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tv   Reel America  CSPAN  November 28, 2015 10:00pm-10:31pm EST

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cases, the >> c-span presents landmark cases, a book which supports the supreme court decisions. including marbury is is madison, brown versus the board of education, aranda races the board of arizona and rove versus wade. it features introductions, highlights and the impact of each case. written by tony morrow and published in cooperation with cq press. it's available for $8.95 plus shipping. >> beginning october 19, 1965 and continuing for five weeks, this battle was in the words of right, theter conk
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biggest costliest and most significant yet fought in vietnam. up next on real america, a cbs news special report on the broadcastginally november 30, 1965. >> three months ago, the first fromry division set out charleston. notd, sure of themselves tested in battle. there are destined for the high country of central vietnam. last week, some of them came home. the price ofere
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victory in the battle of yard rang valley. cbs news correspondent morley safer was there. on the night of october 19, 11:00 p.m., the first mortar rounds fell. at the beginning it was simply another attack by a few americans and 350 strikers. but then command decisions were made that turned the battle into the campaign for not only the highlands, but perhaps all of vietnam. >> the battle of ia drang valley. a cbs news special report by morley safer and the team in vietnam with a special introduction by walter cronkite. >> good evening.
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six days ago, the people of america were jolted by an announcement. a single week that exceeded the average weekly week of dead and wounded in the korean war. 240 americans killed, 470 wounded. the american public had not known until then, but they knew now. the united states is indeed at war against a formidable enemy. valley.le of ia drang costliest, and most significant fought by american troops in vietnam. safer's coverage over the past year. new standardid a for war reporting in the age of television. the weeks that followed have
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emphasized one single point about our commitment that has been re-emphasized in the weeks, months and years to come. that we are at war not only with south vietnam, but north vietnam and its strong army. ahead light even higher casualties, a point that every g.i. and general is acutely aware of. a point that many feel has not been fully grasped at home. we will not try to get the order of battle. there was none. we will try to give them move and feel of those farm -- five weeks. pleime.tarted at routine attack on this triangle shaped cap.
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this was a new kind of attack by a new kind of army. this was a full scale sustained atolls by regulars, aimed at wiping pleime off the map. this is what stopped than doing it. american air power. as they attacked our fighter-bombers roared in with rockets, firebombs and guns blazing. heavieste concentration of tactical air power ever unleashed in the vietnam war. nearly 10 bombing missions in our round-the-clock. the united states determined it would not. despite mounting losses, the north the these troops continued to storm the camp perimeter.
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we were shooting them straight off the wire, said one pilot. they were everywhere, like ants. defender, there was no let up. for seven days they were pounded by heavy mortar fire and raked by machine guns. there was no sleep, rest or water. helicopters were hit as they tried to land with supplies. 10 helicopters and four other planes were downed by heavy antiaircraft fire. help was on its way. after three days, the unit was airlifted in. and 25 miles away, a south the enemy's column set out by road. along that road the viet cong were waiting. five miles from pleime, the
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relief all was ambushed. the south vietnamese with american advisers fought back and inflicted heavy casualties. achieved vietnamese one objective, they held up the relief force for more than 24 hours. finally, after seven days, the relief force got through. the siege of pleime was broken. it had been a costly lesson. at least 500 of the crack infantryman killed and hundreds put out of action. allied casualties were like but pleime had lessons for us, too. advisers waserican a major charles of atlanta, georgia. >> what kind of fighters are the viet cong that you met here? >> i would give anything to have
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200 of them under my command. they are the finest i have ever seen. >> the viet cong? >> that's right. they are dedicated and good soldiers. >> what about the resistance your own men put up? the americans and your troops? >> the u.s. here did an outstanding job. in my opinion, they are a hell of a lot better than the vc and that is why we survived. i don't want to make any comment on the vietnamese in the camp. >> for the u.s. first air cavalry division the battle was just beginning. point was the jumping off for a new kind of operation against a new kind of enemy. the original mission was to secure the immediate area around pleime. the first few operations met only light resistance.
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they moved further west toward the cambodian border looking toward the enemy and a supply depot. they found them here. by november 1, the new war had begun. statesbetween the united regular army and paonvn. i spoke to major richard knowles. thise thing that's new is too type concept where we leap into an area and finish it to the best of our ability than jump owner -- jump over and latch onto another area and chew him up. you could not get into this area on the ground. you had to have helicopters to support what we have been doing. >> i am thinking of the intent of the mission. it's always been trying to gain ground. >> the basic mission of any military force is to destroy the enemy or his will to fight.
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it has been our tradition since we were tied to the ground to translate that into terms of ground objectives, but that was never the real purpose. can free ourselves of those ground considerations and go more directly for the enemy. >> the first brigade moved out. the whole principle is mobility. when you run out of targets, you change command posts and hit the enemy from front to back. november 1, the heelys cut the enemy out in the open. the gun swooped down and the airport rifleman moved out. the tactic is simple, find them, fix them, and kill them. in the first battle, 50 north vietnamese dead, 21 prisoners, friendly casualties zero.
