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tv   Yasutsune Hirashiki On the Frontlines of the Television War  CSPAN  December 9, 2017 5:40pm-6:48pm EST

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of history to contextualize them. because i think ultimately by contextualizing them, we understand them, and then we're able as a society, we're able to move forward. >> i want to thank richard and you for a splendid conversation. you now have an opportunity to purchase richard's book and to enjoy it yourself. thank you. thank you, richard. [applause] great. fun. well done. ♪ ♪ >> every weekend booktv offers programming focused onion fiction authors -- on nonfiction authors and books. watch any of our past programs
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on line at >> all right. my name is terry irving, and if you see i'm the second name here. the book we're talking about is "on the front lines of the television war" which is by tony hirashiki. i edited it from a mixture of japanese and english into -- [audio difficulty] but it's really not my book. so i'm going to to try to be reading tony's book most of the time. and over here we have one of people he worked with -- >> a friend of tony's. >> -- drew pearson, who if, be you can see this, that's tony and drew -- [laughter] and i said what's going on behind you? it's not a very interesting shot. he said there's 3,000 tanks coming over the hill behind them. [laughter] over here. he said, yeah, he said that was
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the one he thought this is what it's going to feel like to get shot. and we're going to talk about television cameramen, because television, this book is my revenge. because i don't think tv cameramen got a fair shake on what they did. i mean, they brought the television news to your, to your living rooms back in the day. all right. that's, hopefully, where i stop talking. i'm going to use, introduce this gentleman here. this is a part of the book that was written by ted koppel. tony would have been the perfect intelligence agent. he conveys the impression of a complete innocent, a man without gilens. tony makes people smile. his own smile is beatific and
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infectious. but it is his generosity of spirit that transcends language and culture. tony was simply one of the best television cameramen to cover the vietnam war. his soaring video often acquired at great personal risk gave wings to even the most mundane narration. for those of us who worked with him, he was also a source of gentleness and joy when both were in very short supply. so, tony, why don't you start with just giving us an idea why you wrote this book. >> my name is yasutsune hirashiki, but too long, so one day my correspondent name tony because very dangerous situation, they cannot keep their head down and say my name. so my correspondent made my name is tony.
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still many people call tony. >> i call him yasutsune-san. >> everybody who ever worked with him loves him. this is drew pearson, this is from the early spring of 1972. i teamed up with drew pearson, a longtime producer who had just been made a correspondent. after two months of basic training, he was sent to combat photography school. drew was one of a new breed of broadcasting journalists, those who learned their trade as they traveled the world. drew produced, filmed, reported and edited his own documentaries for distribution on public television. ° early '60s -- during the early '60s, drew covered stories as a radio reporter in africa and asia for nbc, abc and bbc. and he joined abc news as a producer, report reporter and occasionally cameraman with the abc scope documentary unit, a
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weekly 30-minute show that was anchor by howard k. smith. and i'm going to add, i'm going to add this for the specific question. drew would battle new york when there was resistance to his stories. he was soft spoken in general but had a core belief in justice and an independent mind. at one point he clashed with the legendary journalist john scally. in a letter drew recalled one of the programs about nation-building created a stir when the host refused to narrate it because he thought my script was too negative. bill sheehan stuck with me and told me to record the narration in saigon. why don't you talk about that, the difficulty editorially of working in the field. >> well, getting to know vietnam took a while for most of us. we arrived there not knowing anything really about this country, not knowing its
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language or its history and culture, and imagine being blind folded and flying halfway around the world and arriving in a place where you understand nothing, you can't read anything, the food is entirely different, and you're expected to try to figure out what to say to an american audience that explains this place to the them. to them. it's very hard, but it's an exciting channel. it's something that don north also did sitting here in that chair. but i was, i was very perplexed, i was -- i couldn't understand when i first got there what was going on because what i had been reading and what i was told was happening didn't match what i was seeing in the country. and so i started to read when i
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could, and i started to look at situations differently when i was out in the countryside or traveling around. and by the time that i'd worked on this particular program, i had been in vietnam for several years already. and so i knew quite a bit about it. i hadn't studied vietnamese yet because i thought, as most spot journalists at the time, you get there, you're going to be sent somewhere else x there's no point in trying to learn the language here because you'll be in bangladesh or afghanistan next week. but i stayed there. so when i began this half hour series, i i wanted to do
