As part of Hispanic Heritage Month, Charley Trujillo, writer and filmmaker, visited CSU-Pueblo on Oct. 3, to talk about his book, “Soldados: Chicanos in Viet Nam.”
Trujillo was invited to CSU-Pueblo to be a part of Hispanic Heritage Month and gave a speech to Chicano studies classes. Trujillo gave a speech in the Diversity Resource Center and followed it with a showing of his documentary, which is titled the same as his book.
Trujillo said the misson of his book, would be to set an example for documenting Chicanos in history. Chicanos are a big part of history and have fought in every war, in U.S. history, said Trujillo.
“Chicanos are essential to the U.S., agriculturally and culturally,” Trujillo said. “But it seems we are still left out of the History books.”
According to the Vietnam War statistics on the veteranshour.com website, 275, 000 soldiers were listed as Caucasian. Statistics proved that Hispanics were listed as Caucasian. About 170,000 of those soldiers were Hispanic.
Trujillo started with a summary about his life and spoke about why he chose to volunteer for the military. Trujillo is from Corcoran, Cali., a small community, of the San Joaquin Valley, and this is where the 19 soldiers are from, that are mentioned in Trujillo’s book.
Trujillo said he felt his life was already at full-speed and he needed to make a major decision. He told his father that he was going to enlist with the military and make a name for himself.
“Everybody around us made it seem like we would be heroes,” Trujillo said. “And I wanted to be a hero.”
Trujillo talked about his view on the Vietnam War, before he left to the war, and why his view changed by the time he was home. Trujillo said the training was abusive and a way to desensitize the soldiers. He said this was a process to program the soldiers into killing machines.
At this point in the speech, Trujillo spoke on some of the events that took place during the war.
“Soldiers were carving into dead bodies and laughing about it,” Trujillo said. “I could barely kill anyone without feeling guilty.”
Trujillo said soldiers felt they were given entitlement to kill because they enlisted into the military. Trujillo said he felt this way until he was on the battlefield and saw what was going on.
Trujillo is a member of an organization called, “Vietnam Veterans Against the War.”. Trujillo said there was nothing to win from being in Vietnam.
Trujillo explained that the Chicanos were honored to fight for the U.S., and they gave an extraordinary effort to prove themselves to other, non-Hispanic, soldiers. Trujillo said when the Chicano soldiers started getting injured, they realized they weren’t invincible. He said they put out less effort and held in more emotion.
“A few of the Chicanos lost their lives in the war, but a majority of us lost our minds,” Trujillo said, in an interview before the speech. “You could see Chicanos doing the job’s of three soldiers out there and still find time to pray.”
After the documentary, Trujillo greeted the attendees and signed copies of his book that he had given them for free.
For more information about Charley Trujillo, visit his website at www.chusmahouse.com.