100 years after Fetterman, I find myself in the Ia Drang Valley in Vietnam, replaying Custer’s Last Stand. It is November 14th, 1965. Colonel Hal Moore (Custer) is leading 400 men into an ambush. He is there, not because of his own arrogance, but because of his nation’s arrogance. An American base has been attacked. We are going to show those Vietnamese attackers never to mess with the United States of America.
This would be the first organized conflict by the U.S. in Vietnam.
The movie did several things for me. First among those things was a redemption for me of the war in Vietnam. I had struggled with the portrayal of our troops in every movie that had come out about the war in ‘Nam. Drug addicts, whackos, baby killers, rapists, murderers… whatever… there are people like that on both sides of any conflict. Just read the newspapers…conflicts… how do some people respond…. anywhere… everywhere…
My brother was a hero that served as a chopper pilot during 1969. When he returned home, activists were at the airport shouting curses and spitting at them. I had the privilege of going to him after seeing this movie and thanking him for his service over there. I told him he was my hero. We hugged… He cried… I cried… there was healing and redemption.
He went because he was ordered there by his country… they all went because they received their orders to go. Many were heroes.
Actually, there is a helicopter pilot in the movie… “Snake” …. He was a hero… He was doing what my brother was doing… flying mission after mission, bringing in more ammo and replacements right into the teeth of the firefights… flying back out with both the wounded and the dead soldiers… then immediately returning to the battle once again.
Of course… that was not what my brother told my mother.