tv Vietnam War Army Platoon Leaders CSPAN October 21, 2018 8:45pm-9:58pm EDT
bush, we feature "the presidency." watching american history tv, on the weekend, every weekend on c-span three. >> next, from the virginia military institute, two u.s. army vietnam war veterans recalled their experiences leading enlisted soldiers and draftees as platoon leaders. this 70-minute event is part of a conference entitled "the vietnam war at 50: critical reappraisals." are going to jump off this afternoon and jump from a strategic level down into the operational and tactical level. this afternoon, we have a distinguished panel of vietnam veterans, each of whom was a small unit leader and was them -- among the last of the united
states military officers to lead a combination of regulars and draftees. regulars and draftees, true citizen soldiers. we are honored to have two panelists today work top patterns. l from the emi class of 1967 you had two years of active service, including command of two infantry commands. he is a decorated veteran who was twice wounded and decorated
the times for valor in battle. leaving the service, he had a career in investment banking, venture capital, and technology, that has spanned 30 years. he is the author of many articles on military history topics and he has appeared as a television commentator on military history and technology on the history and military channels. now we can get them around up applause. -- now we can give them around all caps laws. [applause] our second panelist is an associate professor of history, style are, andht founding faculty advisor to the veterans association of texas tech. he is also a combat veteran, and
interstate 15, was inducted into the officer candidate school hall of fame at the national preventing,eum at georgia. he is the author of two books on the war, including "not a an inside view: of junior officers in the vietnam war," which speaks directly to this panel's topic. please welcome him. [applause] we had planned a third panel is to represent the united states marine corps. also a member of the emi class of 1967. however, due to the if x of hurricane florence and more than one tree down at the top of his as his work as a volunteer first responder for
his community, he was unable to come. we wish him and his entire community a swift recovery. again, i will moderate the panel and begin with a couple of questions. please raise your hand and be recognized and the microphone will come to you. let me start with a question to both of you gentlemen. could you please spend a little bit of time and tell us why you joined the united states army in the middle of a hot war, and tell us a little bit about your initial training and assignments as you deployed to vietnam. let's start with phil. in myhink the army, family was kind of a family business. we had someone in the u.s. army from the spanish-american war,
fought in every major war. we did not get here during the civil war, guys. we got here late. 1880's. my father served in rss in the second world war. my father was a career officer. i was an army brat. i grew up in the army. i always wanted to lead on american soldiers. the 1950's. army of it was not the army my father fought in in 1952. it certainly was not the army we fought in in vietnam. i wanted to lead soldiers. i wanted an army commission. packaged curriculum in civil engineering and i was not going to set through four years of that to get to a regular commission, so i came to and a really funny right school. and immediately after graduating in 1967 -- and by the way.
in 1963.n 1963 was an advisory war. there was no knowledge we would send ground troops to vietnam. by 1967, it was gigantic, sending people from all directions of the was no question it would be full deployment for infantry officers. my first the 82nd airborne division. days, the army's attitude in the 1960's, our school was 1967 and our group was supposed to go through training in our various branches and get some stateside experience before we went to vietnam. that was really the policy. through the summer of 1967. i led my platoon through several major exercises, mostly night jumps and combat exercises down
in florida. canceled the exercise and pulled us back to bragg. everything was in chaos. i was still a second lieutenant. we went to the area and we were there during the battle and that we can talk about that a little bit later. that is the run-up to why and how i got to go to vietnam. ron? ron: i guess my situation could not be any more different. i was a graduate student in detroit, michigan. i have been watching this war on television for a long time and trying to figure out all the ways to avoid it. like many students that were in graduate school and masters
programs and business administration, our goal was to get a good job and make a lot of money. i am a college professor, so you obviously know i failed at one of my first goals in life. but i had a 1a -- my draft s until and it had been 2 i got to graduate school and it 1a verys and it became quickly. i try to get into the air force and my eyes were not good enough. i try to get into the navy and my math scores were not good enough. i volunteered to go into the army. i went down to the recruiting station. i also what the options were. they said, well, with an nba, if you end up going to vietnam, you
will certainly be in saigon riding jackson doing logistics and things like that. checks and doing logistics and things like that. i signed up for the finance corps. then something happened in january. the tet offensive. they called me in and said, mr. change the rules now. the rules are, if you want to be in the finance core, even if you ba, you must go to burst.y ocs if you graduate in the top three of your class -- not 3%, top 3 -- you can then choose the finance core. for any of you know anything if younfantry osc,
graduate in the top three, possibly the last thing you would choose would be vp finance core. in theommissioned infantry. sc experience i had was quite good. actually, when i got out, when i went back to school to earn my phd, i did research on what the officer candidate school is and what rotc is and what west point is in terms of commissioning and what i found was a program that i really believe was some of the very best training that a person can have. 82nd airborne the .ivision i got to go into operation deep furrow in turkey. jumps, i believe.
