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John Akins
Nam Au Go Go

John Akins joined the Marine Corps in 1967 because he was eligible for the draft and wanted to serve two years and get on with his life. He was just 19 years old. He did not expect to be an infantry point man slogging to the combat base at Khe Sanh during the 1968 Tet Offensive. The impact of violence and death changed his life. He was plunged into the Heart of Darkness, as Joseph Conrad called it. He found himself “beyond good and evil, beyond fear, beyond sex and death, in the dark interior of the human mind and soul, detached, addicted to danger and violence.” He spent thirteen months in jungle heat and close combat. He learned to survive. Many were killed all around him, and he became a killer. “I’d fallen in love with the Vietnamese Goddess of War,” he said in Nam Au Go Go.