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tv   Reel America A Day in Vietnam - 1967  CSPAN  November 12, 2017 12:50pm-1:21pm EST

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all right. thank you very much. i will be out in the bookstore. [applause] vietnam,erican war in it was lbj's war but it consumed presidents from john f. kennedy to gerald r ford. this veterans day weekend, american history tv looks back at this divisive war with 48 hours of live coverage, archival footage, and accounts from vietnam war veterans and antiwar protesters. this is american history tv all weekend every weekend on c-span tv.
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>> -- jack: it seems ironic, that while our finest young men are fighting halfway across the world, other young men and women, sick at home, openly advocate abandonment of vietnam to communism. perhaps they really don't know what this war is all about. [baby crying] jack: in the words of a battle weary young marine, they would understand, if they crossed this 10,000 miles of ocean and lived with us. a day in vietnam. ♪ jack: this day, this trip is not to delineate the why of vietnam, rather, it is to see the what and the how of our military operations. to give you a deeper insight into this war and the way it is being fought, while the coordinated effort of all americans in vietnam is vital to
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the success, it is the young men of our navy and marines corps team that we will see first and today, down there in vietnam. we landed on the airfield at da nang. we will travel directly to the headquarters of the third marine amphibious force for a briefing by the operations officer. >> gentlemen, i will give you a brief run-down of our present status in vietnam together with a thumb-nail sketch of the initial landings and subsequent build-ups. as you can see on this map, the seventeenth parallel divides north vietnam from south vietnam. militarily speaking, south vietnam is divided into four areas. the fourth corps area in the south, the third corps, the
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second corps, and in the north, the first corps or as we call it, the i corps area. the area within this i corps is approximately 10,000 square miles with a beach line or coast lineup 167 miles. the third marine amphibious force is responsible for all united states military operations in the i corps area. located here, in about the center of the i corps area, is our major operational base of da nang. you will recall, that it was at da nang, that the initial landings were made by the ninth marine expeditionary brigade. this is now our largest operational base.
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at about here, approximately 50 miles to the south of da nang, is the operational base at chu lai. the marines and the seabees, have built a small airfield for tactical support. our third operational base, is approximately 25 miles to the north of da nang. it is the base at la phube. now although the bulk of our marines are located in or around these three bases, i want to point out that the marines of the third amphibious force have been fighting from one end of the i corps area to the other tip. with so many new and different things for you to see, it is difficult to sort them out in any order. however, it is quite easy to choose what you should see first. our marines. they're the finest. jack: these marines have just returned from a tough battle in the north. they are now in a defensive
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perimeter. their weapons are cleaned and cared for before a thought can be given to personal comfort. a matter of importance in the life of a professional fighting man. this is neither a clean nor an easy life for our men, but they've learned to accept the physical hardships of battle as their fathers did before them. ♪ jack: in this famous hymn, marines recount battles fought in every clime and place. -- climate and place. here in vietnam, except for snow, they prove it. from the soft ooze of the rice patties, they move on through swift running canals and streams. then push forwards into the jungles that from the mountains, where elephant grass tears at
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the skin, vines tangle the feet and giant trees cut off the sun. but it's not just a matter of long walks in the tropical heat. each and every step must be a cautious one, for the viet cong have prepared the way with mines and booby traps, so watch your step. a false one and your ankles are pierced by the nails of a cruel and cunning trap that only digs deeper as you fight to pull away. a hidden shell sits waiting for the unwary foot. and you'll never know which innocent looking piece of grass or fern covers a pit of sharpened, poison bamboo spikes. marine engineers must constantly sweep the roads and trails in search of killer mines. the troops must provide a screen of security behind which americans can assist the vietnamese in the revolutionary rebuilding of their nation. it is necessary to constantly patrol the out-lying villages in the country-side to deny reentry
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to the viet cong. marines initiate literally hundreds of small patrols and ambushes throughout the i corps area. one of the most difficult jobs, in this war without a front, is to distinguish friend from foe. each person must be carefully searched and identified. whether vc or turned up by such scrutiny, or captured in combat, they are treated with unscrupulous fairness, under the rules of the geneva convention. marines have found that such treatment of an often cruel enemy frequently results in a proffering of information that reveals the whereabouts of an enemy force. in possession of such knowledge, marines react quickly. plans are rapidly formulated and a striking force moves out swiftly. ♪ jack: as they move in on the enemy position, they are met by intensive small arms fire that results in some casualties, but the attack is carried to the enemy stronghold.
