Skip to main content

tv   Two Brothers Who Served Together in Vietnam  CSPAN  November 11, 2017 8:50am-10:01am EST

8:50 am
>> thank you for talking with us. >> thank you. our coverage this veterans day weekend on american history tv continues as we look back 50 years to the vietnam war . all day today and tomorrow, we will bring you live coverage, archival film, and hear from veterans and antiwar protesters. former defense secretary chuck hagel and his brother tom served side-by-side during the vietnam war. retired lieutenant daniel bolger interviews the brothers in the focus of his book. the national archives hosted this one-hour event. many of those who have served in the military and gone through combat together refer to their comrades as brothers, and today we are privileged to hear from two vietnam veterans who were both comrades in arms and brothers, chuck hagel and tom
8:51 am
hagel. both volunteered to go to war and fought in the same infantry unit. daniel bolger recounts their journeys from middle america to vietnam at the height of the war, and home again. as we observe the 50th anniversary of the war, we are privileged to hear from these two eyewitnesses. the author, daniel bolger served in the u.s. army for 35 years, retiring as a lieutenant general. he commanded troops in afghanistan and iraq, earning five bronze star medals. fors a contributing editor army magazine and the author of eight other books. he currently teaches history at north carolina state university. chuck hagel has long served our country. he was the secretary of defense from 20 13th 2015, and before that a u.s. senator from nebraska. during the vietnam war he served in combat and earned two purple
8:52 am
hearts, the combat infantry man badge and the vietnamese cross of gallantry. after graduating from the university of nebraska at omaha he worked as a congressional staff assistant, cofounded vanguard cellular, and begin the president and chief executive officer of the uso. he is the author of "america, our next chapter." tom hagel was born and raised in nebraska as well. in combat he earned three purple hearts, the bronze star with a v for valor in the combat infantryman branch -- badge. the universityom of nebraska omaha and the university of nebraska school of law. after working as a public defender he taught law at temple university and joined the university of dayton, retiring as a full professor.
8:53 am
he serves as an acting judge for the municipal court in dayton, ohio. he is the author of two books and numerous articles on legal subjects. these welcome daniel bolger, chuck hagel, and tom hagel. [applause] >> thanks very much for that kind introduction, and thank you, ladies and gentlemen, for coming out on this rainy election day to spend some time talking with the hagel brothers. to my right, chuck hagel and to his right's brother tom. i would like to ask both of these gentlemen, 50 years ago, november 7, 1967, where where you? 1967? >> right, 1967. >> i cannot remember that far
8:54 am
back. >> we were in california at fort morgan -- fort worth. >> i was getting ready to leave to go to fort dixon, new jersey because i had orders to go to germany. and you were finishing. advance -- we were in advanced infantry training and i followed chuck all the way through. i was about four weeks, six weeks behind you in the training cycle, both in basic training and infantry training. >> where did you do basic training? >> in el paso, both of us. >> hot. >> like the desert. >> fort bliss, there is a reason everyone calls it lists. -- bliss. >> everyone is happy. >> in 1967 you had orders to germany, and the cold war was going on so what there was a
8:55 am
substantial force in germany but the vietnam war was also going on. did you ever go to germany? >> no, i got to fort dix, new november and as the bus was getting ready to pick up 10 of us to take us to germany, we were the first class of the red eye missile gun, which was the first shoulder fired heatseeking missile in our arsenal. it was designed to bring down igs flying jets coming in m from the soviet union, and through the pass in germany. i decided if i was going to be in the army and i was going to serve my country at a time we were at war, then i wanted to go to vietnam. i went down -- and tom will tell
8:56 am
his story but he did the same thing -- and i said, i am private hagel, here are my orders to germany, i volunteered to go to vietnam. i recall vividly in the orderly room there was a stunned silence and they put me in the back of the room and said, son, come back here. they brought a chaplain in and they brought i think a security officer in, because immediately they thought something was very suspicious. i was running away from a crime or something was wrong. eventually i stayed for two weeks and got new orders to go to vietnam, went back home for a few days, and then went to california and processed out for vietnam. >> and then about four weeks later, i ended up in fort dix, new jersey. i remember writing from the from the- riding airport in a 2.5 ton army truck.
8:57 am
it was freezing, deep snow and i remember driving by the px. i saw this poor guy -- and this was about midnight -- poor guy walking, had a little trail around the px -- keep in mind this is new jersey, united states, not a lot of enemy around -- with a rifle, which i'm sure was empty, walking around the px with his little trail with an outdoor light glaring on him. i was thinking, my god, i cannot do that. i was supposed to go to germany as well and i have a thing about cold weather but i could not do that. our group were told we were going to spend about six months living out in the black forest running maneuvers in the snow in germany, and then go to vietnam. which turned out, iran into a couple of my friends who did go over and i ran into them in vietnam, they were just getting over there.
