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John McCain Wanted To See One Specific Part Of The New Documentary Series, 'The Vietnam War'
Ken Burns and Lynn Novick's new 18-hour documentary series, "The Vietnam War," premieres Sunday on PBS, and it feels as searingly immediate as it is soaked in history.
Burns rejects the notion that history repeats itself, but at a Bank of America preview screening of the doc in New York on Thursday, Burns said he does notice "historical rhymes" in his work.
"I'm hearing a lot of rhymes today," Burns continued: a public divided, a president convinced the media is lying, the "rancor" that fills the country — a word Burns used twice.
And while there are lessons to be learned from "Vietnam" about the horrors of war and its lasting effects, the main project Burns and Novick took on was telling the "many truths" of the war. That means interviews, and archival footage, from all sides of the conflict.
Though you may have seen some of the footage in "Vietnam" before, it's still stunning, especially when placed alongside personal recollections. During the war, journalists had a striking level of access and intimacy with soldiers — and they paid the price. Over 200 journalists and photographers were killed in Vietnam, Novick said.
For "Vietnam," the quality of the archival footage means a truly cinematic feel, and less classic "Ken Burns" tricks to make still photos seem alive. But it's not just the footage, but rather the individual perspectives that will stick with you, especially those of Vietnamese people on both sides.
Tanks and ACAV's secure supply route in 25th Infantry Divison area.U.S. Army photo
Phan Quang Tue, a retired immigration judge who came to the US in 1975 (and appeared in the doc), said at the screening he felt "Vietnam" was a non-partisan documentary, and that viewers should approach it as such.
One such viewer is Senator John McCain, whose wartime experience is the stuff of legends. "McCain just wanted to see the North Vietnamese stories," Burns said Thursday. "Show me their story," McCain instructed Burns when being shown parts of the documentary.
"Our species is bad at learning from events," Burns said. But if you want to get the most out of this new documentary, you should take the McCain approach, and listen to all the perspectives on this defining and painful chapter in US history.
"The Vietnam War" premieres Sunday, September 17 on PBS at 8 pm. You can also watch it using the PBS app.
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My brother earned the Medal of Honor for saving countless lives — but only after he was left for dead
"As I learned while researching a book about John, the SEAL ground commander, Cmdr. Tim Szymanski, had stupidly and with great hubris insisted on insertion being that night."
Editor's Note: The following is an op-ed. The opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Task & Purpose.
Air Force Master Sgt. John "Chappy" Chapman is my brother. As one of an elite group, Air Force Combat Control — the deadliest and most badass band of brothers to walk a battlefield — John gave his life on March 4, 2002 for brothers he never knew.
They were the brave men who comprised a Quick Reaction Force (QRF) that had been called in to rescue the SEAL Team 6 team (Mako-30) with whom he had been embedded, which left him behind on Takur Ghar, a desolate mountain in Afghanistan that topped out at over 10,000 feet.
As I learned while researching a book about John, the SEAL ground commander, Cmdr. Tim Szymanski, had stupidly and with great hubris insisted on insertion being that night. After many delays, the mission should and could have been pushed one day, but Szymanski ordered the team to proceed as planned, and Britt "Slab" Slabinski, John's team leader, fell into step after another SEAL team refused the mission.
But the "plan" went even more south when they made the rookie move to insert directly atop the mountain — right into the hands of the bad guys they knew were there.
She's photographed every major war of the last 20 years. Marine Corps boot camp was something else entirely
Conflict photographer Lynsey Addario's seen a hell of a lot of combat over the past twenty years. She patrolled Afghanistan's Helmand Province with the Marines, accompanied the Army on night raids in Baghdad, took artillery fire with rebel fighters in Libya and has taken photos in countless other wars and humanitarian disasters around the world.
Along the way, Addario captured images of plenty of women serving with pride in uniform, not only in the U.S. armed forces, but also on the battlefields of Syria, Colombia, South Sudan and Israel. Her photographs are the subject of a new article in the November 2019 special issue of National Geographic, "Women: A Century of Change," the magazine's first-ever edition written and photographed exclusively by women.
The photos showcase the wide range of goals and ideals for which these women took up arms. Addario's work includes captivating vignettes of a seasoned guerrilla fighter in the jungles of Colombia; a team of Israeli military police patrolling the streets of Jerusalem; and a unit of Kurdish women guarding ISIS refugees in Syria. Some fight to prove themselves, others seek to ignite social change in their home country, and others do it to liberate other women from the grip of ISIS.
Addario visited several active war zones for the piece, but she found herself shaken by something much closer to home: the Marine Corps Recruit Depot at Parris Island, South Carolina.
Addario discussed her visit to boot camp and her other travels in an interview with Task & Purpose, which has been lightly edited for length and clarity.
An Army staff sergeant who "represents the very best of the 101st Airborne Division" has finally received a Silver Star for his heroic actions during the Battle of the Bulge after a 75-year delay.
On Sunday, Staff Sgt. Edmund "Eddie" Sternot was posthumously awarded with a Silver Star for his heroics while leading a machine gun team in the Ardennes Forest. The award, along with Sternot's Bronze Star and Purple Heart, was presented to his only living relative, Sternot's first cousin, 80-year-old Delores Sternot.
U.S. special operations forces are currently field testing a lightweight combat armor designed to cover more of an operator's body than previous protective gear, an official told Task & Purpose.
The armor, called the Lightweight Polyethylene (PE) Armor for Extremity Protection, is one of a handful of subsystems to come out of U.S. Special Operations Command's Tactical Assault Light Operator Suit (TALOS) effort that media outlets dubbed the "Iron Man suit," Navy Lieutenant Cmdr. Tim Hawkins, a SOCOM spokesman, told Task & Purpose on Wednesday.