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Bill Lansford: Coming home after the war
Returning home, Bill Lansford enjoyed swapping war stories with fellow soldiers and the new kind of freedom.
Interview outtakes from THE WAR:
"Coming home after the war, the main thing that was wonderful about it was that I wouldnít have to go overseas again. It really didnít have so much to do with the war as it had to do with a kind of an oncoming homesickness. And I wanted to be back in east, in LA again, among friends, and we began meeting guys that had gone in the Airborne and, and submarine service and all that Latino Chicano guys from our neighborhood, and we would exchange war stories and we would go to the, to the bars and, and get drunk and get into fights with other guys, you know. The Marines would get into fights with the Army, and so.... Later I was in the Army and got into fights with the Marines. But, anyway, it was, it was wonderful, and always chasing girls and getting drunk and, uh, and not wanting to ever have anybody give you an order. And not wanted to take anything from anybody. That was, I think it was a new kind of freedom. But there wasnít a great sense of, oh yeah, we saved the country. We didnít have that kind of feeling, you know. It wasnít heroic; it wasnít the days of our lives. It wasnít anything like that. It was just banging around and being. I, I took my uniform off right away, and the main adjustment was with the civilians, because they didnít really understand. And they wanted to pity us, and they went, 'Oh, how many medals did you win' and that kind of... Well, no I didnít win anything, ma'am, you know, no, we didnít, we didnít win anything. I wasnít even overseas. We used to lie to the civilians all the time. That was, you know, that was mainly it, just being loose.

The greatest sense that I had about the war was a sense of satisfaction and a sense of relief that it was over and we wouldnít have to do any of that stuff again. But I also had a sense of kinship with all the other guys who had been in the service. Somehow we had become a separate entity from the people who are civilians. And, our feeling was that, you know, we were like, our own gang. And, and it was the more you talked to these guys, like when you went into bars and all that, you realized that what you had done was not the most dangerous thing. And what they had done was more dangerous. And they in turn realized that what they had done was not the most dangerous thing because somebody else had done something more dangerous. And that in effect what it all came down to is that weíre all in the same soup. We had all done what we were told to do, and most of us had not been, you know weíre characterized as heroes, but we werenít heroes. We were just guys who were there and we did what we were supposed to do. I think that characterizes it better than anything I can think of. We didnít... The war may have been special, but it was fought by, un, n-, nothing special guys that just went and did it. And we sort of, but for a long time, it took a long time to adjust to the civilian population. Because they kept trying to treat us, as theyíre dong right now in Iraq, trying to treat these guys as heroes, and we just wanted to be left alone. We wanted to pick up our lives. And, of course, then the real cure is you meet a girl, you go out with her, you propose, you get married, you have a baby, you buy a house, and gradually the war gets farther and farther from you, and you from it. And then the guys begin to break up, you know, you donít go out and get drunk every night. You donít get into fights anymore. You have, your responsibility is now to your family. And the war gets even farther away. And in the long run, it just becomes a memory. Doing this today has brought back, I mean Iíve thought more about that than I have thought in 50 years. Yeah, itís that simple."