Paul Hardcastle: 19 (1985)

19 is a single released in 1985 by Paul Hardcastle, a British composer and keyboard player. It became popular with British DJs, several of whom played it extensively on radio. Hardcastle’s song topped the UK single chart for five weeks and also reached number one in European and US dance charts. The title 19 refers to the song’s claim that the average age of US combat soldiers in Vietnam was 19, however historians and researchers have since disputed this. Hardcastle’s track has an electro-dance beat and synthesiser arrangement, overdubbed with vocal samples from a documentary about Vietnam soldiers. Its content helped spark interest in the Vietnam conflict for a new generation, a decade after the end of the war.

In 1965 Vietnam seemed like just another foreign war
But it wasn’t. It was different in many ways
As so were those that did the fighting
In World War II the average age of the combat soldier was 26
In Vietnam he was 19
In-in-in Vietnam he was 19

The shooting and fighting of the past two weeks continued today
25 miles west of Saigon
I really wasn’t sure what was going on

N-n-n-Nineteen, Nineteen
N-n-Nineteen, Nineteen, Nineteen

In Vietnam the combat soldier typically served
A twelve month tour of duty
But was exposed to hostile fire almost everyday
N-n-n-Nineteen, Nineteen

Hundreds of thousands of men who saw heavy combat
In Vietnam were arrested since discharge
Their arrest rate is almost twice that of non-veterans of the same age
There are no accurate figures of how many of these men
Have been incarcerated

But a Veterans Administration study
Concludes that the greater of vets
Exposure to combat could more likely affect his chances
Of being arrested or convicted
This is one legacy of the Vietnam War

All those who remember the war
They won’t forget what they’ve seen
Destruction of men in their prime
Whose average was 19

War. War.
W-w-war, war war.
War. War.

After World War II the men came home together on troop ships
But the Vietnam vet often arrived home within 48 hours of jungle combat
Perhaps the most dramatic difference between
World War II and Vietnam was coming home
None of them received a hero’s welcome

None of them received a heroes welcome, none of them, none of them
N-n-n-n-n-n none of them, none of them, none of them
None of them received a hero’s welcome
None of them received a hero’s welcome

According to a Veteran’s Administration study
Half of the Vietnam combat veterans suffered from what
Psychiatrists call Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

Many vets complain of alienation, rage or guilt
Some succumb to suicidal thoughts
Eight to ten years after coming home
Almost eight hundred thousand men are still fighting the Vietnam War

When we came back it was different, everybody wants to know
How’d it happened to those guys over there
There’s gotta be something wrong somewhere
We did what we had to do

There’s gotta be something wrong somewhere
People wanted us to be ashamed of what it made us
Dad had no idea what he went to fight and he is now
All we want to do is come home

All we want to do is come home
What did we do it for?
All we want to do is come home
Was it worth it?

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