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anything except the military, the ground war because without having a state that was viable enough to live on after the americans left, there wouldn't be any point to all this fighting and all these victories. so i proposed doing a program about the pacification program in the southern delta province. and when i finished the program, it was supposed to be a priority promise and a place that the americans were very proud of. i realized that it wasn't working out way the americans thought. and this is, that is the story for us, for tony, for me, for don and all the journalists working in south vietnam. we were up against trying to
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tell the truth in a very difficult and complex situation in which the american military, the american embassy was saying one thing, and we were seeing and saying other things. and so the new york office tends to be suspicious of us. and certainly, washington people are suspicious of us because they think we're just negative because we're young and impetuous. but i realized after having spent a month in this province that if it couldn't succeed in this particular place, it couldn't succeed anywhere. so that was -- abc in new york couldn't, they just could not accept that. but this particular province was, didn't have any enemy troops there because it was a religious place that had become
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quite anti-communist. so john scally just said look, drew the, this is ridiculous, i'm not going to do this program for you. but identify always been grateful -- i've always been grateful for bill sheehan who was the vice president of abc news then saying, drew, narrate this program, host it for us, we're going to put it on. you're our person there. and so it was done. it was one of the few programs that i was able to do that was really truthful of about the complexity. one example. the vietnamese army and civilian governors in the province were taking american money and using it to build very large, expensive villas that they were then renting backing to the americans. [laughter] so this money that had been sent to the province to use for
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agricultural development or other kinds of development that would benefit everybody was being siphoned off to build expensive houses for americans to rent. >> i was going to move to if you look at these pictures around you, or a good number of them -- these two, anyway -- are from an event called, a tiny little event, but the soldiers who were there called it the battle of -- [inaudible] somebody else we have with us is robert kappa, photographer of the year in '75. >> [inaudible] >> upi bureau chief in saigon and "time" magazine's white house reporter for about a hundred years, derek allstead. and he wrote a review. i just want to sort of -- this is to give you an idea what it's like to be a photographer, or a cameraman. a few words are in order about the dangers film cameramen
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faced. a still photographer can snap off a memorable image in about 1-250th of a second. film cameramen work not in single moments, but in sequences. to complete a shot, it is necessary to hold the camera steady for a minimum of ten seconds. that is ten seconds standing stock still while bullets and shells whiz by. even the best and bravest soldiers would consider such action bordering online city. and then i'm going to -- on lewin city. and then this is tony's corruption of mother's day hill. within minutes, shells began to come over our heads and slam deep into the jungle. they made a loud whizzing sound followed by an enormous bang that shook the ground like an earthquake. with only a small number of men, the captain was calling in artillery fire to drive back the enemy. it's a dangerous tactic because
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it depends on everything going precisely as planned. there was an enormous noise, and i thought i'd been struck by lightning. my eardrums had burst because at first i couldn't hear anything. slowly, i could hear voices screaming and moaning. i was covered by branches and leaves, and everything around me was lost in a cloud of -- [audio difficulty] later we were told that a shell had come in short, hit a tree and impacted right where the captain had been talking on his radio. medic, medic, oh, my leg. i was crazily filming everything just operating on unthinking reflex. after a few minutes, my soundman, long, tap on my shoulder and yelled, tony, stop filming. let's stop and help. i looked over at the correspondent, ken gail s and he nodded in agreement. i put my camera on the ground, and we moved to do what we could for the wounded soldiers. we helped to move the injured to where the ground was lower, and soldiers would say give me
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water, give me a cigarette. we weren't doctors or even medics, but i realized that wounded soldiers were like kids, they just wanted someone to stay beside them, talk to them, care about this them. we could do that. talk about what it's like to be shooting in combat like that. >> this, my book is about all the stories, 50 years ago, so if you looking for history from my book, maybe your people disappointed. because more impression of me, more treating as a cameraman end up, tend to stop camera or continue to shoot camera.
