Damn, that was one hell of an interesting conversation. It's definitely a lot to take in. I think what really struck me about The Things They Carried was that it didn't actually matter to me how much of it was true or not but rather what mattered was that it had this feel of authenticity to it. It focused on so many little tiny things that I never associated with war stories - like the feel of the landscape, and just the primordial aspect of Vietnam as a place (in the eyes of those soldiers). I think for a long time I was pretty enamored by the idea of serving in the military but this book (among other things) really shattered the idea that I would ever have the stones for that sort of thing.
But yeah it really is a fantastic book. I would recommend Phil Klay's Redeployment as a sort of modern rendition of the same thing (a collection of short stories about a war, this time Iraq) but it lacks the same impact because it doesn't have the same sort of continuity. Still a good read, though!