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tv   Daniel Bolger Our Year of War  CSPAN  January 27, 2018 5:15pm-6:19pm EST

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factory workers those blue collar workers who really swing voters in the election. well i wanted to take a broad or look. i can't profile whole country, of course. but i sat down at my desk and i wrote down issues that i think determine this election. and among them were terrorism and va wait list and one i think was a part of it and i tried to pair individuals to those issues and then i traveled the country to lakeway texas to mom who lost her son and husband in the nice terrorist attack and to south carolina to profile a widow who lost her husband on a va wait list and tried to get to the heart of what drove their decision making and what made them the people they were. >> afterwars airs on booktv every saturday at 10 p.m. eastern, and suppedz at 9 p.m. eastern and pacific. many who went through combat together refer as brothers and today we're privileged to have -- to hear from two vietnam
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veterans both cool rad in article as and brothers tom an chuck hagel both volunteer to go to war and fought in the same army infantry unit. in our year of war, daniel recounts journey from middle america to vietnam at the height of the war and then home again. as we observed 50th anniversary of the war, privileged to hear are from these two eyewitnesses. the author daniel -- served in u.s. army for 35 years retiring as a lieutenant general. he commanded troops in both afghanistan and iraq, earning five bronze star medals one for valor and combat action badge he's a contradicting editor for army magazine and author of eight other books he currently teaches history at north carolina state university. chuck hagel has long served our country. he was secretary of defense from 2013 to 2015. and before that, a u u.s. senator from his home state
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nebraska during the vietnam war he served in combat as a sergeant in the u.s. army and earned two purple hearts. the combat infantryman badging and the vet that he's cross and after graduating at omaha he was a congressional and served as document head of the u.s. veterans administration, and cam to president and chief executive officer of the rks so. he's the author of america our next chapter. tom hague until combat earned three purple hearts, the bronze star with a v for valor, and the combat infantry man badge. he graduate from the university of nebraska at omaha and university of nebraska school of u law. after working as a public defender in nebraska, he taught law at temple university and then joined the university of
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dayton retiring at professor. in addition to his professor role he served as acting jj for the municipal court in dayton, ohio, author of two books and numerous articles on legal subjects. ladies and gentlemen, please welcome daniel chuck hagel an tom hagel. [applause] >> thanks very much for that kind introduction, and thank you ladies and gentlemen for coming the on this rainy election day. to spend some time talking with the hague pl brothers, and to my right, chuck hagel and to his right is brother tom to start off i would like to ask both of these gentleman 50 years ago, november 7th, 1967, where were you? [inaudible conversations] no, not 1967, '67.
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i can't remember that far back. well no -- we were in california -- where did he go? both in oregon and i was getting ready to leave to go to fort dickson, new jersey because i had orders to go to germany, and you're finishing right -- we were many advance infantry training. and i followed chuck all the way u through. i was about what four, six weeks behind you this training cycle both in the basic training and then infantry training. where did you do your basic training? >> in el paso. hot lovely place. if you like desert. yeah. >> fort bliss there's a reason they call it police. everybody is happy. everybody is happy. >> yeah. so then by november '67 you had
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orders to germany now of course cold war was going on then ladies and gentlemen so there was a substantial u.s. force in germany with but of course the vietnam war was also going on. so -- did you ever go to germany? >> no. i got to fort dix new jersey in late november and as bus was get ting ready to pick up ten of us to take us to germany and we were the first class of the red eyed missile tabun which was the first shoulder fired missile -- in our arsenal, and it was designed to bring down low flying jets coming in -- big from the soviet union or the -- and through the fold and pass through germany, and i decided if i was going to be in the army, ands i going to serve my country at a time where we were at war, then i wanted to go to
