Vietnam: The Soldiers’ Story, VHS video, 3-volume set, ABC Video (distributed by Buena Vista Home Entertainment), $59.99.
Aired on The Learning Channel in October of 1998, Vietnam: The Soldiers’ Story was produced by ABC Video using footage from the ABC News archives, the U.S. military and North Vietnamese film that only recently became available. Hosted by ABC correspondent and veteran combat infantryman Jack Smith, who received the Bronze Star Medal and the Purple Heart for service with the 2nd Battalion, 7th Cavalry, at LZ Albany in the Ia Drang Valley, it is a look at the war through the eyes of those who fought it.
Each tape of the three volumes contains two 50-minute episodes. The first volume includes “Ambush! The Battle of Ia Drang” and “Under Siege at Khe Sanh.” The second volume contains “Tet: The Battle for Hearts and Minds” and “War in the Skies.” The series concludes with “Secret Wars, Secret Men,” about several covert intelligence operations, and “Last Chopper Out: The Fall of Saigon.”
Since I was among those interviewed for that last volume and served as the editorial consultant for the entire series, I admit to a certain bias, but the interviews with combat veterans and the extraordinary film footage speak for themselves. If, for example, you wish to better understand what Marine Sergeant Alfredo Gonzalez went through during the battle for Hue (see page 26), watch the film of that battle in volume two and listen while the Marines describe the ferocity of the fighting. Vietnam: The Soldiers’ Story is as close to war as you can get without actually being there.
Colonel Harry G. Summers, Jr.
U.S. Army (ret.)