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War Veteran Speaks Out Against Violence

Updated on July 26, 2021

Diego Rayle’s Novels Document Life in the Vietnam War

Diego Rayle, author of "Stay Out of the Wheat Field" uses the power of writing to document his experience through the Vietnam War, and to protest violence. While his books are fictional, many of the stories are based on real events.

“I vigorously protested the war for two years and I got weary of the we should go, we shouldn’t go, we should be there, we shouldn’t be there, the whole nine yards, and I just got tired of it and I wanted to see it for myself,” Rayle said.

Rayle volunteered for a tour of duty with the infantry to see first hand what the war was like. When Rayle came back to the United States many people were critical towards his involvement with the war, even his own family.

“I haven’t had a relationship with them since 1971 when I came back,” Rayle said. “They thought I was some kind of animal, and they thought I was insane.”

However, before his involvement in the war Rayle’s parents spoke the nationalist motto of many Americans during that time.

“They’re the ones that prodded me on this whole duty, honor, and country crap,” Rayle said.

Many veterans had to deal with different types of addictions to substances after the war. One of these addictions was high-grade heroin supplied by the CIA.

“I got hooked on heroin the last four months I was there,” Rayle said. “I was more into soft drugs. When we got up North by Dak To, which is close to Pleike, which is two-thirds up the way of Vietnam and the only thing that was coming into the country was heroin, and that was coming from the CIA controlled Golden Triangle. They sold the drug to Vietnamese drug lords, which sold it to us, and the CIA did it to finance a secret war in Laos. That’s documented in a number of books.”

Rayle thinks the U.S’s involvement in a war with Iraq was a major mistake.

“There are no weapons of mass destruction. There is no al-Qaeda. There wasn’t until now. He (President Bush) created that,” Rayle said. “There’s more died now the wars ended than died through the war.”

Rayle says President Bush perpetuated a lie about Saddam Hussein’s involvement in 9-11. The war was about political gain, and money.

“Someone makes money off that oil,” Rayle said. “If you read the newspapers the people that got contracted to work in Iraq are donors of Bush. They donated money to elect him into office, and they’re donating more to get him re-elected.”

Rayle suspects that there were similar motivations behind the Vietnam war, but was unaware of them while in the jungles.

“I was in the jungle. I had no clue. I know it was a big corporation thing. It was testing ground for the pentagon’s new weapons, but to see it first hand I had no knowledge,” he said.

Racism was also prevalent during the Vietnam war. There was a disproportionate number of Latinos and blacks in the infantry, and many times they were put up front.

“We fought a white man’s war,” Rayle said. “If you believe in the theories that there was a land bridge between Asia and the United States then actually, since I’m part American Indian, I went over there and killed my ancestors. If that theory is true.”

The draft system is a total failure in Rayle’s opinion.

“It’s a farce. It’s a total failure. If you’ve got money, you got the connections, you can get out. That’s America, a capitalist society,” he said. “I don’t think it’s fair that jerks like Dan Quayle, Rush Limbaugh, all these loud mouth conservatives, got out of Vietnam -- Bush, too. George Bush in office went AWOL for a year from the Air Force. He was in the reserve, and they did nothing to him.”

“White males get away with everything, they control everything, and they control all of us,” Rayle said.

Rayle today not only writes to expose the brutality and senslesness of violence, but protested the war whenever he had the chance during his stay in Vietnam.

“I even went to the point of getting a peace tatoo on my right shoulder with the word peace written underneath it,” Rayle said. “I got a lot of flack for that from Lieutenants, my CO, my Captain that was over there. I didn’t care. I said, “What are you going to do. I’m in Vietnam. You can’t send me anywhere.””

“I just wasn’t your typical soldier. I was not beligerent, but I did not take any crap from these gunhoe John Wayne types that wanted to kill, kill, kill. I wasn’t into that. Unfortunately, I had to do that because I was there and the environment demanded that I do it to survive. I wasn’t happy being there at all.”

In 1986 Rayle was injured at his construction job, and then in 1987 he went to college. He finished his first book by the time he graduated.

Diego Rayle has published three books; Stay Out of the Wheat Field, The Trial of Billy Running Dog, and Cast from Shackles.

“I think what got me to write the second book is someone reviewed my first book and said I was a one-shot author, and I didn’t like that. You don’t tell a Vietnam vet something like that because we’re survivalists and we will do whatever it takes to get things done. So, I went ahead and wrote two more,” he said.

After the war Rayle has had to deal with mental illnesses, anger, and physical problems resulting from the war.

Robin Coe is a journalist and author. She wrote the fantasy novel "Fly on the Wall" and graphic novel "Illustrated Book of Wrath".

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