2:11 | Col. Lee Ellis (ret.) recalls the airbase at Da Nang coming under rocket fire on his first night.
Keywords : alcohol helmet C-130 F-4 barracks rocket Da Nang Vietnam bunker
Col. Lee Ellis (ret.) goes through the mission that led to his capture by NVA forces.
Col. Lee Ellis (ret.) is moved from his landing site to a small village where he meets up with his flight leader, who had also been captured.
Col. Lee Ellis (ret.) recalls the moment he faced death at the hands of the NVA, or so he thought.
Col. Lee Ellis (ret.) narrowly escapes being killed by locals when his NVA escort secretly moves him out of town.
Col. Lee Ellis (ret.) recalls numerous times when he and the men who captured him had to survive aerial bombing by American forces.
In a medium sized village, on the way to Hanoi, Col. Lee Ellis (ret.) witnesses a Communist Party rally and is almost done in by the frenzied communists.
Col. Lee Ellis (ret.) remembers the first interrogation he suffered at the hands of the NVA, and how remarkably frightening their first impression was.
Col. Lee Ellis (ret.) gives details about the infamous Hoa Lo Prison, better known as "The Hanoi Hilton," where US servicemen were kept as Prisoners Of War.
While incarcerated at the Hanoi Hilton, Col. Lee Ellis (ret.) and his cellmates have to make a tough decision about a Marine Lt. Colonel who is cooperating with the enemy.
After his second tour in Vietnam, Owen Ditchfield was assigned to the personnel office at Fort Benning. One day, he received a letter from a Vietnamese interpreter who had been left behind and was trying desperately to get out. That started a process that would end happily for both of them. Another happy outcome awaited Ditchfield when he was pushed out by the drawdown.
The battle for Hill 875 took five days but David Brown was only there for two of them. He heard the piece of shrapnel from the enemy mortar shell whizzing through the trees before it hit him in the chin. As the Medevac chopper rose, he was told to throw out his weapon. This was very difficult for him but they convinced him he wouldn't need it anymore. At the hospital, he noticed the man in the next bed had something odd on his nightstand. "You don't want to see."
Bill Camper felt like the people of Hue supported the South Vietnamese soldiers he was advising. He made some headway encouraging those men to fight and he relates the story of how he taught them to advance through their own artillery barrage and surprise the enemy from the rear.
He was flying in a Chinook, in transit to pick up some Kit Carson Scouts, when an enemy on the ground sprayed the aircraft with automatic weapons fire. Owen Ditchfield was leaning over reading a book and that meant that the bullet that hit him in the head did not kill him on the spot.
Jim Benson's mission was to hold and guard the Tu Cau bridge. The work load on his men was heavy and he details the routine of patrols and ambushes, both day and night, that left the Marines exhausted. At the same time, he had to constantly train new replacements who had no combat knowledge.
The RPG that severed Joe McDonald’s foot didn’t kill him. The machine gun fire that hit him as he still tried to help others didn’t kill him. The grenade taped to his hand might have killed him if the VC had found his hiding place.
As Marine Captain Ron Christmas fought to regain the city of Hue, he found the enemy adept at concealment and surprise. Every soldier in a spider hole was armed with a rifle and a RPG launcher. He also encountered a nun with an AK-47. His action during this time earned him the Navy Cross.
In a letter home, Tommy Clack expressed his worry that something bad was going to happen and it did when his unit engaged the NVA near the Cambodian border. He saw the enemy soldier stand and fire the RPG that changed his life forever.
Marine Mike Province feels lucky that he had a loving family to welcome him home from Vietnam. He knows there were many who had a much different experience. Everyone who served there in any year is worthy of remembrance to him. He only wishes the lessons of Vietnam could have provided more guidance for the wars of today.
For his second tour in Vietnam, Owen Ditchfield was assigned to the 101st Airborne in the A Shau Valley. Arriving just after the battle at Hamburger Hill, he was leading a patrol in the same area when the unit was pinned down by multiple enemy gun emplacements. A relief platoon ran into the same fire from the bunkers, but then Gordon Roberts stood up and charged the first position. Before it was over, four enemy positions were taken out and Roberts would deserve the Medal Of Honor.
Marine Mike Province compares the personalities of the three Lieutenants he served under in Vietnam. Two out of three ain't bad. He pays tribute to the Corpsmen, who were alongside the Marines, taking care of the wounded. The wildlife and the elements were front and center, namely snakes and Jungle Rot.
After nearly getting wiped out at Hill 996, Owen Ditchfield's company spent some time clearing hilltops for landing zones near the Laotian border, where high tech surveillance equipment could trigger remote ambushes on the enemy's supply trails. He relates how life back at the base camp was nearly as dangerous as being on patrol in the jungle.
They were told an attack was coming and they hunkered down in individual foxholes and waited. Marine Mike Province's thoughts drifted to home and family and then his mind got the best of him. Fear set in and he began to shake uncontrollably. This made him so mad he started pounding himself with his fist and then, the firefight began.
Owen Ditchfield was sent to Vietnam by way of the Defense Information School in Indianapolis. He was preparing to be the public information officer for the 11th Armored Cavalry in Vietnam. Once there, he nearly suffered an accidental death in the officers club, but he survived and went on to host reporters Charlie Black, Joe Galloway and Peter Arnett.
He told the Marine recruiter that he was interested in a two year hitch and the old sergeant said, "Son, for a two year hitch, all I can promise you is two years of a hard time." That sounded OK to Mike Province and he was off to Vietnam by way of Camp Pendleton. He had just arrived and was on the way to his unit when the truck driver came upon two young Vietnamese girls who had bicycled over a mine in the road.
After his first Vietnam tour, Owen Ditchfield got command of a company at Fort Benning that played the aggressor in Ranger training exercises. His men were short timers, waiting for discharge, but he rallied them to do well by telling them why their job was so important. Then he was assigned a new executive officer, Buddy Allgood, who had a surprising physical characteristic.
Booby traps were a fact of life in Vietnam. In fact, Mike Province replaced a Marine who had shoved others out of the way of the blast from one and was badly injured. The squad leader was big and tough and would issue a beating for what he considered transgressions. Eventually, it was Mike's turn, but first, he had some words for the sergeant.
There was a machine gunner in Mike Province's platoon named Emilio De La Garza. On a patrol, they encountered an enemy who indicated he wanted to surrender. De La Garza went to bring him in and, as they approached, he pulled out a grenade. When it was over, there was a Medal Of Honor waiting.
The Kit Carson Scouts were Viet Cong guerrillas and North Vietnamese soldiers who had defected to the South. Many of them worked with American units to give insight to the tactics of the enemy and Owen Ditchfield was in charge of the program in his division. He would take them to fire bases where one of them would give a startling demonstration to the American soldiers.
While he was chaperoning reporter Peter Arnett around Vietnam, Owen Ditchfield got to hear the exciting story of a soldier who lost his rifle during an ambush and had to rely on his knife. He was also there when Martha Raye invaded the colonel's trailer. The reporters he hosted ran the gamut from celebrated author Joe Galloway to guys who wouldn't leave the hotel in Saigon.