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tv   Panel Discussion on the Vietnam War  CSPAN  March 29, 2015 12:03am-12:55am EDT

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when and eight direct threat to the cia went to the white house and then he was ahead of the scary but with every mapping and regrouping their coming out to with again. and day got authorization to lose of restrictions on the drones obviously. so to give bush credit in half to be absolutely sure and this is july 2008. hated got bush to relax that so now they are allowed but
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they are misbehaving just looking guilty. within a short space of time headed to afghanistan but gates faced opposition. but i guess once he was prepared to put the resources behind him there was a big change. but there is another factor to bear in mind in the air force was thinking there of the things that he could
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build. more than the fighter but i should say to stray off the point that with a big new fractures are getting interested because now you have $300 million drones that makes them more attractive. to the industry. but it does escalate the then win obama comes come with their eye off it to their reasons were the at the end of was easier to kill them. but that the the incentives.
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but quickly and is just clicking off the nodes or to dismantle the machine by hitting targets goes back to world war ii and has never worked and is always pursued in vietnam, in a the chapter ended the first of iraq where they tried to kill saddam hussein and failed. it was to make all easier but there is always bureaucratic politics but if you want to turning point
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dyewoods a 2008. anyone else? thank you all. i hope you like the book. [applause] [inaudible conversations]
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>> this is the vietnam war panel and i have written a lot of that genre as well. i have done panels like this before. so we will talk about love for and their own
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contributions to literature and then open to questions so please moved questions and we're on booktv. we have a microphone but we will repeat the questions for the television audience. the vietnam war has borne to the many legacies. one of the positive ones is the enormous number of top notch books and nearly all of them written by veterans with pulitzer prize winners and classic works of nonfiction including a dozen memoirs as well as history and analysis per call i have a small list but the ones that i thought that should
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be on anybody is bookshelf to have a bright side "the shining" light. with the best and brightest that should be on your list. as the best helicopter pilot memoirs. that book lineup liz surprise for autobiography. and then to graduate from college in 1967? then he went to the marines. can you imagine? and then the best memoir by a woman is as lenders in the vietnam war in then so with
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those patches of fighter with those of african american in then of great book about the anti-war movement. as far as fiction rehab pulitzer prize winners such as strange mountain to connect those short stories as a expatriate living in the louisiana. that is brilliant and autobiographical. and one of those won the national book award in 1987. dog soldiers says wright affair. and richard rose said navy corpsman and to come home
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are were former senator jim webb wrote several novels one of the first in a country novels and the gold standard that won the national book award. but those that have turned into a phenomenon. like a community reach should be on the top of your list. there were two really good novels you may have heard of 15 is the short termers from the kubrick movie and another rain spent 35 years writing his novel that can amount in 2010 and it is brilliant.
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then going back to the quiet american is a we have a long history that brings us to today's panel made up of all of us here serving in the vietnam war all have written an exceptional books. of the blade to introduce them then we can get started. beyond the introduction. danny served as a navy corpsman said then they recalled the corpsman and served under the army. i have to aryans and dari surrounding me. and bob on my left talks
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about the infantryman in vietnam am president jews known story. -- and puts it into his own story. and talks about the program he was a part of. may be the one thing that worked. and bob you went to annapolis then opted to go into the marine corps. to become a journalist after the war. bob was severely wounded and he made a career because it started off in annapolis then baltimore and now washington he wrote some great books. it is terrific.
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and one last saying we are pleased the book festival has a panel devoted to literature of our war. the non veterans did not have the greatest time when we came home. it has changed for the better thank goodness but i don't think it is ever to late slowed ask all veterans to please stand up and be recognized. [applause] sit down. so we will start putting each panelist because there are 28 million american men in the vietnam war generation.
