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.
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
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.
It was dangerous enough to patrol South Vietnam, between the ambushes and the risk of malaria, but that was compounded with the chance of being hit by one of your own. Ed Callison recalls one instance of friendly fire that could have ended his life.
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.
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.
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.
Peterson learns about the Combined Action Program from an article in Life Magazine, and joins the CAPs after his first tour. His platoon comes to accept the complicated nature of their relationship with the locals, which ultimately leads to betrayal - and the death of a comrade.
Combat in the rice paddies was a miserable and dangerous affair. It was wet and nasty with little cover. The mountain range near Vung Tau was no picnic, either, but as Dale Ney's unit conducted a sweep along it toward the sea, a remarkable sight called for a little unscheduled R&R.
Haunted by the fall of Saigon - and the death of a friend for which he wrongfully shouldered the blame - Peterson unpacks his service pistol and contemplates suicide. He manages to turn his life around; he meets his wife and returns to Vietnam for a chance to heal the scars of war.
Dale Ney was on patrol in Vietnam when, all of a sudden, the entire horizon lit up. Smoke billowed high in the sky and the trees were shaking. It was a B-52 strike. There was another awesome aircraft employed in Vietnam that did not create such mayhem and which was secretly flown at night.
Three or four Viet Cong could tie down an entire company with a well planned ambush and then just disappear. Snipers were a big problem, too, but Dale Ney quieted down a really annoying one with a disposable weapon meant for heavy armor.
Ed Callison remembers growing up with a military background in his family, which he would eventually be a part of when he was drafted for the Vietnam war. His opinion of the war has changed over time as he's gotten more time to look at it.
Though he started as a true believer, Mike Peterson gradually became disenchanted with the Marines, and the Vietnam War. His reflections and research on Vietnam - and how the war was waged - lead him to the sober realization that we have become reckless with American lives.
Ed Callison remembers the role of his unit and all of the duties they enacted while stationed in Vietnam. Working with civilians and enemy prisoners alike to gain intel was often successful in gaining information that allowed a more successful war effort.
Dale Ney never took a bullet in Vietnam but he did have an unfortunate encounter with a punji stick. Another constant fear was enemy Claymore mines. And as if all that wasn't bad enough, every bit of wildlife in the country seemed to be against you.
Ed Callison remembers his last few weeks in Vietnam and then returning home to the hostile climate for people who served in the Vietnam War. He is thankful for some of the good treatment he did receive, and grateful for the increased support today.
Moving into civilian life wasn't always smooth sailing as he returned to college after his tour in Vietnam. He hopes future generations will remember the Vietnam veterans as the hard-fighting, dedicated men they were.