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 Reilly felt the call to serve and dropped his deferments to let the draft take him. After basic, he was offered a slot at Officer Candidate School, but, to him, that was “the sorriest thing I ever saw in the service,” and he declined.
The Viet Cong were tough and smart, recollects Tom Reilly. He describes the twin tactics of hit and run, in which they presented no target, and the rigging of booby traps, which made targets of the GI’s, long after the guerillas were gone. He clearly remembers the incident at the Sea of Reeds when Edward Powers was killed.
Bill Smith always wanted to fly. In fact, when he reported to Air Force pilot training, he already had a private pilot's license. As a Forward Air Controller flying out of Thailand, he patrolled the Ho Chi Minh Trail in Laos, looking for traffic to disrupt. He flew the OV-10, a turboprop which was one of his favorite aircraft.
Newly commissioned out of ROTC at Dartmouth, Beirne Lovely went to the basic school at Quantico where he received a lot of grief for switching over from the Army. Soon, he and fraternity brother John Feltner were on their way to Vietnam, concerned that all the combat jobs would be gone before they got there. Not a problem, as it turned out.
Forward Air Controller Charles White, Jr. describes a heart wrenching rescue mission that ended when the enemy found the downed airmen. It was dangerous for the FAC's, too, and he was shot at many times. While supporting Laotian ground troops, there were no fighter aircraft available so he attacked in his spotter plane with white phosphorus "Willy Pete" marker rounds.
Marshall Carter's battalion commander, Van D. Bell, taught him two valuable lessons which helped make him a successful rifle company commander: aggressiveness and use of supporting arms. Those lessons helped him a lot but nothing could help higher level decision makers who did not realize that Ho Chi Minh was Vietnam's George Washington.
Bill Acebes literally dodged a bullet when he fell down during an operation in Vietnam and the ricochet hit a WWII veteran who was still serving. He couldn't escape the sharp edge from a C-ration lid, though, and that led to an angry exchange with a medic. In what he considers his closest call of the tour, he noticed, just in time, the tiny trip wire next to his Lieutenant's boot.
In Vietnam, Ernest Washington saw the Viet Cong a lot, mostly running away. "They weren't cowards," he says. "They were setting us up." When he was moved further North, he couldn't see the NVA regulars, but he was pinned down a lot by their accurate mortar fire.
Bill Smith reveals the last danger for men from his unit when their Vietnam War tour was finished, getting run over in traffic in Bangkok. A little bitter at the non-pursuit of victory by the policymakers, he nonetheless had a rewarding finish to his career flying scientific research missions.
While in Vietnam, Marshall Carter was lucky enough to step on two mines that were both duds. It didn't faze him at all because he already expected not to return home. "The half life of a company commander in Vietnam was about four months." His aggressive tactics took the battle to the enemy and he survived.