tv Vietnam War from the Front Lines CSPAN June 5, 2016 12:52pm-2:02pm EDT
>> you are watching american history tv, 48 hours of programming on american history every weekend on c-span 3. follow us on twitter for information on the schedule and to keep up with the latest history news. >> next on american history tv, a panel of vietnam war veterans including a veteran and an army nurse. it was moderated by william adams and is part of a three-day lbjerence at the library in austin, texas. it is about one hour and 10 minutes.
[applause] >> thank you. i did not get a promotion that i deserve. four more years. good afternoon and welcome to the final day of the vietnam war summit. i would like to take a few moments to thank everybody who participated in the sessions over the past few days. the locals here in austin and the many guests and participants who traveled from across the country to make this such a powerful experience. congratulations to the director of the lbj presidential library. [applause] team in theastic organization. thank you to the lbj foundation for supporting the summit and looking at the legacy of lbj and
the entire aspects of the vietnam war. for the past two days, we have examined the vietnam war from multiple perspectives. from that of at least four u.s. assidents in their role leaders of american foreign-policy and the roles as commanders in chief. we have looked at it from the point of view of veterans, who returned to the country to their homes in a nation divided, explored their psychological and physical trauma that the veterans based upon coming home and still grapple with today. we looked at it from the point of view of the media that covered the war that eventually divided the nation, and finally, today, we will look at it from multiple perspectives also. before we get to that, just a in hours ago, i participated
an incredible ceremony that has been part of this summit. the veterans recognition ceremony just outside on the main plaza. i hope everyone here has i have the honor of presenting the vietnam war veteran recognition pins. story, where they served in vietnam -- whether they are infantrymen, a pilot -- some of them showed me photographs of them in vietnam. one showed me the draft notice toreceived the called him serve our nation. these are incredible stories, each and every one. it has been an honor to recognize the veterans here today.
of war from those who were there. our first program is entitled "the troops: a view from the front lines." welcomingn me in karoni forester. [applause] karoni: good evening. my father is still missing in action in vietnam. many americans still missing from the war in vietnam. four of them are also texans. ford 16 --f 3000
3416 texans to sacrifice their lives in vietnam. but he is the only one i call daddy. stillmily and my family wait for answers. and we greatly thank our vietnam who stand by our side and hold us up, even though many veterans still work to resolve their own demons. and we cannot forget the families of veterans, because they serve, too. [applause] mia families, goldstar veterans, the vietnam war is never over.
it never really can be with the empty chair at the holiday table, the what ifs, the need for closure and healing. war.is i have the honor of working with other families like mine, and representing them in talking with our government and foreign governments as well. share what comes with the answers to any mia's fate. i am also a proud participant in callsr the walk, which for a full accounting for our and mia's, honoring the sacrifice of those who are killed in action, and honoring our military personnel around the world.
to outreach program looks families andnd kia to show we recognize the families' sacrifice. sacrifice is no stranger to those on the panel. sharenel members will with you the reality of war. please allow me to introduce your panel for our afternoon session -- is a graduate from ohio state university. she joined the united states army, requested frontline duty, a hospital.ioned at she was transferred to a hospital that came under attack
during the tet offensive. completing her tour of duty in 1968, she went on to serve in the u.s. army reserve. butler joined the army shortly after graduating from lsu. he was awarded a bronze star for valor in combat. an author and professor at the university of texas at austin, his per lifting -- his prolific a book calleddes isaac cll we can be." in the newly formed 77th special forces group. province in a