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[explosions] jack: the viet cong are well dug in. the command decision is to call for artillery higher support to this launch them. -- to dislodge them. the observer gives the exact location to ensure the safety of close elements close by. [explosions] jack: now the troops can make the final assault and move in to destroy the enemy troops and supplies. ♪ jack: many of the hamlets our
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troops approach are known to be friendly, but even they must be approached cautiously for emotional reactions are primal when villagers are first confronted by men with weapons. a vietnamese farmer's entire world is a thatched hut, a small rice paddy, his wife and children. for the past quarter of a century, his village has been a battleground. completely isolated by viet cong destroyed villages and mined roads. the vc wanted food, they took his rice. they wanted soldiers, they shanghaied his sons. his village chief objective was beheaded. his neighbors who protested were beaten. he can trust no one. the viet cong told him the marines would come to seize homes, murder children and enslave entire families. anyone who helped americans, the vc said, would be tortured and killed. so, quite naturally, trust and confidence grow slowly, nurtured by little acts of promises fulfilled.
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surely the stranger who binds one's wounds does not intend to murder and always the marines first question is "what can we do to help you?" when the viet cong have been driven out of the area, a combined action company is formed to provide security for the village. marines and south vietnamese popular forces, militia men from the village work and train together in this company. their patrols and ambushes prevent viet cong re-infiltration. the villagers and their head man live unmolested. ♪
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jack: with this security, fear is replaced by hope and the desire to build for the future. marines work side by side with the village people constructing churches, hospitals and schools. american generosity provides the building tools, even the very bricks and mortar. through many civic actions funds, and the marine corps reserve care program is one of them, americans are giving much to help in rebuilding this nation and its people. in classrooms such as this, children, and adults, too, are learning for the first time of the vast potentials of our free and democratic system. it is on this other front in the battle to win the hearts and minds of vietnamese people that will determine the kind of world their children and our children too will come to inherit. the navy corpsman with his bar of soap and his bag of medical gear all ready is well loved by the vietnamese people. symbol of america's helping hand. but he is only one of 100,000
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navy men committed to the war in vietnam. [baby crying] jack: four many of the blue jackets, it's an unusual and new kind of shallow water warfare. operating fast, small boats, and shallow transports the hunt down and destroy the waterborne viet cong. they hunt down and destroy the water-borne viet cong army and act as advisors to the vietnamese navy as move their troops along the water high roads as they prepare their troops for an attack along the vc encampments. just off the coast, other men of the navy and coast guard are on constant patrol to stop and search thousands of small ships and junks. many are carrying supplies intended for the viet cong. this blockade is known as operation market time.
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it involves the surveillance of 1000 miles of the coast from the seventeenth parallel to the gulf of siam. tough duty, but it's drying up an arterial lifeline from north vietnam. well offshore, in the deep blue of the china sea, is the backbone of our navy sea service forces, the aircraft carrier. it's a floating mobile airbase complex. over 4000 men live and work on his sea-going city. to keep the ship in operation and its pilots in the air requires the effort of a community of freeman, engineers, clerks, doctors, mechanic, pipe fitters, radar men, cooks and bakers their working day averages twelve hours. it can be eighteen or even
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longer when air operations are underway, and planes are being sent aloft at 30 second intervals. [planes taking off] jack: about half of all combat sorties over north vietnam have been flown by navy and marine pilots. it's a dangerous job. sometimes not all the planes come safely back. a search and rescue helicopter hurries on its way when that radio distress call, "mayday" signals a pilot in trouble. he could be down in the open sea, or deep in the jungle. their job is to find him and bring him back. on this mission, photographed by a navy cameraman, the pilot was forced to eject beside a rocky cliff along the forbidding coast line a few miles south of hai
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phong. the helicopter cannot get close enough for a direct lift so a swimmer hits the water. ♪ jack: search and rescue is costly, difficult and dangerous. but the value placed on a single life makes any effort
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worthwhile. ♪ [explosions] jack: the many other ships accompany the carrier, one such is the destroyer. the "tin can," the "work horse" of the fleet. indispensible to the marines ashore and the navy at sea, in vietnam, the skillful placement of supporting fire of the destroyers has often been a vital factor in the success of marine infantry operations ashore. [explosions] jack: another fleet operation in the south china sea is the amphibious task force. it supports teams of marines and their helicopters which collectively are known as the "special landing force." the slf operates from a specially designed ship that is a combination troop ship and helicopter carrier called an lph.