i enjoyed every moment of it. someone he was very interested in becoming the best leader i possibly could be in the event that i went to vietnam. i got my orders for vietnam when i was with the 82nd airborne division, and those orders the militaryg to advisers training program at kennedygg, the john f. school. that i went to the defense right widget institute to learn the vietnamese language because i was going to be an advisor. as sometimes happens with military matters, after becoming fluent in enemies -- in vietnamese, they sent me to amount of village where nobody -- to a mountaintop
village where nobody spoke vietnamese. a i served my one year in place that was midway between two cities on highway 14 and i had one year as an infantry advisor -- what we just heard in our last presentation -- the self-defense forces. gray: great. before we go on with the personal side i would like dr. lam, could you talk about the results of your research? you did an excellent analysis of three commissioning sources eriod, and share with us what the various officer sections were doing to repair their officers to be small unit leaders. : typically, up until
the alarm, 70% of all commissioned officers were commissioned through the -- up of allietnam, 70% commissioned officers were commissioned through the rotc programs. of the vietnamg war, there were 16,000 rotc cadets in america. three years later there were 40,000. rotc programs around the country -- some places actually closed, stanford, harvard, brown. they dropped the rotc programs because of the school's opposition to the war. someone had to make up that need as we ramped up the need for junior officers in vietnam. , i think they almost tripled their class-size, but
that would be four years before those men in those days could --ome kind that leaders combat leaders. so, officer candidate school had to make up the difference, and as i said earlier they closed virtually all of the noncombat officer candidate schools. you could go to infantry armor or artillery, officer candidate school. -- actually,ack when i was riding my doctoral dissertation back in 2004, i started doing research. calledas a line strategic lessons learned in vietnam that essentially said there were a lot of bad junior officers, and that is what motivated me to write that
particular book. so started looking at commissioning sources, and what , sendingas the army to see teams to vietnam who were most ready, what officers were most ready to lead men in the concession of all of these was that most likely the best officers were coming out of officer candidate school. part of that may have been because the numbers were so high. but what they were finding is that the cap -- the officer candidate school, the ones that were doing their best to replicate the experiences one would receive in combat, mostly through stress. i know some people talk about the 90-day wonders -- it really was not 90 days in
vietnam. months.ix and everyone who had come into officer candidate school had already been in the army six months. year as anyou had a enlisted soldier by the time you got your commission. that means it made sense for those men to be the most capable of leading men in combat. also read in my research, i found a lot of disparaging remarks made of some graduates of west point, that they were too arrogant, and i am not buying that. i served with a lot of west point graduates. found thereesearch were a lot of situations where the west point people were not quite as an -- as understanding of who they were leaving, many of which were draftees. that research pointed out that the officer candidate schools
right.rt of getting it the other thing that impressed me the most about what the army was doing in those days is, even though the need was so high for junior officers, they didn't change their desire and their goal of having even ocs graduates be college graduates. made sense,ld have just from a stand on donating bodies, for them to have done away with that requirement, they pretty much held close to that. in my ocs class, which graduated of 1969, that class was 95% college graduates. that's pretty hard for an officer candidate class. >> great. would you pick up your story and talk to us when you got into
vietnam, and can you give us a little flavor for the unit you are commanding and leading and what they were like? >> sure. i had to combat tours. you want the -- two combat tours. you want the first one first. two different kinds of soldiers. were allrst one, they paratroopers, volunteers, 82nd airborne, very well-trained. every man in my platoon and all the ncos had been in country was before, some twice. they were very good, motivated soldiers. we trained together in the states. we jumped together on exercises. i knew everyone my men. we deployed together. they were very tight. they were part of a company. --were slaughtered into a slotted into a company that had not worked together before.
