Preserving The Oral HistorIES of Combat Veterans

COMBAT STORIES FROM Vietnam

Bernardo Lopez | 2nd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment - Marines

5:24   |   What do you want people to remember about the Vietnam War? For Bernardo Lopez, the answer is complicated and, perhaps, too big a question for him. Who is he to say?

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Keywords   :     Bernardo Lopez    American Indian    Vietnam    Afghanistan    leadership    Communism    Lyndon Baines Johnson (LBJ)    Iraq    Shock And Awe    Mogadishu    Somalia    competence

Videos ( 11 )
Vietnam
  • Bernardo Lopez  |  Vietnam  |  2nd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment  |  6:00

    Bernardo Lopez came from a big family of migrant workers in Texas. He got a big surprise when he found out that his heritage was more Apache than Mexican. He even had a chief as an ancestor. Later in life, his online research about the past led to disillusionment with some of his heroes.

  • Bernardo Lopez  |  Vietnam  |  2nd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment  |  5:23

    Bernardo Lopez got more than he bargained for when he joined the Marines. He wanted excitement and he sure got it. At boot camp, it was traumatic for him to see the abuse heaped on unprepared recruits, but it was nothing to him. Coming from a large family of migrant farm workers, he was super fit and immune to the DI's intimidation.

  • Bernardo Lopez  |  Vietnam  |  2nd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment  |  7:29

    Overnight he went from civilization to hell. New Marine Bernardo Lopez was sent to Phu Bai where the first thing that happened was the old timers messing with him. Then, on his first patrol, he saw a Marine blown in two by a booby trap. He decided to never get too close to anyone so that he didn't have to see a friend die like that.

  • Bernardo Lopez  |  Vietnam  |  2nd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment  |  10:19

    He was already dog tired from staying awake to keep an eye on his untrustworthy ARVN allies. Bernardo Lopez and his fellow Marines were told to gear up and head to Hue. The Tet Offensive was on. The combat there was intense but there was also some strangeness to the proceedings, like the Vietnamese girl who asked him an odd question and the TV cameraman who wanted a good shot. Part 1 of 4.

  • Bernardo Lopez  |  Vietnam  |  2nd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment  |  8:49

    The Marines had crossed the Perfume River bridge but ran into heavy fire and had to go back. Bernardo Lopez didn't want to call it a retreat but he did want to get the hell out of there. Then his platoon began to retake what they could as Hue was being besieged. They later found out that 10,000 of the enemy were in the city. Thankfully, they did not know how few Marines there were. Part 2 of 4.

  • Bernardo Lopez  |  Vietnam  |  2nd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment  |  10:01

    It was straight up urban warfare as the Marines struggled to retake Hue. They were hampered by the inability to use air support or artillery because of the damage they might cause to the historical city. Bernardo Lopez describes the desperate fight to reclaim government buildings and how he wound up with a radio on his back. Part 3 of 4.

  • Bernardo Lopez  |  Vietnam  |  2nd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment  |  10:45

    He was used to seeing dead bodies but the sight of a Vietnamese mother and child laying in the street really got to Bernardo Lopez. The city of Hue was engulfed in the fierce Tet Offensive and the outnumbered Marines were struggling hard. As he advanced through the streets, he saw a flash inside a darkened window. His time had come Part 4 of 4.

  • Bernardo Lopez  |  Vietnam  |  2nd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment  |  5:46

    After recuperating from a gunshot wound to the face, Bernardo Lopez returned to his unit and was immediately thrown into Operation Houston. The goal was to reclaim and reopen areas that were attacked during the Tet Offensive. As his unit moved to reinforce a besieged group of Marines, he warned his commander not to take a particular trail. He should have listened.

  • Bernardo Lopez  |  Vietnam  |  2nd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment  |  5:09

    Wounded twice in Vietnam, Bernardo Lopez was now in Hawaii meeting his future wife and trying to readjust. He had quit writing his mother and this caused her some distress. He had developed a bad case of avoidance but was already having a bad experience with the most likey source of help, the VA.

  • Bernardo Lopez  |  Vietnam  |  2nd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment  |  8:30

    It was a long struggle with the VA for Bernardo Lopez. He was told he doesn't have PTSD, then he was told he did. Then they lost his records and mistakenly had him listed as a no-show for his second psychological evaluation. He had to do his own detective work to prove he was entitled to benefits.

  • Bernardo Lopez  |  Vietnam  |  2nd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment  |  3:37

    The Marines didn't get to listen to much music in Vietnam. No personal radios in the field but Bernardo Lopez did get to hear some when he was in the rear. That sweet 60's sound. Hearing it now, though, can recall bad memories as well as good ones. One thing that is nothing but good is a reunion with his comrades.

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