May 1, 2015 |
Born in Poland in 1941, Erhard Wensel was 11 when he and his family became legal residents of the United States. Drafted by the Army in 1967, he spent a year in Vietnam as a cook with the Fourth Infantry Division, and earned a citation for "meritorious service in support of allied counterinsurgency operations. " One day, he fell into conversation with a lieutenant who knew he had a green card but not citizenship. "Do you want to be a citizen?" the officer asked. "I do," said Wensel, "but I ship out in three weeks.
April 28, 2015 |
* AMERICAN EXPERIENCE: LAST DAYS IN VIETNAM. 9 p.m. Tuesday, WHYY12. FORTY YEARS ago this week, the U.S. made a hasty, largely improvised final exit from Vietnam, along with tens of thousands of South Vietnamese fleeing the North Vietnamese army as it bore down on Saigon. Rory Kennedy, a veteran filmmaker and the youngest child of Robert and Ethel Kennedy, was 6 then, and by the time PBS' "American Experience" approached her a few years ago about doing a documentary on the final days of the war, she figured it was old news.
April 27, 2015
Chef's Table . David Gelb, director of the wonderful, must-see doc Jiro Dreams of Sushi, beautifully profiles acclaimed chefs from around the world. (Jiro is also on Netflix and a fantastic primer for the series). All six episodes on Netflix on Sunday. Tales of the Grim Sleeper . BAFTA-honored documentarian Nick Broomfield (Heidi Fleiss: Hollywood Madam) turns his lens to Lonnie Franklin Jr., who has been linked to more than 20 murders of minority women in L.A. Broomfield and his interview subjects posit that this was a community the authorities and media largely ignored.
April 24, 2015 |
VU THE PHONG raises pigs on a small farm in northern Vietnam about 200 miles east of Hanoi, close to the Chinese border. But if all goes well with his visa application, Vu will be raising his voice with millions of other Catholics in Philadelphia this September for the World Meeting of Families and Pope Francis' visit. "In [Vietnam] there is no big events," Vu wrote in an email to the Daily News . "Today, members of the family need times together to understand, sympathy . . . Therefore, WMOF is the place [for]
April 8, 2015 |
TOM LEVINS once told a reporter that the battle for Hill 875 at Dak To in Vietnam in the autumn of 1967, was "probably the longest four days of my life. It was just horrible. " His outfit, the 173rd Airborne Brigade, lost a fifth of its total strength in the desperate fight by American airborne forces against regular North Vietnam troops and the Vietcong. "He went into the Army a happy-go-lucky guy," said his brother, Robert. "He was different when he came back. He had a lot of issues.
April 6, 2015 |
Paul D. Hanson was an Army sergeant in his early 20s during the first of two tours of duty in Vietnam when his late-night poker game was interrupted by an attack on the firebase he was guarding. Hanson, now 70 and living in Aston, said more than 1,000 enemy soldiers poured out of the jungle surrounding the firebase as mortar and rocket fire whizzed over the concertina wire. He radioed for help, expecting artillery fire. What he got was something powerfully different. The USS New Jersey, to the east in the South China Sea, trained its 16-inch guns toward the source of Hanson's troubles.
March 11, 2015 |
The war was closing in. Hour by hour, North Vietnamese and Viet Cong soldiers tightened their grip on Saigon. Their artillery shells fell, like heavy footsteps, across the restive city. In the chaos, a C-5A Galaxy cargo plane took off from Saigon-Tan Son Nhut Airport as part of "Operation Babylift" - a mass evacuation of children from South Vietnam. Jim Zimmerly was one of scores of babies on the aircraft climbing over the South China Sea on April 4, 1975 when locks on a rear loading ramp failed and cargo doors blew open explosively.
February 14, 2015 |
When she first walked through the maze of cubicles at the National Veterans Crisis Line in the winter of 2012, Ellen Goosenberg Kent thought she knew what to expect. Goosenberg Kent grew up in Philadelphia during the Vietnam era, the daughter of a Marine who had served in World War II. An Emmy-winning documentary filmmaker, she had already made two films about soldiers coping with broken bodies and spirits after returning home from war. This latest project, however, exploring the inner workings of the nation's suicide help line for veterans, surprised her and the film's producer, Dana Perry.
January 13, 2015 |
He was almost home free. On his 23d birthday in 1967, Marine Lt. Ron Castille was leading a platoon on a search-and-destroy mission in Duc Pho, South Vietnam, when he was hit in the leg by a Viet Cong machine-gun round and evacuated from the fight. For a moment, it seemed he was on his way to the safety of the rear. But just as the Marine helicopter bearing Castille was clearing the battle zone, a burst of enemy fire raked the thin metal skin of its fuselage, tearing another and much more serious wound in his leg. Military surgeons said they had no choice but to amputate.
December 10, 2014 |
On a bunk aboard the troop ship that took him to Vietnam, a soldier called "Little Ty" scrawled a message of hope and home. "See ya at the Blue Sal!" he wrote in August 1967, promising to return to North Philadelphia after a year at war. Ty's canvas rack is now at the Smithsonian, part of the institution's military collection, and a photograph of it is on display at the Independence Seaport Museum in an exhibition of Vietnam-era graffiti. But despite a decade of periodic searches by historians, journalists, and even a Philadelphia detective, Little Ty's identity has remained a mystery.