8:58 am
so i went and volunteered to go too. they did not call any security people or chaplains for me. they were happy to do that. am what, 18, i years old, something like that. i got it in my head, i remember seeing a movie about brothers, two brothers or more in a combat zone you can only have one there and the rest go to a noncombat unit, so i thought, i will go over and check can come back. -- chuck can come back. they said, just get a hold of the red cross. keep in mind, i am 18 and do not know anything. i landed and i went to the assignment center where they divvy up the troops to the different units and i said, where is the red cross? they pointed to some tent and i walked in. after all, my name is tom hagel and you probably know all about
8:59 am
this. who are you? obviously, it did not work so we both ended up there. >> to follow on that, both the hagel brothers were drafting -- was not the it standard draft where you get the note and report in. when he went to talk to the draft board, what action did you take? >> i was called home. i had been to three colleges. not an academic career to be emulated at that point. and so the director of selective service and had been the director during world war ii, she had been there long time. the draft board in platte county, nebraska said we will give you six months to go back to school and then we will have to take you because the levy was coming down, it was a big buildup. we had half a million troops in vietnam when i got troops
9:00 am
in vietnam, and it was getting even bigger. i said i think it is a waste of time, certainly for any respectable education institution, for me to go back. i am not going back. how soon can i leave? i will volunteer for the draft, but i want to go right now. bus leavingtually a "n two weeks. i said "put me on it." >> you were still in high school. and got myy physical draft notice while i was in high school, and i got my same letter , that they send you i think in september, and i was not going to sit around all summer with that hanging on my hips. now," and ill go was in the army five days after high school." >> you often hear people say --
9:01 am
the army in vietnam was a draft army, which is true, and the army today is volunteer, but volunteers.e two do you want to comment what happened when your potential was recognize in your recommended for officer candidacy? both hagels have that opportunity. >> well, i will give you my take on it. tom had the same thing. you will hear his story. i was not particularly interested in it, because it meant another year, and i was not sure that i wanted to take another year. that would be three years. the other thing that kept going
9:02 am
through my mind was the fact that our dad was in world war ii, and the south pacific, tailgunner, b-25 bomber, and spent quite a bit of time out there, and he was enlisted and came out a technical sergeant. i don't know if maybe there was some romanticism about our data or his service and being a but i think that subconsciously affected me, too, but i think the main thing for me as i did not want to commit to that third year. i did not know how it would work, so i said no. >> when i was offered it, keep in mind, once again, i am 18 years old, not too bright, and i am sitting there, thinking i quickly that officers had a lot better life to leave than enlisted men, especially a low private 1, that i was at the time.
9:03 am
they explained to me it is a 52-week program. gothe way, both of us had to through advanced to then goinging to office, so the matter how it should down, we would be trained as infantrymen, which is fine. basic training lasts so long, advanced infantry training last so long, and it is a year in office candidate school, and i had to figure out, well, if i do that, by the time i get out of officer candidate school, i will only have six months left. i said this is not a bad deal. i went along with it until i finished infantry training, and they got the group together to take off for come i think it was fortdenning, -- 40 benning. and they said we want to go over this one more time, the 52 weeks
9:04 am
do not count for the two years, so i said forget it. i refused to go. so two brothers who both volunteered for the army, volunteer again for the infantry. tom, at one point, they did not want to put you in the infantry. the initialter screening, they actually recommended you for another specialty. >> i can't remember that. >> i have seen your records. i believe it was cook. >> all know, what that was, i had a time of jobs. i spent more of my life as a teenager working than i did in high school. if you saw my record, you would understand why. was cook, things like that, and when i refused to go to officer training school, they did not know what to do with me. to the sent me back
9:05 am
training and made me to cook for about a month and then cut me new orders for germany. the rest is history. >> as they say. >> culinary arts. >> culinary arts. >> i can still keep about 20 eggs going at one time without burning them. >> there you go. >> impressive. >> you talk about working, one of the things you should note, the hagel brothers were raised in nebraska, which is almost the exact geographical center of the continental united states, bring us down in the sand hills, which -- a veryliberal area rural area, and you mentioned work -- both of you guys worked from a very young age. was nine and i was seven when we got our first job at a grocery store sacking potatoes, onions, all of this is manual, of course, a 10-pound bag, and that was big money back then.