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so the way that it happens we each have our own stories so tell me how you got into the navy in we will move on from there. >> okay. can you hear me? i will play a fast one first. has the editor of the war page with that generation ago to book. to do this review column is
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in the calculable. i mean that. without question with that authority and it is honor to be here with him. and finally i want to say i feel like it is a privilege to be here with you guys. civic you cannot read it the way i wrote it? [laughter] >> i graduated high school 67 the draft was in full bloom. i space was going in progress and is editor and 18 i joined up i said i want to be the hospital corpsman that is an orderly and a last year of high school my
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enthusiasm was unbelievable i do not know this would fast-track me in tuesday record. but am leads me to the opening of my book putts i found myself standing on after stepping off with the characters like myself. i remember. eyelids a cigarette. i was a hospital corpsman a medical man attached to the marine corps for the last two years. and i have been with artillery units i thought would clear the iraq's out of half the people. i had it all figured out.
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but it did not add up on the exhale. the core of expectancy is two weeks ahead looked around the there was no one to complain to. so whenever a was a raw scared with this thing called combat. for the one that would sigint then zag into screech when the it stopped and then stood up to address us. i gave five volunteers will several chuckled then laughter erupted in than shift to gain their weight
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to one side. with that collective creature. that is crazy said the chief. i of not joining a recall on. -- of vicomte team. but i did not speak the language. not the of it does something like that. i trusted. and then with my position but if i am going to go i
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would hop into the back of the jeep as reckless as the jeep was that is the known as mine. the countryside left no impression on me. and then to feel pretty satisfied to change the course of my life and intel that moment of responded to a stack of letters i had accumulated the arrival and departure i went in one direction then another. i had been there and your then summer i had volunteered to go to even the wife did not know where it was. and then to go by choice for
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a change. survey thank you. bob? >> hello. can i stand up? there are people that i cannot see. does this work? i still like to be doing kovrov get number over the hill of vietnam veterans. one thing that you should know with every kind of fit if you think marines are tough recon is even tougher they are known as the snake eaters.
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into just stumble into a. i would not have done it. at any rate how did i get here? and stock day of so what am i doing your? i was the improbable marine. from going to the naval academy to war. my father and mother were
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both in show business. as a musician and a composer he wrote background music for the studio for popeye and olive oil. my mother was the ziegfeld girl. we did that have a military tradition. when i was in the naval academy and i hesitate to mention in this because it sounds clunky because i really did have a desire to serve my country. my family was screwed up. alleges several different schools before i went to
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high school. i believed my father for a lot of things which i sense realize i was wrong but he was very weak and i did not point to be greek. i did not want to be my father. so i wanted to get out i have for it to a great high-school i wanted to get out of my home but i couldn't because ahead two younger sisters and my mother was an alcoholic. i was trapped in then i thought of the service academies. i thought there is only one or two of those if you go to the naval academy you have
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to go to annapolis not the local college which i did for one year. so i applied. i spent four years there and at a certain point late i decided i wanted to be a marine. which not a lot of thought went into with i just liked the idea that young officers would lead to a troop as opposed to the navy officers to try to figure out the wind and stuff like that. i have a story about. of those at the naval academy decided we would go for tenth% within three had
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let it be known we. into the marine corps. they could not stop us and playing tricks on us. my roommate was one of the absolute worst. but the day before we had service selection to say what you are going to do my friend said give me one good reason to say marine corps? i said you get your weekends off. i said that's it. are going. that is how i stumbled. we can give long explanations but we were kids. we didn't know what we we're doing.
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but all marines went to vietnam. >> i am a farm boy. so right out of high school 67 i've volunteered for the draft and jordan to for two years for kurtis still a little hazy but i cannot believe i did that. as an infantryman in 1967 on my way to vietnam they pulled me out and sent me to language school in monterey california to say you will learn vietnamese you have 12 weeks. so then i thought that would help me when i get to vietnam. but it didn't. this still santry to the infantry unit to and i started off as the basic rifleman.