vietnam. in 1963, he was captured and forcesned by viet cong and became the first g.i. to escape a pow camp. he earned the silver star and distinguished service cross for his service in vietnam. wallingford was a sniper division.1st infantry he served with the military assistance command in bit not. he wasl 1970 two, captured and imprisoned in the jungles of cambodia for more than 10 months, before being released at the signing of the paris peace accords. he was awarded the silver star and the bronze star. he is currently the secretary to the executive director of the lance board. your moderator will be william
adams, this education was interacted by service in the army. he credits his experience in inspired himat has to teach in the humanities. he served as the vice president 2014lby college, when in he became the 10th chairman of the national endowment for the humanities. please join me in welcoming your plan -- your panel to the stage. [applause] chair adams: thank you for being
here. we're looking forward to this hour or so of conversation. this is the moment we have a chance to talk about the experience of being in vietnam, and that of course is one of the most important dimensions of this summit and that is what we are going to do today. so, thank you again for being with us as we remember and recall some of the experiences that we had. i am going to start with that very question, starting with liz, and going down the line here. i am going to ask each of the panelists to talk a little bit about daily life in their units. you have heard them describe life in vietnam, generally what they did, but i think it is important to talk about what actual daily life in those units was like. i am going to start with liz -- >> i thought you were going to
do them first. chair adams: no, i'm doing you first. you,allen: let me tell there was no regulation on daily life. it depended on what happened in the field. how many body bags you did, how many helicopters came in. hell.living was excuse me for saying that word. that is what it was. the temperature was hot. and as those troops came in, how with 150me to grips ?ody bags in one day i had two stations in vietnam -- know as theh you
tunnels. the real thing about the tunnels were the spiders at the end of the tunnel. and we got them and there was no psychiatric service to help them. there cannot possibly be spider onorse than a your face. part of the things we have to .eal with in war are supplies there were days we thought nothing was ever going to come. ammunitionrun out of , blood transfusions, and water in a war zone? day, we dealt with it.
long.let me talk to because i love to talk. i ain't going to lie to you. do not see many women who know about war, and i cu chi, which you know as and pleiku. which got the first bombs. i for my friends do not call me at night. the first bombs were at night rid i knew the phone was going to ring and i would have to go.
they said chief nurse? i said, yes, what do you need me to do? they said, go to the unit. the unit was further than this wall to that wall. i said is someone going to go with me? so, i'm, captain ala sorry. you have to go alone. as i opened the door, the guys floor. the they were bringing them in. you can never imagine the carnage of that kind of war. and i say that to you because it is not something that i talk about. how in the hell can you deal -- some with men no legs, some with no arms, some with their chest open -- and you
have nothing to give them but love? i know you were on the medical side of things as well or a good deal of that. maybe you can end with this view ? >> absolutely. i think of the arms and legs and , and i think of my , and we supported the first and the sixth. i think it was very, very important for us to think about what we call wishing. and that wishing was very, very simple. we had a war to fight. there were no front lines to read everything was the front line. of guard dutyng at 92 taking the rounds from the
vc's at night also. -- from the pulling of guard duty at night to taking the at nightom the vc's also. an do you take someone to aid station as quickly as possible? i think we cut it down to 10 minutes or so. the kinds of injuries in vietnam were traumatic amputations, and when i say that, not only legs, but also arms. i think the idea, in terms of the daily life is to get through and make it to the next day. , i cannote the thing wait until i get back to "the daily" getting through life -- we did not have cell
phones and skype. we had a call maybe twice a week. it was very, very isolated. what held me together was understanding i was part of a tradition that went back to the , a greatnary war fraternity of soldiers who youed, and i think when look at daily life, which i have not talked about -- it is about service, it is about putting up war -- which is the whole idea about helicopter blades. when i think about that, that is what i think about. twor adams: ike, you had of experiencesy and a variety of context.