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vietnam so i went down and tom will tell this story but he did the same thing and i said i'm private hagel hear my order from germany i want to volunteer to go to vietnam and i recall vividly in orderly room there was there this -- stunned silence, an 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 you was running away from a crime or something was wrong. i end up then i stayed there two weeks got new orders i go to vietnam with back home -- for a few days and then went california and processed out for vietnam. >> and then -- it about -- oh four weeks later. i ended up in fort dix, new jersey i remember riding from the airport and the back open --
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two and a half ton army truck. and it was freezing. deep snow, and i remember driving by the px and i saw poor guy and this was midnight. poor guy walking he had a little trail around the px and keep in mind this is new jersey and united states not exactly a lot of enemy arranged with a rifle i'm sure was temp empty walking arranged the px in a little trail with i remember a -- outdoor light glairing on him i'm thinking my god i can't do that and i'm supposed to go to german as well, and i have this thing about cold weather to begin with. [laughter] i couldn't do that because we were told our group was told that we're going to spend i think about six months living out in the black forest running maneuvers in the snow. in germany, and then go to vietnam. which turned out and like i ran into a couple of my fredz who did go over and i ran into them
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in vietnam. they were just getting over there. so i went and volunteered to go too. they didn't call any security people or chaplains for me they were happy to do that. and -- keep in mind i'm what 18 years olds something like that, and i -- got it in my head i remember seeing movie about brothers -- you know, if you have two brothers, more brothers in a combat zone they can only have one there, and the rest can -- go to a noncombat unit so i thought well, you know, i'll go over and chuck can come back they said yeah no problem just get ahold of the red cross when you get there. keep in mind i was 18 i don't know anything straight up. so i went over there, landed, and went to the assignment center where they give troops up to different units, and i said well where's the red cross, and they pointed to some tents somewhere, and i walk withed in
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told them well -- after all my name is tom hagel you know you probably know all about this and you'll sending chuck who are you? well -- obviously didn't work so -- we both ended up there. >> and to follow on that, hagel brothers were drafties but in each of your cases it wasn't -- it wasn't the standard draft where you just get the note in. both of you went an which action did you take? >> wells i called home. i had been to three colleges, and not an come back career to be emulated. at that point, and so -- who was the director of the service and has been director during world war ii been there a long time, and draft war plaque county, nebraska said we'll give you six months to get back in the school and then we're going to have to attack you because the levy was coming back and big
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buildup over half a million troops in vietnam i got there. and they built that even -- bigger. but i just said you know i think it is waste of time. certainly for any respectable educational institution for me to go back. i'm not getting anything out of it. how soon could i leave i'll volunteer for the draft. but i want to go right now. i mean, they looked at each other and said there's actually a bus leaving in two weeks. i said put me on it. i signed up there. and i was -- that was it. and you're still in high school right? >> yeah, i got my i took my physical, and got any draft notice while i was still in high school an i was -- i got the same letter they said well, we'll send you this in i think it was september. and i was not going to sit around all summer with that hanging over my head so i said i'll go now. and -- i was in the army i think five days after high school.
