Vietnam in a Big Way

Going to Vietnam was recorded in a big way on a bunk canvas by 18-year-old Michael Brinkley, a member of the Army’s 51st Maintenance Company. The young soldier had been a construction worker before enlisting, and on the troopship Walker had a feeling he might not return from the war. Because of that feeling, one night he used a felt tip marker to record he was there.

“I recall lying in my rack,” he said years later, “just letting my mind go where it wanted to, mostly thoughts of home and thoughts of my friends and all my loved ones that I’d left behind. And I thought that, well, I might not make it back. Vietnam at that point was paramount in my life. Here I am, eighteen going on nineteen, going to Vietnam to teach the communists a better way of life, make sure that they wear their Levi blue jeans and drive Chevy pickups.”

He decided to leave his mark that very evening. He continued to explain, “I got to the point where, I thought well, gee whiz this may be the last thing I see or the last thing that I possibly leave on this earth that would indicate that I was even here. So I caught myself with a pen scribbling on this canvas above me. As I lay there in the rack ‘Viet Nam’ came out and my name came out and the date Mike Brinkley was there, June ’67, and hopefully would return in June ‘68.”

Mike Brinkley did return.

Audio Track: Remember Me

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Exhibit Schedules

    Part of the Marking Time: Voyage to Vietnam is currently at the New York Historical Society in Manhatten through April 22, 2018. Information about the full Vietnam exhibit is available here

    Marking Time: Voyage to Vietnam will be open at the USS Kidd Memorial in Baton Rouge, LA, from October 27, 2017 through February 28, 2018.