Personal Accounts

Samuel Vance

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Source: Vance, Samuel. The Courageous and the Proud. New York: W.W. Norton and Co., 1970. Vance, Samuel. The Courageous and the Proud. New York: W.W. Norton & Co., 1970.

The following is from the inside jacket cover of The Courageous and the Proud:

This is the personal account of a black American soldier in Vietnam, where, in a white man's army, to be equal the black must prove himself superior.

"I felt Vietnam was the place for all black soldiers to make a stand that the world will hear and read about," says Sergeant Vance. "I asked for war because I wanted to be one of the blacks that history would capture. If Vietnam is an American war, and I am an American, then I should be a part of it.

"The Army has its problems, the kind most people never hear about. One of these problems is battlefield leadership. 'Who will lead the combat patrol into enemy territory where there's a large chance of not returning?' 'Sergeant Joe will.' 'Why?' 'Because he's black.' 'Not reason enough.' 'Because I don't want to send Sergeant John.' 'Why?' 'Because he's white.' 'Not reason enough.' 'Well, Sergeant Joe is the best man I have for the job.'

"America must know how the black and white soldiers feel about each other and the war. America should know about the injustice to the black soldiers in Vietnam, where black soldiers have proven their ability to go to greatness unmatched by any other soldier, yellow, red, or white.

"When the war is over and we're homeward bound, let America know that we have done our share. We are leaders of men. We are the same men we were during other wars, only this time we have been counted. We did not lose in Vietnam and we will not lose at home. This is our birthplace, and we have the right to all of its freedom.

"When they finally play 'When Johnny Comes Marching Home' the world will know beyond a doubt that there were black Johnnies."

Samuel Vance was born in Douglasville, Georgia, graduated from high school there in 1959, and joined the Army in 1960. After basic training he was sent to Germany, where he served for nearly two years, making side trips to Denmark, Belgium, and England. In 1965 he was sent to Vietnam as a combat infantryman. He was promoted to sergeant and platoon leader, was twice wounded and awarded the Purple Heart and Silver Star. His experiences in combat with both white and black soldiers led him to realize that the black American had proved himself under fire, but that nowhere had he been recognized in the literature of war. He set out to tell the story himself.

After his Vietnam tour had ended, Sergeant Vance graduated from the Army's school for computer programming and data processing. He gained his discharge from the army in May 1969, and is currently living in Atlanta with his wife and son. He works as a computer programmer. The Courageous and the Proud is his first book, and he is at work on his second, a novel.
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