4:38 | Mac Armstrong took certain things away from the Vietnam War. The shortcomings that the U.S. faced during this conflict helped to inform future conflicts that we were involved in.
Keywords : Colin Powell lessons lessons of war Vietnam strategy plane Desert Storm George H.W. Bush agreements textbook execution
Mac Armstrong tells of his upbringing in Louisiana and his decision to join the ROTC at Louisiana State University. While stationed on the West Coast, a comical series of events led him to meet his wife.
Mac Armstrong remembers time during training as they prepared to go over to Vietnam. While flying over the jungle, Armstrong and his partner had a hairy encounter that was resolved by some quick thinking on his part.
While managing equipment in the Air Force, there are a multitude of things that can go wrong with the various aircrafts. Learning from these mistakes was essential for them in going forward.
A Chinese soldier managed to return an Air Force Class Ring back to the family of the fallen soldier, Pat Wynne, who Mac Armstrong knew from his time in Vietnam. This gave them closure on how he passed while flying over North Vietnam.
Mac Armstrong recalls his time working in the Pentagon during Desert Storm and some of the decisions that they had to make. Having to navigate the intricacies of the Middle East during that time period was difficult but Armstrong and his team but they did an efficient job.
Mac Armstrong took plenty away from the mistakes made during the Vietnam War. These are the lessons that he implemented while in the Pentagon during Operation Desert Storm.
Tom Blake was the RECON Platoon leader and he depended heavily on his point man, Tex Quinn. You could bet a six pack on your location on the map and you'd lose. They used characters from Robin Hood for radio code names, but there was no fun and games if you were caught falling asleep on watch.
There are certain memories and sensations that bring Bob Averill back to the Vietnam War and, though they were hard times, he has some memories that he won't forget. Thinking back on the war, he would like future generations to remember the sacrifices that were made by everyone involved.
After being sent to Okinawa, Franklin Mendez found it strange that he and his battalion were never prepared for the war that would follow their time there. Once arriving to Vietnam, they had to adapt to the new circumstances, for better or for worse.
His men loved the care packages that Lt. Tom Blake's parents sent to him, full of Kool-Aid and cinnamon rolls. The area they were in was flat, hot and wet and the job was interdiction of the Viet Cong, who were confiscating the rice harvest. To Blake, the constant stalking and ambushes resembled a game of cops and robbers.
While patrolling, Grayson Roulston hit a booby trap that knocked him unconscious and in very rough shape. Fortunately, he was able to be evacuated to Dong Tam where he was able to be treated, but even that hospital was not totally safe from danger.
Dick Sklar and his company had to face a lot of fire while stationed in South Vietnam. After fighting back as best they could, they were able to push the enemy back. During this firefight, some of his friends and colleagues lost their lives.
He came out of the field his last few weeks in Vietnam, but Lt. Tom Blake hated leaving his men. He would give them the Mother Hen treatment when he saw them leaving the firebase while he was waiting to go home. On the last leg of that trip, an airline pilot gave him a solid welcome home.
Growing up in Texas in a military extended family, Franklin Mendez found himself enlisting in the Marine Corps when he was 18. Training at Fort Pendleton was a good experience for him, where he learned all the intricacies of AMTRAC operation.
The first fire Tom Blake received in Vietnam was 50 caliber rounds from his own side. He was mixing it up with the Viet Cong soon enough. In fact, they knew his name. The first man he lost in his platoon failed to heed a very basic rule, rules that Lieutenant Blake tried to remind them of every day.
While stationed in Vietnam, Grayson Roulston and his company worked on the mobile riverine force to try to secure the area from VC. After his injury, he took some time off the front lines to do some administrative work before being sent back to the field.
The officers club for the helicopter pilots was one of the best in Vietnam, says Ed Zielinski. If only he could have figured out how the Korean officers were cheating at dice. There was another kind of wildlife there, elephants, which could also be enemy trucks, deer and wild pig, which you could barbecue, and monkeys, which you better not shoot if Ed was around.
How did the M-16 rifle function in a jungle environment? Just fine, according to Tom Blake, RECON Platoon leader in Vietnam. As long you kept it clean and dry in the hot, wet mess of the rice paddies. There were less booby traps there than up North, but no less Viet Cong.
After his time at Fort Hood, Texas, Al Flory was happy to be deployed to Vietnam. Accepting a commission to go serve on a surgical team in Can Tho, Vietnam, he was able to serve the military and civilian casualties as they came in. After this deployment, he decided to go to flight school and was accepted, starting his aviation career.
Before getting settled in his company, Stan Marcieski was hastily brought on a mission over the jungle to try to help out a company that had been ambushed by NVA forces. After they had some issues with the plane, they had to think quickly to be able to save some casualties.
Moving inland, Franklin Mendez and his battalion are clearing perimeter as they go. Trying to pass the time, he spotted something peculiar going on in a village down the hill. While in a hostile fire zone, they were left without their rifles and had to depend on luck to get through the situation.
On a particular rescue mission, Al Flory and his detachment faced a lot of fire as they descended below the trees, battling brush, to airlift some troops with casualties. 33 years later, he had an unlikely phone call from one of those soldiers that sticks with him today.
Tom Blake recommends two excellent books on the Vietnam War that he thinks give a good feel for what it was like there. He nearly returned to visit the former battlefield, but doesn't regret his decision to stay home. He has a healthy respect for his former enemies in that difficult war.
Vietnam veteran Joe Bruckner is grateful that attitudes toward the service have changed and that most people are no longer blaming the warrior for the war. He is adamant that the war was not lost, that our departure was solely a political decision.
One day at his Army Reserve weekend drill, an NCO walked up and handed Bill Patterson a truck driver's license. Then he pointed to the truck he would be driving. The entire unit was being switched to a transportation role and they prepared to deploy to Vietnam.
Tom Blake's first assignment was at Fort Hood, where he kept an old Volkswagen in which he shuttled returning veterans around to help them solve medical and administrative problems. He got an earful from them about Vietnam, which he was about to experience for himself. Once he got there, he kept falling into the most difficult assignments and he learned that surprises waited for him everywhere.