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always -- [inaudible] but this moment was my partner said stop shooting, we help. so i agreed. so when you have a camera, sometimes we forget as a human being. but sometimes wake up and become a human being. this moment is very difficult. even robert kappa -- >> robert kappa, everybody's -- >> [inaudible] day by day i experienced and i learned. >> let me ask you about, we don't have the picture, but we have a picture of a soldier walking toward the camera, and he's got bandages all around his head, his whole jaw is bright red with blood. >> yeah. >> tell us about what happened
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there. >> yeah. he was injured in jaw, so he couldn't speak well. but when we took care, he start interested in my camera, small camera. and this is, i use that just in case my big sound camera was broken. so he point out and want to see this camera. i don't know why, but he said this camera, his father make -- this is factory in chicago. so his father was making this camera. so i said this camera is very good. the wounded soldier is very happy. i think that time i thought, oh, he miss father, you know?
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he was wounded, can in the speak well, but -- cannot speak well, but he, how to say, thinking of father. so this is a brave soldier. but that association, think of father. those episode, i wrote this book because if you look military history, sometimes wrote wrong. but they -- and even captain's name i may forget. [laughter] >> we got told that really quick by guy who was still alive. >> -- correspondent or soldiers, my partner, all i have episode
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book how we covered the war. so this is story a little bit sentimental. >> i add something? >> oh, yeah. >> i just want to remind all the young people here that tony was shooting with a film camera, 16-millimeter. it was black and white or color. when did it go to color? 1964? >> '68. >> in the beginning, we were shooting black and white. but very soon the tv network news went from 15 minutes, and if you can imagine it -- >> that's 15 minutes in a day. >> a 15-minute newscast, less commercials gives you about 10 minutes of news. [laughter] they skimped with a half an hour and 20 minutes of news. they should have gone to an hour, but they haven't. so he's using this new so-called
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new technology, and it's a large -- >> if you can imagine, it's a 30-pound camera. >> you can see it -- [inaudible conversations] >> it's a 30-pound camera -- >> it's so heavy. >> it's just a huge target. [laughter] >> on his shoulder and a beam coming down the side just to support the thing. and it's not like one of your little -- [laughter] >> and it, those are 400-foot rolls that last ten minutes, isn't that right? they last ten minutes, so when your ten minutes is up, you've got to lay the camera down on the ground and undo the, you've got to put a black bag over the magazines. and it's hot as hell. and you've got to put the magazine in the black bag without seeing, just by touch take the film out and put it in the and seal it -- the can and
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seal it and then reload the magazine. all this in the middle of whatever chaos is going on around you. it's difficult. >> this is a picture, i'm going to move a little bit on. this is a picture of drew, this guy here, and tony standing -- and remember in the beginning i said the question is what's going on behind them. and the, from the book what you can't see behind abc news correspondent drew pearson is the battle where thousands of north vietnamese soldiers and tanks are driving toward saigon during the easter offensive of 1972. see, he's looking at me. probably got it wrong. pearson recorded the moment in an e-mail. there was small arms fire around our heads, we could hear the rounds going through the air, doing their whoosh past it. it was recoilless rifle fire too. i remember thinking, so this is how it is just before you get killed of. [laughter]
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and drew had been putting in stories that there was going to be another attack. the vietnamese, having vietnamese fight their own war was not working, and the americans were all happy and pulling their people out. ..