we were an augmentation platoon because the division was under stress. they had to augment it with platoon inserts from other brigades. nonetheless, because they were all paratroopers and everybody knew the pattern, they operated extremely well together and that during that battle. i only lasted five weeks before i was wounded. let all those five weeks, my ncos looked after me and i looked out for them. we had a very tight outfit. the second tour was very different. i went to the first cavalry division, which had a great reputation as a hard-hitting combat division. everyone knows -- think about the image of the first cav. it was a unit that had some 400 helicopters that could lift up infantry brigades, fly in all the supplies and heavy artillery and back them up. yet the division was 70%
draftees. my company was 75% to draftees. i had a real lack of ncos. above 85 in my company. they were operating as squad ample soon leaders. andnd the leaders -- platoon leaders. they were sent in as individual replacements in an infantry company in combat all the time. they turned out to soldiers. you ask yourselves what would be in a anacteristics inferior operation. they respected there and seo leaders come even though they were very young. the junior ncos, that's all i had. they didn't have real tactical
competence or understanding of the company level. iran that. they were really good. a couple of other things about them is that we had no opportunity to train together. the turbulence of personnel in the vietnam war was extreme area every town we got the supplies, every five or six days by her, someone was either coming in are leaving. the company was understrength in the first place. the rifle company's spouse to be four platoons. we had three. we had 140 minutes at 175. my three put kilometers that's my three plus -- my three platoon leaders. that's how turbulent it was. took an ad, when i in the field from an officer who
had made really bad at tactical decisions, one that got two good men killed, he was pulled back to -- either way, i was wounded in april of 1968 -- by the way, i was wounded in april of 1968. went back to vietnam and had 10 months of command in a paratroop company behind me and then i went to the first cav. i was sent out to be the first xo. the officer who was commanding at that time made a couple of bad decisions. the battalion commander pulled him up to battalion headquarters and i was given command of the company, first first tally -- still first battalion. i got the company together on the firebase and i said to them, look, that's then, this is now. if you follow what i tell you and your ncos are going to listen to what i tell you and
you listen to me, most of you will come home alive. the shortest way to go home alive is to go right through the north vietnamese army. if you slack off on that, they will be looking for you as an opportunity to hit you hard. we are going to have light discipline and noise discipline and tactical instruction. we put them through an accelerated little tactical training and then we went back out on a combat assault and they were like a new company. for the next 10 months, they were really great soldiers in the field. six months, i'm sorry, that one. it was a real challenge. they were draftees. you would think these are the people at attitude problems and they weren't. that union still has -- that unit still has reunions every year. most are from the midwest. inewhere in that every -- that area every year they get together and tell were stories about how we were in vietnam. they really bonded. the radio calls was foggy day,
which was ironic. but they were great soldiers. and over again, given the two types of units, the ones that really performed above my expectations were the draftees. is that ok? that's the difference between the two units. -- canyou tell us of the you tell us a little bit -- you are an advisor -- can you give us a flavor for the difficulties of walking in and being an american who' now can't speak with them? can you give us a flavor for that experience? i went there in june 1970. you went to what was called a .eppo dempo -- repo depot you started hearing rumors about
why you are going to a particular place. the central highlands at that time, while it had been going on, the first fourth infantry division was there and they were going home. we knew, if you went to the central highlands, you would be one of just a few americans. there would be no more americans in that province. everything you did would be with your advisees, with your mountaineer troops. the first day that i got there, i asked to see my troops. my troops formed up. they were wearing loincloth's. they were carrying their weapons . this is 1970. browning automatic rifles, , --ns single shot shotguns
the stephen single shot shotguns, and the machine gun. that was the weapons of my troops. and i'll tell you what. a thompsoner with submachine gun, give him to tracers and he will shoot that bird out of the sky, at least on the second tracer. i thought, wow, these are some dedicated soldiers. -- andre soldiers who i'm still mature why and this is my next book -- why they love the americans as much as they .id they weren't fond of vietnamese, either the enemy lines or the allies. that's a subject for anthropologists to deal with, i guess.
but the responsibilities i felt with a mobile advisory team -- i was a mobile advisory team leader -- i was with a heavy heavy weapons and co and a medic. a team of five going out into the villages, teaching to set up night ambushes and that sort of thing. forces, mostense of whom were over the age of 50. my responsibility to understand as a leader was why they are dealing with a war for which they probably don't care very much about who wins, as long as the fighting stops.
