Local Stories

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.

Lynwood S.’s Story

Shared on July 10, 2017


I served in Vietnam with the 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine regiment,1st Marine Division from January 1967 to December 1967. We were a combat Operational Battalion and our mission was to protect the Chu Lai Airbase from ground attack and rocket attack and our territory of responsibility was from Tam Ky just south of Chu Lai to South of Da Nang.

The area we controlled was Que Son valley, a large rice producing area and both the NVA and the local VC wanted to control the area to feed their troops. we were in the field continually locating the enemy and destroying them. We were up against the 2nd NVA Division and later Colonel Tiep of the NVA said we had mauled them so severely that when the Tet offensive started they were unable to do their mission to take DaNang because of what we had done during 1967. I was in the field as a Battalion radio operator and Forward Air Controller (FAC). My worst two Battles was Operation Union II and Operation Swift.

On Union II, I was with Lima Company to call in air strikes if needed, I was the 4th chopper in the hot LZ that day, May 26,1967, In 6 hours of fighting 38 Marines died and 19 of them were from Lima Company. I lost two good friends that day, captain Ayers, and Donald White. 82 men were wounded that day and it was the first day of the operation. On June 2,1967, I was wounded by shrapnel, but the Colonel asked me to stay and fight because of the number of radio operators we had already lost. I stayed, the medivac I would have been on was shot down as it lifted off and crashed.

On Operation Swift, I woke up to bullets going through my poncho, what a way to wake up. We were overrun by the men of the 2nd NVA Division. They hit us about 3:30 AM and when daylight came we had 35 dead and dying NVA soldiers within our lines. During this operation two men received the Congressional Medal of Honor Posthumously. Father Vincent Capodanno and Sgt. Peters.

Those are just two of the battles I was in. If you go to the book Road Of 10,000 Pains, The Destruction of the 2nd NVA Div. by the U. S. Marines, 1967, by Otto J Lehrack I was in all the operations in that book except for the last operation, Operation Essex. The author interviewed me by phone concerning Operation Union II and I’m in the book. Several of the pictures I took are in the book also.

I have been back to Vietnam twice and it has been a healing time for me. I went back to Vietnam in 2004 with 14 Marines and 1 Corpsman. We met Colonel Tiep who fought us on Operation Swift. We became friends. It was amazing once we tried to kill each other and now we are friends, the children were laughing and would crowd around us and were not afraid of us. because of how we were treated my first trip, in 2009 I took my wife to Vietnam and she was able to meet Colonel Tiep and she was able to stand on the exact places we fought 50 years ago. For 11 years I volunteered to be a speaker in our Hillsbough county High Schools for the Vietnam course offered the students.

I have VHS tapes I took of our trips back to Vietnam and I have 2 albums I took during my tour in Vietnam in 1967. In September I will be in Washington D. C. to Honor Father Capodanno. Some of the pictures I took on Operation Swift are in Washington D.C, in the Capodanno room honoring him. A book was written about him call the Grunt Padre.

I served with some great men during my tour in Vietnam.

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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