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the elzie is the thing, a landing zone. in the highlands a landing zone is any patch of ground big enough to land a helicopter. if there isn't a handy one then you make one. enemy casualties mounting, 300 dead and 115 prisoners. friendly casualties described as light. our weapon was mobility. mobile command posts. artillery. the cavalry was changing. then, just inside the cambodian border the communist troops turned. >> i was monitoring the radio and you called twice. >> 33, i can see you.
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you have to get up an awful long way and that could get a lot killed. >> with their backs to their writeupply depot, three gimp -- regiments of north vietnamese regulars were waiting behind fortified bunkers. for four hours they poured mortar rounds into the landing zone. for the first time in the vietnam war, american unit casualties were described as moderate. most of the casualties were taken at night. came inhelicopters blackness under fire. captain guy kinsey was one of the pilots. without anything to go buy it
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almost landed on a couple of casualties and they were fairly close. automaticng a lot of weapon fire in the two i carried in to help evacuated right away and started returning fire. there was a lot of fire around there. i was scared and so was the rest of my crew. >> by donna the 15th it was clear the enemy had been hurt badly but we had paid dearly. it was almost like looking at old newsreels of the korea and the pacific war. the same faces, shattered landscape and agony. >> it was pretty bad. we kind of walked right into an ambush. we hit the ground trying to look around for trees there was elephant grass about three feet high.
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and over that snipers could pick you up really easily and let you have it. >> doesn't frighten you now to think about it? >> yes it does. it's pretty bad to listen to your friends crying out for help not being able to do a thing. couldn't do anything. we were all pin down. >> are you writing home about it now? >> yes i'm writing my father now. i'm trying to give him the facts of what happened. not much else i can do. it is over with. >> the you think you'll ever be able to forget it? >> no i won't. base to the hills the cavalry shifted and probes calling on 400 helicopters to keep the enemy off balance. in all the time a steady pounding by piston sky raters and jet bombers.
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>> at darkness, the communist regulars dropped. back,ere ordered to pull not to retreat, but to make room for the planes of the strategic air command. the first time the giant bombers had been used as tactical support for ground troops. they peppered the hills with thousands of bombs. the deadliest warmish sheen in world cranking up against the toughest guerrilla army ever put into the field.
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as the bombers came in, the sky troopers were selecting new landing zones in the rear. looking for hope in the new faces that covered the hills and valleys of vietnam and they found them surrounded by thick elephant grass they can wear a man out in 500 yards. extends the length of your rifle and it is designed for ambush. it's where the communist army of ho chi minh won its spurs against the french. they waited in the thickets for the french convoys. two weeks ago tonight they waited around the landing zones. the scenes of our heaviest cattle to so far. a lot of 20-year-olds became veterans that afternoon.
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>> there are just all over the trees. they let part about the italian get through and we were bringing up the real and they really let us have it. they must have had polls on the trees are some think as we couldn't see them. they just kept dropping us one after another. >> the remnants of health accompany's first battalion, seventh cavalry. the bullets were coming from everywhere they said, they were right on top of us. one machine gunner told me how he fought back. >> we were ready for them. ammunition runs of and 30 hand grenades. >> what did you do with this here? >> we brought napalm and smoke.
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we knocked up out about three machine gun crews. >> how many you kill yourself? or 50.uld say around 40 maybe even more. >> at first light, the full shock came, americans and vietnamese lay side-by-side in the grass. it was a rare kind of combat, enemies facing each other at times only a few feet apart. by their own admission they fought not to defend a perimeter or take a position, each fought for his own life. in the end, the victory was hours. a lot of americans died in these woodlands but overall a very important point was made that the u.s. infantryman using techniques and ingenuity can seek out and destroy the best guerrilla army in the world. chief, generaln
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william c west moreland. you onnt to congratulate your distinguished victory. regular northng vietnamese troops. battalion the second have distinguished yourselves. you fought bravely, you fought with skill. >> it's a funny thing but some of these men i've known for a long time and some of them i didn't know to the well. but that is the one thing about battle that i find strange. the death part seems unrealistic. you know it is true, but you don't bring yourself to believe it.
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this is just the way that it is. >> do you believe it now? >> i believe it, that i still think there is something in my mind that tells me it wasn't real. i don't believe i have felt the shock yet. tothe hardest part is trying forget the death of your buddies. we lost over 28 men. some friends of mine from the same university that i went to. >> is it hard for you to believe that they are dead so quickly? , ithen you look at them doesn't resemble a human body. it looks like a mannequin. you look at them and say that could not happen to me. it is hard to realize. then you walk back to their area at base camp, they are not there.