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and a i mentioned that just because when we, you know, you also hear people say well the army and vietnam was a draft army which was true and army today is volunteer army also true. but here you have two vietnam veterans who -- were basically volunteer even though officially their records show they will as drafty now there was one other o opportunity both of you got if you want to comment when your potential was recognized and recommended for officer candidate school both had that opportunity so concern -- >> well, i'll give you my take on it and tom had the same thing but he'll have his story. i wasn't or particularly interested in it because -- it meant another year. and -- i wasn't sure i wanted to take another year that would be three years. and -- the other thing that kept going
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through my mind was the fact that our dad was in world war ii. and over in the south pacific was a tail gunner to be 25 bomber, and spent quite a bit of time there and he was enlisted and came out a tect call sergeant and i don't know maybe there some romanticism about our dad or his service or being a sergeant. but -- i think that sub consciencely affected me a little bit too but main thing i didn't want to commit to that third year. i didn't know how that was all going to work so i -- so i said no. when -- when i was offered it keep in mind once again i'm 18 years old not too bright and i was sitting there thinking i learned very quickly that officers had a lot of better life to lead than being in a man especially the
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low private e1 that i was at the time so they plained it was a 52 week program so i'm thinking okay -- and then by the way, both of us had to go through -- advance infantry training to be able to then go into officer's candidate school. so no matter how it shook down we were going to be trained as infantrymen which is fine. but i'm sitting there thinking okay bairveg training last so long. advance infantry intraing last so long. and it is a year -- in school so by the time i get out of o school i have about six months left i said this isn't a bad deal so i went along with it until -- i finished infantry training that got a group together to take off for i think it was fort banning is where they trained at they said well we want to go through this one more time. keep in mind, and key part is 52
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weeks that you spend there doesn't count against the two years -- [laughter] you're already in for, i said well, forget it. so i refused to go. so it was probably everybody best interest. so two brothers both volunteered for the army. volunteered again for the infantry, and -- i think at one point they didn't want to put you in infantry chuck mentionedden pantry specialty at that time. but tom didn't -- i thought that after they did the military screening they actually recommended you for another possible specialty. >> i can't remember that. >> i've seen records i believe it was cook -- [laughter] oh, no what that was is that i had had a ton of jobs i spent much more of my life as a teenager working than i did in high school if you saw my record you would understand why. but one with of the jobs i've had was pizza maker, cook thing like that. and when i refused to go to that
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they didn't it want to do with me because orders were already cut so they sent me back to training unit and made me a cook for about a month and then cult me new orders for germany, and -- the rest is history. >> as they say -- culinary art. i can still keep about 20 eggs without burning one. >> impressive and you know your comment about working -- one of the things you should note the hague what l brothers were raised it in nebraska which which is almost geographical center of the continental united states. and -- raised the in the sand hills which is a rural area, and both of you gentleman you mention this work both of you guys work from a very young age as i recall. in fact, chuck was nine and i was 7 when we got our first job together in a -- grocery store sacking potatoes and -- ice all of this is manual, of course.
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ten pounds -- >> so i was looking i think i mentioned this to you tom. you -- know how the social security system works so you get i think an annual review of how much you've paid in and when you started paying many. and i was looking at mine the other day. and i started paying into social security when i was 8 years old. >> right. i was 8 years old and i remembered the job it was at a drive-in next to -- next to the grocery store. out in rush hill, nebraska i was a car hop and i had to tack a little box out because i wasn't tall enough to get up to the window. and stand on the box to take the order. and it's -- i always look back on that as why they would have taken social security out because i think i only -- probably made enough money to buy a hot dog and that was -- that was it. but -- anywayest that when i started paying. so we worked all of our lives like tom said probably every job
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that they have. >> i think that's good, and that work ethic of course would help you during your military service first -- so both of the chairman arrived in vietnam, chuck got there in december. tom got there as mentioned in january. and initially you were both in the same division the 9th infantry division but that's a big organization that is like 20,000 troops but not the same unit. not the same company. initially -- yeah. and i -- and that's a -- tom and i still don't understand all of that how that happened. because as you say he was -- up north with colonel patents the cab and i was with the second and 42nd, and we -- tried to put in for transfer to see if we could get together we talked with ting a couple of times on the phone once you got there. but one day tom appeared.