that was the greatest challenge that i had. it was all over, when i left after a year, i had a feeling -- and maybe it will come up later -- our combat was over on and -- overrun and we had left a lot of people. i felt maybe i hope we had taught a few things that would help keep many of those families , particularly the young children, help them keep alive until the end of the war. if you remember the vietnam history, it was the central highlands where the north vietnamese and the ho chi minh campaign came down the ho chi minh trail and then turned east and thatinto a town was the first big city to fall in the central highlands. after that fell, the goal of
getting to saigon became. much easier. but being an advise your -- became much easier. that being an advisor in a war where the people you are atising are being worked -- very hard, it is very difficult. >> you faced many challenges in both of your combat tours. what are the one or two biggest challenges you faced as a commander in battle? >> i was told by a lieutenant those my battalion commanders were superb officers. my battalion commanders were superb officers. good nottold me it is to be too concerned about your soldiers.
i did not understand what the hell he was talking about. he had not ever commanded in combat. he was from a class -- i think it was 1955 or 1956, and had not commanded soldiers in combat. i thought, i will take that under advisement. but the biggest challenge i have -- i will tell you what the operation environment we had. we were in war zones see, along the cambodian border, triple canopy rain forest or rubber plantations, miles and miles of them. you heard those early lectures to search and destroy. that was our job. regular army, 276, two 73rd regimens were operating against us. their job was to go all the way down the ho chi minh trail -- i
give them great credit for doing all of that, mostly on foot. once they got into cambodia, up. would rest we had already seated cambodia to them as a free zone. borderuld come over the into these bunker complexes in south vietnam, on our side of the border, and then they would rest up and refit. then they would move against american fire bases. you ask yourself what the mission of the north vietnamese was, it was not to integrate themselves. the north vietnamese were to come over enforce and focus on our installations to kill as many americans as they could and attack our fire bases and our base areas and they dictated the tempo of that engagement. our job was to find them first and kill them or capture them. operating in this thick jungle along the order, we were
basically bait for these north vietnamese units. i knew that. my men knew that. colonel would say that you will lose people when you follow the mission order. what was happening in that area, --se bunker, says the enemy bunker complexes the enemy built were very strong. there were firing right at ground level. they were quickly camouflaged, heavy overhead cover. they were so coordinated that your point group got into these other complexes, shot down, pinned down, and you would have to maneuver against them. we would have to move very slowly in order to not blunder it in one of these ocher complexes by mistake. that is what he was talking about. i was moving slowly. the brigade knew it, the battalion knew it.
you send a couple of radio messages and said, can you pick it up? with the tactical? i can't move any faster and they respected that. my concern was to lose man for no good purpose by moving too fast. my entire command over this six months that i had that company, i lost for men. we killed a lot of north vietnamese, but i only lost for men. i had a lot of respect for the enemy. as light infantry, they were good. they were ideologically motivated. and they would come in close. if we did not meet them in these bunker complexes, we were bumping into them in the jungle. that was a dirt floor texas bar knife fight, heavily armed with automatic weapons.
in the first verse in a jungle fight, everybody disappears. they hit the ground. when you are a company commander, you move for you -- you move where you can best influence the action. operators, aio recon sergeant, and a senior medic. we had a command group of about six people. yet, when the fighting started, i had to move to find a ball and move them into position. you can't do all that by radio. the challenge was getting people motivated. in my case, every time we hit action, everything slowed down. i would pull a soldier and tell him what i wanted him to do and have him read it -- repeat it back to me. all this while the canada be is
being shot to pieces by what is going over your head or -- the canopy is being shot to pieces by what is going over your head or around you. just like noses navy in the 1812, we had people wounded by pieces of trees being blown out anyone who has not been in southeast asia, you would not understand. you can't hide from enemy automatic weapons fire. it's coming from several different angles and you've got your men down and you don't know where they are. you have to move. that was a great challenge. all of that combined was what it took in a firefight. out to myget a shout brother jim joyner. he was a company commander in my
battalion. jim is a great soldier. he was doing the same thing i was doing. [applause] i would like to open it up to some of your questions for panelists. wait for the microphone to come to you, please. , youn, after you got back made the conscious decision to ofto the bastion pointy-headed liberal academics
at university. was that a huge transition for you? was it a difficult thing for a combat veteran to move into a place that was most commonly associated with the antiwar movement? know how liberal texas tech university is -- [laughter] thanks for that, andy. it was. i was in the gas industry for 27 years. i got tired of doing that and i went to school at the university of houston to earn my phd in 1999. i took a class called the vietnam war. i had to take some leveling classes. i had two masters degrees, but i did not have enough history hours, so they made me take undergraduate degrees. so i took this course called the vietnam war.