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but though link which figures prominently because everywhere i went to said i could speak a little bit of vietnamese. what kind of job can you find me that does not have a rifle? so my first shot was my platoon commander tried out the former viet cong who would serve with the infantry of it to figure are how-to speaks the language to go down trails or that sort of thing. so this count said four or five words to be and i have no idea what he said so i just walked away so i stayed in the infantry and teller was wounded. as a casualty, i had heard
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about the action program so i volunteered for that. they're always looking for somebody to grove volunteer for anything. they sent me to a combined action facility that's is a very green outfit between 65 and 71. they took a navy corpsman and soldiers to put this in a village and it was our job to secure the village to provide security and defense to work with all friendly units in the area am by civic actions in to also to
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pacified but the other units in my area and my fifth pitch was right along the coastal plain of. summer spent the next eight months serving there first in one unit then i was transferred to another village when they were ambushed one night so they had to pull people from different units celebrity that one. so i served in the combined action program through august of 69. and i just want to add that
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what became our most important civic action program you have the cornyn in the wooded her can to death because he would try to be kidding but the combined action program made serving in vietnam more worthwhile then if i had survived a soul to work of the infantry unit. i feel good about my service but it left me with a sense that things were unfinished and i had no closure.
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. . >> i said, i'm not going to make it through this. so to my surprise when i'm on the freedom boat going home, and i decided that i'm going to live a good life in honor of those guys that don't get to live that
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good life because they didn't make it back. so no, i didn't expect to be a writer, didn't expect to be anything really and it's like bob says, i didn't know what i was doing itch didn't know how i got there. i mean, my book reflects that. i also dope see this -- quick aside. these two guys, bob and bob tim, they were the real marines and -- i lived in a privileged place as a corpsman very special place with the marine corps but these guys they earned their eagle globe and anchor in boot camp and all the rest of it, as the corpsman i was issued my eagle globe and anchor itch was pushed in there and handed up there and the ended ended up in the recon and just went with it. another thing about these two guys that makes them incredibly special, too they're both wounded pretty badly, and when you get wounded in a war that puts you on another level.
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i'm a veteran and i'm a combat veteran, but these guys are combat veterans who were wounded. both guys really are -- they go someplace i have never been before. and tim burk, 35 facial operations. pretty tough stuff. and i don't know what bob went through but he went through his stuff. so, the war changed my life and i spent a lifetime as an author. i have a lot of books in employment. i'm very proud of them. and i pushed away this present book my combat book for a very long time because i just didn't know how to figure out -- i didn't know how to write it. i wanted it to be a literary work of merit and a story but more than a story. and it took me a long time to figure it out.
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and one day i -- i was at reunion. the only re union i had been to and acame across patrol reports and those were like what we did in field in the recons and i read them and went that's the concrete element of what we did. and somehow i used that as a convention in my book, and i had these patrol reports and i started giving the dramaization the experience and you see the contrast between the two. what factually happened and what the person experiencing how they saw that. so the thing is, patrol reports don't capture everything. and they don't capture the relationships you develop with other people. and i was again a corpsman, luck you to have relationships with a lot of different kind of guys, and one of these relationships i had was for the vietnamese guy,
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and i was serving up in an o.p. for months with one of those times, and i got to know this guy named trang, a south vietnamese soldier. i'm going to read a short part about him. a member of the republic of vietnam. like me he was sent to the observation post for duty. however i was serving time and he was serving his country. i was trying to survive a war, he was fighting a civil war. there were five others who shared two large bunkers on the opposite end of the o.p. we rarely mixed. the barrier of language and culture and distrust encouraged segue degree gigs on both sides -- segregation on both side. a heavy rain splattered on my
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bunker's threshold. i glanced at tragn who was sitting on the ground with me before we were looking through the doorway into the night. we are prisons over the weather. trang didn't understand what i meant. his blank smile was accompanied by an uncertain nod. i stared at the flickering candle between us and fit the humble shadows dance on our background, a wooden ceiling a greens san bag wall and a dirt floor. my 782 gear and my hammock hung, my m-16 leaned against the bulkhead opposite the open entrance and several couldn't c-rats sat on the dirt floor. now, trang stared at the candle between us and saw god knows what through his inscrutable eyes. his hair was straight black, asia face was youthful. he was lean and bony and hard.