capt. camacho: yes rid of course, i was a prisoner of war. and of course, trying to stay the second tour, when i was captured, i was just trying to find ways to mess with the enemy even though i was a prisoner of war. i was always doing crazy things. for example, i broke the rice milk, and they found out it was mill, andoke the rice they found out it was me. i was not about to mail all of the rice they had there. the other thing about daily life was trying to stay alive, to be the odds. the mosquitoted by borne diseases. and a real strong
case of dysentery. oh, you know. we were just trying to survive. in the prisoner of war camp, i always kept my mind very open and developed a plan to escape and finally escaped. i know you: ken, were a pow as well for a time. sgt. wallingford: i did two tours, similar to ike. the military can do its best to train you. landedthe end -- when i and got up that airplane, it was so hot and dry. rnh baynd bay was a beautiful place -- cam bay was a beautiful place
in vietnam. and then flew down to cu chi. was a very controversial war in this country. but i felt it was my duty to serve, regardless of what the conflict is. offt of people chose to run to other countries. president carter let these fellows back in, unfortunately. it was the duty to serve. my first tour of duty, i was a slacker. we would go out -- this was a war that was never declared by congress. we fought with one hand tied behind our back. for example, we were not supposed to be in cambodia. we were in cambodia. i was with had just come back after six months of two or in cambodia and all we did was really delay the inevitable. but we would go out and these 7-man teams and we had
never fought jungle warfare in our life. this was a new experience. you set there and you wait for the enemy. there is intelligence the enemy will be going through this area. i tell schoolkids this. killing is never right, but i was military trained and government issued to do a job, and i did a pretty good. but when you sit there and see the enemy crossing a path and you squeeze that trigger and you , that really sets the tone for the rest of your duty. after a while, it just became natural. i said, i like this military stuff so well, i'm going to extend and come back. i had to come home for 30 days, and then all i had to do was another seven months all be tour, and then i would get out .ive months early
the second tour was in south vietnam, 75 miles north of saigon. so, six days before my discharge, my camp of four .mericans got hit this was 1972. to go tothe goal then saigon mike they had in 1968. we just happened to be in their .ay -- they have the golden to go to saigon like they had in 1968. they literally overran the camp. team. 2 men in my 5-man we would not let the helicopters land because it was too hot. a started pouring gasoline, we started smelling gasoline, molotov cocktail, that kind of thing.
so we exited. and probably a couple people and this whole program -- we have fought against the enemy and we have lived with the enemy. i am not saying this boastfully. i'm saying this humbly. it was a very unique experience. and we learned what communism is all about from the enemy's perspective. so, it literally changed my life. i went to vietnam because i was supposed to. but what literally changed my mind even to this day, i was agnostic when i went. on the second day of a three-day battle when i realized -- and i can remember this day, that day as i sit here today, and i started praying. we have all heard the adage " there's no atheists in foxholes." battlefield conversions. ladies and gentlemen, you are looking at one of them. there was literally nothing i could do to get out of there. chair adams: that might be a
good thing to explore a little bit. i, too, was with the vietnamese. i was an advisor to a regional infantry force in the mekong delta, so my daily life was spent with the vietnamese. it was a small team and our interactions with ub enemies were ubiquitous and daily and they were constant -- work ubiquitous -- our interactions the vietnamese were ubiquitous and daily and they were constant. when i got there, i did not feel well prepared for what i found. and i wonder how you all felt about that in terms of euro in activities. did you feel well trained, ready for what you saw, or were there things that surprised to and made your -- surprise you and made your experience much different? liz? the butler: -- maj. allen:
real deal is you cannot see here what you saw there. mostf the things that was difficult for me was how do you handle an 18-year-old with no legs and no arms? how do you handle that? they sit with their arms bound, and the missile hits this side, it takes off both arms and both legs here it and remember -- this is an 18-year-old with no arms and no legs. because i am -- going to get to talk again, trust me. [laughter]
but when i look at what happened here -- because i have to tell you, i had two brothers in vietnam at the same time. .he government did not know my grandmother almost lost it. she had three grandchildren. my grandmother raised us. the same time. that was a very difficult place for her. the other thing -- and i am going to bring race into the know, when a young le, whether black or white, gets into trouble, they offer him the military rather than prison. and so, here he comes, 18 years to thed gets assigned
wolfhounds or he gets assigned to an outpost area where they are sitting in the boiling sun all day. , the movie -- what was that movie about vietnam? chair adams: there were lots of movies. [laughter] thatallen: no, the one really got to me, where they carried everybody off in little white bags? it did not happen like that. the planes would come in and they would throw off all but the body bags, because they have to go pick up some more. we actually -- america with as much money, as much skill and as much stuff as we had, we ran out of bandages. we ran out of water.
we ran out of medicine. some slept on the floor. i used to think, if you all marchingt that dang and get something done so we can do something we need to do, because all of this people, all of those guys belonged to somebody before they came. and there is nothing we could do about that. about --oing to talk it was our guys in the north that knew about tet. the guys in the south did not know about tet. rounds came in, we did not know what to do. we did not have the supplies to
handle that. then being as i have these surgical unit, when you see that way to stop and no it and you look at it every day, , and night, you look at it it makes sleep real difficult. for people like me. -- ihis was the first time understand this is the first time they asked a female who was in 'nam on the frontlines to have something to say. because -- [applause] let me finish one more thing.