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with almost lightening speed, a special landing force could strike from the sky by helicopter and across the beach by amphibious vehicle in a highly effective two-pronged assault. the slf has been employed at many points along the coastal south vietnam. these marines are part of the air attack group in the operation of which we are going to participate today. as they head towards land, and a new battlefield, the minds of the fighting men are occupied by their own thoughts. their own prayers. even for those who have taken part in many previous operations, the race to a new unknown always carries with it that special feeling in the pit of his stomach. ♪ jack: we fly above the beach assault force, for our helicopter landing zone is well inland, behind the enemy position. we expect to catch him by surprise. the helicopter force will block
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him from escaping toward the west while the beach assault group offloads swiftly, then moves inland to play the hammer against the anvil. ♪ jack: as marines push through the jungle, they must overcome natural obstacles, as well as enemy hiding some place in the dense growth. a river to cross is a welcome coolness. but its water support a myriad of leeches that slip inside clothing to fasten on the skin. the wounds they leave are easily infected in this tropical climate. in deep jungle ravines, the troopers slip down and climb
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back endlessly with every foot they advance. now you are with them. and watch where you step and where you grab. a movement in the shadow beneath you could be a vicious, giant rodent. a harmless looking vine might be a poisonous snake. even the trees in this rain forest are hostile. they grow so thick their triple canopies bring darkness at noon. hang onto the man in front of you or you're lost in this midnight gloom. then suddenly out of the misty darkness, contact. [gunfire] [explosions] jack: the enemy has good position and appears to be superior in numbers. so the marines call in their equalizer, their support from the sky. this is the moment for which
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these pilots have been prepared. for which they've been ready and waiting. [planes taking off] jack: approaching the target area, contact is made with a forward air controller. this marine is an aviator attached to a ground unit. he gives the pilots all the information to provide pinpoint close air support for the ground troops, a marine corps specialty. [explosions] jack: it is what was needed to even up the odds.
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and the infantry actions, powerful and positive, destroying the remaining enemy. we have our casualties. but our fatalities from combat inflicted wounds have been cut to less than 2% because of the speed with which a wounded man can be moved from the battlefield to skilled surgical help. while a navy corpsman gives emergency aid, a med-evac team is being brought in in that mechanical angel of mercy called a helicopter. usually less than 30 minutes after being hit, a seriously wounded man is in the operating room. either at a field hospital, or aboard the u.s.s. repose, a hospital ship that has been a welcome addition to our medical facilities in the combat zone. [helicopter] jack: the gleaming white ship carries everything that would be found in the most modern hospital ashore. a full staff of doctors, nurses and corpsmen functions with the same efficiency as the crew that moves the ship into the area
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where the action is. though battle wounds are the cause of most of the serious casualties, there are many more that result from the environment. heat prostration, immersion foot, malaria, these can be as devastating to our combat effectiveness as much as bullets or punji pits. but the knowledge that quick and efficient shore care is close at hand helps keep morale high in the rice paddies. ♪ jack: but the red cross, which symbolizes our medical units, is not the only cross in vietnam. where ever the marines and sailors go, the chaplain also goes. whether it is for morale and spiritual counseling, a friendly word to a lonely man, or the softening of unpleasant news from home, the chaplain is on the scene. be it a stretch of sand or a clearing in the jungle, it becomes a church as he sets up his alter. the men gather to worship in the same familiar routine of
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devotion as their families back home. as he holds service, the chaplain cannot dismiss the thought, will they all return? he knows full well that won't all come back alive. prayers are said, a letter is written home to the family, yet so little can be done for this one who has given so much. there will be no more tales of exciting adventure in a far off land. no more plans for his education, his family, his home. he may have been a lad not quite a man in years, but he gave us a man's greatest treasure, his life, and he gave it not unknowingly. these men prove everyday they understand the why in vietnam. listen to a few letters written home by these young men, some of whom have since been killed. >> those boys who are burning their draft cards, marching in
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protest, getting married and hiding behind an education show me that they aren't mature enough to accept the responsibility for being an american. and therefore, they don't deserve to be called an american. mom, i don't want to die over here. but if that is what it takes, to make the world a better place for you and dad, and everyone, then giving my life won't be in vain. >> i try to love my fellow man. no matter who or what he is. i find it hard to believe that american men and women could object to u.s. servicemen being here in vietnam. if those people who parade, protest and tell us we are fighting a useless war had to live without their freedom, they'd change their point of view. please don't think i'm trying to talk or act like a hero because i'm far from it.