i went in for a few days. it was a television course. televised live to whoever was watching it at 3:00 in the afternoon. the professor was talking about in februaryat -- of 1965. he said some sappers came through the wire with some satchel chargers, and a student raised their hand and said, sir, peron't know what a sap or satchel charge is and says, well, i could, but there is a that couldfront row explain it better than i can.
that thereold me was are some things that are not being taught about the vietnam war. when i decided was that my research would really be on soldiers' behavior. taughtfound, what they every day virtually in that course -- and i have seen it in other courses -- everybody talks as if the war was fought in washington, hanoi, and saigon. they forget about soldiers that are doing things on the ground, both sides, all sides. my search has really been around that. was a hold for that e forof research -- a hol that type of research, despite the conservative liberal nature. i ignored that and tried to do what i think is proper. and that is to teach students
that this was a fit more that affect a lot of people. there are a lot of nuances associated with it. and read and everything, like all of us do. but the truth of the matter is, if we all want to stipulate the fact that there was a war, whether we should have been there or shouldn't have been there, it's probably less important to me than the fact that we were and therefore there is a lot of research to be done about what happened there are that is what i have chosen to do. >> great question. [applause] >> good afternoon. worked since both of you not infantry primarily, i'm in army rotc, but my question is, with all the stuff you learn, tactically and everything andlearned at fort benning working with your rotc's or
wherever you were, did you find that those things in vietnam worked or did you have to improvise and over a doubt? another question is -- i'm assuming you spent a lot of time with the are finn troops. what was your opinion of them? they work really well with you guys? >> never worked with them on either to work. tour.either the best thing to prepare me for vietnam was rangers school. nothing i did in vietnam was as asficult physically or mentally challenging other than making the right decision under fire then ranger.
any delta of these days or seal training is probably the toughest course the army had at the time. four seals in my ander class, which is 2-67, none of them finish the course. these are real guys from seal team 1. we didn't know who they were in the 1960's. and they did not make it. in those days, the navy's mission for seals and it out the water line. they were great at doing things 60 feet in the north atlantic in winter. but in the jungles of vietnam, they were not set up for that. the things they taught us in infantry officer basic, the instructors were all back from vietnam and they taught us case studies etc., but you really learn it on the ground.
to best thing i learned really prepare me was ranger training and i was really grateful. classctical officer in my m, decoratedmar with the medal of honor. when he taught, you listened. does that answer your question? ok. >> i did work with them. i was at a district headquarters leaders were those officers. i thought they were pretty good soldiers. i happened to be someone who fell in love with the vietnamese people, even when i was there, because i worked so closely with them. i go back to vietnam every summer now to teach.
it's because of my love for the vietnamese people. what i found to be disconcerting -- and i have a couple of vietnamese phd students who are doing research on the role of the arvin in terms of their relationship to the americans. one student of mine, her particular thesis is, the closer you worked with them, the more respect you had for them. what we found mostly is that the rumor mill being that a lot of american soldiers, by virtue of them being there only for one year, they heard about the arvins performance in a particular battle but they were not really there to witness it. so rumors started spreading about the cowardice, how they so this particular student of
mine is trying to really research some of those battles where the arvn took place and things i cover each in cedar falls in junction city and several of the operations where they were actively involved with american soldiers. to kind of see if we can work our way through the myths that exist. they did as good a job as you can expect them to do under the circumstances. a lot of times, the attitude soldiers had about the americans was interesting because remember, most american soldiers, even though we are out in the field a lot, these were these big base camps at all these places with bars and the swimming pulls. the way we like to fight for is an tremendous comfort. said of our arvn allies
fine, do that for one year and then you go home. and we will have to stay here to continue to fight. in a lot of ways, those attitudes need to be better researched and we will try to give you some of that with texas. >> thank you. >> i've a question for both of you. you mentioned the three sources andonditioning, the ocs west point you said there were a few that were arrogant. what is your assessment of rotc commissions? you are sitting next to one and i would like to know what you got from vmi to prepare you. >> the research i found about rotc commission sources is very good. not just schools like vmi and places like that where we would believe it would probably be positive because of the military atmosphere that is