9:06 am
>> i think i mentioned this to the socialow how security system works for mostly you get an annual review of how much you paid in and when you started paying in, and i was looking at my the other day, and i started paying into social security when i was eight years old. i was eight years old. and i remember the job. i was in a drive-in next to the grocery store in nebraska as a car hop. box, buttake a little i was not tall enough to get to the window, and i had to stand on the box to take the orders. on that as toback why would they take social security out, because i think i probably only made enough money to buy a hot dog, and that was it. but anyway, that is started the. so we worked all -- that is when i started paying, but as tom said, we worked all of our lives. >> it would have helped you,
9:07 am
certainly. both of these gentlemen arrived in vietnam. chuck got there in december. tom got there, as mentioned, in january. initially, you were both in the same division. that is a big organization, ladies and gentlemen, 20,000 troops. but not the same unit, not the same battalion or company. yeah, and tom and i still do not understand all of that, how that happened because as you said, he was north, colonel patton's, and we tried to put it for transfer to see if we could get together. we talked at least a couple of times on the phone, but one day, unit, which in our is still kind of a mysterious -- >> they were going to send me
9:08 am
south to be somewhere around. >> and of course one of the intervening events was kind of important. that was -- within a few days after tom arrived in the country, the largest enemy of fence of the war broke out jenny -- january 31, 1968. both of you were involved in a. >> yes, i got there, i landed he was, 4, 1967, and what, january 30? that, as you said, was a defining time for that war, for the optics of it, for the casualties. those who have an opportunity to look at ken burns' magnificent document and get some historical
9:09 am
reflection of what really happened on that -- it is still being debated and so on. but that really did fine, i think, our service in the annan, and it defined everything. absolutely. and it defined the war. the turning point in america in every way. >> the rest of your time, particularly in public service, you kept a picture from that. what was that picture? >> tom knows about this. tom was not with me when this happened. when i was in the senate, and i think you met him, tom, i got a letter wednesday from a retired army colonel from wisconsin, who , and ibered the name could not put it all together, but it was a very nice letter,
9:10 am
and it said, senator, i do not know if you remember this or remember me, but i was a lieutenant in the same company -- not the same platoon -- and we were a mechanized unit, our personnel carriers, we were the first in the headquarters that morning in the village. he said i took a picture with my little brown camera behind your truck of the ammo dump and long been, which was the largest and it will, blowing up. -- long bin, which was the largest in the world, blowing up. i would like to come by sometime and show it to you. we had a long conversation, and picture.e an 8x10 it looks like an atomic bomb going off feared it was astounding, and he autographed it for me, and i kept it on the wall the rest of the time in the senate.
9:11 am
i had it in my office at gallup as well. , as tom and ier have discussed many times, about, again, the significance of tech. >> and the scale of destruction. all of this, ladies and gentlemen, for chuck hagel's time, they were in and around the city of saigon, the largest city in south vietnam, and the capital. sometimes they call it ho chi minh city. the people living there still call it saigon, from what i can gather. been in an long replacement unit, and they came in and said how many of you have infantry in the west, and collected us and put us on the perimeter, so we worked involved in trying to keep them out of the long b├Čnh base.
9:12 am
it was a huge base. , and up therers -- >> most people, if you watched the ken burns special, the north would be right next to the zone.led demilitarized all of the regular troops, the best troops, filtered down through that area. troopsines had a lot of in that area as well. so major fighting at that time was occurring where tom hagel was, in places like you have probably heard about. was all under attack during that period. -- you both put in a request to serve together. whatever happened with the red cross idea that if you can get a
9:13 am
company to send chuck home? >> believe me, they never got back to me. [laughter] >> shockingly enough. this is one thing that can help when you are an author and decades later you can dig up the actual paperwork. here is what i found -- there is not only a regulation in the department of defense that said secretary of defense hagel would know about, but it is also a united states law passed after world war ii. some of you all have seen the movie "the fighting sullivans," or heard of the five sullivan brothers from iowa. in the navy and service together on the uss juneau, and the uss juneau was torpedoed by the japanese during a night out. many of the crew were lost, and all five of the salomon brothers -- sullivan brothers. it was so devastating for the sullivan family -- and by the way, the navy named a destroyer, there is a destroyer today called the sullivan.
