Skip to main content

tv   [untitled]    April 22, 2012 4:00pm-4:30pm EDT

4:00 pm
there's a picture, readers may find that kind of silly but it's cute to see that in the reader board in front of the classmates. the picture, you'll see him with no shoes, barefoot. that's probably how he went to school. he did plan his funeral when he passed away in 1994 of april. and i wanted to share with you something quite interesting from the funeral that he wanted his casket placed in front of the birthplace. and see how magnificent view that was. and that shows you how important the birthplace was to president nixon. >> today in this service we remember with gratitude his life, his accomplishments, and we give thanks to god for those things he did to make our world a better place. >> over 50,000 people attended his funeral to pay their last
4:01 pm
respects to him. as you see, reverend billy graham is giving the eulogy and for those of you who are very interested in history, and i know how magnificent this is. this is a wonderful opportunity for you to see the first time and the only time in the history of our country that five presidents and five first ladies attended president nixon's funeral. >> you can watch american artifact and other american history tv programs any time by visiting our website, c-span.org/history. in october of 1995, several vietnam war correspondents including peter arnett and bernard calb shared their experiences covering the war. this conference was hosted by the non-profit organization, no greater love. it's about an hour.
4:02 pm
>> my name's stanley. i served in world war ii as a gi then covered the algerian war in the middle east and so forth. and i got to vietnam, in my terms late, but early in other terms, in the middle of 1959. and the vietnam war was just a cloud on the horizon at that point the term vietcong had not been invented. actually the term vietcong was invented by the south vietnamese government. if you wanted to know. there were a few communist guerillas left over from the struggle against the french. they would occasionally pop up to stage quick raids and then disappear. we had an ambassador there, the american ambassador by the name of eldridge durbrow, a rollie pollie figure with a rather rotarian manner whose gawky
4:03 pm
wife insisted on wearing the vietnamese dress in which she looked rather ridiculous. at the time the only foreign reporters in saigon were a handful of stringers and visitors like myself from hong kong. evidently unaware that vietnam had been a nation for about 3,000 years, durbrow kept telling us that one of america's priorities was nation building which meant converting the vietnamese into being facsimile americans. he was always promoting schemes of one sort or another to achieve that objective. one which had been invented earlier by colonel ed landsdale, the cia agent, was to recruit guitarists to go around singing american style folk songs at bonfires, the idea being that if they sang
4:04 pm
american-style folk songs and roasted weenies and marshmallows, they would get converted to the american cause. when i expressed some skepticism about this project durbrow accused me of being a defeatist. well, one of his big projects -- one of the big projects he unveiled was during the presidential elections of november 1960. as he envisioned this idea, the usia would post the results of the elections as they came in in the windows of its offices, which as you may recall, were under the rex hotel on the ground floor. so the election day came and they set up these charts, these kind of electronic charts in the windows, and the crowds formed to watch the returns come in
4:05 pm
state by state. and so they did. you would see maine, 12,625 votes nixon, 4,650 for kennedy and so forth. and really the crowds were quite enthusiastic as they saw these returns coming in from pennsylvania, ohio, illinois and so forth. durbrow was absolutely elated by the response to his project. and he announced in a press conference -- press conference, i mean a minor little group of reporters that were there, that this was a great leap forward toward democracy in vietnam. i later interviewed one of the vietnamese in the crowd, and i told them that i was gratified that the vietnamese had been converted to american democracy
4:06 pm
by this observation of the electoral process. he said, what do you mean electoral process? we were just betting on the numbers. [ applause ] >> betting on the numbers. anyway. numbers. numbers. looking back, my first role is vietnam was so bloodthirsty compared with conflicts today in somalia, half a dozen or 20 americans died, it was a tragedy, but the war stopped for america. vietnam, i remember, with one action in 1965, a company of paratroopers, 100 paratroopers, 11 killed and 40 wounded. i did a story. but actually at that time the joint u.s. public affairs office was created.