an adult came up to me. she said, can i ask you a question? i said, sure, what? she said, were they really shooting real alerts? and what were you doing during the war? shootinghey really real bullets? and what were you doing during the war? chair adams: john? sgt. butler: i don't think there is a way to prepare for war. we were fighting the enemy. we were there to kill the enemy. and i think that training meant whether it was -- whatever war, you do not see the enemy as people or you have to have a renegotiation in the training -- i'm on my way to vietnam, i'm on my way to kill charlie. it becomes second nature. what worked well was to
train in terms of -- on the weapons side, but it was a different kind of war than we had fought over the years. it was different from world war ii. plus, we have the rotation system where we went there as individuals rather than as units. if you divide the training into the psychology part, you are a not to and your deal is ask why, but to do or die. the new at the training of what you need to do, whether it is, in my case learning how to do bandages, how to do guard duty, how to take people in and out of the helicopter -- i think that became -- so, in terms of the preparation, i think the american soldiers did extremely .ell we have problems at home with the demonstrators and the
congress. i think if you look at what we were training for -- the training itself was good. absolutely no way to train for being a prisoner of war. there is no way to train for all of the mass kinds of destruction that you see. whether it is standing there and watching a beautiful field when the marine pilots do their jobs in the air force, it is just all barren. one of the trainings that we went through was understanding that although you are fighting the vietnamese, you had to get to these people. that training for me, i would go engageages, and i would the the enemy's people, but i was always aware that everybody was the enemy -- i would engage the vietnamese people, but i was
always aware that everybody was the enemy. forthe training was good what we needed, but i think we have learned more about that kind of warfare. what surprisede, you? what was outside your expectation? capt. camacho: i was special forces. we would do extensive study before we would go into whatever country we were going to go, to include survival, language, study of the terrain, the flow of the current on the rivers, which way they are headed, who we were going to see, who we were going to meet, how they talked, what they liked, what they don't like, and so forth. we would do this for about six months before we would deploy. hours agile forces -- our special forces teams are pretty well prepared. there are changes when you are but most of the time we would land and go ahead on the mission to our designated area.
problem -- everything that we talk this people, we had to go through the interpreter, and the interpreter would go into french and the french would go into their lingo, their dialects, and so, when we the tet for example offensive, you're talking english to a guy that speaks different from english and a lot of that stuff will get lost in the translation. well think we were very prepared to do our job and our mission. and some of these other units, i later learned, thought they were going to go into countries and find some little oriental guy with a third world class weapon. but there were always thinking about the viet cong, the vc's. distinguish the
north vietnamese from the south vietnamese. they all look alike, you know. of theiruy the color skin. they would put their arm against me. same-same, you know? we were kind of like buddies. we were well-trained to encounter the mission we were in. but in reality, the north vietnamese soldiers were the best fighting soldiers and this entire world. i can vouch for that. .nd they had hunger for victory because in the long run up north , oh team and's dream -- ho chi unite north was to and south vietnam. they promised themselves until the last man standing was killed , they were going to reunify the country. and so they did. and they fought very hard.
compared to the south -- they were nothing. these kids were trained to drop their guns and run. leaving us there, the special themselves to defend against an enemy that was very well-trained. this happened in a lot of instances. we talk about the tanks, you know? , i was the back first prisoner of war to come back and explain what i have found out. i had realistic and truthful intelligence. i told them about the tanks. the little kids said, how did you know they were not ours? i said, my god. could hear a tank and a prisoner of war camp, that would be long gone into cambodia.
bill craig, another special at one placer, was and a russian tank knocked out three tanks and he than me a note and he said, i read your report, thank you for the intel. nobody was prepared. when the tanks came over -- of course, they had to repel the tank attack. ken, what surprised you? what was outside your expectation you had to deal with? you thinkngford: about vietnam, the location, 10,000 miles away from the -- thedates of america united states of america, that until the war started no one had ever heard of. we were the first there. maj. allen: that's right. sgt. wallingford: they defeated the french. time was on their side.