9:14 am
more realizen throughout the history. but lawmakers said hey, we cannot let this happen again. a law, locally known as the sullivans rule, and it says that two close family members cannot serve together in a combat zone involuntarily. that last part is the key part. because the hagel brothers had asked to serve with each other. guess what the sergeants and officers said? does the sullivan rule apply? nope. set that aside. >> i did not know that. >> because you volunteer to do it. what is really interesting about chuck and tom -- they did not just served with each other in the outfit, they were in the same rifle platoon with about 30 to 40 soldiers altogether at the
9:15 am
same time. so they really served closely. up, your brother showed what did you think? i was concerned when we were out on a search and destroy mission for about four days and medical leave act -- and they pulled me back. i asked what was going on, and my first thought was that something had happened to tom. i remember explicitly the captain saying, son, if we wanted you to know, we would tell you. and that was kind of the order of the day. that is the way it was. i said ok. and aaited in my tent, few hours went by, and the next thing i know, i looked up, and tom was there. >> and the first sergeant had told you if the brother ever got
9:16 am
assigned, he would put you right in your platoon. >> yes. >> so there they were. what did you write and tell your mother about that arrangement? >> you were the one who did all the writing. >> she was not surprised. >> i always did tom's forging. [laughter] >> but tom did his share in the communications part. that if we were going to be over there in that both of usrobably if wanted it this way, it would be better for us to be taken care of each other and that kind of thing. know, the outfit of the brothers ended up with, chuck already mentioned, it was a mechanized unit, which means to say they had small vehicles that would look to you or i like a little tank, and it had a gun on top.
9:17 am
and the soldiers were in the back being carried around. they had machine guns on top. that unit was basically a response unit, what we call a quick reaction force. hothing that was really a situation, your outfit rolled on it and had to go very quickly. they even had a siren that played when it was time for everyone to mount up and go. but many of the operations, all the roads around saigon were of course mined, booby-trapped, ambushed, and their job was to clear the area around them. so it was a very fateful day for you to gentleman, the march of 1968, you were both on a mission what about midday, something happened. what happened? >> well, we were on a search and destroy mission in the jungle, had, like we often
9:18 am
did, walked -- point -- >> just a second, ladies and gentlemen, when they say walked point, there is a column of men, and the first two guys were the hagel brothers. mom did not know about that. >> she had other issues. i think our platoon leaders and company commanders felt we could do a pretty good job on that, and i think we felt we could do it better than anybody else. in was the best i ever saw sensing things. he saved the company many times on spotting things. map pretty well. >> and use a compass. >> and a compass. today, when you ask someone about a compass, it is computerized -- >> gps.
9:19 am
>> "are you talking dirty or what do you mean?" no, what you did, is you shoot it in the direction for the compass, and you relied on the compass. it is not th that way anymore. i could do that pretty good, so we made a pretty good team. on this particular day, we had been up on point most of the day. too, youe on point, are chopping a lot, especially the point guy, which would be normally tom, and i would be right behind him with the compass and the map. but you are usually chopping because you are off the road a lot of the time. rotated us commander out of the lead of point position to give us a break and put another few guys out in front. and we were crossing a stream, offwe tried to always stay
9:20 am
the road or a path, obviously, because booby-traps were everywhere. the point guys, was tom and i had just been those guys, hit a tripwire in the water, and there were claymore mines in the trees, and claymore mines are essentially mines that are filled with pellets, like bbs, high explosives, and they can do some damage. and it hit all of those front guys, and they hit tom, and they hit me. that is what happened on that day. always look for his name, as tom does, too, on the wall, robert summers, the point guy who was killed. they had to get the severely in aed out and summers out
9:21 am
basket because the helicopters had to calm and drop a basket into the jungle. you don't know if the snipers would open up. you do not know if they would be track when the helicopter in and so on. we eventually got the severely wounded out and summers out, and then we had to get out. ounded were both w now, which is something important to point out here. >> it was getting to be nighttime, and as the old saying goes, the night belongs to charlie, the viet cong. you do not want to be in the jungle at night without protection and so on, so we had to get out of there. the company commander asked tom and i to get us out, so we started to move again after this onee wounded taken out, the
9:22 am
kia taken out, so on and so on. tom was walking again point, and he caught, saw a grenade hanging in a tree. i did not see it. he saw it, and we were able to neutralize it and get around, and we finally got out, but it was dark. >> even in the middle of the afternoon in his dark because of the canopy. >> yeah. >> so very tricky. so both brothers earned a purple heart the only way you can earn it -- the hard way -- that day. to this day, when you go through the tsa at the airport, they find things, right? >> i have got -- i know tom still has a little shrapnel in his. i have a couple of pieces left because we were in the field hospital, and they don't stuff out. it was significant but not that
9:23 am