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well, of course, i knew what was happening better than somebody in new york. and that's always the problem. >> those in new york never felt that way. >> the new york people, they have well we want this from soviet soviet -- we want what you gave us but that's the classic situation. the reporters in the field need to be trusted and it's hard for
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the new york offices to do that. they -- they're running commercial operation they don't want to offend anybody. they don't want to be too controversial. they don't want to offend the white house. so they're trying to assemble a news program in -- in a few hours in the afternoon, and put this on the air. informing people as much as they think they can with what they've gotten without causing offense. it's always tony and i and all of the correspondents he had worked with -- we believe in what we're doing because there's something sacred about must be informative to americans it's theoretically what had keeps the country knowing something about what its
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nation is doing many in various parts of the world. but it is hard to do well. you're trying to interpret events in a country half way around the world and give those events significance that is meaningful and it was especially difficult in soviet because of all of the complexities that complexities of -- the government and the war itself. the motivation of the annoyed troopses. let me just say one thing, tony is the only person among the hundreds who were in soviet doing all of this tv stuff who bothered to sit down and try to put it altogether. and no one else has, has done that. his first books there were two
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volumes in japanese published in japan an they got a literary prize in japan to the best young writer he was 65 which surprised all tony's colleague because tony like to save himself i speak no known language but -- let me go to tony, one of the things which also said in the intro -- about that you said that this is a very important book for the americans to read because we tend to have national inclination to the notion that only things that we personally cover experience exist. that's how tomb o of us cover the vietnam war. the vietnam needs becoming almost incidental of the battles waged by our troops and demonstration on our college campuses. the diplomats in politicians. tony wases asian as river of the
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war and its victims capable of doing both with an octavety and compassion tay gave equal value and i wanted to read something i guess that affected me this is weaving sigon the last day i went back to my room as a continental to imablght a small bag to carry, and put everything else in suitcase left it with the captain, to hold until i came back which could have been about 30 years right. along with a good tip i paid my bill i was walking out when one of the room boys asked are you leaving too? i said i'll be back soon. but eflt guilty. i wases running away abandoning people i had come to know in a country that i really loved. i could escape and others couldn't. as they left the abc office at the hotel one of the drivers waited outside said to me what are you doingsome i realized that these were old friends guy who is played chess and usually lose money to. not always you get better right they like me and i liked them
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they always treated me as one of them hey tony are you leaving too o somebody shouted very loudly. i sense the frustration in his voice see you soon i said. are you sure said another driver. the fact was that i couldn't look them in the eyes. maybe they thought this wases asian i wouldn't have run away like the americans. you talk about that, that being -- being asian with asian war. >> a japanese citizen they call the country national a lot of young -- but tell them how i felt like betrayed but -- but my duty you know they were
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throw -- >> gave them assignments in cover. of the people, so -- i went, but that moment i kept nine years of new to politicians but i walk with them but distance i had. but last moment i became -- losing sight. so then -- them and then this is my end of the world, i said like told me
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he was very disciplined the way they were going. didn't want to come back to states. but he -- he's american so he goes back and then -- he was i'm actually goes to truth here that -- while tony wases working up many the tree which is the top where fighting was in 72 i think. saigon i didn't have a chance to ask him why. i wish he stayed much longer to learn more from him decades later he reeled me why he left as height of a victory as tv correspondent during these days, civil -- this is pearson, now mrs. pearson i don't know if she still is. but she is was upset every morning when i left our
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apartment on two dose street at dawn cry because she thought i wouldn't come back. that was the reason i wrote to nick asking to be readesigned refused so they fired him. and he left tony -- chosen to leave her love just as his professional career and reputation will be reaching its high point he left me a short memo to read when i got back from the frontline tony leaving today wish you the best. and hearing about your last film story in the tree would like to hear about it from you see you someplace, some time in the future thanks for your time professional companionship last few monthses and friendship too. hope we can work together again and like the way you work best true. >> i wasn't a very good news person because i -- i didn't like trying to do
