tv Reel America The Screaming Eagles in Vietnam - 1967 CSPAN November 12, 2017 2:20pm-2:51pm EST
portrait in 1984. from his vantage point, hoover had the audacity to dominate -- he wrote a letter into hoover saying how dare you afflict with another hebrew. >> tonight at 8:00 eastern on c-span's q&a. >> each week, real america in theyou archival films 20th century. march 8, 1965, 3500 marines were deployed to vietnam marking the beginning of the ground war. almost 200 america -- almost 200,000 americans were in the country. in 1975, nearly 3 million americans have served in the conflict and more than 68,000 lost their lives.
vietnam came the screaming eagles. the heroic paratroopers of the 101st. their exploits during world war ii could never be forgotten. in december of 1944, outnumbered and surrounded by germans, the members of the 101st correct -- courageously kept fighting. they're acting commander gave the historic reply, no, and they stood until the germans were defeated. it is in this tradition that they serve on the battlefront of vietnam. ♪ on a warm spring day in 1965, several army aviation companies arrived in vietnam aboard the carrier uss you will team up -- iwo jima. it is the beginning of the first of the assault helicopters that will soon fill the air over this embattled land. although south vietnam is infested with the viet cong from
the north and spread down the ho chi minh trail. like a disease, they spread across the southern republic. into this setting come the first of the screaming eagles. the aviation crews of company a, forerunners of the massive american buildup to stop the communist enemy. for the republic, this is a time of desperation. here at the airfield 40 miles southeast of saigon, the job begins for these airmen. along with helicopter crews from other aviation companies, the men of the 101st are to be processed for movement into their new homes in the forward areas of vietnam. their mission now is to create the helicopter bases from which u.s. army forces can be flown into combat against the viet cong. quickly now, they make ready. before the infant to read -- infantry have arrived, these men will do a man sized job.
on the 29th of july, 1965, the first 100 airborne division arrived. the brigade, with its supporting element, is commanded by colonel james philip e, welcomed by ambassador maxwell taylor. and by general william westmoreland. in the ceremonies which follow, he gets his first look at the strife torn shores of vietnam. for the first time the rig aid that the brigade -- the brigade on referrals the flying over the land it is here to protect. to the ambassador the occasion is special as the one-time commander of the 101st speaks to his son, now a member of the screaming eagles. concluding the events, some of the airborne infantryman stage a parachute drop. it is to be one of the few jumps the paratroopers will make in vietnam. the screaming eagles descend toward the earth and the note -- unknown hardships of jungle warfare that they will face in
base in vietnam. while the vietnamese are celebrating the lantern festival, the men of the 327th and 502nd are moving in land to the central highland. their mission is to clear and secure the area as a base camp for the u.s. first cavalry division airmobile which will be arriving in a matter of days. the landings begin. after months of special training at fort campbell, kentucky, this is it, the moment that every man knew would come. a viet cong main force battalion has been reported in the area. and the air forces expect contact. but it does not come. the viet cong are evasive,
biding their time. it is an anti-climax for them. this is the first lesson in vietnam, no big battle went as expected. instead, a nagging war of attrition with primitive booby-traps, snipers, and ambushes in the jungle. only when he thinks the situation is favorable with the enemy show itself. so, the long hard task of ferreting out the communist enemy begins. and the screaming eagles are good at their job. by the end of september they will kill 600. it will be a difficult thing. and some of these airborne fighting men will die. but the job that they are focused on will be done. as the advance elements of the first cavalry division begin
arriving, they commenced taking over the area secured by the eagles. finally the members of the 101st airborne are ready to head south and establish their own home base in vietnam. from the central highlands they move 170 miles to the coastal town. this is to be the permanent camp as soon as it can be built. they work throughout october until the base has been set up. general westmoreland visits on thanksgiving day, 1965, and inspects the camp. he is pleased with their performance and congratulates them on a job well done.
even as he returns to saigon the brigade is conducting local search and clear operations. as the new year begins, the entire brigade is devoid to the -- deployed 120 miles to the north. known as the rice bowl, this is the richest rice growing region in central vietnam. from this fertile area come crops to feed all of the people of central vietnam. but the vietcong have been seizing the harvest and collecting unbearable taxes from the frightened farmers. now comes the screaming eagles
to stop the vietcong. codename operation van buren, the orders read to search out the enemy and destroy him. this assignment will be tedious, the v.c. abandoning dwellings and avoiding confrontation with the americans. yet the district is infested with an enemy who makes continuous night raids. the search goes on. brigadier general willard pearson takes command of the eagles in 1966. these steps -- these steps -- the -- he steps up the pressure on the vietcong. across the broad reaches of the province, the vietcong are pursued. for the most part they evade capture. and withdraw to disappear in underground sanctuaries. in the wake of u.s. military operations, the rice raids
diminished, but the v.c. mingle with the local people, attacking units from the rear at night. on the eighth of february, the deputy commander lieutenant general hankey comes to his loft to evaluate the situation. what he sees convinces him that the enemy is well entrenched and it will require repeated efforts by the 101st to dislodge these communist guerrillas. operation van buren becomes operation harrison. february becomes march. and daily, the screaming eagles patrol the rice fields. enemy main force headquarters are located and hit by the air force by b-52 air raids.
the men of the brigade go into check the results and present --reports to air force intelligence. they leave they go out and -- daily they go out and daily they return. the men of the brigade gain control of the region. the rice crops are saved. operating a small units they kill 516 troops between february . once the men of the brigade receive a visit from robert mitchum.
