have fought in a war. Even though this country is still engaged in two wars--Iraq, now winding down, and Afghanistan, hopefully winding down soon--the vast majority of American learn about these wars only second-hand, either through the news or through the stories of those soldiers who made it back alive. Things were different forty-five years ago. The Vietnam war was the last war fought in which a significant percentage of young Americans was drafted. Others enlisted, sometimes because the draft was inevitable, sometimes for other reasons. They were sent away to serve in a far-away combat zone.
Bob Canape was one of these. His story mirrors that of many of the time. In June 1966, he graduated from high school, hoping to study chemical engineering at Northeastern University in Boston. In June 1967, he took his oath of enlistment in Newark, NJ and made his way by plane and then bus to Parris Island, NC. In November 1967, he was once again on a plane, this time to Da Nang, Vietnam via Okinawa, Japan.
That's how fast one's life could change during those years. Why? How? Nobody answered those questions for Bob. Or anyone else.
On March 4, 1969, his first full day of his second tour of duty, his platoon was sent out to relieve a four man listening post under assault by a larger enemy force. Bob woke up ten days later crammed into a hospital ship bunk with another wounded guy. That guy tuned out to be the immobile left side of his own body.
In No Underwear, No First Name, Bob tells his story--living in the United States during a time of war, being with heroes who pull you out under heavy fire, being in the hospital and the memory of the pride of service. But there are other stories as well--traveling around the country with a hospital mate who's left arm worked thus complementing Bob's right arm, going to college, war in general, family, looking for love in all places, right and wrong and making his way back into society.
Tune it to this soldier's story every Sunday night at 10 pm.