4:07 pm
at that time sometimes an enemy, maybe. but only speaking professionally, not personally. but anyway, 11 killed, 40 wounded in a company, so i wrote a story saying heavy casualties. we weren't permitted to give specifics. but at the daily briefing by the american military, they said, you know, what are you talking about? they're light casualties. and the way the reasoning was, the briefing explained, for a company they're heavy, but this was part of a whole battalion, so they're light. so are you surprised that's why we started calling that briefing the 5:00 folies? so the disconnection. let's face it. we know the embassy reporters, the optimism we were hearing was not what we were seeing in the field. some were wearing -- some of my
4:08 pm
colleagues little buttons reading, i was ambushed at credibility gap. so during those middle years, a lot of correspondence. so we got a couple here to tell you about it. we have three here to tell you about it. joe galloway, burt quinn, and kurt volcker. would you guys come join us and tell us your stories? ♪ >> i'd like to welcome you all to the war correspondent sunrise service. there have been some tall talls
4:09 pm
told here tonight, and none more taller, i must say, than that remarkable statement just a few minutes ago by ike pappas that something happened and his hair stood on end. in the early summer of 1969 at the danang marine press center, a former body house, they didn't even bother to change the sheets, a young man arrived out of pittsburgh, i believe, for "the associated press" named george esper. i don't know what the bosses in new york told george on the way over, but he arrived a very serious, very nervous young man. we had all been there a few months and everybody gets to go on their first operation and hopefully you don't disgrace yourself or embarrass yourself in front of too many people. george's first operation was spectacular.
4:10 pm
it was, as i recall, about a two battalion, three battalion marine operation south of denang. we all formed up with the lead company, no george. this is good news for a upi guy. we set off down the paddies and over the dikes and through the hills and still no george two hours later. so this is looking better and better all the time. we came to one of those very broad rice paddies with a very thick treeline on the other side, and there was one of those unaccountable pauses. i always thought they were so the vc could get away. but we stopped, waiting for somebody to catch up. and the radios crackled, we were ordered off the main trail and up a hill. if there's a hill, the marines are going to climb it.
4:11 pm
we're 60, 70 meters away on the top this hill and everybody's smoking and joking and breaking out their c-rats and cooling out. i hear a marine say, who the hell is that and where the hell does he think he's going? we all careen our necks. already out in this paddy trying to catch up is george esper. he's now the point man on this whole operation and headed deep into enemy country by himself. and we all start screaming and whistling and shouting and george got his head down and heading right on out. disappears into the tree line. the marine captain says holy christ, mounts up the first platoon, they're saddling up, getting their gear. he says, go out there and get
4:12 pm
the body. about that time there's a disturbance on the other side and back out of the tree line comes george in a mighty leap looking over his shoulder, and behind him comes a very small, very ancient, very angry vietnamese lady with a very large hoe. she's making swings at him. george -- she's cussing very loud and saying rude things in vietnamese. george looks back and keeps beating feet. and happily, he outran her, because the rescue party by then was rolling around on top of the hill dying of laughter. george survived to survive ten more years of that war as a great correspondent and my good friend. thank you. [ applause ]
4:13 pm
>> good evening. i used to be bert quint. i'm supposed to do something now that i haven't wanted to do in about 20 years and that's talk about southeast asia. sometimes i would talk. that's maybe when i had too much to drink or maybe not enough to drink. rarely have i talked about vietnam, cambodia by design. besides that, carmela has asked that i tell a funny story. sure, there were plenty of funny stories, but they were always mixed with heartache, like when i went into cambodia in march or april of 1970 with a great combat cameraman named carl sorenson and a great stills photographer named dana stone who didn't come out with us. but there was a funny story with it. we had to lie about our professions. carl said he was an executive. dana acted like a hippy.
4:14 pm
but i told the truth. i said i was a fertilizer distributor. well, there was a lot of fertilizer flying around those parts, and a lot happened that i've tried not to think about over the years. but there were good moments, too. you all know those moments. as dickens said of another period of blood-letting, it was the best of times and the worst of times. some of us at cbs tried to make good on the post, you make the cronkite broadcaster in the day and anything you can at night. the best of times for me usually, oddly enough, were in the field. i think we all can recall those exhilarating moments in the midst of feeling scared and miserable when we felt intensely alive. we, too, were appalled by the terrible things that war makes man do to man, but we were in a
4:15 pm
unique position to see the brave and beautiful gestures that show there's something equal to man's inhumanity to man and that's man's humanity to man. what about the comradeship that we shared with others who went down those roads with us? it was us against the world and the world could include the vc, the u.s. army, the competition and our own head offices back in the unreal world. i still think of the relationship among those who lived together and come close to death together as being the ultimate intimacy. there's a loyalty that grows and flourishes among those in field that our bosses back, and what my old partner kurt volcker used to call the mahogany foxholes of new york. they might understand it, but they can't share it.