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stories that were essentially here they come. there they go. you're in an asian country which has its own history and culture for a long time for thousands of years and we americanss rife there thinking that we can solve their problems for them. i remember, i remember the young generals who came in and 1965 chatting about how things were going to go now that there were american ground troops here. they said to me this will be over in six months and they had literally no idea about the motivation of the side of all of this. no notion of the difficulty of the terrain. and they just felt that
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arrogance of americans coming in with their tremendously sophisticated machinery. they were going to be kill enough of them to -- to win. well, so i always -- my aim in this profession have been always to work on documentary that's what i've done mostly. but this particular time in 1972, i wanted to go back to do a documentary but abc wouldn't let he. [laughter] because it was an election year. and they said no -- nixon -- if you do one they'll ask for equal time and we'll have to put an hour on from nixon's perspective and we don't wanted to do that so you can go back anchor spoant if yowpght to so that was, if you want to think about fake news so i had --
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i felt i had to do that i wasn't particularlied go at spot news and it took me a few months to figure out some of the ways of getting done reasonably well. i adapted. but my, my fiancé at the time was a young woman i had met in germany when you was on a fellowship the year before, and she never had had been to vietnam an i was reluctant to go back in the midst of war with someone i loved because that's really hard. i have tremendous admiration for american ground troops who our officers who went there with wise and children. so many of those wives and children left as widows and orphans over the years of the
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war. i could leave, and so upset in the morning because she knew these battles were fairly serious that were going on and would hear some of the radio reports that we did and they sound -- they sound pretty bad with all of the explosions and a the -- [laughter] noise of war and she would just break down in tears and it was -- i just couldn't, i couldn't do that to her anymore so i decided to leave. and i okay i'll open it up for questions buts i was just going to read the last part of tony's part. we had no choice to shutdown at airport so we joined the last flight out -- i finally took the camera off my shoulder i had been shooting steadily from time i left the hotel only stopping to change
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film. i realized i was crying and that had why it was so hard to focus any shot. i cried quietly it was just lots of tears like a little kid who was beaten. now i was looking at a little vietnamese child i tried to smile. but i couldn't stop the tears. finally, this was my war. as we flew i grew silently with with every swear word i knew and cry. talk about that. >> open it up to questions. please, please, please -- well let me point out, i mean, conversation of the fake news you don't know about fake news everything that administration said about vietnam was fake news. [laughter] every word. it was sort of amazing, and i also have left parts out here because they're hard to get into. tony lost some of his absolutely
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best friends. the japanese lost more journalist skill than any other third country nationality not american of the soviet, and at the end right at the end in a shot that he shoots that he was about to go on or o not to go on -- his best friend who i sort of laid over but terry crews was amazing guy. i mean when i was working on this book, i couple of times i wanted to go talk to him and he's so real and -- another went across a -- field ands there was english there at the end useless. no meaning to it and they both, you know, terry was about to -- get married in hong kong when he went on this last --
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saigon ordered him not to go and he went anyway. there's a kind of -- empties that you feel when you get there. you get be in the rhythm of going out of and being in the midst was urgency of these military engagements and trying to communicate them. and it is hard to break it off. and tony has reported here i'll let you tell it. >> describe that last -- is that okay? >> yeah. sometimes -- why are you -- want to go back to vietnam? we don't understand why so -- my friends always like how to save the middle --
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if we look -- you'll become stone. someday you have time to kill. but like my friend -- until next one was a wedding but he said, one more. already it is here. but he took one more step and then -- worried that i think -- >> it would be god to hear you talk about -- your state of mind and talk about u the adrenaline rush and talk about how you -- react that might be different
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than others might react in a situation like that. over the helicopter crash -- and was working i believe for i'm not sure -- and i asked what are you doing he was the one -- ap -- [inaudible conversations] a lost operation they called it.
