4:53 | With great difficulty, Sardo Sanchez recounts critical events that prove both devastating and fortunate. After taking the life of a VC soldier, he is hit by a sniper and told he may never walk again. In a state of shock, he narrowly avoids a fatal miscalculation.
Keywords : Frank Hall Combined Action Program (CAP) friendly fire sniper paralyzed hospital Firefight medivac Killed In Action (KIA) Wounded In Action (WIA) Camp Zama Medevac(Medical Evacuation)
Sardo Sanchez always wanted to follow in the footsteps of his father, a WWII marine veteran... but his combat experiences have profound and lasting effects on his relationship with his parents, his siblings and his wife.
Sanchez trains as a reservist until the age of 18, when he is shipped off to Vietnam. His first tour as an orderly aboard the USS Ticonderoga does not offer the combat experience he was trained for.
On his second tour, Sanchez is assigned to a CAP unit, where he develops a close bond with fellow soldiers, along with some of the villagers he protects. Under the leadership of a distant but dedicated sergeant, his platoon learns to survive day by day.
On his Third Tour, Sanchez is posted to a sweet position at 2nd CAG HQ, but longs to be back on patrol. He finds his place in a roving CAP unit, and is soon back in the bush with his brothers.
Sanchez shares a story that takes him from his final days in Vietnam, through his career as a criminal investigator and into retirement, where he makes time to reunite with fellow CAP vets.
Once the Tet Offensive began, it was the "Wild, Wild West" for Bill Crossley's artillery. He had to move an entire battery forty miles in the dark, secure an unguarded bridge in Saigon, and then begin the counter attack. While it was a disaster to Walter Cronkite, the troops who had long been searching for the VC knew that they finally had them.
Mentioning that he served in Vietnam would clear the area around him in a bar, remembers Bruce D'Agostino. The World War II vets weren't much better, and told him that Vietnam wasn't a real war. Korean War vets were more understanding, but no one, not even his father, wanted to talk about Vietnam.
They could hear their own artillery rounds going overhead. Then, all of a sudden, they were right on top of Bob Atkinson's unit. He dove for a small hole at the same time as another guy, who took the brunt of the blast. His picture was in Stars and Stripes but there was no mention of friendly fire.
After being told to clean their ammunition their first time out in the field, Richey's company decided to instead use up all their ammo in free fire zones. When John St. Peters joined Richey's company as a replacement, he was not used to this particular procedure.
The war was bad, the injury painful, and the return home was tentative. Bob Atkinson seemed normal for a while, then the war caught up with him. First it was the back pain. Then the nightmares. Marijuana and alcohol helped for a while, but then, out in the world, he heard someone speaking Vietnamese and he lost it. Part 1 of 3.
There was a clique in the Transportation Corps, says Frank Francois III. The old boy network determined which officers would be on the track for promotions, and they had decreed that there would only be one black general at a time in the Corps. However, his boss, Hank Del Mar, was having none of it.
Fighter pilot Barry Howard finally got the assignment in Vietnam he wanted, flying out of Udorn in Thailand. After receiving a DFC for blowing up an ammo tunnel, he went on to receive a Silver Star & Bronze Star (pinned on him by Admiral John S. McCain, Jr.) for disabling some 37mm guns that were causing trouble for reconnaissance aircraft.
New Marine officer Frank Cox was assigned to an artillery battery and was soon in Okinawa training for Vietnam. He and his buddies were dismissive of the enemy there when they saw television coverage. The cocky new Marines weren't very kind to the Naval officers, either, on the voyage to the war.
Allen Robinson reflects on the divisions in the country and the unpopularity of the Vietnam War. He is grateful that the incivility he felt as a returning veteran has turned to respect. And he feels blessed to have his health when so many from that war were affected by Agent Orange.
As Executive Officer, Armand Chapeau had to do what was needed, including delivering two babies. The lack of fresh fruit and vegetables was getting to him, though, and when he got leave in Hawaii, he hit a grocery store and had a feast.
Freddie Owens looks back at the devastation he faced at LZ Albany and balances that against the joy he feels when he sees the offspring and grandchildren of those who survived. These are feelings that he tried, and failed, to express in written form.
Eyewitness to an accidental massacre, Vietnam War correspondent Tom Reilly was forever changed by the experience. After the war, it was thirteen years before anyone thanked him for his service, and that was all he ever asked for.
He managed to earn a master's degree after the Vietnam War, but Ernest Washington still felt driven to reach out to troubled veterans, such as a friend who lived thirty years on the streets. He can't imagine what it must be like for today's vets serving multiple tours. He barely survived one.
Doug Garner describes fighting in the urban environment near Saigon during the Tet Offensive, the process of sweeping Viet Cong out of the area, and how devastating a blow it was for Viet Cong troops.
His job was to inspect artillery fire bases for security and, right away, Bill Crossley could see the problems. After unclogging supply lines for concertina wire and teaching the gun crews at the first base how to patrol, he decided he needed a better way to get their attention. That led him to a former VC sapper named Nguyen. Part 1 of 2.
During his first combat experience, Ernest Washington was so frightened he didn't fire a shot. That never happened again after he received advice from battle hardened vets. If you don't fire, there's a hole in the line and that can't happen.
Pilot Charles White, Jr. was at the top of his class and wanted to go to Vietnam, but was devastated when the Air Force decided there were enough fighter pilots and made a Forward Air Controller out of him. Based out of Thailand and flying over Laos, he targeted movement on the Ho Chi Minh Trail for air strikes.
The shrapnel that tore into Ernest Washington's shoulder came from .50 cal machine gun bullets from the wing guns of a U.S. Phantom jet. This friendly fire led to a wound that didn't cause him much pain initially, but really alarmed him when he looked down and saw the bloody mess.
Frank Cox had a friend from Marine officer's basic school named James Egan. Egan, a talented and popular officer from Notre Dame, disappeared when his reconnaissance patrol was attacked and has never been found to this day. Fortunately, the talent was deep in that unit.
First he had to jump off the Amtrac in a frenzy with extra ammo and full gear on his back. That busted up his knee. The vehicle was repaired and under way again, when he was hit with incoming and knocked off the vehicle in flames. Still, Bob Atkinson wasn't sure he was really hurt.
It was an elite outfit of Air Force pilots working for the CIA in Laos. Shortly after his checkout to join the clandestine effort, Charles White, Jr. heard over the radio that a crew had been forced down by a surface to air missile and had to bail out. It was his friends Guy Miller and Glen Fleming. One of them was hanging from his chute a thousand feet up at the top of a cliff.
The Ia Drang battle marked a turning point in the Vietnam War. The enemy was prepared to sacrifice an entire division to find out two things: how to deal with American air mobility and how to deal with overwhelming supporting arms. Marine Captain Marshall Carter explains how they developed two tactics that were used the rest of the war.
Richey tells several funny stories that happened during his time in Vietnam. One involves Laney Gardner, a man from Richey's home town, and a man named Arnt who liked to joke around. Richey tells a couple other stories about how his company interacted with the military equipment, specifically percussion grenades. While Richey's superiors typically got mad at the men in these situations, Richey knew it was important to keep loose once in a while.
It was difficult readjusting to civilian life after being in a war zone, says Bruce D'Agostino. No one knows what you went through over there. He reflects on his growing involvement in veterans' issues and points out that the Vietnam war had a very high volunteer rate, men who felt that they couldn't do less than their fathers and uncles did.