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you, about as close to putting it in words, like hell. about as close as you can get to hell and come out alive. that's it only way i can put it. >> what would you say is the most hellish part? >> getting shot at and seeing the bullet hit and miss you. wheng your buddy get it you see some he can't get to them and you know what they are going through and you cannot do a thing to help them. >> this is the enemy. in the past few weeks i spoke to dozens through interpreters. they all said they had been mobilized and drafted. they are tiny men. boys. some spent months marching down carrying weapons to the south bigger than themselves. in battle they showed almost maniacal courage. by week's and, the campaign had ended. the third to great -- third
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brigade was committed but found little. according to the commander -- >> it appears at the little bastardize have had enough and bugged out. bastards havettle had enough and bugged out. >> in the past four years, the south vietnamese have lost 27,000 men in battle. last weekend alone, almost 1000. american casualties have been relatively light. on things giving morning, americans picked up the headlines to find announcing that our casualties in vietnam were the highest ever. stock figures were 240 dead, 470 wounded. brought the severity into every home. the toll was three times higher than any previous week of the war. during that week, the enemy
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losses were higher than ever. >> we have made our estimates and we felt that in this type of auntry, you probably have lumber of losses to your kill. one americantrade or one hard and trooper at our side for 50 of the north vietnamese. but you have to be realistic if you get anywhere near seven to one that is a dam good exchange. >> i do not know of any situation that concerns the president more or causes him deeper personal anguish and the loss of american lives in vietnam. those who know him well know with what a heavy heart each decision is made to send americans into combat. that grief is not a feeling that can be turned on or off.
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it is there whether the casualty list is two or 200. i've seen the president in these past few weeks previously but privately -- privately concerned. >> for everybody, there is a next of kin, and every next of kin, a telegram. from the adjutant general to others, the secretary of the army asked me to express his deep regret that your husband died in vietnam on november 14, 1965. >> he said honey, we already heard them say that they'll bury him. if they take over one little country at a time, before you know it they will all be taken over. and eventually we will be left alone and we could not take them. he said i would rather go now than have to wait for 20 years and have my son go because it might be too late in 20 years.
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>> and he told me before he left. he told us it down. he started to talk serious and i started to cry and he said don't cry because you have to know this. he said it's better if you know so you don't have a total decision to make at a loss. that we spentknow most of our marriage here and two of our three children have been born here. i would like to be buried here in case anything happens and i just want to be wherever you would live. >> ready, aim, fire. aim, fire. aim, fire.
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>> these are the most treasured hours of weeks and months. the longest period of our marriage has been here. there are places we have been together. that's all i can really say that i am staying here because that's what he expressed to me and i want to be where he is. if that's what i can have, then i'm glad that he chose me. >> the funeral of sergeant jack gallo. a lot of men died at yard rang but strategically it was a victory. x i characterize this entire campaign as being the most successful of this conflict thus far. i feel the success is unprecedented. >> can we expect to see american
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units coming to grips with north vietnamese units. >> it seems evident that the leadership in hanoi has decided to send down to south vietnam regular forces. how many more they will send we do not know. >> yard rang was a bitter and invaluable experience. it taught us the value of mobility and fighting a guerrilla war. defense secretary mcnamara has already set a new cavalry division would be formed. it also pointed out the brutal fact that hanoi clearly attempts to commit a field army to vietnam. the communists are massing and so are we. they feel we are divided. in hanoi, a student is a rare and honored member of society. the enemy knows he cannot defeat us in the field, but by killing
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americans, he hopes to demoralize us at home. that's what happened to france in 1954. our armed forces are prepared to take the necessary casualties to seek out and destroy the enemy. are thetion remains american people prepared to lose more and more young men in vietnam? >> this has been a cbs news special report. the battle of ia drang valley. >> this prerecorded broadcast is produced under the supervision and control of cbs news.
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>> john hinckley was the person who shot president reagan and president reagan was not wearing a bullet-proof vest that day. the thing is that john hinckley was stocking jimmy carter before this. feynman talksald about various assassination attempts and physical threats made against presidents and presidential candidates throughout american history. >> there have been 16 who faced assassination threats although none directly since ronald 16 presidents. i also covered three presidential candidates, i talked about huey long who was assassinated. and robert kennedy in writing 68 who was assassinated, and george wallace who shot and paralyzed for life in 1972. it's a long list. >> sunday night at 8:00 p.m. et
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and pacific on q&a. tv,ext on american history alfred mclaren details his almost 30 year naval career, in which he took part in 20 cold war submarine operations. following his service he remained an active submariner and became the president of the explorers club and is currently the president of the american polar society. he discusses his entire career including his to climate and a nuclear submarine during the cuban missile crisis in several pioneering expeditions under the arctic sea ice. the u.s. war memorial hosted this event which is about 1.5 hours. >> good afternoon and welcome to the navy memorial we are pleased to have you for another of our authors on deck book series. today we're pleased to have

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