Bravo! The Project - A Documentary Film

Archive for January 21st, 2022

Documentary Film,Khe Sanh,Marines,Meet the Men,Other Musings,Veterans,Vietnam War

January 21, 2022

January 21, 2022

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In Their Own Words

Fifty-four years ago today, the Siege of Khe Sanh commenced and for roughly 77 days, the battle roared and the scenes of carnage and death and courage were featured on television screens across America.

While the participants’ families and friends sat in their easy chairs in their living rooms, watching with horror, going to work and church and school with the thoughts of death and fear in their minds, the men who fought the battle dug in.

What was it like?

Let some of the Marines and Navy Corpsmen who made it home tell you. These comments are from the original interviews done for the film. Some of them made it into the final cut, some of them you have never read before. Even though the interviews were conducted on an individual basis, the men often recollected the same events without anyone prompting. That was one of the amazing things about interviewing the men of BRAVO!

Khe Sanh TAOR 1968 Photo Courtesy of Mack McNeeley

On the night before the boom lowered and the siege began some of the men had a sense of foreboding.

Ken Rodgers:

I went out in the trench and I think I had first watch and as I was getting off watch it was misty. You could see through the mist and there was Puff the Magic Dragon flying around and all you saw was the blur of the tracers and hear the thing and it was moaning. I understood then that something was going to happen.

Cal Bright:

Everything was all nice and quiet. As a matter of fact it was, more or less, too quiet.

The initial eruptions of incoming found most of the men of Bravo 1/26 in their racks. The chaos ripped them out of their sleep and into the trenches and fighting holes.

Dan Horton:

There’s an explosion in the doorway of the hooch. Slammed me against the bulkhead. Then I knew the shit was hitting the fan here. Scared the crap out of me, of course, I was all discombubulated.

Cal Bright:

All Hell broke loose.

Michael E. O’Hara:

I was there digging holes in the trench. I wanted to go down as far as I could go. I was scared.

Lloyd Scudder:

I went outside and tried to curl up in a ball as much as I could. I looked like a turtle underneath my helmet.

Then the ammo dump took a direct hit.

Mike McCauley:

When the ammo dump exploded, man, we thought it was atomic.

Cal Bright:

It was obvious that they, the NVA, had been reconning the area for quite some time because you can’t hit an ammo dump with artillery and rockets and score direct hits without practicing. And it took them no time at all.

Ken Rodgers:

Our own artillery rounds that were stored in the ammo dump were cooking off and shooting straight up into the air and coming down on us.

Tom Quigley:

The NVA rounds had hit our ammo dump, and in the ammo dump was a lot of CS canisters and those went off and the gas started coming in through our hooch.

Mike McCauley:

Nobody had their gas masks with them so everybody’s trying to find a gas mask.

Ken Pipes:

The CS gas that was blown out of the dump was burning and settling into the trenches because it goes to the low ground and into the bunkers.

Debris at Khe Sanh. Photo courtesy of David Douglas Duncan.

Guys were getting hurt. Guys were dying.

Ken Korkow:

We got a lot of incoming and I’ll tell you, three separate times, incoming was so close to me I didn’t jump down, the concussion of the shell actually knocked me to the ground.

John “Doc” Cicala:

I heard ‘em yelling for a Corpsman and I started running down the trench line and the next thing I know I was looking up at the sky and I heard a Marine calling for a Corpsman and “where the hell is that son-of-a-bitch?” I was kind of lying there dazed and I got up and I picked up my helmet and I had the tail fin of a mortar in the top of my helmet. It must have hit me and knocked me out.

Peter Weiss:

I didn’t know it at the time: the radioman who had been killed. Must have been killed right at the door of the bunker. Touching a body…first time I touched a dead body. It was like, “Oh, my God.”

After hours and hours of explosions, the ammo dump going up, the CS gas in the trenches, things calmed down.

John “Doc” Cicala :

The rest of the morning was just taking care of every guy that had shrapnel wounds.

Mike McCauley:

It was pretty chaotic.

Steve Wiese:

I thought, my God, you’re not going to survive this. Little did I know that it was going to go on for 77 days.

DVDs of BRAVO! are available @https://bravotheproject.com/store/.

A digital version of BRAVO! is available in the US on Amazon Prime Video @ https://amzn.to/2Hzf6In.

BRAVO! has a page on Facebook. Please “like” us and “share” the page at https://www.facebook.com/Bravotheproject?ref=hl.

The new documentary film from Betty and Ken Rodgers, I MARRIED THE WAR, is now available to watch. Check it out at https://imarriedthewar.com/.