created. even as schools where the rotc cadets are students that happened to be r.o.c. d -- rotc cadets or the other way around, we found it to be positive. that washe reason for theuse as the war goes on, officers, junior officers are getting draftees and they are also college-educated or had a few years before the lottery system pulls them into the army. what that meant was you were commanding people sort of like you. in some senses you are a cadet or rotc student and you saw the movement at your university going on so you sort of understood where soldiers were coming from and you did the best you could to still get good
service out of them. i think what he was talking about, you had draftees that probably had two or three years of college. there is nothing wrong with an educated soldier. they may question some of the things you're doing, but it'll make you think about whether that is correct order or not. of the teenagers going to vietnam to see about the commissioning sources were very positive about rotc. i think the reason ocs came out on top was that it was because it was an immediate thing. , once theydets through their program, they went to infantry officer basic course and went there as an officer. they were treated a certain way because they were an officer, whereas the ocs commissioning sources, you are an enlisted man for the entire, essentially one
year. you are basically a i.t. and then had six months of ocs. by the time you had become an officer, you had been an illicit man for one year and that was a positive thing for leadership. >> i will tell you a little vignette about osac. vietnam,y two tors in one day, the second lieutenant knox, and henard came to us. going through his file, he was --uming a cum laude graduate --was assuming cum laude he was a superb officer. i do not find out until later that his father had been in the
second world war, a legendary --racter who was a jeff berg jet berg. go up in this academic environment. and i got to him one day and i said what the hell did you do that for? you could've gone through rotc at harvard. >> he said i was not about to lead american soldiers in combat and stand up in front of them to tell them i went through some blank program at harvard. had youou realize failed out of ocs or had not made the grade, you would be sent to vietnam as an infantry meant -- infantrymen. never my case.s and he was right. i spoke with several officers in vietnam and my father went through ocs in the second world war. the program was designed to
produce a lot of leaders fast. in the affinity they have for the army, because they came in through the army program, is very good. copleyan officer named j -- jay copley and he was an ocs product. he had been wounded severely on his first tour. so severely they thought he died. that, hegot through came to our unit in 69, and never mentioned the previous experience. he was one of the most -- company commanders. he was tenacious to a fault. it wasn't until years later that we got together, maybe four years ago down to bennington. i watched them get the dsc for the first sifight where they thought he was killed.
vmi,d what i learned from a lot. somebody mentioned the fact that ocs puts you under a lot of stress. they do and you get four years of it. when i was commissions, i was asked a couple of times by senior officers if i was a prior serviceman. where did i learn to stand up information, talk to troops like that, hold myself the way i did? officers who were looking at my ou ours. -- ours. the mi gives you something that is different from a lot of the aro other tc schools -- all other rotc schools. full basket full of stuff that you would never gone through going through will be -- will you marry. -- william marry.
>> my class will have its 50th commemoration and here. we have been having reunions about every two years. 40th, wewith our completely lost track of everybody. we were the only ocs class in history that were airborne qualified before we went to ocs because of a mistake the pentagon made. kp orive us a choice of airborne school. [laughter] and the director of the airborne school came out to our formation admitted theythey give us propaganda about jumping out of inept line -- out of an airplane. they said anybody too scared to jump out of the airplane, take one step forward. you look up and down and,
nobody. we all jumped out of airplanes instead of ok p. those unusual because we had an entire group of the attack officers meaning we were all pretty proud of ourselves before we even started being beat on by them. we have that's reunion every year and it is amazing to see the success of those people since ocs. they have gone on to be as successful as you talk about. successful lawyers, doctors, ambassadors, generals, and all these kinds of really cool things. >> a question on your. i've wondered for a long time , and i blame this on mcnamara, what do you think the impact -- and if there is any hard data on the impact of the decision to only allow company commanders to be commanders for six months on the war, but particularly on
leadership. what kind of things does that say about leadership of junior officers? >> i think it was a terrible decision. if you want to go even further than that, the one-year tour of duty was an issue in terms of how our allies solve the commitment to the war itself. the six months toward duty -- to ur of duty, it takes at least that long just to know your ale and all of a sudden to be yanked out of it made no sense whatsoever. the argument was, one of the arguments, was that combat stress will get to you. at the same time, it is combat stress on your allies side and all the enemies too. i think it was a mistake and i don't think it was efficient in the new way. >> i agree -- in any way. >> i agree.