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in our unit which is still kind of a mysterious because they were going sending me somewhere south to be somewhere around -- but of course one of the intervening events that was kind of important was that not -- within a few days after tom arrived in country, the most, largest enemy observancive at war broke the on january 30, 31st, 198 both of you gentleman were involved in that, right? >> i got there in landed on december 4th, with 1967, of course, ted was january 30th. at the end of january. and -- i mean that as you said was a defining time. for that war -- for the on it ticks of it and for -- casualties and -- those with an opportunity to look at burns magnificent
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documentary gets some historical reflection on what really happened about that. it's still being debated and so on. but -- that really did define our service, tom, in vietnam and it defined everything in direction, absolutely. and it defined the war. turn point many america and every way and for the rest of your time particularly in public service you kept a picture from that. tom is not with me -- but when i was in the sthat, and i think you've met him, tom. i got a letter within day from a retired army colonel in wisconsin. who i remembered the name --
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and i could not put it altogether but it was a very nice letter and he said, senator i don't remember if journal this or me but i was a lieutenant in -- in the same company. not the same platoon. and we were mechanized unit in health care we were first unit into lawrence head quarters that morning and village and he said i took a picture with my little brownie camera behind your track. of the ammo and long bin which was the largest in the world. blowing up -- and he said i would like to come by when i'm in town and give it to you. so we set up a time that he came by when i was in the senate, and had a long conversation and he gave me an eight by ten picture of this little brownie systemic camera picture. it looked like atomic bomb going off everything was astangedding
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that he autographed it for me and i've kept it on the wall and rest of the time in the senate, secretary of defense i have had n my office as well so it was a reminder which tom and i have discussed many times about -- again, the significance of it. >> and the scale of the destruction, i mean, because all of this ladies and gentlemen, for chuck hagel's unit at the time they were in and aired city of saigon largest city in south vietnam and capitol today now called ho chi minh so -- >> so how about you i was in long bin -- and they came in and said how many of you have that infantry are on the left and collected us and put it on a perimeter so we were involved many it from trying to keep him out of the long bend base it was a huge
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base and then -- i think after a couple of day that's when i got orders to go to third and fifth cavalry up in dmc and up there was just as crazy. >> and most people when you, if you bought the special or if you are familiar serving vietnam or know people who did, the north was the area where -- it was right next to the -- so-called demilitarized zone in north vietnam so all of the regular troops their best troops filtered down through that area, and marines had a lot of -- forces up there as well and you were up there. we worked with them in the marines it was a tank unit. >> e so major fighting o occurring where tom hagel unit was in places where you probably heard about like that whole area was -- was all under attack during the period. yeah so you mention you both sent in request to serve together whatever happened with
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the red cross idea that if you could get a country that sent chuck home -- >> believe me they never got back to me. shockingly enough. [laughter] >> now this is one thing where it help when is you're the author and it's -- decades later you can actually dip up actual paperwork so here's what i found. there is not only a regulation within the department of defense that secretary former secretary of defense hagel would know about -- but it's also a -- united states law that was passed after world war ii. some of you all may have seen movie the fighting or heard of the five sullivan brothers from iowa and world war ii five brothers listed in the navy -- and served together on the light cruiser uss geno that was by the japanese off the island of the canal during a night act. and many of the crews were lost including all five of the sullivan brothers. and we're so devastating for the sullivan family and by the way, our navy in world war ii named
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destroyer the soul vans thrftion a destroyer today a new class called the sullivan so memorialized throughout our country history. a movie called fighting sullivan but lawmakers after the war said hey we can't let this happen again. so they passed a law that became locally known as the sullivans rule. and this law said that -- two close members not serve together in a combat zone fallen -- involuntarily that last part is key part buzz both hague l brothers asked to serve with each other guess what sergeant and officers said when they got them soul van rule apply? nope. set that aside. and -- next thing you know. i didn't know that because you volunteer to do that. and i might add ladies and gentlemen what was really unusual about chuck and tom they didn't just serve together in a large 20,000 person outfit. they were in the same rightful
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platoon about 30 to 40 soldiers altogether at the same time. so -- they really served close together. next to each other. so when your brother showed up what did you think? >> well i was concerned when they -- when we were out on a -- on a search and destroy mission for four dayings and they pulled me back into the base camp and -- when i asked what was going on my first thought was something happened to tom. and i remember explicitly, the captain saying son, if we wanted you to know we would tell you. and that was order of the day and this is the way it was. so okay so i waited in my tent and few hour hoes went by next thing you know tom walks up in with a duffel bag. and res is history.
