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.

William A.’s Story

Shared on September 22, 2017


I went to Vietnam as a marine in 1967 and was assigned to bridge security in the DaNang area and after Tet I was moved to Dong Ha for the last 3 months of my tour. In 1969 I returned for a 2nd tour in Chu Lai that lasted 12 months. After leaving the marines I joined the navy in 1975 and my first deployment was on the USS Midway, CV-41 as it participated in the Saigon evacuation known as Operation Frequent Wind. My duties at that time placed me in Primary Flight Control where I had a ringside seat for the entire event as it unfolded below on deck. I had attended Vietnamese Language School as a marine and knew some very basic phrases as a result. As South Vietnamese pilots came aboard our ship, several were sent to my location in the control tower to be interviewed by the Air Boss. All of the pilots spoke basic english but I was able to startle some of them by asking their names in their native tongue and introducing myself as well, something I don’ ;t think they expected to encounter in that situation.
I don’t have any war stories as my tours placed me in fairly secure areas such as next door to China Beach while stationed in DaNang and driving trucks out of Dong Ha and later Chu Lai, but my time in country and during the evacuation provided me with an interesting perspective on the country, its people and the US involvement.
I completed my military career in the navy and am presently assigned a disability rating of 90% by the VA from loss of hearing and type-2 diabetes, possibly as a result of exposure to agent orange. I have no regrets about my service
and consider my career as an honorable way to serve this great country.

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