significant. they got the stuff out of me with more surface. but i still have a couple of so its still in my chest, is more when i take an x-ray or mra or something like that. you have got to tell them because those things show up. but it has never given me any trouble. mine got out, too, it just took a while. >> 50 years later. amazing. nded,even though wou both of the soldiers went back to their unit. the thing i might also mention -- chuck and tom are young men at this time. they are not experience with 10 years or anything like that, but the role they described, that point role, is normally come in today's army, that would be done by a relatively experience paris sergeant. they became sergeants, but they
9:24 am
became sergeants in combat, by doing a mission, having to take charge of other young men who were with them because they were young men and have the skills or they went back to their unit, ,nd then about a month later what happened on the tracks? >> i think they got intelligence had entered, if i remember right, so we weren't sent out to sleep to find out if there,ere any v.c. came back, the tracks, the apc's, the only person out there, so since we were the first track out, we were always the last track in. turn, socan do a 360 again, we were the first ones out. everybody, when we came back to the tracks, loaded back up, and they get the 180 degree turn to
9:25 am
come back in, and all the tracks in front of us got past it, but since we were in the last track, we ran over in mine. the tracker was most seriously injured. >> tom was injured. i thought tom was dead, actually. with a 50operator reade caliber machine gun, when that concussion hit, it obviously disabled the track, fires broke out because the tracks were full of ammunition, and they would blow. i was on the side, so my face was burnt bad and so on. i started looking at everybody else, and the track, some guys have blown off, and tom was slumped over the 50 caliber. he had blood coming out of his ears and nose, and he was unconscious. so i got him off the track
9:26 am
because snipers were everywhere, and like tom said, those trackers were way ahead of us -- we were all alone. fires started to break out. i did not know if he was dead or what had happened to him, but we got him off the truck. that is when they took us down by helicopter, medevac. looked like it was bubbled on the side of the skin. it was pretty gross. so again, second set of purple hearts to both brothers. second time lifted, and you went back to your unit. in fact, when you went back, you were all wrapped up. >> yes, i looked like a mummy. my face was all bandaged, and tom had to help me.
9:27 am
i often thought about this, if it had not been my brother, how many other infantrymen -- what have taken care of me? but tom did take care of me, and he had to re-bandaged me every day infections -- i got infections in my face, too. >> the jungle is hot, humid. salve they had to put all over my face to we were in a field hospital. >> i remember it happening, and iremember being in the -- don't remember being in the hospital. i remember being checked out. the enemy is and viet con launched -- the north vietnamese in the viet cong launched a second attack. the call when out again to the second 47, their outfit, company
9:28 am
b, the company, to intervene, but the city, both of you rolled on that as well. bulk of that,e because where i was, there was the nto's. >> it was. >> it was certainly different from anything else i had experienced. this was inside the city of saigon and street to street fighting, it was just chaos. you had people shooting at you from every different direction. you cannot see where most of it is coming from. if you ever have the opportunity to go to saigon, you ought to take it because, believe it or not, it is an incredibly beautiful city. so much of the architecture is from the french colonial period, so you had multistory buildings with balconies and what have you, and they would have machine guns and that set up on it.
9:29 am
it was absolute chaos. . but it worked out. . >> it did. i might add, he is being very humble here. v wore the bronze star with for valor, and he was wounded a third time. the mission that he had, that they gave him, was our battalion commander got shut down. who happens to be the brother-in-law of general westmoreland, colonel frederick vendors in, who had just come on , and he was killed, and they soe trying to rescue him, tom had a pretty big role. >> right. >> absolutely. i think that is one key thing to , youber that west moreland
9:30 am
know, he was a human, too. our country was involved, and west moreland's brother-in-law -- >> you remember, he had just he, wesmoreland came back to lead the search himself, and we could not find his body. >> he did eventually recover. yes, they found his body was about three other people still in the helicopter in the bottom of the river. >>one other thing before we , things back home affected the soldiers who were deployed over there. 1968 was a divisive beer in the united states. -- was a divisive beer in the united states.
9:31 am
an assassin killed dr. martin luther king jr.. that reverberated over to vietnam. what was the effect of that killing in your unit? >> first of all, there was a certain amount of segregation in the army then, even though it was apparently against it. it was more of self-segregation. in our unit, we never had any problems. we had people from every ethnic group serving together, everybody got along because of the nature of the unit, you had to rely on each other. there's no place for prejudice, racism and that. after the news came that dr. king was killed, there was a separate, almost automatic, immediate separation of races into different sites, literally different sides of the camp.
9:32 am
there was a lot of tension and a lot of anger floating around. of course, what that does to a unit, you don't know if you can trust the same buddy you had before. we were lucky enough to have an officer, and african-american officer who addressed it. >> tom framed it exactly right. the racial tension was palpable. officers rotating in and out, partly, sometimes mainly because they had been killed or seriously injured. we got a new company commander, as tom said, a young african-american lieutenant from chicago, thrown johnson -- jerome johnson.
