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Vietnam at 50 - 1969

 A Huey lands on a tiny clearing on 'Hamburger Hill' as a wounded American soldier is rushed aboard. Soldiers from 3rd Battalion, 187th Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division were trying to take the bomb-scarred, blood-soaked mountainfrom North Vietnamese forces.

Nixon struggles to sell 'peace with honor'

When Richard Nixon entered the White House on Jan. 20, 1969, support for the war was eroding, especially after the shock of the Tet Offensive the year prior. Five days after assuming the presidency, Nixon dispatched a team of negotiators to Paris to meet with representatives of North and South Vietnam and the National Liberation Front. The meeting did not go well.

Hamburger Hill: For weary Americans, 10-day battle defined futility of Vietnam War

By Wyatt Olson

Stars and Stripes

Fifty years after leading a company of soldiers up Hamburger Hill, Gerald “Bob” Harkins sees the assault against burrowed-in North Vietnamese army forces no differently than he did then.

“Our mission in life was to find the NVA and kill them,” said the 75-year-old Harkins, who now lives in Georgetown, Texas. “And we found them, and we did our best to kill as many as we could. The hill itself had no meaning."


LEFT: Pvt. Ed Hayes, 28, Pfc. Steve Ryan, 24, Pfc. Charles Dobard, 26, in front of a bunker fortification on top of Hill 937 of Dong Ap Bia, better known to Americans as "Hamburger Hill."

Patriotism or protest? Army vet Jimi Hendrix had the 'most electrifying moment' at Woodstock

By Sean Moores

Stars and Stripes

On Aug. 18, 1969, former soldier Jimi Hendrix, resplendent in bright red headband, white fringed shirt and bell-bottom blue jeans, unfurled what has been called the cultural moment of the 1960s when he played an incendiary instrumental version of “The Star-Spangled Banner” for remnants of the crowd at the Woodstock Music & Art Fair in Bethel, N.Y.


Washington in 1969 hosted largest antiwar protest in US history

While hundreds of thousands of demonstrators converged on Washington in November 1969 to show their growing disdain for America’s involvement in Vietnam, Sgt. Grant Coates was bunkered in the Commerce Department with his fellow soldiers, peeking out windows to catch glimpses at the activity outside.


Army nurse remembers one town's loss, keeps fallen soldiers' memory alive

For Cohasset, Mass., 1969 held the worst eight months of the Vietnam War, when 5 of the town’s soldiers were killed in action. Jane McCarthy grew up in Cohasset.After graduation, she went on to serve as an Army nurse in Vietnam. In May, she spoke at the 50th anniversary of the 1969 deaths of those five soldiers.


'The torture stopped': 1969 brought temporary changes to infamous Hanoi Hilton

By Kim Gamel

Stars and Stripes

American prisoners of war locked up for years in North Vietnam knew the drill. Bow to their captors or take a beating. But in October 1969, the rules changed. At least temporarily.


“I remember I dreaded my father leaving, almost like it was the end of the world. … Then, the entire time he was gone, I remember literally every day thinking if I could have one wish granted in life it would be [for] my dad to come home.”

— Gen. Stanley McChrystal, who was 10 when his father, Maj. Gen. Herbert Joseph McChrystal Jr., left for Vietnam

“The injuries were so severe that they thought he was dead. So they put him in the pile of the dead and he was trying to muster up enough strength to get this medic to notice he was alive. And all he could do was spit in the medic’s face. That’s when the medic realized, ‘This man’s alive.’"

— Yvette Benavidez Garcia, about her father, Army Master Sgt. Roy P. Benavidez, a Green Beret who received the Medal of Honor for saving eight soldiers.

“I was 4 at the time and I remember not crying at the funeral. … I thought it was a magic show. … Seeing him, and then, when they draped the flag, all of a sudden the casket is closed. I’m like, ‘Where did he go?’”

— Robert Howard II, about his father, Robert Howard, who was killed in action in 1969.

“It is very hard explaining war and combat to civilians. The smell of blood in large quantities. The smell of napalm. People burning in front of your eyes.”

— Joseph Galloway, a veteran war correspondent who did four stints in Vietnam, including a 16-month tour in which he covered the pivotal Battle of Ia Drang Valley.

“I refuse to believe that a little fourth-rate power like North Vietnam doesn’t have a breaking point.”

— National Security Adviser Henry Kissinger

“The war is simply an obscenity, a depraved act by weak and miserable men, including all of us who have allowed it to go on and on with endless fury and destruction."

— Noam Chomsky, historian, political activist, 1969

“The people who were against the Vietnam War thought I was attacking the Army. The guys in the Army thought I was representing their experiences. I was on both sides, and I survived.”

— Mort Walker, creator of the comic strip Beetle Bailey

“Life was primitive in ‘Nam. The average temperature was 120 degrees, and it rained buckets for half of the year. Shoes were a joke. I showered with the bugs, slept on a cot and ate dried eggs. … I was changed forever.”

— Bernadette Harrod, a registered nurse and author of “Fort Chastity, Vietnam, 1969.”

“I’m not going to be the first American president to lose a war.”

— Richard Nixon, October 1969