commander, six months in the field, you just begin to get into your operational environment. you just get to know the terrain and jungle, and the wind, and the way animals are moving, and the sound of birds. you start to get this sixth sense, and come out of the field and some other guy gets your company. i was in a situation where i got hurt in a fight where we were fighting rotor trees. swelledic chunk of wood my foot up so bad that we had to cut the boot off. by medic said they would take me up and send me out. i said i will not leave the field because i lose this company. we taped it up real tight and i hobbled around for a few days
until that went down. that is how desperate it is to hold a company in combat. this business about six month , determining those days is like getting your ticket punched. i hated those. the men were in the field for a full year and you come in and gone in six months. it did not serve the army well or the mission well. i have often wondered how many men in vietnam were killed or wounded because of this rotation policy where you are bringing new officers and all the time that did not understand the terrain, the tactics, and they had to learn it on the job. i don't think it was fair to the soldiers. it was not a good policy. >> is there a question over here? i also spent time with soldiers in the highlands special forces camp.
mistaken, we really screwed the montagnard's when we left. i hear we are doing the same thing with our interpreters. why do we do this? i would agree. i do not know as much about the current war situation, but i -- when i went back to vietnam for the first time in 2001, 30 years after i had served there, i wanted to go back. before i was supposed to go to the place i'd served in, i bought my ticket through the university of houston to go there. they kept us from going into the central highlands because they said it was rioting going on between the montagnards and the
government in vietnam so we cannot go there. i told her we would drive down the road and i grabbed the guy by the back of the neck and stopped him. i didn't want to not go there because a really wanted to see everything. the problem with the vietnamese attitude towards the mountain montagnard's exists. they are trying to make improvements and things like that, but i sort of compared to to 1890 from about 1870 that we treated the indigenous people of america. they really are the indigenous peoples of vietnam. they were there before the provincial people came down from the province of china. that is the way it is. there is a real ethnicity problem that does exist.
maybe that is why they turned their eyes toward the americans. they really did love us. we saw them as the underdogs and we treated them well. they were also very good soldiers. >> question over here. as to how thes training and experiences as combat officers prepared you for the nick and talk to the business world or academia? >> what prepared me for the business world? >> the leadership and training you had in the army, how did that translate to morgan stanley and those, etc.? >> my family was an army family. they were all soldiers. was, i had a graduate degree from georgetown in the graduate school of arms service in the army and taught
after that. i thought i was going back to troops, but i was assigned to six army staff in san francisco. still cannot figure that one out . i was eight years and grade as a captain and that is how slow promotions worked after vietnam. i was not good be picked up ahead of the zone. for major. e took the graduate , apply to sanford, and was accepted to the business school. i thought that was great. i called an entry branch and said i have great news, in the assignment officer, some poor guy with a bunch of requirements on his desk said was the good news. i said i have been accepted to the number one business school
in the united states. he said we are building the army down. i said only a bureaucrat from washington could use a term like that. we are building the army down after vietnam and we have no use of an officer in the infantry for an mba from anywhere. i said what is my next assignment. he said you're going to korea. i said no i'm not. the situation was that they put together a class going into the new mba program each year slotted for all around. they try to find people that add something. like if you are inviting a bunch of people to the banquet and they each have a different specialty. they looked at my record in leadership and said you have what it takes to be a leader in business. i said if you believe that, i believe that. that was a really heavy factor about getting into stanford. from then on, my career has been investment banking with morgan
stanley and goldman sachs. iran the venture group at bank of america. i started and sold companies in the valleys. i looked back in my army experience and leadership was a part of a thing in building companies, managing people. i am not an engineer but i managed thousands of them over the last 30 years. they are great people, but they always look for leadership. my father told me when i was a kid that if you trust in your troops, your troops will trust in you. he translated that into loyalty upwards is a function of loyalty downwards. if you care for your people, they will care for you. is that ok? >> i found when i went into the oil/gas business right after home -- i came home from vietnam, i was surprised at how few veterans there were in the business. i guess the timing -- this would be 1972 -- and i was surprised
there was no one like me. i found an attitude, even though the business world is more conservative certainly, i found an attitude about me and about vietnam veterans in general that i did not appreciate at all. we may have helped perpetuate it a little bit. i think i bought into the stereotype that we all had long hair and were hippies, and maybe i portray that a little bit. that kept me from getting some jobs i would have had otherwise. but, i resented the way they treated me in the business world. that changed after a few years. i rose up to have generally good success. iremember the academic world, was already in my 50's when i got into the academies. there, nobody knew how to treat