9:33 am
he grabbed a hold of the racial issue straight up. and said no more. we will integrate the tents again. no more black tents and white tents. we will be a unit. he truly exhibited leadership i've rarely seen in a very difficult situation. he was threatened by both sides of the equation and he faced them down. to this day, tom and i have found him and reestablished our friendship, but tom and i both feel he's an individual that we've had such immense respect for over the years and often thought of him. it was a tough time. it was difficult. >> a lot of units didn't have the good fortune we did to have people -- stories of people
9:34 am
shooting each other and throwing grenades. >> this was at a time when america was becoming more divided. bobby kennedy was killed outside of the democratic convention. it was really coming apart. that was reflected in these 19-20-year-old kids having to fight this war that they did and understand that america was in supporting -- and didn't understand that america wasn't supporting. this is one of the reasons i've always thought the vietnam generation, these kids asked to go over there and fight, when you back up and look at it all, acquitted themselves. well -- equated themselves and handled it in a magnificent way with all the
9:35 am
other problems they had to deal with besides the fact that they were in the middle of a war. >> i often think to contrast that time with what we've been going through the last 15 years with the wars in iraq and afghanistan we are still involved in. that came out of it is now, american society can look at the people who are sent to fight a war separately from the war. you can be against the war but still support your troops. in our situation, here, you have young guys -- when i got out of vietnam after i extended my tour, i had to wait a year before i can legally buy a drink .
9:36 am
>> you couldn't vote then. >> that's right. good and vote. -- couldn't vote. imagine you are involved in a hearnd everything you media from the united states is how the wars evil and you are baby killers. you are sitting there thinking, what am i doing with my life? any day now, i could get killed. what am i doing it for? all the people back home you hope would support your efforts, but it was totally different. nowadays, there's a lot of support for troops coming home, as there should be. >> that was one thing we got right because of your sacrifices and those who fought alongside you. we have some time for questions. ,f you want to ask a question
9:37 am
please line up. yes, sir. >> i was curious, as best as you can recall, any political aspects you can recall? what i mean by that is in a troop or patrol, you have people that are very young, they are experiencing life from the best they can, people doing things that are life-and-death who are very young kind to do the best they can and you have an aspect of -- like today come everyone has needs and wants and desires -- what were the dynamics of being in a group like that, trying to protect yourself and protect them and protect each other but also from a political aspect from a combat perspective, anything you can recall or recollect on that? >> i don't recall really having any in-depth political
9:38 am
discussions. one of the reasons, i think, keep in mind how old we were. i was basically an ignorant 18-year-old kid. i barely graduated from high school. i didn't know anything about international politics, diplomacy, economics, things like that. i don't recall getting into any serious political discussions, liberal versus conservative -- i couldn't have told you what that meant. >> if i get on the sarge's good site, i get more for dinner. >> oh, internal politics. >> anything like that. yeah. >> first of all, the idea of if i do this i will get an award, that never crossed my mind. >> people don't really compete for the purple heart. >> no. not a lot of people standing in line for that. [laughter] >> it just means you got in the
9:39 am
way. >> i think tom is right. i saw some things and tom did, too, where there were some valorousbricating actions which didn't occur and yet awards -- i'm not sure that was unique to vietnam. i think it happens in every war. >> they would use higher-ups. >> the guy on the bottom is just trying to survive. that.k tom is right on when you are in those situations, as tom said, you are young. many of the young people we served with didn't even have high school degrees. they could hardly read. it's all about survival. and taking care of each other.
9:40 am
that's where you are, where your head is. you're not too interested in anything beyond that. you just want to get in and do your job and get out. >> the worldview is so narrow and confined to just your living situation. keep in mind how close you are when you're in a unit like that. we slept together, ate together, did all personal functions together. there was no privacy whatsoever. you are probably closer on a day-to-day basis than you've ever been with your family. when you go to the restroom at home, you close the door. there weren't any doors. there weren't any restrooms. you did everything together, so you got to know each other in and out. that's good on one hand, but on the other hand, when something happens -- yeah. --and the other questions?
9:41 am
annie othey other questions? i want to thank you both for your service to our country. [applause] >> we appreciate you. did your time in vietnam and your service there lead you into your political career? did that have a bearing on it? or do you think you would have gone in any way and walked down that path? >> i don't think my service in vietnam directly let me into a political career. it affected my thinking, s urely, because of what's politics about and what's representative government about.