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and then -- [inaudible conversations] four great cameraman killed. but before that he was based in tokyo bureau are because of a -- i wanted him to have a good job and i met -- camera like where are you going? he said i'm going to cover a meeting. i said are you happy? he said this is -- i enjoy tokyo, but six months later we saw each other saigon
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fleet and he wanted to come back tokyo was good but peaceful. >> to come back. he's -- >> said this was war. addiction and you come back short many times. yep. sometimes a story ab -- >> it is for me. i decided in 1966 because by then i had been in vietnam in '63, '64 '65 and i said to myself you've been on one military option you've been on them all. and i didn't think at that time thatmen forces were going to make any difference in the outcome of the war.
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actually i thought the war was lost in '64 it was lost by the vietnamese once in 1964. so for me i kept going back, and poem did ask me like what are you going back -- i felt a journalistic obligation to go back because i knew something about this place by then. and i wases determined to try to master the -- medium i used to say to myself, i ought to be smart enough to be able to get some of this across to the states so i september going back to keep trying to do better, explain better to show better. on a basic level, did you enjoy the experience? >> yep. i think --
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this you know -- looking back, i was appreciate i got brilliance because of the beginning i went just high school -- [inaudible conversations] went to the local station and i got to be robot, but when you i went to there, i was a lot of thing because of the jungle or a hot -- [inaudible conversations]
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like a classroom or school and that teacher is soldiers, but a photographer. when i was watching -- [inaudible conversations] when they were shooting it was amazing he shoot, e shoot. look like invitation to start. but i later come back -- experiences i got in vietnam, and then after war because of the experience. >> tony continues in vietnam and did 30 more years for abc and every other war that happens.
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>> not only me. but the young came, and then -- if we're lucky -- tick a long time to be well reporters. so at the same time they took risks because be when you cannot say --
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>> start off with what you need to become very good. at the same time it is here in the same day and in soviet for a long time speacialg for abc news and he and tony also worked together. and he -- >> had is -- come on dawn. you talk about enjoying the work through and i certainly can identify with that. i really did enjoy the job i thought it was an important job to do. a tremendous challenge. there was a lot of adrenaline pumping there, and i at least for the first six months for me very much so. then one day, i was down on an operation i was freelancing still at this time.
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it was down in the place called in the middle of the delta, and a big operation with the vietnamese airborne was going, about to go on. >> they're taping this so maybe you should just turn your chair a little bit so they can see your face. make him start to -- show up in next couple. do this again in november. but i went on the operation with the -- [inaudible conversations] and early that morning in about 6 a.m. in the cafeteria, i had break fast with two american pilots who were flying a plane i think it was a mohawk that day. and we had a great breakfast and had a great report there. we were with all about the same age but 23, 24, and we all said
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hey, after this operation is over o, we'll meet back in the bar, and i'll buy you guys a drink. [laughter] so the operation went off and i shot a lot of pictures mostly shooting stills in those days. and i saw my friends several times in their -- it was a very low level reconnaissance and they got hit by ground fire, and ejected but it was so low that their shoots never opened. and the next thing the medic were bringing their bodies into the base and a low level crash like that just completely destroys a body. i had never seen anything like that it a human body.