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i tossed him a pack of cigarettes. he withdraw a smoke, and tossed the pack back to me. i didn't smoke. i exhaled. i studiedded the melting wax. rain lightning thunder, vietnam. trang lit a cigarette. he had been a college student in saigon help had dreams and family and hope of a future. i glanced at a torn sand bag that revealed the stratum of hard pack editor rock. geologically his future seemed leak. we spoke and we talked into the moonlit night and nursed the candle between us to prevent losing our bunker light. i looked through the open doorway of the bunker and pointed at the lunar sky. hey, how do you say moon in vietnam ese.
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>> tan and then i peered at trang and repeated the word several more times as i kept glance at both faces, naming the one above and acknowledging the one in front of me. trang nodded to convey his approval. moon. yes, i said, with authority. tan. the tiny word brought us closer, we talked and laughed and smoked and dreamed. we continued nursing the flame until i went out. then we sat quietly in the -- we sat quietly in our bunker without light. our labor was friendship to keep the candle awake but the flame went out with the wax. there was nothing left to do but go to sleep. >> thank you. >> bob timberg when you were in vietnam were you planning for your future as a writer and tell us how the war has influenced your professional career?
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>> well, first of all the awaits influenced me -- i don't know. stop stop. hiding behind this but i'm not going to hide. this is what i did as a marine i hid like that. now i'm a civilian so i can stand up. well did want to be a write center no, i didn't. i had kind of unfocused ambition and one part of me as i needer the end of my tour, was -- neared the end of my tour was i would might want to be a career marine, which is what i had been trained to be. i went sure that was necessarily what i wanted to do. and then i thought about, well what die want to do and what can i do? and the fact is that the only thing i ever recall thinking about as a possibility and it
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was certainly -- it's hard to believe but it's true -- i always -- i always had this vision of myself standing in front of a big status board say, with a pointer in my hand and my audience were all uniformed truck drivers. but they weren't military uniforms. they were texaco ewan foreigns and what is -- uniforms and i was telling these guys -- deploying the texaco fuel tanks taking the gas to gas stations. why? this is why i think. texaco sent me my first credit card when i was at the naval
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academy, and just stayed with me. which is -- nothing wrong with tedaco is not evil. if i was going to get out i had no idea what to do, and writing was not something that i gave any serious thought to. i sort of gave it thought maybe ought to be a college professor, and paid include i had -- base cliff i had no idea. fortunately, when i was very close to the end of my 13-month tour -- i don't know if you're aware of this but marines had 13-mock tours in vietnam as opposed to the army which had 12-month tours. and how do you figure that? and the fact of the matter is that -- you know this -- lots of marines got killed and wounded in that last month, and i was in my last month when i was wounded, and -- but what was i
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going to do? i didn't know what i was going to do. and the thing was i didn't have to make a decision because fortunately, the marine corps in its wisdom had already given me orders which were to a unit back in camp pendleton, california, getting ready to go where? vietnam. so, it wasn't an issue back then at that point. >> influenced your writing. >> me? >> yes. >> how about him? >> that was the second part of the question. >> oh, okay. you're next. >> okay. how did me -- the fact is surprisingly, because i did go through several years of reconstructive surgery, so most
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of what happened in vietnam and its aftermath was pretty much imprinted on my psyche. but what i wound up doing bass becoming a journalist, and i started as a local reporter then i became -- went to work for "the baltimore sun." a city hall reporter state political reporter. and eventually i went to washington as a california correspondent and covered congress covered the white house, and -- and i never had this desire to write a book bat vietnam. but i always had a sense there was something going on that i didn't know and didn't understand but it had something to do with vietnam. and i've never been able to quite -- it's never quite computed for me how one kid can march off to war and the other
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kid can fake disabilities like egg allergies or cutting off a finger or -- i just never could -- i never could understand how half my generation could go to war and the other half could fake it. and it stayed with me, not at a very high level in my psyche but it was always there and at a certain point, when i was cover the white house a scandal broke -- i was covering the reagan white house and the iran-contra scandal broke and it involved at the heart of it three fellow naval academy guys oliver mother bud mcfarland, and john poindexter. and i wasn't their buddy or anything like that but --
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everyone was talking about these guys were like trying to take over the country and -- god knows what they were up testimony thought man don't think so. i knew them vaguely. i knew that they weren't like necessarily the sharpest guys. but they were pretty sharp. and -- but they sure in hell weren't revolutionaries and i said so what's going on here? and it was at that point that i started to smell vietnam in the iran-contra scandal. and i began to think, why -- how could north and poindexter and mcfarland get involved in this way what? would drive them to do that? and my answer and -- i'm not going to be labor it right now
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but you can fine out if you reed rayed the nightingale song was vietnam. so i also -- everything that i've ever written has had a little bit of a vietnam edge to it and this book, "blue eyed boy" has a large vietnam quotient in it. >> thank you. >> well, i guess i was wounded -- i think it was seven weeks -- wounded twice, seven weeks every got to vietnam, so i didn't have any expectation of coming home let alone what i was going to do every returned. so, i guess writing was the furthest thing from my mind. however, on the other hand, when you just figure you're not going to make i anyway it makes life a little sweeter. it's like every day is walking -- what's the virginia -- high cotton.