9:42 am
accountable, responsible leadership. everybody now knows we didn't have that from top to bottom during the vietnam war. it cost thousands and thousands of innocent lives. sure, i was affected by that experience, but i don't think it directly let me to that. that. me into i had a career before i got to the senate. i always had an interest in politics and always felt it things -- if things would be aligned, family, business, opportunities in the right way, i would be very interested in doing something in politics. i could have finished my life without any of that, too. i'm glad i did all of it. it's been tremendously awarding,
9:43 am
it's been a tremendous privilege. it helped me with experience a lot of myefined thinking, especially when i got to be secretary of defense. i always came at things from the bottom up, not the top down. it didn't mean i'm right or wrong or that i'm smarter than anybody else, but that was mike's parents. -- that was my experience. it affected me, but it didn't direct me. i hope it helped me. i hope it made me a better leader. yes, sir. >> there's been some polling recently that talks about the divisions in the country being similar to the vietnam era. i'm curious about how you see that, if you agree with that and what you think the reasons may
9:44 am
be. what are the things that are dividing us now and how do they compare with what was going on during that time? >> yes, you look at the history of our country and there's always been dissent and specifically when it comes to the issues of war peace mothers always been protest movements. you can go back to the civil war and the draft rights, world war i, the isolationists, all of this. america's always seemed to come back to equilibrium. it was different with the vietnam generation and the vietnam war in particular -- first welcome it came at a time when we had the civil rights movement. one thing for sure that the that,that -- defines that was the first time in
9:45 am
massive number of citizens lost faith in the institutions of government and the leaders in government because they were lied to for so long that they didn't trust anybody. that is a hangover. the last election is a good example of keep in mind these are people who are our age who are the highest group of people who vote demographically and our children's page and it seems we've lost that trust in government institutions and leaders and rightfully so. we've been lied to for so long. the institutions are all right, it's just the people who run them. ofardless of what you think president trump, a lot of the vote for him was a vote representing that. we distrust our institutions, we distrust the government, both political parties. we are angry and we just want to smash it. in a way, i think the chickens
9:46 am
have come home to wrist because our current politicians too often, i don't trust them, either. i think they continually lie to us, but we've allowed ourselves to be lied to because we elect them all the time. they forgot that they work for us. we are citizens, we run the show. they work for us. for some reason, as a society, we have lost that. we just let it go on. consequently, a lot of the distrust in the political institutions can be tracked back to the vietnam war. because it was so clear up or a while,. especially with all the archives and the materials that have been released in that, the society and the troops were lied to, flight
9:47 am
to aboutatantly lied the vietnam war and the attempts to stop it. somebody lost faith and have not yet regained it. >> tom has put his finger on the breakdown in trust in our institutions and leaders and it has produced a ton of political environment we have today, the deep divisions. i would add one additional point to that. on a broader scale, i think we are seeing a new world order being defined today and built. a world order that is different from 10 years after world war ii that america essentially led their allies in building. over the last 70 years that has been pretty good for people.
9:48 am
more people are free, more economic opportunity. the problems that world order didn't face is the trouble spots in the world today. how that relates to american politics is confusing. everybody in this room i suspect and most people watching through duringion were born world war ii or after world war ii. what does that mean? it means that our world has been a world where america has dominated everything and essentially everybody. that world is shifting now and changing. it's presenting a lot of new dimensions and dynamics and challenges that we've not ever had before. tom's point about you had that reality, it doesn't mean it is
9:49 am
bad or good, it's about how you adjust to it. when you break down the trust and confidence of your governing cetac institutions, you're in trouble. gallup does a poll every year, they take the 15 major institutions in this country and ask the question of confidence and trust. the military over the last two years is the only one that is anywhere near above the 50% line. this year was 76%. the only other one over 50% is small business because everybody likes small business. you can trust them. everybody else, big business, lawyers, politicians, pharmaceuticals, the media, organized education, organized
9:50 am
religion are all down in the 20's and 30's. washington is down in the single digits. when you have a situation like that, you have a real problem. you have a real, real problem. you add that to the real challenge is out in the world out in- real challenges the world today that we have to adjust to, if you have a government that is not functioning, and we've pretty much had a dysfunctional government the last few years, we can't even pass budgets, you are going to have this tremendous outburst and reaction out there in the populace that things are really bad and going wrong and it breaks down a structure, which
9:51 am
is not good. i prefer to believe that we do balance out. america does self correct. tom used the term equilibrium. we've always done that. we are a nation of laws, we have a constitution, we have a people that make up our society that are so much better than what they are seeing today and the leaders who represent our institutions are showing. >> on that note, thank you very much to both of the hagel brothers. thank you, ladies and gentlemen. [applause] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2017]
