9:58 | After the column was devastated by an NVA ambush, wounded Americans were scattered in the darkness. After his captain heard one such group calling for help on the radio, Freddie Owens joined a patrol to find them, guided by a gunshot every few minutes. Once there, medic Daniel Torres volunteered to stay with those who couldn't move and protected them through the night with medicine and a machine gun.
Keywords : Freddie Owens Vietnam medic Daniel Torres George Forrest Fred Kluge Jack Smith Bob Jeanette litter Al Montgomery machine gun Medal Of Honor Bong Son Ia Drang Eugene Scott LZ Albany Joe Galloway
He had already been in the Army for four years, serving in Germany and seeing the construction of the Berlin Wall. Freddie Owens then went to Fort Benning where he trained many of the men who would ship out to Vietnam with him. They went the old fashioned way, by troop ship.
No one got any sleep that first night in Vietnam. Freddie Owens recalls the tension among the men, most of whom he had trained. This bond would make it tough for him later on when the dying started. His unit went straight into the field and stayed there. Not a chance they would get to see Bob Hope but they did claim to run into some Chinese troops.
As the battle of the Ia Drang Valley began, Freddie Owens had to hunker down and listen to the fire from a couple of miles away. He knew there were enemy battalions in there and he feared a bloodbath. Moving in the second day, he saw the grim results of the battle so far, an unbelievable scene of death and destruction.
Freddie Owens shares his experiences during the ill-fated march to Landing Zone Albany during the battle of the Ia Drang Valley. His company was attached to another unit and was bringing up the rear. He credits his company commander, George Forrest, with saving them after the column walked into an ambush.
Freddie Owens reflects on the heroic actions of Capt. George Forrest during the battle of the Ia Drang Valley. He saved the day, but still, men were lost. One was the baby of the unit, eighteen year old Vincent Locatelli. Owens felt that if he could keep young Vincent alive, he could do it for the others.
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.
Freddie Owens reveals his most vivid memory of Vietnam, the desperate run of Capt. George Forrest right through the middle of an ambush. He also talks about the best and worst days of his tour.
Freddie Owens says they paid no attention to news from home while in the field in Vietnam. They were trying to survive a war and didn't need the distraction. He certainly paid attention when he got home and there was a mob outside the airport.
Freddie Jones has maintained contact with his fellow veterans from Vietnam, sometimes talking them out from under the bed in the middle of the night. His own healing was incomplete when he saw the Twin Towers fall on 9-11 and that became a turning point for him.
Freddie Owens says there is a difference between Vietnam veterans and the veterans returning from wars today. Those people are worse off and in terrible shape after multiple combat tours. Although he was able to put his life in order after his war experiences, not everyone is so lucky.
The man was a World War II veteran and he was clutching a flag at the dedication of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. Freddie Owens tells his remarkable story and how he became the subject of a famous photograph. And don't you tell him that the Wall doesn't talk to you.
After the enemy faded away from the ambush at Landing Zone Albany, the really hard work began, finding the dead and wounded. There were more of them than there were men standing. Henry Dunn says the stench of the burned and decaying bodies in the tropical heat never left his nostrils. Part 4 of 4.
Bill Becker was one year out of high school when he was drafted and sent to train at Ft. Polk's Tiger Land, training specifically designed to prepare troops for Vietnam. He wasn't great at running, but he was good at taking tests. This led to some stress when he arrived in country and was thrust into the role of squad leader even though he had absolutely no experience.
After working in the Pentagon Force Development Office to build up manpower in the military, Fred Kroesen got a combat assignment as a brigade commander in Vietnam. The enemy faded away on his first operation, making it the greatest training exercise he had ever seen. By the time his tour was over, he was sure that the war was won.
The Tunnel Rats went right down into the Viet Cong's holes in the ground and eliminated them. When new Lieutenant Jerry Sinn got a taste of it, he knew he could do it. The teams were experienced, disciplined and deliberate, and since it was the 1st infantry Division, no less was expected.
Before they got into any serious combat, George Forrest's unit kept busy building their base camp and looking for some diversions, including wrestling matches between the officers and the men. They were dismissive of both the enemy and the Vietnamese people they were protecting, but when he returned years later, he realized they were human beings like any others. This realization has implications for today's soldiers deployed as nation builders.
Not having heard much news from back home, it was a shock when Jack Fishman got off the plane and found an active antiwar movement. He immediately returned to college and immediately got into fistfights. He wore his jungle fatigue shirt as an in-your-face statement.
After his intense experience at the Battle of the Ia Drang Valley. Henry Dunn finally got to do the job for which he was trained when he acted as air observer during the Bong Son operation. The coordination of artillery and air power while flying over the battlefield was very exciting, and the pure exhilaration of those two hours could only be celebrated one way.
The men were newly activated reserve troops and no one knew what to expect when they flew into Vietnam. After getting used to the heat, the humidity and the smell, the support unit settled into their dangerous job, hauling ammunition to fire bases. Jack Fishman says it helped if you were twenty one and bulletproof.
The officers and their wives were a close knit group, having lived and trained together. Bob Babcock was grateful for that and he was grateful for Sergeant Frank Roath, who told him, "There is a reason they call me a senior NCO and you a junior officer." He was also grateful that when they were operating in Vietnam, there were no racial issues, thanks to good soldiers like Willie Cheatham.