4:16 pm
loyalty like that of a tiny vietnamese cameraman i advised didn't have to go to kason with us. it was voluntary. the concept was alien to him. he said, you go kason, i go kason. okay, i said. but explain it to your sound man. he doesn't have to go. it's voluntary. i couldn't understand the words. but i understood the motioning of the sound man to his cameraman. it was obvious, you go kason, i go kason. tonight i'd like to pay homage to a man who enriched, and i use the word advisedly, the lives of a lot of cbs people in saigon and around the world. captain julian calendar, a man whose job was so secret, we never could spell it out in stories or expense accounts. he emerged in 1968 or thereabouts in our office of the caravele where we were discussing ways to avoid losing
4:17 pm
money on the expense account. how about charging for two days when you cross the international dateline? that led to talk of different calendars and eventually captain julian calendar was born. it was a great source. he could not be taken to a restaurant because he couldn't be seen in public. talk about spooks, huh? he had to be entertained lavishly in private quarters where no receipts were available. first, we had to get him on the board, right? when saigon bureau chief david miller went to tokyo, i cabled him, but not directly, through new york. advising him that we had entertained the captain in the usual fashion last night, and he was now en route to tokyo on another secret mission. i suggested miller treat him properly. captain calendar roamed the world's hot spots like that for three decades. the middle east, belfast, the
4:18 pm
gulf, even india and pakistan. the first years were lonely. he needed a companion. so mrs. greg calendar appeared. some of us sprung for the wedding in cairo, others subsidized the honeymoon in tel-a-viv. captain calendar became a colonel. he didn't go out on assignment too much anymore. preferred to stay in washington with his wife and two children whose birthdays we remembered with gifts. but there were those of us who recalled him fondly, especially as college tuition bills came due. in 1993 when cbs and i were going through a divorce, it seemed fitting that captain, now colonel calendar, be retired as well. for this final party, the end of his secret life he could appear in public.
4:19 pm
i took my friends and colleagues from the dying roam room bureau and gave the captain and his wife a splendid dinner. at least they were there in spirit and on the bill, of course. a legend going out as he had come in on the expense account. sadly, though, there's a new breed of news management. incidentally, i didn't see much of news management represented here in this day of homage to those who are sent out to get the stories. but that new breed, they may be terrific at something, but they don't have much of a feel for tradition. and legends aren't worth much more -- aren't worth much if you can't get a nine-second sound bite out of them. while we haven't had a lot of contact about anything else over the last two years, the bean counters at my old shop keep telling me they won't allow the
4:20 pm
calendar farewell and demanding the 600 bucks of company money i spent on it. i keep telling them to take a jump across the international dateline. the struggle between the folks in the field and the bottom-liners in the mahogany foxholes may be a losing one in the hearts of all of us whoever went down a nasty road and rewarded ourselves with a bottle of wine on the expense account, captain calendar lives. i drink tonight to him and to all of us. [ applause ] >> i'm kurt volcker. in vietnam i was a cbs camera man. if burt quint thinks i'm going
4:21 pm
to talk about tv correspondents now, i won't. i want to talk about the little people. i think, if you would ask any cameraman in vietnam who was the most important person he had, he would say it was my vietnamese sound man. and i was very lucky, i had a young guy, his friends, not i, called him boom boom ri. i know he was not an explosive expert. he was strong and he was careful. he was protective. and he saved my lives many times over. the only problem is he spoke as much english as i spoke vietnamese. i have to say one time we went to -- it was '68. we went to a place called fu bai that was a good place compared to dungaha and it was a good
4:22 pm
place compared to others. we were caught in a rocket barrage and you have to remember that a sound man is really the prisoner of a cameraman. because we were connected by an umbilical cord. and whatever i had to do, he had to do it whether he liked it or not, and in this case, i jumped into the deepest hole i could find as the rockets hit and the debris fell on us and i was clawing into the earth and digging into the earth with my fingernails. i forgot about being a cameraman. don't tell anybody. and boom boom ri took pictures of me and laughed and pointed at me. and said yeah, yeah. after the war was over, the interpreter i asked him, boom boom, do you have a problem? he said no, you have a problem because i went to an astrologer and he told me i'm going to be 82 years old when i die and i'm not going to die in combat.