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we say high soybeans in iowa. but anyway in some ways it changes your perspective on life forever. but when i returned, i still hadn't really thought anything about being a writer or what i would even be doing with my life, but i read all the books that mark had just enumerated and i was really taken by them and i thought that -- especially the fiction and the memoirs had -- the memoirs and the fiction really in many ways validated what i had been through, and i think for a lot of vietnam veterans because of how we came back from the war alone, and very often we were kind of alone and isolated in trying to readjust from the war back in the world, as we called back here. and even though i went to
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college, sometimes you would be dealing with these issues and think, well, what is wrong with me anyway? and i think that reading some of that literature helped me to understand that i wasn't the only one going through these type of things. issues that were directly related to my experience in vietnam. i think that from there i eventually decided that i wanted to write and i wanted to write stuff that had nothing to do with vietnam but as i -- and i write historical fiction. i have several novels out but if read back through them i realize everything has something to do with vietnam. and no way i can escape it. and i think that is just the imprint that the experience has left, number one and i think that has a lot to do with the sort of mentoring from reading
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the fiction back in the '70s and '80s phenomenon people like web and others. so... >> it's time for questions. we'd be happy to entertain them for people. if you would stand up and there's a boom mic, and -- yes. sir. >> first, i'd like to thank you all for your service. i think it's not said enough especially to you guys and all the veterans here as well. my question is, why danny, why is the significance -- what is the significance of vietnam? >> the question is why did you use the title viet-man for the title. >> i thought it reflect -- good
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question. come on up. >> i need to rehabilitate this guy. it's talking about corpsmen, guys that served with the marines and being not all that big a deal. they were the toughest guys. they were as tough as any marines and we loved them. this is self-deprecating bs is just -- [laughter] >> the bigger they are the bigger they are, you know what i mean? and really, bob timberg -- i had read his books years back never knowing i would ever meet this man. we broke bread last night. which was really wonderful so i've gotten to know him. had discussions on the telephone and all of that. so it's a great honor, and i'm glad to meet the other bob here too. just a great guy. and -- but i had read his stuff, and i admired him through the
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years, so it's really a real treat for me. you're welcome. really. i'm always humbled by guys like this. they always says those kinds of things and i tell you earlier that what corpsmen -- the place corpsmen have, that's right the place they always have always. the question was, what's the significance of viet-man. we all went to war. we all got transformed. we all came home. what did we bring back? we all came back with vietnam inside of us. inside our souls and in our hearts. therefore we became viet-men and therefore my book is viet-man and the book is about the one viet-man i knew and that's his store and i hope i bring the reader to a journey that is
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honest and simple and direct, no bravado no guilt, no angst, and this character doesn't know anything more than what he knew when he was there hairs no hindsight knowledge about what happened about the vietnam war. this is a character that really had no past. he was a high school kid. and he really didn't have that long of a past. and he certainly had no expectation of a future. so it was basically a viet-man with no past and no future who manages to survive and become this guy among these guys who really lucky enough to be able to go to school get their mfss a, work at the craft they loved to do and that's viet-man. thank you again, bob. >> in the back.

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