they figured they could out- wait us. how many lives were we willing to spend in a futile effort? i can remember going to a village -- and keep in mind some of you working in vietnam, 400 a year was all they lived off of era they are living on dirt noors, grass huts, electricity, no indoor plumbing. just hard-working, dedicated people. all of the local south vietnamese people wanted was just to exist. and they got caught in the crosshairs. and you see kids that the viet cong had shot and wounded, but they wanted to hang out with us, because they did not like the viet cong. as ike said, i could always tell the difference between the nva and viet cong.
they wore uniforms. tiger --in a tiger cage ankles, iin around my had trapped no wins -- the first time i was interviewed -- keep in mind, there are five tiger cages. there is a kid with an ak-47. the guy who took care of us -- to make a long story short, i went inside for an hour and a half, sitting on a tree stump six inches off the ground, and this guy is sitting at a bamboo table with a chair. thesenerally speaking, south vietnamese folks are short in stature. as soon as he sat down, i immediately figured out, this guy has a superior position on me because i'm having to look up at him. that first hour and a half, they
you could go home, but there is a war going on. they said, who are you with? you start making up stuff. there is enough for him to say -- it was not true or accurate. this guy is speaking english better than most americans. , i call this little dance. i try to put a positive on a negative situation. i knew someday i was coming home. i did not know when. but i made the mental decision. i'm going to beat this thing. i don't know how long, but i'm going to go home. i live every day -- every day is a good day. if you're thinking you're having a bad day, let me tell you, one day as a pow -- i say that humbly. he asked me about propaganda materials about battles i had actually been in. i said, i have to disagree with
you on this one particular battle. you guys did not win. he leans forward and looks at me with all seriousness. "oh, no. you have been misled by the propaganda machine we've got in this country called the free press." i'm a young guy. i'm cocky. i am in no position to be copy in that environment. , you've gotthinking to be kidding me. even if something is false, if someoneat it without times, it comes true. i said to myself, wow. the mission before -- fighting with them, living with them, seeing their perspective, knowing maybe someday we will go home -- not sure when. was fortunate to escape. i could not figure out how to get out of there, i get out of the chain, get away from the
around the camp. plus, it was late in the war. we said we would give it a year, see if it works out. then we would try to escape. chair adams: we heard and knew about what was happening in the united states and how that affected the daily experience -- i think that would be good to explore. i would just like to remind everyone as someone has already said, there was no television. there was no regular contact. letters took about a week. there was vietnam radio in saigon. made famous in the movie "good and that story. but most of that information came slowly and it was difficult to know immediately what was happening at home. , ultimately,ar
about everything going on. and a lot was going on, at least when i was there in 1968 and 1960 nine. the antiwar movement was becoming very powerful. and a lot was going on, at least when i was there in 1968 and 1969. i am wondering how it affected each one of you? talk about howld the news, to the effect that you yourews, how that affected daily life? maj. allen: i want to answer that question intelligently. we did not get daily news. what daily news? the only news we had was about people marching over here. chair adams: that's what i mean. maj. allen: we heard that all the time. and i'm being a lady so i am not today.o cuss i'm going to hold all of that back. you know what i am saying?
we did not get any of that kind of stuff. there was some radio stuff that .e got we knew what music was going on in the states. but there seem to be no way to get information back to the state so they could get off thei duff and do something that was helpful. get that much radio. especially because i was always out in the field. i did not want to go to saigon. they wanted me to go to saigon to work. i told them, i could stay at home and do this. radios did not work. so, we did not get any of that kind of stuff, most of the stuff that i hired. because i have to tell you, i had two brothers also in the war at the same time, so there were three of us in the war at the same time.
