Preserving The Oral HistorIES of Combat Veterans


Zach Johnson | 1st Force Reconnaissance Company - Marines

2:22   |   The Vietnam War was the right thing to do. Zach Johnson always believed that. But after his tour there, he knew the strategy and execution were botched, even while the Marines did their job well.

More From Zach Johnson

Keywords   :     Zach Johnson    Vietnam    Reconnaissance (Recon)    communism    Lyndon Baines Johnson (LBJ)    Robert McNamara    Villanova University    anti-war

Videos ( 10 )
  • Zach Johnson  |  Vietnam  |  1st Force Reconnaissance Company  |  4:47

    His father and his uncles served in World War II and, with a war brewing in Vietnam, Zach Johnson had no problem following their lead. During one hectic week, he graduated from Villanova, was commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant in the Marine Corps and got married. When he got to Vietnam, they put him in a Recon Battalion which was fine with him.

  • Zach Johnson  |  Vietnam  |  1st Force Reconnaissance Company  |  3:26

    His first night in Vietnam, Zach Johnson was having drinks at the officers club when the guys from a neighboring unit told him he should put in paperwork to transfer to their outfit. This turned out to be great for him. It was 1st Force Recon Company.

  • Zach Johnson  |  Vietnam  |  1st Force Reconnaissance Company  |  11:46

    Another team was hit hard the day before. Recon Marine Zach Johnson took his team into the same area the next day and they ran into action as well. He called in artillery and continued the patrol into the night. Boats moving ordnance were spotted and taken out. A defensive position for overnight was secured and, sure enough, here they came looking for some revenge.

  • Zach Johnson  |  Vietnam  |  1st Force Reconnaissance Company  |  3:05

    During his Vietnam tour, Recon Marine Zach Johnson was sent to Scuba school in the Philippines, where he made a lifelong friend. It was getting late enough in the war that units were standing down and getting sent home. There weren't a lot of missions for him, so he sent to Embarkation school.

  • Zach Johnson  |  Vietnam  |  1st Force Reconnaissance Company  |  4:03

    It was a routine patrol until they found an enemy communications wire. Platoon leader Zach Johnson cut the wire and followed it to an empty base camp where it terminated in a switchboard in a cave. Fortunately, there was no one there. Before they were extracted the next day, they had to call in some close air support when the bad guys showed up.

  • Zach Johnson  |  Vietnam  |  1st Force Reconnaissance Company  |  7:32

    Recon Marine platoon leader Zach Johnson pays tribute to his commanding officer, Col. William Leftwich, who valued his advice and made him part of the decision making process during operations. The colonel also made sure he got to take R&R and see his wife. (Caution: strong language.)

  • Zach Johnson  |  Vietnam  |  1st Force Reconnaissance Company  |  4:49

    Zach Johnson was working as liaison in the regimental combat operations center when he got word of a recon team in contact. They had a prisoner and needed extraction, but the weather had grounded all the helicopters. He secured permission to take off, but when the crew asked if he was coming along, he hesitated. He only had a week to go before rotating out.

  • Zach Johnson  |  Vietnam  |  1st Force Reconnaissance Company  |  4:17

    1st Force Recon was an elite and prestigious organization and Zach Johnson was proud to have been a part of it for his Vietnam tour. It was years later before it dawned on him just how dangerous it had been. But he knew that, considering all the training and procedures that special operations teams were involved in, it wasn't near the top of what he calls the Hierarchy of Crazy.

  • Zach Johnson  |  Vietnam  |  1st Force Reconnaissance Company  |  5:33

    The Marines have evolved, with new technology and weapons that make them more capable than ever. Vietnam Recon Marine Zach Johnson would love to have had a laser spotter when he was there. He has some pointed observations about the management of the war and some advice for young recruits.

Cold War
  • Zach Johnson  |  Cold War  |  Multiple Units  |  6:20

    The first job for Zach Johnson after his combat tour was at the Marine Security Guard Battalion, which placed elite Marines at American embassies and consulates. Then it was years at Quantico in various training positions. After his twenty years in the Corps, he went to work for Booz Allen Hamilton doing support work for the Marines.

Showing : Vietnam Videos
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