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i'm just trying to do my part in this war. but it's a war that i'd gladly give my life for if it would help bring freedom to the people here and help it grow stronger in our own country. the day i left home to come over here, i kissed my kids goodbye, and my wife had tears in our eyes. i'm just like thousands of other service men here in vietnam who dream of seeing our families and loved ones again. i do not wish to die here. but, i have no fear of death. i know my god is real, and my trust and faith is in him. keep praying for me. as i shall pray for you. >> it's a lousy war. as is any war. but it's going to be fought sometime and some place. i hate to see what it's doing to these poor people here in vietnam. but i'd rather it be here, than in minnesota.
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if and when my time to go comes, i will go. i'll go because i know the meaning of the word "freedom." i'll go because i love my family, i love my country and i love my god. call it any name you will, from foolishness to sacrifice, but be sure to include love. ♪ jack: this is the end of our day in vietnam. a glimpse of the war that is being waged all day, everyday. by these young men who are growing up in hurry, 18, 19, 20 years old, they were boys when they got here. they've become men overnight. the suffering, hardships and sorrow they bear, not only their own, but what they see in others around them has helped to make them compassionate, tolerant and mature.
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the young men who comprise the vast bulk of our navy and our marine corps who are seldom seen on television, who are rarely interviewed by the press. these men are, as they have always been, the truly strong men of our nation. only a couple years ago, these young men would have been embarrassed to tell what patriotism meant to them, how much they loved their homes, their god, their country. now they daily risk their lives for their beliefs. this vast cross section of america, its young, tired, gallant fighting men, this is not only the face of america, this is the heart of america. they will return, most of them. but that valiant heart will keep beating, only if it is nourished and sustained by the rest of america. and these men are the true heroes of the war, the young men of your navy and your marine corps. whatever they are and ultimately what ever our country is, we owe
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to them and their brothers in the other services. past, present and future. ♪ >> 50 years ago, the united states is at war with vietnam. c-span3 looks back with 40 hours of coverage. railamerica, a vietnam special report. is due tother it clever tactics or bad fighting conditions, the weather or the terrain, it seems clear that the american military of fences along the dmz has bogged down, like the marines in the mud. >> then come at six got, on american artifacts, we will tour an exhibit remembering vietnam. presidenthe 1967
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lyndon johnson vietnam war conference. >> we made our stamen to the war of what we would do. -- we made our statement to the war of what we would do. we said we would stand with those people in the face of common danger. there were times when we had to put up and shut up. we put up and were there. >> watch the vietnam war 50 years later this weekend on american tv on c-span3. c-span, where history unfold daily. 1979, c-span was created as a public service by america's table -- cable television companies and is brought to you today by your cable or satellite provider. >> up next, on american history veterans, the author
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of a vietnam veterans, and untold story. she talks about women who served in the vietnam war. the national archives in washington, d.c. hosted this event in conjunction with the opening of their remembering vietnam exhibit. >> i ask all vietnam veterans and any united states veteran who served during the vietnam to may 15,er 1, 1955 1975 to stand and be recognized. [applause] >> thank you for your service, and welcome home. archives and volunteers will present each of you with


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