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so exactly right. in the first sergeant had told you if your brother ever got a side he'll put you in your platoon. so there they were. now what did you write to tell your mother about that arrangement? >> you're the one who did all of the writing. >> shouldn't is surprise me. well i signed tom's name. forged it. my mothers know difference. >> yes, they do. but todd did his share, though. in the communications part. but -- i think mom felt that if we were going to be over there, and in that war it probably if both of us wanted it this way it was better to be there together maybe taking care of each other and that kind of thing. i think don't you, tom? >> that would be fair. i think it is what she meant. >> you know, the brother ended u with chuck already mentioned this. it was a mechanized unit which means to say they had small vehicles that would look to your eye maybe like a little tank but
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people many it rather than a big gun on top of it but tracks called m113 and soldiers were in the back being carried arranged that had machine guns on top. and that unit was basically a response yowbt a fire brigade anything that was really a hot situation -- you're outfill rolled on, and had to go very quickly. they even had a -- siren in the motor pool they play when it was time to -- everybody go up if this was an emergency. but many, many of the operations all of the roads around, around saigon were, of course, mine, boob rei trap ambushed and their outfit had responsibility to clear them and clear village around there so it was that -- a day for two gentleman on march out on mission when -- about midday something happened. what happened? >> well, we were at search and
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destroy mission in the jungle, and tom and i had like we -- often did point. just a second here do you ladies and gentlemen when he says walk point, that means -- there's a long column of men the first two guys are the hagel brothers. mom didn't know about that. [laughter] >> she had other issues. we can tell her about. but -- i think tom and i just felt and i think our -- our platoon leaders and -- company commanders felt that we could did a pretty good job on that and i think we felt we could do it better than anybody else. tom was the best i've truly ever saw in sensing things. he saved me, saved the company many times on spotting things. i could, i could read a map very well, and use a compass. >> a compass. u now today when you ask
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somebody about a compass it is computerized. talk about shooting -- yeah. when you're talking dirty or what do you mean? no that's what you did is you know which direction you're going on compass you rely on your compass o well it is not that way anymore. well anyway i could do that well so could tom but we made a pretty good team doing that and on this particular day we had been -- up on point most of the day and if you're on point too you're chopping a lot. especially the point guy normally tom. and i would be right there with him behind him with the compass and a map. which you're usually with machete or o chopping because you're off the roads all of the time and the company commander rotated us out of the -- out of the lead point position to give us a break and put
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another few guys up in front of us and we were crossing a stream and we tried to always stay off the roads or any path for ob reasons because of booby traps everywhere, and the top -- pongt guys which tom and i had had just been those buy -- had a trip wire in the water. clay mines in the trees so mines or that are filled with pellets and -- like bbs but eye explosives. and do some pretty rough damage. and hit all of those front guys. and they hit tom an they it hit me. that's what happened on that day. and we -- we i always look for his name as tom does on the wall robert summers. the point guy who was killed. and then they had to get severely wounded out and our --
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summers out in the basket because the helicopters had to come and then drop the basket down into the jungle. and the jungle was very dense and -- then we you know you don't know if snipers open up you didn't know. it could be a trap or a helicopter many, and so we got eventually severely wounded out and summers out and then we had to get out. and you're both wounded thousand. >> this is something -- important to point out here? >> right, so it was getting to be nighttime. and as the old saying goes, the night belongs to vietnam an you didn't never want to be in the jungle at night. i mean it was -- without protection and so on. so we had to get out of there, and so -- company commander asked tom and i to go back on point and get us out, and so we started to move again after this was --
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the wounded taken out the one kia tin the and so on and so on, and we got a few steps into it tom was walking again point. and he stopped and he -- he caught, saw -- a grin grenade hanging in the tree i didn't see it, and he saw it. and we were able toll neutralize and finally got out o, but it was dark. everyone in the middle of the afternoon it is dark. yeah. because the canopy of the triple canopy, yeah. yeah, so very, very tricky so both brothers earned purple heart the only way to earn it the hard way what day. and -- to this date when you go through the -- tsa at airport they find things right? >> i've got -- i know tom has is shrapnel in hm and i got pieces in my chest because when we went into field hospital an they dug stuff out