me. [laughter] who is this guy? who is this old guy with long hair that is going to come in. the first thing they thought of was that i was probably some and would turner all of our students into soldiers. i don't know how you do that necessarily, but that is the attitude some of them had. i do think that the military prepared me for the difficulties that you had. the leadership things that really sort of come naturally from being in a, situation or officer candidate school. most in nonveterans, so many of you can attest to that that when you have been in combat, there is nothing ever that will happen to you that is any worse than that moment. therefore, the rest of the world looks easy after that. i would like to ask the last
question and i would like to ask both of you, what is an insight you would like to share with the next generation of small unit leaders going forward? >> you better take this one. [laughter] >> i was going to say the same thing. it's a little bit of a hackneyed phrase. it has been portrayed in hollywood a lot. never ask men to do anything you would not be willing to do yourself, but i think for junior officers, that is so important. i think it is also important that you always think of the menu are leading as being the most important thing you will ever do. by that i mean, even if it comes to challenging your leaders because of what they are asking
you to do, which means you're asking your men and women to do that. think of them first. if you constantly think of your own men and women in, situations first, i think you will be the kind of leader that all of them will respect the most. i even tried to do that in academia. it is not that easy in this academic world because you are the perceptive -- professor type. when it comes to leading men and women in life and combat, all of the things you're being trained to do are so different than someone in the school of business or engineering. you are being trained to deal with men and women in life-and-death situations constantly. that is the most important responsibility you can ever be given. >> i agree with that. i would add the military today is a different military than when ron and i served.
you are already leading professionals. you will be leading volunteers. many of them will have more experience than you do. here's a couple of points. they know more than you do when you get into that situation. i'm not talking about combat, i'm talking about your first leadership assignment. have a chat with your platoon leader or sergeant, or whatever unit you are in. you're an seo that will be backing you up, because you will be a junior officer. you do not command in the army until you get to above a certain level. sit down with him and tell him you will look to him for guidance and experience, and you will avert to him in situations where he will quietly inform you as to whether or not he think you're making the right decision. , however, youm are in the leadership position but you will respect to what he says and look forward to working with him.
that is the conversation i had with my platoon sergeant. he was six foot two inches -- 6'2" inches. he bought that. i said, together, we can have a great outfit. he said got it, lieutenant. i said there in mind, you'll be leading from kind of soldiers. we had draftees. you are fortunate in that case in the sense you have people who know what they are doing already. the army has come along way from the army in the anon. let me back this up -- in the vietnam. let me back this up. when i saw in vietnam demonstrated the soldiers, these kids, they came off of the block and came out to the army and off to the fields. they turned out to be superb infantrymen. say how heartened i
was by that experience. the army is a long serving institution and its roots in american culture go deep. today, it is a small function of the american population. --have been disc elected disconnected from the population for a while. think the american soldier is the best soldier in any army in the world. we've a great army today, and you should be proud to be serving in it as you go into the army, air force, navy, or the marines. or any military organization. you will be working with americans who believe in what they are doing. >> let's give our panelist around of applause. [applause] >> a great panel.
we really benefited from your and also putting it into a larger perspective with shared wisdom at the end. superintendent, staff, faculty, and our corps of cadets, thank you for taking time to share those insights today. please except the small token of our appreciation. [applause] you are watching american history tv, all weekend, every weekend on c-span3. to join the conversation, like @cspanhistory. wednesday morning, we're live in new hampshire with the 40th stop on the 50 capitals tour -- 48 stop on the 50 capitals tour. this starts at 9:30 a.m.
eastern. the c-span buses traveling across the country on our 50 capitals tour. we recently stopped in hartford, connecticut. midtermforward to the elections, we are asking folks which party should control congress and why. >> i am an independent voter so i usually don't have a strong opinion on who takes over in midterms or presidential elections, but this year, i am basically voting democratic. just because a lot of things have been happening in the republican party that don't sit well with me on a moral standpoint. i think there are a lot of people in the republican party who disagree with their leaders, but they are not coming out and saying so. they're just wrong the party line. -- just drawing the party line. there are a lot of things that i find