The battle at Landing Zone Albany was the defining moment of his life, says Henry Dunn. He wanted more than anything to react properly in combat and spending his formative years as a hunter helped him with that. He worries that no amount of preparation can help the veterans of today, who are coping with multiple prolonged deployments.
Larry Jordan only talked with his wife a few times over his year in Vietnam. His son, who is in the modern Army in the age of instant communication, wonders how he dealt with that. When he returned home, he was told he might want to change into civilian clothes to avoid confrontation. He refused.
As a returning Vietnam veteran, Jim Lawrence disappeared into his own life, along with all the others who were ignored or worse by the public. He is happy about the respect returning vets get today, but is disturbed by what he considers the same mistakes being made by politicians.
He should have been leery of the whole thing. George Forrest's unit was protecting convoys on the highway when the word came, a unit was heavily engaged in the Ia Drang Valley. From that point on, nothing seemed right, starting with Chinooks instead of Hueys coming to transport them. They arrived the second day of the battle and bolstered the exhausted troops led by Hal Moore. Part 1 of 4.
After recovering from a wound he received in his second tour of Vietnam, Kenneth Moorefield was assigned to the Old Guard, the ceremonial unit at Fort Myer where they spent most of their time burying dead soldiers. He had misgivings about the way the war was fought, and now that he was back in the States, he could see and start to understand the changes in society that were affecting the military.
Returning from his first tour of Vietnam, George Forrest went straight to Fort Benning, so it was a good experience. As for the return from the second tour, it wasn't the worst day of his life, but it was right up there as he changed into civilian clothes to avoid the protesters. He thinks about the conditions for service members today and wonders if the overwhelming social media communications are a good thing for morale and focus.
His most vivid memory of Vietnam? It was the way his commander broke the news that he and his men would get no rest before leaving one battlefield for the next. His worst day? It involved rocket fire and a tourniquet. During all this, he was oblivious to news or media.
It was a startling discovery only two miles from the air field at Chu Lai, where Marine pilot Richard Hawes was based. A vast underground bunker facility dug by the Viet Cong, which required large bombs with delayed fuses to destroy. In the air, most of his missions were short, sometimes within sight of the air field.
His Vietnam experienced influenced and guided every job he had throughout his life, says George Forrest. He was disappointed in the Vietnam Veterans Memorial at first, but that changed when he visited. And he finally got his parade.
He wanted to be a company commander, but Kenneth Moorefield's experience as an ARVN advisor was an eye opening experience which gave him insight to the Vietnamese people and their precarious position, caught in the middle of a war. He developed great respect for his advisory unit and they became a band of brothers like any others in combat.
George Forrest remembers the men under his command as both grand and simple, guys who could find humor in anything. Life in war meant that basic needs and desires came to the forefront. For Forrest, that meant ice cream and dry toilet paper. When he left the command, his men made sure he knew that he'd made a difference in their lives.
Ron Sherman laughs when he recalls a wild night with an Australian Special Forces unit during his Vietnam tour. No way to keep up with those guys. His best day there, though he didn't know it at the time, was when he received a fateful box of cookies.
Bill Crossley explains how he prepared for counter battery fire in Vietnam. Counter battery is the response to incoming fire and the secret is to plot potential locations for the enemy to set mortars and have that data ready when an attack occurs. You can find the direction of an enemy mortar hit by examining the crater.
The first thing that hit him was the smell. The place just smelled different. Then he had his first ride on a helicopter, even though his unit was air mobile. At the base camp, it was pup tents in the mud, and a few feet away, the jungle. They had beat the food there, so for a week, it was Saltines and tuna and not a heck of a lot of it.
The Chieu Hoi were Viet Cong defectors who assisted American units in Vietnam, but George Forrest quickly realized that the ones at his base were not all that they seemed. The mortar fire at night was really accurate. He had a great admiration and respect for his own men, and lists the NCO's and officers who were the backbone of his company.
In Korea he had learned to speak a little Korean but Vietnamese was a different story and the tonal language eluded him. Army Air Traffic Controller Arthur Hurst loved working with the Montagnards on joint operations and he marveled at how they would bring along the whole family and maybe some ducks. Less pleasant are the memories of talking to doomed pilots on the radio.
Forward Air Controller Charles White, Jr. flew both day and night missions over Laos. The night missions required a two man crew with the man in the right seat using a Starlight scope, an early night vision system. He describes one memorable mission when he was in the right seat.
After the Tet Offensive, it was expected that the enemy would take some time to recover and launch new attacks. Not so in the Southern delta, where Kenneth Moorefield was advising a South Vietnamese unit. In the middle of a firefight, he found out first hand the effect of a high velocity round on the human body. Recovering at Walter Reed hospital, he found out that he'd left one battlefield for another.
Henry Dunn thought he had it made in the Army but then he got "volunteered" for Vietnam because he was the only single officer in the outfit. Attached to the 7th Cavalry as a forward observer, he shipped out with the newly formed air mobile division. He was a little disturbed when they were issued no ammunition before they went ashore. Then there was that smell.
The lessons of Vietnam are forgotten today, says Jack Fishman, although the veterans of that war now have the respect they didn't get when they returned. He wants the draft reinstated for both men and women and not only for the military but for public service jobs. His reaction to the 50th Anniversary project? What took them so long?