When Jane Fonda rests in Megève after filming BarbarellaAt the end of December 1967, Ron Kovich was on full alert in the demilitarized zone between North and South Vietnam. This is his second round of fighting. The young man joined the Navy in 1964, at the end of his high school studies in Masabiqua (New York). He takes pride in following in his parents’ footsteps. They met in the Navy. Both volunteered after the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941., He says. Ron was born on the Fourth of July, the US national holiday. National caught him in the bud.
In his first deployment, the military soldier was awarded the rank of sergeant and a medal in celebration of his twenty-two reconnaissance missions in enemy territory. On his return to the United States, he was surprised by the climate change much in America by Lyndon Johnson. Demonstrators are marching against the war, insulting the army and defying the government. Ron insists on returning to the front. “I wanted to show hippies what patriotism is, Says the ex-soldier in his wheelchair. Prove that war is winnable. »
This time the war would have the upper hand On January 20, 1968, during a mission, Sergeant Covich was shot with a first shot in the heel. “I got up and left with my rifle. I still want to be a hero.” In the second shot, he has the impression that a “Express train” bumped into his body. “From the waist down, everything is gone. » Ron is saved by a companion. Then he was transferred from one overcrowded military hospital to another. Even this convalescent center where he insists, with his crutches, is unable to admit that he will never walk again.
Half a century has passed. This tumultuous spring, at Old Tony’s in Redondo Beach, Southern California, 76-year-old Ron Kovic quietly recounts his life in front of his favorite dish, scallops, which his girlfriend Terrian Ferrin helps pick out on the plate. It’s not the life he dreamed of, but he survived and found his goal, when several friends who suffered the same injuries took their lives. As soon as he managed to leave the hospital, Ron became one of the spokesmen for the anti-war soldiers. He attacked the Veterans Administration and rat-infested hospitals in which flocks of heroes were maimed.
“I gained a conscience”
Ron wrote his memoirs, Met Regis Debray, dined with Norman Mailer, inspired Bruce Springsteen, and gave his Purple Heart Medal to Tom Cruise, who plays his character in Born on the 4th of July (1989), by Oliver Stone. And he remained, of course, a friend of Jane Fonda, he met on a podium at Claremont University, near Los Angeles. came before her. “I may have lost my body. But I have gained a conscience!”, He had fired at the protesters. On that day, the actress promised to make a film about these young soldiers who were let down by the United States. From the working class, rural American, the sons of families who had neither the money nor the social skills to escape from Vietnam. It will take six years to get there.
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