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and it shook me very badly. i couldn't go out o in the field again for weeks and weeks. i had to just kind of -- go around saigon cover the 5:00 folly wept out a couple of times on -- aircraft carriers in the gulf but i couldn't bring myself to go out and cover action or balings or get shot at and i often thought if i had been working for abc news at that time and said thanks but i'm the not going out there this week. [laughter] i would have inspired. would have been with them. so yeah, it concern it's all very relative and i remember the last words that our friend terry ku said as he went off everyone saying no terry you don't need to go you're leaving for saigon
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in an hour, don't go. and terry's last words i believe, were something like don't worry it's all fake, boys -- [laughter] good luck. we'll see. >> let me ask you -- wrap it up with with one question because this is something that comes up all of the time that's a immediate lost to vietnam but i want to ask starting with you, and then sort of now we have a group here of really great journalists. but did you slant the coverage -- were you trying to go against the america? >> i -- according to my experience, with my correspondents nobody -- we're very strict order from new york no bias, no leaning, no
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advertising -- no exaggeration. no we have to shoot. so we broadcast, so this is is a very strict -- so always we soldiers always this -- we went and shot there as it is. so how people judge is only from television and in the living room and people. but we never -- this is trust. but i think it's the same way. you don't have too much, your
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idea for them to accept documentaryies. >> the challenge for correspondents working with someone like tony is to try to take advantage of good filming, that's the first thing you have to have is good picture, and tony was uniquely able to do that because of his own talents and sensibilities. but then as a correspondent you have to figure out what to say. and you know what is the importance of this moment? what does it matter that the american troops are here or over
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there? what does it matter that the vietnamese are defending this particular district place? it's -- there are a lot of issues that coming up for you as a correspondent and tonny and i would be at the same place sometimes for three days we would go, we would commute from saigon that would get up before dawn and go down these dark roads homing that nothing would blow up. and you get to the frontline where there's a soviet artillery position, and so you talk to them try to figure out what's going on, and then you move out from there into -- into the battle zone, and so i remember and tony was cursing me once. i came -- we would been out into this battle zone, and we knew we had
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enough footage tony had enough footage. but what was i going to say? there were people shooting each other for the fourth day in a row. what's the significance of this particular moment this particular battle? it was very significant but when you're in the midst of things and ewe don't know all of the details you don't know the buildup. you don't know that the north vietnamese built a pipeline over in cambodia to fuel trucks and tanks or that are 40 or 50 miles not guilty of saigon. and i did know history then, and so i could bring in some aspect of history and i tried hard to do that. but you were sometime it is took me a little too long to do that. tony he's got to get to the airport. he's got to it apparently a long drive ahead of him to get this on an airplane to go to hong kong or tokyo or i think the
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best one was you dawn, when they had the invaded saigon and general uprising in '67 -- everyone has heard of it and one of the big things that happened was that they broke through into the u.s. embassy compounds. and it sort of like shattered everybody's belief. and you went out and i believe -- you thought that the cameraman had the extra film in the cameraman thought you had extra film and they're out there and they have one role. 11 minutes. and so they shot only exactly what they had to shoot but because of that when it got to tokyo everybody else was editing their footage and they missed the famous and only he's got on because it was just shooting straight through. but that had to be tough. but i mean again you too -- you think you lost a war. yeem are you thinking media lost of war?
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>> no, it's -- that's a good answer. [laughter] i mean, obviously, that's preposterous notion and it -- if the journal has been more sophisticated maybe it would have shortened the war but the issues at what kind of war it was are things that are interesting to know as much as possible about and we've just many of us have seen that how many people have watched some of that series. and have any of you been to vietnam by any chance? >> these kids, their parents were before this war. i know -- [inaudible] most of you really is an a important war for the united states, it was -- it was crucial into the way that, i mean, the army, military change political went to an all -- i mean, have been a draft was the end of sort of the world war ii draft mirlg and went to all
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volunteer military total different, and the way they did it and it was last war that they could sort of hop on a helicopter and go to a battle zone to a front yiement there was not that much -- not that much of what they went and did not that true anymore. which i urge all of you to -- and that you all to reach out to miss book because he really did try and get everything in. all the way from he was in new york with the executives trying to decide he was with, you know, the correspondents out in the field and you describe what the correspondents told them and how it worked plus he also talked about the vietnamese you know where the cambodian but people that he met. he's as you said able to be misunderstood in every language. but that also means equally able to be the misunderstood.