4:23 pm
he said, i give you his address. he's very cheap, not much money. you go there. no problem. i didn't go there, and boom boom ri gave me a little good luck charm. boom boom ri when i left became cameraman knowing the astrologer told him he wouldn't die in combat was very brave and did great things. he was wounded. he was shot in the leg. and the sad thing is later on the astrologer was partly right. my friend boom boom ri died in an accident. as to the 82 years, i hope he passed them on to me when he gave me that good luck charm, but as my friend quint used to say in one of his more famous on cameras, you never know and only time will tell. thank you very much. >> so the most trusted man in america, walter cronkite, still
4:24 pm
the most trusted man in america, february 27th, 1968, he said it seems more certain than ever that the bloody experiment of vietnam is to end in stalemate. lyndon johnson was watching, he said if i've lost cronkite, i've lost the country. soon after that he decided to retire. richard nixon was not watching apparently because from '68 to '72 vietnam did enter a new phase. we well know it, the later years. nixon began to look for peace with honor. folks at home began to hear from wallace terry an don north and we're going to hear from them right now also. come up, please. and in addition, richard heil who will be speaking for "life" magazine's dick swanson who was going to come until last night but has been called away on an emergency.
4:25 pm
>> i'm wally terry from "time life." when you went into the field in vietnam, you wore fatigues so you looked like everyone else. plenty of us carried guns because we knew if our choppers came down, the enemy was not likely to yell to reporters, hey, would that black guy move over and we'll start to fire fight? back in saigon you wore a modified safari suit which we called a walking suit. it was usually tan in color. well, in time to combat the boredom, we all had our little pick dill lows about that. i began ordering them in different colors. i had a blue one, green, gray, brown, even white when i showed up at ambassador bunker's house in the white one, they told me to come around to the back because they thought i was a waiter.
4:26 pm
we had different styles. long sleeves, no pockets, nehru color and the like. one day i dressed up in my black suit which my roommate, john cantwell, an australian told me i looked damn close to wearing black pajamas. but you see, i wanted to be cool because i was going out to meet my wife whom i had convinced to come in to saigon, even though the city was under rocket attack. i also put on black elephant hide boots, black shoulder holster and black shades. i carried a matching black elephant hide briefcase which was, of course, empty, but impressive nonetheless. and as i approached the entrance to the air base, two gis intercepted me. hey, man, are you part of that new secret force we heard was coming in country to turn this sucker around, they asked me and without batting an eye, i
4:27 pm
replied yes, son, but i can't talk about that right now. the truly cool guys i met were the black soldiers that we called bloods. but i think they carried being cool a bit too far like the brothers who wore black shades in the jungle when i, for one, wanted to see like i had never seen before. other brother who did not wear a flak jacket because it might wrinkle his shirt. there were the bloods who wore black berets in celebration of black power instead of a helmet that might save their lives. aren't you afraid of being shot in the head, i asked them? communists ain't invented a bullet that can kill me, blood, he would reply. well, i said, what if they did last night and today they're passing them out? well, he answered, at least i'll be cool when i go out of here. but the coolest bloods were the ones i met in the ninth division. they were driving the company commander, a white guy from harrisburg, pennsylvania, nuts
4:28 pm
because they would sing the temptations whenever they got into a fire fight. ♪ i know you want to leave me they would sing. then they would begin to fire. bam, bam, bam, bam. ♪ but i refuse to let you go bam, bam, bam, bam. there was a white guy behind them shouting "sing faster, guys, sing faster." well, i first went to vietnam to pursue my theory that the armed forces was the best integrated institution in america. i quickly found out that uncle sam was, indeed, an equal opportunity employer on the front lines. my guide to this was an information officer of the 25th infantry division, a dynamic black officer who was about my own age, captain riley leroy pitts. we became immediate friends. he found black soldiers doing every imaginable job. i knew i wasn't going to get in the house when i got back to washington if i didn't find a woman to interview. he took me to the hospital where we were introduced to a nurse
4:29 pm
who was extremely light-skinned, very, very light. as a matter of fact, she looked white. but i figured leroy had been black a very long time and knew what he was doing. so i asked the nurse whether anybody had discriminated against her because of her race. well, she looked terribly confused. then i turned to leroy and i said, hey, brother, is she black or white? now that you mention it, man, i don't know. so i asked him to call up somebody who might know. he called up dottie harris, an honest to god black woman. you got to get that reporter from "time" out of here as fast as you can. that girl is white and plans to stay white for the rest of her life. well, leroy, brother, i said, how could you do this to me? he said well, wally, you proved your point. the army has gotten so integrated i can't tell the black people from the white people anymore.

144 Views

info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on