really wore my grandmother down. but they were navy and i was army. and so, we just didn't get that kind of thing add there wasn't -- and there wasn't the kind of wiring in the heavy war zones that would allow radio and that kind of stuff to come through. so, we did not know much until the very, very end about what was going on here. i have to tell you, i was sort of glad we did not get to hear it. because when you got 30 guys , eyesheir bellies open blinded, i don't want to hear any about that mess, ok? because i really had something to do. as that make sense? chair adams: oh, yeah. maj. allen: i had something to do other than stand around and
talk. because the 25th infantry was a mighty infantry group. it really was. .nd we had special forces the 25th. and they were always in battle. i don't think there was one day that i was there that they were not in battle. but my grandmother would let me know what they were saying here. and what i understood they were saying here didn't have a damn thing to do with what was going on. i used to think, if you would get from in front of that television and send us some supplies, i sure would be glad. chair adams: john, how about you? maj. allen: of course -- sgt. butler: of course you are not
too concerned about debating that, that we certainly had the stars and stripes. the reality would come when i have the briefing. the briefing was, take the uniform off and watch out. it was a different situation. i think the war divided itself. it also divided itself between g.i.'s and people who were protesting and going to canada. at my undergraduate school, there were not lots of protests of this war. i went straight from military to northwestern university to graduate school, and i wore my jacket because it was cold. and i think the idea of serving in vietnam always put at the forefront -- i have it on my resume now. story.tell you a i was in the middle of a game, the kansas city game at the
university of texas, and they said, how can a decorated vietnam war veteran be a professor at the university of texas? thinknot really begin to about it because when you are there, you're thinking about your duty. i tell you when you got home, you see a different kind of picture. chair adams: it was not too interruptive when you were there? sgt. butler: no, i did not take it personally. people wanted to serve. i thought from an academic point of view, the country was changing. you go back to the revolutionary war, you have the same dynamics at a different level. my heroes are the people i served with, not the people who demonstrated. but that is ok. it is a free country and you can do what you want to do. but in terms of what i was doing and what i did, my heroes are the people who did not come home
maimed people who were and the people who were traumatized, rather than the to fight forfuse america. and i also have reservations about president carter allowing their to come back for citizenship. i think that attitude is indicative when you begin to cut through the layers of what the experience of what vietnam was, i think the reality of what happened in the war and the reality of all of the demonstrations that to place, i think it is a -- that took place, i think it is a historical question as to what went on. i gave a talk in houston. and i was pleased that there was a statue commemorating the soldier. it did not affect me when i was there. the solidarity was with the troops. it certainly was not with the protesters. , were you aware of what was happening? capt. camacho: we had an edge
over the conventional units because we used morse code. expert in morse code. he would get the message. a great example, when president kennedy was assassinated, minutes after he was shot, we knew about it. the message came in, he deciphered it, he realized that -- he relayed it. president kennedy has been shot in dallas. we got the message that he was gone. the enemy had, very good communications. previews, the washington times, and you know, it hurt me real bad. toause i had to bs my way telling them when they were interrogating me that i was just a supply man.
so, i kind of sold them on that story. i said, well, i think i got over on these guys, you know? one day they called me in. you are sitting on a little stuff like that and that guy is sitting way up there. he said, you have been telling us that all you did was you were a supply man, you give them boots and all of this stuff? i says yes. so, he picks up a copy of "time" magazine, and he says, are you familiar with this publication. i said, yes. "time" magazine. a news magazine. he said, turn to page 19. page 19. of my cast picture sergeantand it said first class isaac camacho
teaching guerrilla warfare. [laughter] how. camacho: i didn't know to respond. i said, well, you can't believe everything you read. [laughter] [applause] and he said, now we really want to talk. chair adams: i bet they did. i said, remember the first today when i was with you guys, i told you i had seen something exploded with a mind? --with a mine? -- with a mine? he said, you americans are so ignorant. it's just propaganda. you're not supposed to believe everything that you read. that was my second come back. and they left me alone. [laughter] ken, i wonder if
you can talk about what you are hearing? did it influence your experience? sgt. wallingford: lots of these folks who served in vietnam, you got the stars and stripes. you were in base camp. my parents wrote me letters. i wrote letters. they give you a little 5 x 7 piece of paper with five lines on it. what are you going to say? i'm deep in the jungles of cambodia. things are not going real well. the food could be better, but i understand. i knew those letters were not when to leave. i tried to put a positive on a negative situation. i was glad to be alive. every afternoon after siesta time, they would unlock the cages. they never took the chain around my ankle off. they have this guy -- i will
call him my little friend to be nice. he would play the voice of vietnam, straight from hanoi. of course, it was not biased or anything. [laughter] sgt. wallingford: i remember because this was 1972 when you have the election is going on. you had a guy named richard nixon and on the democratic side you had a guy named your twig of. -- named george mcgovern. , thedistort, as ike said truth. it sounded like george mcgovern was going to win the '72 election. to carry maybe 23 states, one of them was not even his own. and the protesters -- you have to filter that stuff out. i'm going to be nice. there was a woman that there is there was a guy married to a famous actress.