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unfortunately it was -- you know, it was significant. but not that significant. so they got the stuff out of me it was mores surface but i still got a couple of pellets still in my chest. so it's more when i take a -- a x-ray or like a mra you know, you have to tell them because -- those things show up. and -- but it's never given me any trouble. i think tom's probably -- >> mine got out too -- >> work its way out. and that's 50 years later. yeah. now, even though wounded, both of these soldiers went back to their unit and thing i might also mention is -- chuck and tom are young men at this time they're not senior experienced or anything like that but the role they describe that point role is normally in today's army that would be done by a relatively experienced
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parasergeant. they became sergeants. but they became sergeants in combat by doing those type of missions. and really had to take charge of the other young men who were with them because -- you're willing to do it you have the skills. so they went back to your unit, about a month later what happened when you went in a village on the tracks on the armor personnel care? >> i think they got intelligence that the vc had entered a village if i remember right. >> uh-huh. >> so we were sent tout sweep the village to find out if there were any vc there and swept village came become on our tracks and on the way, tracks or apc personnel care, and sense we were always the first track out, we're always the last track in. and, of course, since they are track vehicles you can do a 360 turn, and so -- tben we were first ones out. so everybody when they came back
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to the tracks loaded bag up and did 180 degree turn to come back in and all of the other tracks -- were in front of us past it but since we're last track we ran are over a mine. and chuck most seriously injured. i was injured. >> yeah. tom was injured i thought tom was dead actually he was radio operator on 50 caliber machine gun up on top of the vehicle, and when that concussion hit, man, it -- well orvelg disabled the track and fire broke out because of those tracks were full of ammunition. and they would blow. and i was on the side and so i -- my face was burnt bad, and so on but i started looking at everybody else and blown off, and tom was slumped over o the 50 caliber and had blood coming out of his ears.
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and -- nose and he was unconscience. sco we got him off the track because the snipers were -- everywhere, and like tom said -- they were other tracks were way ahead of us we were all alone. and -- fire started to break out and so -- yungt know if he was dead or -- but we got him off the track and they took us out by helicopter on medevac into a field hospital. >> bubbles on this side of the skin -- puss and that come out, pretty gross. dges yeah, and now -- so again purple heart for both brother, second time -- and you went back to your unit. in fact when you went back, with you were all wrapped up. rng looked leak a mummy my face all bandage to put salve and tom
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had to help me. hngt been my brother how many other infantrymen would have come to the conclusion. but -- taken care of me. but tomodid take care of me an he had have to rebandage me because i got infection in my face too because it was in jungle hot, humid -- and so they had to put salve on my face and tom did all of that he was the medic -- and he had -- been pretty seriously hurt. but we were in the field hospital i don't know for a couple of days or o something, and i don't remember it happening. i don't remember tbhght hospital but i remember being checked out. went back to the unit and then -- we mentioned the offense -- north to launch a second wave of attacks in may of 1968. soldier you call it mini but it was heavily focused in saigon so
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call went out to 2nd, 47th their outfit an company deemed their company to intervene but in the city, for city finding both rolled on that as well. >> tom really that's right. but tomohad the bulk of that because i think -- where i was i think i was at the nco academy. so we'll run into that. >> and it was -- totally different than anything i certainly experienced. for our yiewnt had experienced were we were always out in the field jungle and rice patty but this was inside the city of saigon. and -- street to street fighting it was just -- chaos, and you have people shooting at you from every different direction you can't see where most of it is coming from so if you ever have the opportunity to go so saigon you awlgt to take it because it is believe it or not an incredibly beautiful city. so much of the architecture is from french colonial period so you have multistory buildings,
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with balcony and what have you and they would have machine guns and that set up on it you know -- and just absolute chaos. but it worked out. >> it did. but i might add, i mean, he's being very -- boy here. cutting few parts out. he was wear bronze star with v or valor wounded a third time, and -- the mission that he had that they gave him was our -- battalion commander got shot down who happened to be the brother-in-law of general west. and -- it was colonel frederick who was just -- come on as our new -- commander, and he was killed and were trying to res are cue him and saigon river but tom, tom played a pretty big role -- >> all right. well -- absolutely. and i think that's one key thing
