11:47 | Wayne Waddell remembers the conditions in the Hanoi Hilton and the little things that made it possible for them to keep their spirits up while imprisoned and the circumstances that brought them home.
Keywords : Hanoi Hilton return home returning home zoo Paris Accords POW camp (Prisoner of War camp) sent home wounded POW(Prisoner of War) Lockheed Operation Homecoming cigarette
Wayne Waddell recounts his early life and the circumstances that led to his joining the Air Force.
Wayne Waddell recalls his first encounters flying in Vietnam and getting acquainted with taking many missions.
Wayne Waddell describes the circumstances in Thailand & Vietnam that led to his capture by the Chinese Liberation Army.
Wayne Waddell recounts some of the conditions he had to go through in the prison camps and the time that he was recorded by East German filmmakers and later identified by his family so that they knew he was a POW.
Wayne Waddell tells of the comrade he shared a prison cell with and the relationship that is formed in close quarters like that and the small things that happen that keep your spirits up.
Wayne Waddell remembers one of the tactics that his Vietnamese captors used to extract information from them and the extreme toll it took on some of the soldiers.
Wayne Waddell details the communication process that they had in the camp and the various things they could utilize to keep themselves sane.
Wayne Waddell speaks to the nature of the relationship between the American prisoners and the Viet guards.
Wayne Waddell remembers the "Dog Patch", an area where they spent a portion of their time imprisoned.
Wayne Waddell remembers the plane ride home to the States after all the years in the prison camp and all the adjustments he had to make in returning home.
Wayne Waddell remembers all the things that changed in the States over the 6 years he was gone.
Wayne Waddell remembers his Air Force career after his time in the prison camp.
Wayne Waddell remembers a few of his captors that he forged a small relationship with and wishes to reconnect with after his time in the camp.
Wayne Waddell gives his advice for future generations as they try to navigate future global conflicts.
He made Buck Sergeant about the time he figured out that he and his buddies were basically fighting for each other and for no other reason. They were taking a large bunker complex and when two others were under fire, he went out to get them. After the fight was over, he was disturbed to learn what his superiors intended to do about the enemy base.
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.
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.
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.
He came out of the field his last few weeks in Vietnam, but Lt. Tom Blake hated leaving his men. He would give them the Mother Hen treatment when he saw them leaving the firebase while he was waiting to go home. On the last leg of that trip, an airline pilot gave him a solid welcome home.
Tom Blake recommends two excellent books on the Vietnam War that he feels give a good feel for what it was like there. He nearly returned to visit the former battlefield, but doesn't regret his decision to stay home. He has a healthy respect for his former enemies in that difficult war.
11 frightening days in the Battle of Dak To, and the bloody fight for Hill 875. When a Marine F4 misses its target, a 500 pound bomb takes out an entire encampment of wounded GIs. The South Vietnamese Civilian Army prepares a Thanksgiving feast, but the meal does not sit well with the American palette.
How did the M-16 rifle function in a jungle environment? Just fine, according to Tom Blake, RECON Platoon leader in Vietnam. As long you kept it clean and dry in the hot, wet mess of the rice paddies. There were less booby traps there than up North, but no less Viet Cong.
His men loved the care packages that Lt. Tom Blake's parents sent to him, full of Kool-Aid and cinnamon rolls. The area they were in was flat, hot and wet and the job was interdiction of the Viet Cong, who were confiscating the rice harvest. To Blake, the constant stalking and ambushes resembled a game of cops and robbers.
Banasau and his team struggle with questionable orders from an inexperienced, egomaniacal company commander. Later, they come across what sounds like a massive army, and are forced to take cover... only to discover their ears have deceived them.
Tom Blake's first assignment was at Fort Hood, where he kept an old Volkswagen in which he shuttled returning veterans around to help them solve medical and administrative problems. He got an earful from them about Vietnam, which he was about to experience for himself. Once he got there, he kept falling into the most difficult assignments and he learned that surprises waited for him everywhere.
Among the spoils of Hill 875, Banasau discovers the gruesome remains of the enemy. After witnessing the loss of so many GIs, he feels only satisfaction at the sight of NVA corpses. Nonetheless, a shell-shocked prisoner is mercifully evacuated from the smoldering wreckage.
Tom Blake was the RECON Platoon leader and he depended heavily on his point man, Tex Quinn. You could bet a six pack on your location on the map and you'd lose. They used characters from Robin Hood for radio code names, but there was no fun and games if you were caught falling asleep on watch.
The first fire Tom Blake received in Vietnam was 50 caliber rounds from his own side. He was mixing it up with the Viet Cong soon enough. In fact, they knew his name. The first man he lost in his platoon failed to heed a very basic rule, rules that Lieutenant Blake tried to remind them of every day.
After Khe Sanh, Bob Averill and his division shipped down to Cam Lo, where they faced ample NVA fire. Here, he had to take the lead on throwing a grenade into the enemy bunker, leading to a close call as he quickly retreated away from the blast.
Lt. Tom Blake had a Kit Carson scout in his platoon and the former Viet Cong was good at getting information from the locals, but, after the My Lai incident, cooperation was hard to come by. The tragedy occurred in the same area and Blake felt the fallout in his civilian encounters.
Bravo Company has been all but wiped out, and Ernest Banasau worries that he and his buddies will be sent in to replace them. Instead, he joins A Company, where he experiences his first enemy contact - in the form of a rice paddy machine gun ambush.