Monday, May 3, 2010

Bare Feet - Iron Will

35 years after the Fall of Saigon, Teufel Hunden Lieutenant Colonel James Zumwalt -- son of one of Great Satan's premier military families -- unleashes stories from the Other Side of Vietnam's battlefields

"Bare Feet - Iron Will"

"The stories include insights about medical conditions—such as conducting brain surgery without anesthesia; losing medical supplies to aerial attacks; doctors and nurses donating their own blood prior to surgery due to lack of refrigeration.

"Telling insights about Vietnam’s allies too—including China, a country with which Vietnam has fought in almost every century since Hanoi’s independence, and how China sought at times to give the appearance of helping North Vietnam while not doing so; North Korea, which pressured Hanoi to allow it to send pilots to fight the Americans, only to have Hanoi send the Koreans home, and how an effort was made to hide this participation by burying North Korean pilots in an obscure cemetery.

And of course -- the infamous Ho Chi Minh Autobahn:

"The Ho Chi Minh Trail, as you know, was a logistical supply line that brought men and materiel from the north down to the south. Obviously, they had to cross rivers at certain points. And the only way you cross a river is with a bridge. They would build bridges for the specific purpose of having as a target -- having a target that we would go after.

"They -- what they would do then is, upstream or downstream of that bridge, they would come up with very clever ways of hiding bridges. Well, how do you hide a bridge? One is a concept known as a submarine bridge, where they actually built a bridge platform underneath the low watermark.

"And, for those who served in Vietnam, they know that the -- the water is basically brown, so you cannot see from the air if there was anything under the water. But these submarine bridges were very effectively used.

"As convoys would cross them, they would have guides standing on either side of the bridge platform guiding them as to where the edges of the platform were. These existed for the duration of the war, and we never knew about them.

Only Colonel Z could write this book - every guy in his family served in Vietnam -

"In a bitter irony of that conflict for our family, it was the actions of my father, Admiral Elmo R. Zumwalt, Jr., in ordering the spraying of Agent Orange along the river and canal banks of the Delta region when he commanded all US naval forces in Vietnam that sealed my brother’s fate."

"I found my bitterness towards our former enemy growing as I sat across the table from those responsible for the deaths of so many Americans. That anger grew until I met Nguyen Huy Phan, a Vietnamese war veteran and physician. Ours was a one-on-one meeting. He began our conversation by extending his condolences for the loss of my brother.

"As we discussed the war and its impact, I could see tears in his eyes welling up. I soon learned, he too had lost a brother in the war. While I had had the benefit of being with my brother when he died, thus knowing how and when he passed, Phan did not. He spent many years trying to locate his brother’s remains so they could be returned to the village of his birth for proper burial—a very important part of Vietnamese culture.

"It was as Phan shared his story, I felt the change in my attitude about the war occur. For the first time I asked myself, “Was the loss of a loved one any less devastating just because it took place on the other side of the battlefield?” The obvious answer was “no.” Two men—whom fate had placed on opposite sides of the battlefield—lost brothers they loved and were devastated by that loss.

"It was through this experience I came to realize the stories that took place on the other side of the battlefield during the Vietnam conflict needed to be told—and made the commitment to do so.

Pic - "10 Thousand Days of Thunder"