In this corner is Mark Smith aka Zippo aka the hero of Loc Ninh 1972:
Born in 1946 in Lima, Ohio Mark Smith enlisted in the U.S. Army when he was 17 years old. After completing basic infantry training at Fort Ord, California, he was assigned for a year to the 85th Ordnance Battalion in West Germany during which time he completed jump school. He rose quickly in ranks and when he returned to the U.S. in August 1965 he participated in the Occupation of the Dominican Republic before deploying to Southeast Asia with the famous 2nd Battalion, 28th Infantry Regiment of the 1st Infantry Division in late 1965.
He was wounded, hospitalized in Japan for several months, and then returned to combat in South Vietnam with his old unit, the 2nd of the 28th. Back in the states, he received a battlefield commission on 22 February 1968, and as a 2nd Lt completed Vietnamese language training, before returning to Vietnam in late 1969 for a combat assignment with the 101st Airborne Division. He returned to the states after a year's tour to teach at Ft Bennings Ranger's school, and then as a Captain returned to Vietnam as an ARVN advisor.
During this assignment he fought in the battle for Loc Ninh, in which his South Vietnamese unit was overrun by an enormously larger North Vietnamese unit. He suffered 38 wounds, a broke back, and had a gun shot through his bowels. When the bad guys policed him up on the spent battlefield, he was more dead than alive... but they took him back to their sanctuary in Cambodia and left him in a cage to die... but he didn't. After spending 312 days in captivity in Cambodia, Capt Smith was released on February 12, 1973. He retired as a Major in June 1985. His final assignment was as Commander of the U.S. Army Special Forces Detachment in South Korea.
And in this other corner is Ken Burns who makes documentaries, with one coming out on Zippo's war later this month. He's a friend of Michael Moore, Jane Fonda and liberals most everywhere.
What follows is something a friend of Zippo sent in on a preview of Burns' 18 hour series on the Vietnam War:
Folks, be advised that this is just my opinion: I attended the informational night for the intro of Mr. Burns Vietnam epic. It was held at the redesigned Ace Hotel on 11th St. in Los Angeles. The event was billed as an open forum discussion with Ms. Patt Morrison, who is a writer for the LA Times. Ken and Lynn, the director of the film were also there. As were a guy named Zimmerman, who has been and always will be a draft dodger and anti war critic since the day he came out of the womb !!!!! Also present was a Vietnamese woman who survived the war. The last man on stage was an Air Force pilot who had made over 100 bombing missions during his two tours of duty. He retired as the AF Chief of Staff, and gave this great country almost 40 years of his life !!!!!! The film is 18 hours, and they showed about a 45 minute total of all the episodes. After was a question and answer period, with Ms. Morrison asking all of the questions. The bottom line is that the other five people on the stage are still opposed to the war, and as usual still want to blame all of us for the mess that Washington created !!!!! The general was crapped on real quick, and those savages went for his juggler vein fast !!!!! I am a decorated combat Vet who did a 17 month tour in Nam, which includes surviving the 68 Tet Offensive !!!!!! My bottom line is I do not recommend this film for the feint of heart..... They have added all of the gory details and emotional stuff, and it will tear the heart out of you !!!!! If you are still suffering the aftereffects of the war it is not for you. If you still have nightmares, flashbacks, or any type of PTSD, steer away from it .
Over the course of the next few weeks I hope to add more commentary from the warriors who served in Vietnam, as opposed to liberal Burn's spin on the war.
You can certainly start this thread by googling Patt Morrison. We'll take a look at others on the Ken Burns team as we go along and we'll look at some of Zippo's friends.
And I have a question. Whose war is it anymore? Who is vested? Not the protesters. They risked nothing. They can claim an interest, but it isn't their war, in the same valued way it is to those who saw combat in Indochina. More than 50 years since some of us went over, who's history is it?
For those of my generation who did not go to Vietnam, they will never know the unique closeness men develop who fight together in combat. Who absolutely depended on one another to live the night through on the jungle floor of Indochina. Who were there when we were most afraid. No civilian activity produces the same bond. And they will not know the pure joy in coming home to a wife, a father or a mother. It brings about a joyous, unique eruption of love... a catharsis of primal, fulfilled thankfulness, that gives life thereafter a greater meaning. Nothing in the protest movement compares to the joy in holding your mother after a year in Vietnam.
The story of the Vietnam War soldier is in nuances only he can know... and they are hard to explain because combat happens to all the senses all at once. You perceive war in what you see, and smell and hear and feel... impossible chaos to capture in words to strangers. And the anguish a soldier feels holding a wounded buddy in his arms when he's exhausted from a fire fight... is the most difficult of all. Those feelings remain the providence of the warrior alone.
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