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that -- coo thing to remember he was a human too. you know they take general presidents but they have nothing. the company was involved and brother-in-law was -- >> well he came if he remembered tomo-- he had just gone back to chief of staff of the army, and -- great had taken over, and he came become to lead the search himself. for his brother-in-law -- you know couldn't find his body. >> because it was one of the many that were missing in action they did eventually recover it and tom was heavily involved in that, that particular fighting around that episode. they found his body with about three other people still in the hospital at the a bottom of the river. horrible. one of the things before we do question i would like to get your gentleman's perspective on things back home affected soldiers who were deployed over there 1968 it was divisive here
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in the united states most of the most tragic occurred on february 4th, 1968 in memphis, tennessee when assassin killed dr. martin luther king, jr. that over to vietnam what was effect of that kill manager your unit? >> first of all, there was a certain amount of segregation in the army then even though it was apparently against the law. but it was i think more of self-segregation. but i know and argue we never had any problems. we had people from every ethnic group serving together everybody got along and part of it is because of the nature of the unit you have to rely on each other so -- there's no place for -- for prejudices, race schism and that but after the news came that -- dr. king was killed -- there was a separate -- kind of a -- automatic immediate separation
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into different sides literally different it sides of the camp we lived on fire support base. and there was a lot of tension and a lot of anger floating arranged. of course what that does to a unit you don't know if you can trust the same body that you have before, and so we were lucky muff to have a -- a officer african-american officer who addressed it an want to talk about that? >> tom -- framed it up exactly right. and the racial tension was -- palpable. and because we had officers rotating in and out a lot partly sometimes mainly because they had been killed. or -- seriously injured -- we got a new -- commander as tom said a young i think he was 21 or 22 years old african-american lieutenant from
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chicago by name of jerome johnson, and he grabbedded ahold of the racial issue straight up and said no more. we're going to integrate the tents again no more black tents. white tents. we're going to be a unit we're going to fight together take care of each other, and he -- he truly exhibited leadership that i rarely seen in -- in a very difficult situation. he was threatened by both sides of the equation. and he faced them down, and to this day tom and i now have found him over the last few years and reestablished our friendship. but i think tom and i both feel that he's an individual that we've had such immense respect for over o the years. and often thought of him. but it was a tough time as tom said. it was difficult. and a lot of units didn't
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have -- >> good fortune we did to have him and there was people stories of people shooting each other, and bragging with grenades. this was a time when america was becoming more and more divide and bobby kennedy killed in convention of the democratic convention, and it was really coming apart and that was -- being reflected certainly in these 19, 20-year-old kids to fight this war that they didn't understand that america wasn't supporting. and you're going to just bring out every ugly dimension of a society when you've got that. and this is one of the reason ares i always thought tom ski talk about this many times the vietnam generation these kids that were asked to go over there to fight, really when you back up and look at it all, acquitted themselves very well in a very difficult
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time, and handled it -- in i think a
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everything you hear from the united states is how the war is evil and you are sitting there what am i doing with my life. any day now i could get killed and what i made doing it for. they would support the efforts. it was totally different than that. at least what i would see.
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there are market microphones on either side. all right. i was curious as best as you can recall any political aspects that you recall and when i say that i mean in a trooper or a patrol you had people that are very young they are experiencing life from the best they can and your people about them that are telling them to do things that our life and death that are very young. and you have an aspect like today what are the dynamics of being in a group like that. and protect each other but also from a political aspect i
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don't really had any in-depth political discussions. keep in mind how old we were. i was basically ignorant 18-year-old kid. i did not know anything about international politics. i don't recall getting into any political discussions. that perspective of hey if i get on the good side or if i do this and maybe i get an award that gets me out. first of all the idea if i do this i will get an award.
