MATURE SUBJECT MATTER, VIEWER DISCRETION ADVISED: WEDU is honored to present the personal Vietnam War experiences of our local citizens. The stories presented here have not been edited and are presented as originally shared by the author. The content may contain coarse language, images, or remembrances that may be disturbing to some viewers. Viewer discretion is advised.
Angelo A.’s Story
Shared on September 19, 2017
I was in Viet Nam for 3 months as a Lance Corporal in the Marine Corps and a the squad leader of the 1st squad 1st platoon of G-2-7 1st Mar Div.
I was made the squad leader about two weeks after my arrival in Viet Nam.. I pride myself that I had not lost a man either WIA or KIA and believed I would not loose any, part of that 18 year old sense of infallibility and cockiness.
On November 25, 1966 I was ordered on a special patrol with my squad, reinforced. We were looking for four VC that was spotted by a Marine Recon patrol. Our orders were to bring back one or all of the VC for interrogation. I was give the map and the overlay to follow, briefed my squad and set out.
About half way into the patrol we came into a hose shoe shaped hedge row. The over lay sent us though the north side of the hedge which seemed to be impassable.
I set the squad spread out around the hedge and I moved to the north of the hedge row to find a way through.
I stepped into the hedge and took three steps in and made a left turn which seemed to be a way through. I saw no way though and went to discuss the problem with Lance Corporal Philip A Purvis. I told him what I couldn’t find a way through the hedge row and as for suggestions.
Phil asked if he could take a look; I said OK see what you think. Phil went into the hedge at the same spot that I did, took that left turn and took one more step. We heard a burst of gun fire and I yelled for Phil there was no answer I yelled a second time with no better result.
I ran to the hedge row and turned left, there lye Phil shot 10 time from his stomach to his head. Phil, a hero in my eyes, died instantly. My closest friend and fellow Marine was a KIA from a simple daylight patrol.
The incident changed me for the rest of my time in the war until I was wounded and Med Evaced to the states four months later. In reality it changed me for the rest of my life. I never again got close to anyone in my squad or company.
I fly the flag each November 25 in honor of Phil and will do so for the rest of my life. The years and days that Phil gave me by volunteering to check for a way though that god for saken hedge row.
Sponsored in part by
Retired Officers’ Corporation at Freedom Plaza
Production Credits: THE VIETNAM WAR is a production of Florentine Films and WETA, Washington D.C. Directed by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick. Written by Geoffrey C. Ward. Produced by Sarah Botstein, Lynn Novick and Ken Burns.
Funding Credits: Funding provided by: Bank of America; Corporation for Public Broadcasting; PBS; David H. Koch; The Blavatnik Family Foundation; Park Foundation; The Arthur Vining Davis Foundations; The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation; The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation; National Endowment for the Humanities; The Pew Charitable Trusts; Ford Foundation Just Films; Rockefeller Brothers Fund; and Members of The Better Angels Society: Jonathan & Jeannie Lavine, Diane & Hal Brierley, Amy & David Abrams, John & Catherine Debs, Fullerton Family Charitable Fund, The Montrone Family, Lynda & Stewart Resnick, The Golkin Family Foundation, The Lynch Foundation, The Roger & Rosemary Enrico Foundation, Richard S. & Donna L. Strong Foundation, Bonnie & Tom McCloskey, Barbara K. & Cyrus B. Sweet III, The Lavender Butterfly Fund