during this enjoyable interlude there is talk of the glamour of girls in the film world. mr. mitchum is given the opportunity to fire some of the weapons of the real-life euros -- real-life euros -- he arose -- heroes in vietnam. in the middle of april, 1966, the second battalion is left to guard the rice harvest. the rest of the brigade moves out on operation austin. on word to the camp -- on word -- onward to the cambodian border.
here they meet the 101st regiment of the north vietnamese army. for a while the fighting is intense. [mortar firing] the 502nd airborne infantry takes a number of casualties. it takes six days for the u.s. paratroopers to drive the north vietnamese aggressors out of their position in the foothills. the communist regulars are well disciplined, well-equipped, and tenacious. in spite of heavy ground fire, army aviators get in with dust off helicopters and the wounded are whisked away to safety. this is the enemy. when he was captured he was carrying a machine gun made in czechoslovakia. he will not be using it again. as for his comrades, they have
been put to run, and in their hasty flight they have dropped their arms. over 100 of the north vietnamese lie dead in the mountains. victory is ours. but for the screaming eagles, the greatest testing is yet to come. far to the north, the brigade launches operation called -- hawthorne. it is a forbidding wilderness lying in the foothills marking the foot of cambodia. it is the first week of june and the air is heavy and humid. until now the enemies have held sway here. 30 miles north of the little town, airborne engineers erect a crude bridge. a few miles beyond lies a special forces camp which has been under siege by the vietcong for a week. supplies are badly needed and must get through. the first begin crossing. near the bridge, the men of the artillery prepare for another firing mission. they have rained shells on the enemy forces attacking the cap.
-- camp. each time the schilling starts, the -- shelling starts, the enemy withdraws. when it lives, they regroup. despite airstrikes the viet cong have shown no signs of withdrawing but the artillery fire is having a telling effect. [explosions] the screaming eagles are under fire. the enemy has come to silence the guns. communist fire comes from everywhere. albert, the -- out there, the enemy is creeping in. the weighting is agony. -- waiting is agony. then the enemy makes his move. this is it, live or die. [gunfire] in the forefront, general pearson. from bastogne to vietnam, the tradition remains unbroken and magnificent. the screaming eagles. [gunfire and explosions] the battle wanes. a small part of operation hawthorn is over. some of the men of the 101st will fight no more. but for this day the bastions of freedom held. they came, a full battalion. their weapons, not ours, have been silenced. throughout the oppressive days and nights of june 1966 the operation hawthorn continued.
czechoslovakia, even a variety of united states and french and british weapons would have fallen into those same hands. living evidence of the north vietnamese regular army, six out of the 22 taken alive by the screaming eagles. the premier confronts the aggressors -- you are lucky the americans have taken you, he smiles. on the 21st of july, along the borders the brigade returns. a new operation labelled john paul jones gets underway. its purpose is to reopen the bay on the coast, permitting ships to unload at the nearby bay. it begins with elements of the five hundred second infantry landing at the cliff guarded they -- five -- 502nd infantry
landing at the cliff guarded bay. where without recovering resistance they move in land to link up with the oncoming 327th. the inland forces push forward, securing the highway and sweeping the adjoining countryside. supported by helicopter gunships , they cleaned out the operational zone within six weeks. by early september of 1966 they had securely -- secured the bay
and highway one to the north. sweeping through the mountains they capture the enemies and vietcong. [gunfire] while operation john paul jones is still in progress, the engineers begin construction work on the connecting highway. the screaming eagles have done their job well and a new seaport is born. in the weeks that follow they protect the rice farmers as they harvest some 17,000 metric tons of the precious grain. once again the sector becomes a battlefield and the vietcong suffer heavy losses with 259 killed. the vietcong have had enough. they are nowhere to be found.
11 vietnamese are found, however, in a vietcong prison camp. they have apparently received no medical attention in the hands of the communists. held by the vietcong for several months, there are elements -- their ailments range from open sores and skin infections to malnutrition. as well as deformities caused by onset broken bones. this man, a former vietcong who defected and was later captured, cannot tell of his unspeakable nightmare with the enemy. on the ninth of december the odyssey of the brigade continues.
the deployment of the brigade by means of parachute marks the first jump in more than a year for many of the men. but they are in superb physical condition and the jump goes well. as 1966 draws to a close, they take part in operation thicket, fighting side-by-side with vietnamese army forces and militia. the men of the 101st will once again scour the countryside, finding and finishing the enemy. the operations in the province continue until january of 1967. then, after more than a year's absence at their home base, the brigade returns for a rest it seems as though it has been a long time since they first moved the brigade. now, the lst's are taking them home. on the 26th the last convoy rolls into camp. brigadier general willard pearson welcomes the men home. it will be one of his last official acts as brigade commander. two days later general pearson transfers the command of the division to the new brigade
commander, brigadier general matheson. the battle hardened troops watch with solemn pride as to the -- as the lieutenant general tends -- pins the medal of merit on their budding commander. though they did bid farewell to the commander that led them from one end of vietnam to the other, for the screaming eagles and the rest of the united states military forces in vietnam, the valiant effort to keep the young nation free continues. however far removed from our shores, the conflict and those who cherish human dignity and those who would snuff it out affects us all. in this belief the gallant men of the u.s. army stand
steadfast, not only in southeast asia but wherever they may be asked to serve in freedom's cause. collects the american war in the anon raged, lbj's war. from john f. kennedy to gerald r ford. this veterans day weekend, american history tv, 48 hours .ive coverage all weekend every weekend on c-span3.
of the helicopter role for the vietnam war. the national archive hosted this event by remembering the vietnam exhibit. veteransall the anon and those who served during the vietnam era, november 1, 1965 to may 16, 1975, stand and be recognized. [applause] , weeterans, as you exit -- on thech of you back of you.