word for thatrent individual. [applause] tom and janeord: fonda did not help our cause. they played jane's recorded message for 30 days and i will never forget when she ended her transmission saying, these are poor, innocent people. there are in vietnam that were tortured that refused to meet with her. she never did come down to south vietnam vietnam, cambodia, whatever. -- inding statement was talked to your mother who was embarrassed the attorney general went over there. crying every night thinking about the damage we have done to these poor, innocent people. i said, really? i know she has apologized. i will leave it at that.
we talk about vietnam veterans being recognized today because we did not start the war. we served. each and everyone here today and those who wore the uniform during that time should be applauded, should be saluted, and thanks for your service because -- thanked for your service because -- [applause] sgt. wallingford: i volunteered because i felt it was my responsibility and my duty. i tell you what, lessons learned. i talked to a guy last night with the san antonio paper. lessons learned. i think we are witnessing that to a degree. i do not necessarily agree with what is going on militarily. the men in women serving today, 12% to 15% of those serving today are females, which i think is great and wonderful. number two, they all volunteered. there is no draft. vietnam veterans, older veterans, and the public in general is thanking these young
men and women when they come through airports or are in a restaurant, in their uniform. i think we have come a long way and hopefully we can take some of those lessons forward. besides, let's not get into something where the country is not fully committed. let's not play political politics with it. let's not right with one hand tied behind our back. let's go in and win it immediately. [applause] are doing -- e maj. allen: i'm sorry. [laughter] she gets one minute. of only got a couple left. maj. allen: i will only take one. i want to piggyback on what you have to say. and that is this country here just got so flared up when the
kid was killed, the vietnamese kid was killed. whene never said a word up vietnamese kid would hold to a u.s. soldier, and that can was a bomb. all the time.m they would throw those coke cans , and to this day, vietnam vets and i doimprisoned -- a lot of work with prisons -- the one thing you cannot do is hand them a coke can and say back." because it pulls
that memory of that kid. but we can get all pissed off about a u.s. guy killing of vietnamese kid. but we never said a word when the vietnamese kids through in the apc's and riding on the sides of those trucks. and we tried really hard to take care of those kids. but those kids blew up a lot of u.s. troops. and we have to think about what we think about kids, because kids do what their parents tell them to do. what kidss not always
do that you know about. and i have taking care of a lot wounded, who were lost their legs, who were blind from a coke can. and i still have trouble with coke. you. adams: thank i'm going to take the moderator's prerogative and have the last word here because we are very close to the end. i think one of the difficult things, but surely one of the difficult things about the experience of being there was that even people there in the executing their mission in the best possible way they could and with great integrity and bravery had very divided feelings about what they were doing. some people were very supportive. some people were in the middle. some people were not so supportive. one of the complexities of the legacy of this war, i think, is that even among the people who
fought it, there was hugely divided sentiment about the experience, what it meant, what it was for, its purpose. id, forack to what ken sa me, coming away, the most important lesson is we have to make sure as a people and a country that we understand what the ultimate meaning of our engagement is. because without that certainty, the price is too high. and the pain is too great. and so, if there is one thing i think probably we all agree on , veterans of that conflict, going forward we have to make sure that is where we find ourselves in making those decisions. i want you to join me in thanking these analysts -- these panelists for their excellent
work. and thank you all for coming. [applause] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2016] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org] you are watching american history tv, 48 hours of programming on american history every weekend on c-span3. follow us on twitter and to keep up with the latest history news.
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