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>> i think the value of tony's book is that it, it documents a particular period of history when american tv was trying to show what had this war was like. it was done imperfectly but tony's book describes the various correspondents and other cameramen in their daily job of attempting to portray this very complex and very dangerous situation. and it's -- that's for that reason it's a unique sequence of stories that, that we were there to appreciate. but i think, i think it's done in a manner that people who are
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young and for whom this vietnam war is ancient history now can also appreciate because we, we go on. america goes on. from vietnam, it goes, it goes on in the couple of little wars leak panama and granada but then some huge war in iraq it was, you know -- when i realized that bush was going to send ground troops to iraq i thought this was preposterous it can't do that because -- there's another element in all of this that's that people don't mention usually. and that's incompetence. there's a lot of incompetence, i mean, you're sometimes with us although we like to think not. >> a lot of incompetence but always -- a lot of incompetence in the merle trying to figure out what to do in the american foreign
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service, in aid agencies you know people come, they serve for a short period of time and they most of on they get to know a little bit about one particular place but then they're shufted to another position and so there's no institutional memory on part of americans to figure out how to apply a better solution. you look at iraq i'm sorry -- usually but you look at iraq where they did the war. they concurred second war and then they didn't do anything else. i mean, it's the same thing you're talking about about pacification. pacification meant, you know, making it so they didn't want to be communist. [laughter] but the americans this in iraq -- failed again they didn't do any of it. inconsequently, they really lost the war that they won. i mean -- questions, questions --
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>> i have a comment. i feel compelled to thank you all for your service for speaking truth to power. you where may have shortened the war. i think you tried. >> yijt try to shorten the war but i just tried to do the best i could to portray it. >> i know. but you're counterrering also -- what we're hearing. but other thing is that what -- out of 50 years later and i was blown away by this that they've gotten in the tape or doing it another university of virginia, just four years ago tapes show that richard nixon made a deal with the south vietnamese in '68 to blow the peace tacks. johnson had peace talks done. they -- and he went to vietnam basically
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said i'll give you a better deal and they walked out before the '68 election so in many ways the 22,000 american soldier who is died after january '69, died for one man's political ambition. i mean, that's a thing about you were talking about the boil line you look at it from 50 years back and it's like my god what -- what was happening. >> really an interesting account first person account of the fall of saigon. it's online at digital, and it's called white christmas. and it's a minute by minute account of the last 30 days. of our involvement in vietnam. >> the white christmas -- >> because the military had
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decided that the signal to the americans that the withdrawal was going on that they had to get out it was play white christmas on armed forces radio. >> in the middle of september. >> so it was, you know -- paper. yeah. >> so they went to vietnamese -- >> i want to also thank you guys for your service. you're out there getting, you know, shot at and you never got any medals. >> well i'll thank you. >> if any of you are going to pursue any southeast asian history, or want to ask me questions about this later, you can just e-mail me at pearson pearson.drew at
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pearson.drew i can suggest other books if people taking and do they teach vietnam history course here? >> you guys are documentary, right? >> yeah it's trying to leave it that way. >> i can -- i also have documentaries as getting for artist trying to get money. >> getting your story across. >> i can send anybody who is interested in documentaries a really interesting one that was made in 1964 by nbc by some very talented people at -- at nbc that title of the program is very apt, i think, it was called mad war. and it's -- it's i can sending you a link to i have that digitized on a website that i can sending you a link to it.
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it's an interesting program to it see because it's done in 1964. and i can sending you some links to some other vietnam material and -- i -- i be glad to help and probably done and -- >> correspondent on that story. >> monthly -- if you actually watch and this is -- there was a picture of me -- >> with time. okay, the thing i -- well nevermind. thank you all for coming. and please buy the book and -- here to sign it and -- [applause] thank you.
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you're watching booktv on c-span2 television for serious readers first up jared report on his own kidnapping released by the taliban in 2008. then at 8 julie shares her experiences growing up by racial in america. at 9:15 p.m. world war ii veteran yellen has bombing over in summer of 1945. then on booktv's afterwards at 10, gold star father shares thoughts and offers thoughts on what it means to be an american interviewed by california
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representative jimmy and wrap up our prime time programming at 11 with stephen ross history professor at the university of southern california. he describes the infiltration and fascist groups in los angeles during leadup to world war ii. that all happens tonight, on c-span2's booktv 48 hours of nonfiction authors and books. every weekend television for serious readers. and now here's author van dyke on political kidnappings including his own in 2008.


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