5:21 | Tracy Sheils joined the Marine Corps because he thought it was the right thing to do. He had friends going off to Vietnam and he could think of no reason he shouldn't too.
Keywords : Tracy Sheils Geneva NY Vietnam Parris Island Camp LeJeune San Diego CA
He thought it was hot when he stopped in Hawaii, but when Tracy Sheils got to Vietnam, he found out what hot really is. His 2nd night there, the base was targeted in a rocket attack. That's when he found out what scared really is. Soon, he would see action in Hue and the A Shau Valley, and earn a combat promotion.
He was called to the command post where there was a badly wounded Marine laying on the floor. Tracy Sheils was ordered to give the man mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, but he saw immediately that the man was dead. "Captain, he's dead." What happened then angers Sheils to this day, and the incident was dramatized in a movie.
Sgt. Tracy Sheils never had to pull rank. He had rank, meaning his men respected him and carried out his orders. His mother was concerned about his brothers getting drafted and sent to Vietnam and so was Sheils. He didn't think they had the makeup to survive in that war, unlike the Marines in his unit.
His one trip to the hospital was memorable. Fed up with the chaos and screaming, Tracy Sheils couldn't wait to get back to his unit. He talks about surviving an ambush, how he took up smoking and why that was a good thing, and why his flak jacket was worthless.
To Tracy Sheils, Vietnam was not a bad thing and it had a noble purpose, stopping the spread of Communism. He had to go home in civilian clothes to avoid any trouble and it did not sit well with him. Neither does the prosecution of Americans such as Lt. William Calley.
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.
Under heavy fire, choppers attempt to evacuate wounded GIs from Kontum. After one fatal crash, a dustoff chopper manages to lift Ernest Banasau to safety. Years later, Banasau meets the pilot who saved him, and learns how close he came to meeting a tragic fate. Part 2 of 2
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Dellinger returns home to an unexpected lack of fanfare, and struggles with the adjustment of postwar life. He finds a rewarding career, where his experience in a field hospital helps him form a healthy perspective - and offer help to younger vets.
Dellinger participates in the Medical Civilian Aid Program, which has him providing medical aid to local villagers. He documents civilian interaction in photos, where we see children clamoring for candy and polaroids.
Dellinger is stationed at LZ Uplift, where he helps to stabilize wounded soldiers on their way to a nearby MASH unit. Life as a Medical Platoon Leader ranges from dangerous to uneventful, but his unit enjoys a degree of autonomy.
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.
The officers club for the helicopter pilots was one of the best in Vietnam, says Ed Zielinski. If only he could have figured out how the Korean officers were cheating at dice. There was another kind of wildlife there, elephants, which could also be enemy trucks, deer and wild pig, which you could barbecue, and monkeys, which you better not shoot if Ed was around.
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.