5:14 | McMahon becomes part of the Combined Action Program (CAP), working with Vietnamese militia to protect villages from Viet Cong thugs. On one occasion, the village is spared from enemy attack by an army artillery unit acting without orders. He and the villagers develop a bond that would last for decades.
Keywords : Combined Action Program (CAP) Viet Cong (VC) villagers mortar fire Tax collectors Rice collectors Nghia Quan citizen soldiers twin 40mm anti aircraft gun army dusters Nuoc Mam Vietnamese food LtCol William R. Corson
17-year-old Charlie McMahon is sent to the Mediterranean to train as a US Marine. Under the tutelage of hard-as-nails Vietnam vets, he learns the lessons that will save his life.
Charlie McMahon leads a convoy into Hue, unaware that the Tet Offensive has begun. Upon discovering a city occupied by stubborn North Vietnamese forces, he and his team tread carefully, battling the entrenched army street-by-street, house-by-house.
On the road to Hue, McMahon encounters legendary war correspondent Catherine Leroy, who surrenders herself to North Vietnamese occupiers for her now famous article "The Enemy Lets Me Take His Picture". Years later, the two reconnect.
While chasing down the enemy following the Battle of Hue, McMahon is wounded by a surprise grenade attack. He remains in combat, and sees out the war with a hunk of shrapnel in his leg that remains to this day.
After being knocked unconscious by mortar fire, McMahon finds himself stateside with nothing but his hospital pajamas. His postwar life includes schooling and a career with Amtrak.
Charlie McMahon reflects on the struggles of Vietnam vets returning to hostile war sentiment in the US. He volunteers with the VA, helping younger vets returning from Afghanistan and Iraq.
During his time in a reconnaissance platoon in Vietnam, Bill Becker found an underground hospital, a possible Chinese advisor, and a VC with something very unusual in his backpack. When he triggered a booby trap, he didn't even realize he was wounded. Later in his tour, he was a radar operator and away from the danger, he thought.
It was The Big Red One for Larry Jordan when he arrived in Vietnam. The West Pointer was assigned to a mechanized company in the 1st Infantry Division, where he lived out of an armored personnel carrier. When he was made reconnaissance platoon leader, he had more machine guns and some flametracks, vehicles which shot a stream of napalm.
Lam Son 719 was an ill-fated operation that involved using South Vietnamese ground troops in an incursion into Laos. Forward Air Controller Charles White, Jr. describes the fiasco and how he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross in Desert Rat, a twin operation nearby.
Inspired by his father's service, Bob Ballagh excelled at West Point. When he graduated, he found out that due to a short-lived policy, he wouldn't be going to officer's basic training in his field of artillery. Fortunately, in his first deployment to Germany, he encountered a commander who made sure he received the training.
George Forrest left home thinking his father had acquiesced to the white power structure in his home town. When he returned, though, he found out that what he'd done was just the opposite. Enjoying the ROTC element of his college experience, Forrest received a commission in the Army and had some interesting assignments before he joined a newly organized air assault division.
Marshall Carter recalls a Medivac flight that was flown by two wounded pilots, one with leg wounds and one hit in the arm. Together they worked the stick and the pedals. He then explains the struggle over tactics. Westmoreland and the Army were looking for the big battle. The Marine approach was to pacify the area and protect the people.
When an officer wouldn't let up with the belligerent questions following his grueling, amazing and involuntary debut as a mortar gunner, Bob Atkinson finally just walked away. His actions earned him the respect of his group and he was made squad leader, Part 3 of 3.
There were four sensors in a row on the Ho Chi Minh Trail and the trucks kept turning before they got to the fourth one. Intelligence Officer Bill Person decided there was a supply drop there and gave the target to the pilots. After lighting up the whole sky with that strike, the question came, "Do you have any more of those targets?"
As if getting shot in the head wasn’t enough, Dennis Haines had many complications on his road to recovery, including a serious infection. He was amused, however, by the process of molding the plastic plate to cover the missing part of his skull.
Acknowledging the many leaders who helped him along the way, Barry Howard recalls the time a general told him to get off his base and go become a great fighter pilot. Many years later, in the Pentagon barber shop, he saw that general again.
Though he was an air traffic controller, Bob Wylie also worked as a loadmaster and navigator. Based in the Philippines, he supervised the cargo on a circuit around the various bases in Vietnam. The aircraft also ferried troops on R&R as well as the occasional chicken coop.
To complete the process of registering his artillery pieces on the target areas, Frank Cox went to the highest ground around. There he found an exotic anti-aircraft battery with a delusional commander who had an exaggerated sense of his mission and of the worth of his weapon system, the HAWK.
Still believing he was going to study electronics, Bill Acebes arrived at Ft. Gordon for the next stage of training. When he asked about radar, he was informed that this was the infantry and he was the radar beam. The last stop was jump training, where the sergeants "all came from hell. You could see it in their eyes."
Bob Atkinson's favorite C-ration was the pound cake, and he tells about finding something unusual in his cake. R&R seemed non-existent but he did have one six day leave and met his mother in Hawaii because he was sure he would not survive the war. Flying back, he marveled at how pretty the country looked from the air.
As he was leaving Vietnam, Bill Person received word that he would be interviewed back in Washington. He went to the appointment and was sitting alone in an office when in walked President Lyndon Johnson. He wanted to know about the sensor program and what he heard was not what he wanted to hear.
Ernest Washington was fortunate to leave Vietnam and serve as an MP in Japan and an instructor at Quantico. After his discharge, he became a veterans advocate and started an organization to help veterans with problems adjusting to civilian life.
Told he was at the top of the list to be drafted, Bruce D'Agostino enlisted in the Air Force to get some electronics training. Based in Japan with a communications squadron, he sought an assignment in Vietnam because he didn't feel right sitting there while a war was going on. He was already a crack shot, thanks to a Marine sniper.
Doug Garner shares a story about how closely he and his fellow soldiers had been interacting with Viet Cong and North Vietnamese officials without even realizing it, and how the Viet Cong would lie to the local population about the American soldiers.
Dasher Wheatley was one of many Australian soldiers that fought with Lowe in Vietnam. Each had his own nickname, and each was strange in his own way. Dash sat with his fellow Aussies every day in the cafeteria while Lowe sat with the Air Force Bird Dogs. One day, Dash invited Lowe to sit with him and his “mates”, and what happened as a result left Dash and the other Aussies laughing.