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people don't really compete for the purple heart. i think the time is right. there were some people fabricating actions which didn't occur to get awards. i'm not sure that was unique to vietnam. etiquette happens i think it happens in every war. the guy on the bottom he just is trying to survive. i think tom is right on that. when you're in those situations as tom said you are young. they are the young people that they serve with.
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they could hardly read it. it is all about survival. and taking care of each other. that is where you are. and you're not too interested in anything beyond that. it's so narrow and confined just to your life situation. keep in mind how close you are when you are in a unit like that. he slept together eight together did all personal functions together. 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. he did everything together. you got tonight or in and out. on the other hand when
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something happens are there any other questions. thank you both for your service to our country and we appreciate you. i just wondered did your time in vietnam in your service there lead you into your political career that have a bearing on or do you think you would have just gone anyway and on down that path. i don't think my service in vietnam directly let me into a political career. it affected my thinking surely, whereas politics
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about. and what is elected government about. i think everybody now knows we didn't have that. from top to bottom. and it costs thousands and thousands of innocent lives. so sure i was affected by that experience i don't think it directly let me into that. i was fortunate that it is career and all of the other things i have done. and always felt that tom knows this. if they would be aligned family, business opportunities maybe in the right way that i would be very interested. i could have finished my life
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without any of that also. i'm glad i did all of that. it has been tremendous privilege. it helps me because it defined a lot of my thinking especially when i got to be secretary of defense. it doesn't mean i'm right or wrong. but that was my experience and i try to always see it that way. it affected me but it did not direct me in the politics. i hope it helped me. i hope it made me a better leader.
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what are the things that are dividing us now. there has always been dissent the isolation and all this. they always come back to equilibrium. it was different i think with the vietnam generation and the war in particular i came at a time when you have the civil rights movement. it was no small thing historically. one thing for sure that i think defines that is that was the first time from my reading
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history and i could be wrong on this. a massive number of citizens lost faith in the institution of government and the leaders of government. they were lied to for so long that they didn't trust anybody. i think that is a hangover. i think the last election is a good example they are people who are our age that are the highest group of people. and our children's age. it seems like we have lost that trust in government institutions and leaders and rightfully so. we've been lied to for so long. i think a lot of the vote for him that we distrust our institutions.
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we just want to smash it. in a way i think chickens have come home to roost. they continually lied to us. they forgot that they work for us. it is our responsibility as citizens they work for us. we have lost that. and then we let it go on. so consequently i think a lot of the distrust in governmental institutions as a beginning point the vietnam war it was so clear after a while.
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and the military also been released. where there is society and the troops were lied to about the vietnam war. some of the people lost faith. the political environment that we have today i would add one additional point for that on a broader scale we are seeing seen a new world order of being defined today a world order that is different that america essentially led with the allies in building.
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it has been pretty good for most people. no nuclear exchange. more people are free. the problems that that world order didn't face can do everything. the trouble spots in the world today. how that relates to american politics i think is confusing. because everybody in this room i suspect. was born during world war ii. and what does that mean. our world has been a world that has dominated everything. it's presenting a lot of new dimensions and dynamics that
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we have not ever had before. then you have that reality doesn't mean as bad or good by the way. that's how you adjust to it. but you add the fundamental of what you're talking about. when you break down the trust and confidence is not just government and politics. it is a poll every year. they have the evidence of confidence and trust. that is anywhere near above the 50% line. i think this year was 76 percent. the only other thing that was small business because everybody likes small business because that is that man and woman in the hometown that you can trust.
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but everybody else big business, lawyers, politicians pharmaceuticals media organized education organized religion they were all down to single digits. when you a situation like that you a real problem. again, when you add that the real challenges the security issues. if you government that is not functioning we had have a dysfunctional government. the most basic responsibility for government. you will have a what tom is referring to this tremendous outburst and reaction out
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there in the populace. that things are really bad. it breaks down the structure. how he started his right. i'm always an optimist i guess. i don't think of blind optimists. it doesn't self-correct. we find the equilibrium. we always had it doesn't mean we always well. we have a people. they are so much better than what they are seen.
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