9:52 am
>> we are live at the national archives and washington, d.c. where they have just opened an exhibit on the vietnam war with peter dodge. what can you tell us about this helicopter behind us? >> this is the famous cobra, -- wecame about by originally used a charlie model helicopter, part of the lineage of the hueys. modelrted off with an a and a b model and they made a c model. it was a gunship. they needed to carry more armament. this was based off the h model or d model huey aircraft. they made it narrower with two
9:53 am
pilots and a lot more armament. >> when did you serve in vietnam? did you volunteer or were you drafted? >> i was eligible for the draft. rather than being drafted, i enlisted for the draft. they had a program where you can list for the draft. it give you some choice as to what you were going to enlist for. i decided i wanted to try to become a helicopter pilot. famous as a kid watching world war ii movies with world war ii pilots and thought it would be interesting. i had a strong dislike for walking long distances with large weights on my back. >> how different was the vietnam ii that yould war grew up learning about as a kid? >> when i grew up, almost all of
9:54 am
in one way parents or another were involved in world war ii. part of the baby boomer generation. everybody was either in the service or had something to do with the service. just being able to watch the old movies, watch the ground movement, had a particular interest in the aircraft that flew over europe, so that was one of the main reasons i wanted to be a pilot in vietnam. i thought that was where the equivalent of the fighter pilots would be. >> when you went to the training and arrived in vietnam, wasn't anything like you expected? >> absolutely not. you always heard about how hot and humid and everything was a rice paddy -- there are certain parts of vietnam that are like that. i was stationed in a mountainous
9:55 am
area. very green, very lush, beautiful country. we always slept with blankets at night. it was a beautiful view of the area. nothing at all what i thought about as far as what vietnam was supposed to be like. you never have an idea of what war is going to be like. i didn't have any preconceived ideas about the actual war part of vietnam. >> can you describe what a typical day would have been like? >> i did two years, two separate tours. my first tour, i flew the famous h model huey with the one 70th aviation company, known as the bikinis. that was up in the central highlands. our typical day was pretty much fly all day.
9:56 am
we would get up first flight in the morning, get a little breakfast, go to the flight line and be assigned an aircraft, we would usually have the same aircraft and same crew, they would tell us what area we were going to support and we pretty much went out on our own most of the time. we would fly all day. contact the person we were supporting, they would tell us what they needed, whether it was to take supply out troops on the ground that we did everything from taking people out and inserting them into hot areas or picking people up and bringing them fresh food, hot food, change of clothes -- the troops really enjoyed when we brought the mail out. unlike today when they have constant communication with their family, these people would get mail once a week, once every other week or something like that.
9:57 am
it was certainly a high point of their spending time out in the field. the troops on the ground, some of them would spend 2-4 weeks on the ground out in the jungle without getting a break. sometimes without getting a change of clothes. they are out there that long. our job as aviators westerly to support the troops on the ground. >> can you tell us a bit more about this aircraft? it's considered an exalted helicopter -- assault helicopter? >> an armed assault helicopter. of 19 627.the end 1967. it's considered the hot rod of the helicopters at the time. it was a lot of fun to fly, aside from the part that it was dangerous.
9:58 am
you had a front seat or that was a qualified pilot. he sat up there and controlled the backseat or was normally an aircraft commander. he controlled the rocket pods. you could fire the turret in a fixed position. we also had a 40 millimeters grenade launcher. the pilot and copilot gunner would switch duties. the aircraft would be flown from the front. >> just two people? >> just two people. in this one, we get up in the morning and take off and go to where we were being staged and our mission was. once we were out in the field, it was our responsibility to rearm the aircraft, refueled the
9:59 am
aircraft and check over the aircraft to make sure the maintenance and everything was still pliable. talking toou find the public about your service in vietnam? >> this is the third time i've done this type of program. it's a wonderful experience. a lot of people have a lot of misconceptions. it's great for them to come out -- they have seen pictures of cobras but haven't come up and touched one and realized how and how small it is on the inside and how narrow it is. it's been very nice. the people that have come by have been very, very grateful to us and very warm. that came up with his son or grandson yesterday
10:00 am
and said to me how proud he was of us. he said, you know come in the 1960's, i was one of the protesters. he wasn't proud about that at this point. it was really heartwarming to see something like that. >> what was it like for you when you came back from vietnam? what your would that have been? >> i came back from vietnam, i left vietnam -- it was christmas eve of 1970. i was back home in connecticut on the end of christmas day in 1970 that was the termination of my military service. coming back, it wasn't like it is today. we had to fall right back into our civilian way of life. people didn't recognize vietnam veterans. they didn't talk about


info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on