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tv   Nick Brokhausen We Few  CSPAN  August 21, 2018 10:13pm-11:13pm EDT

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metastatic breast cancer in a woman with previously universally fatal form of the disease. >> "we few" essay at memoir by special forces nick brokhausen by his experiences in vietnam or conducting reconnaissance missions in vietnam, laos and cambodia. he talked about the book and answer questions at the academic archives in washington. this is an hour. [inaudible conversations] >> at afternoon and welcome to the william g mcgowan theater here at the national archives.
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nick brokhausen will talk about his new book, "we few: u.s. special forces in vietnam." nt material, the archivist of the united states and its a pleasure to welcome you here. what you hear in the theater or joining us on our youtube station and a special welcome to our friends at the span. today's program is part of a series of discussions, films, programs, lectures and other events related to remembering vietnam exhibit upstairs in the gallery. before we bring out -- you bring up nick brokhausen, that tell you about two other programs for the coming year later this week. tomorrow night at 7:00 p.m., join us for a bipartisan discussion about how citizenship citizenship -- citizen movements of influence policymakers in a program called citizen engagement in america's history, citizen activists will join the panel with former members of congress to discuss civic engagement, civic education and
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how to petition the government. then on thursday, june 21st at noon, robert f. kennedy legacy program to hear from kerry kennedy about her new book about her father robert f. kennedy, ripples of hope. we'll see interviews with those who've been inspired by him. kennedy brings to life rfk's youth and passion in a book signing will follow the program. to learn more and consult our monthly calendar there is a sign-up sheet outside on the table where you can get e-mail updates. you'll also find more information about national archives, activities and events. another way to get more involved with the national archives is to become a member of the national archive foundation at the foundation supports all of our education and outreach activities in their applications for membership in the lobby.
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now i will ask all vietnam veterans for any united a veteran who served on the duty and in the united states armed forces any time during the period november 1st, 1955 and may 15th, 1975, to stand and be recognized. [applause] veterans come as you exit the mcgowan theater after today's program, national archives staff and volunteers will present each of you with the vietnam veterans will tell 10. on the back of the pen is embossed a grateful nation thanks and honors you. the united states of america vietnam war commemoration is a national initiative and a lapel pin is that nations lasting memento of thanks. as i mentioned earlier, this
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program is related to especially vivid remembering vietnam. for this exhibit are territorial staff combed through national archives records here and across the country to find documents that tell the stories recounted in the 12 episodes of the exhibit. these records come in many forms, motion pictures, film and video tapes and artifacts. remembering vietnam traces the long arc of the war for the decisions that led to increased american involvement to the eventual withdrawal of united states troops. it also brings us face-to-face with stories of people who live, fought and died in vietnam and we few -- in the "we few," nick brokhausen brings us the perspective of those who served and fought alongside them. they were the backbone of crown reconnaissance in vietnam during the war.
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but here from him now and learn the stories of those men and later in the divided city of berlin in the first counter terrorism unit in the u.s. military offensive in the military, nick has several businesses that provide training for law enforcement and military as well as consulting for the resource development community. he developed his miss interest in software and cybersecurity, waste to energy and powerful projects as well as products such as the ballistic shields used by law enforcement and armored vehicles. ladies and gentlemen, please welcome nick brokhausen.
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[applause] >> thank you. thank you. i'll make this as short as i can see we can get into the questions and answers. i would like to say i wrote this book as a catharsis. i went through a period in my life where things have slowed down somewhat and i wanted to get some of my demons done away with. so i sat down and wrote this book in about six months and then it sat around for two years and finally i had a publisher come a small publisher picked it up and printed it back about 15 years ago or 10 years or something like that. it's been out of print for 10 years and it's just been republished. i am not a scholar.
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i'm not an archivist. i am just a guy that went through this and decided to put it down on paper in the hope that people after me would understand the incredible courage of my peers. it is not sergeant rock and the commandos. there's not a lot of me. i am more than narrator in it rather than the central figure. i wrote the book is a tribute to my peers. i would like to read something to give you an idea of exactly what i'm talking about. this is the presidential unit citations that was awarded to map the sock and i was privileged enough to be at that ceremony in fort bragg with about 300 other survivors that were there, including several
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generals that were retired major general set up in staff sergeants and buck's urgent than those days. so i'm not a professional reader either. the president presidential unit dictation to the united states studies and observation groups coming to its military assistance command vietnam. the studies and observation group is towards extraordinary heroism, combat achievement and unwavering fidelity while executing top-secret mission behind enemy lines across southeast asia. incorporating volunteers from all branches of the armed forces and especially u.s. army special forces special operations groups brown wood denied action which were contributed to the american war effort in vietnam.
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military is the special operations group of the reconnaissance teams composed of special forces, soldiers and indigenous personnel penetrated the enemy's most dangerous wilderness in the sanctuaries of eastern cambodia. received by human tracker is an event bloodhounds comment these small teams outmaneuvered, out thought and our plan there numerically superior approach for key enemy facilities, rescue downed pilots, wiretaps, lines and electronic sensors and captured soluble enemy prisoners and discover and assess part of the strikes and inflict casualties all out of proportion to their losses. when countermeasures became dangerously effective from the special operations group operators innovated their own
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counters from high altitude parachuting in unusual explosive devices as old as the french and indian war. fighting alongside the cambodian and vietnamese allies, special forces led hatchet forces during raids against key enemy facilities in laos and cambodia, over a major munitions and supplies stockpiles to choke off the flow of supplies to south vietnam. special operations group cross-border operations proven effective economy compelling the north vietnamese army to divert 50,000 soldiers to rear area security duties far from the battlefields of south vietnam.
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supporting these hazardous missions for special operations groups owned in the united states and to the means -- pardon me. air force transport and helicopter squadrons along with air force air controllers and helicopter units in the u.s. army and u.s. marine corps. these courageous aviators often drew heavy fire truck truck special operations groups from seemingly hopeless situations saving lives by selflessly risking their own. no truer statement can be said. special operations vietnamese labor forces instructed the u.s. navy seals boldly waited the course against the north vietnamese navy will indigenous teams penetrated the very heart
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and of north vietnam. despite what sometimes became universal, special operations group operators thought throughout the war with the same player, fidelity that distinguish special operations groups from the beginning. the studies and observation groups, martial skills in on a knowledge sacrifice has saved many american lives and provide a paradigm for american forces, features special forces. that was the presidential citation that was given to the unit. when i wrote this book, they were only two other books out at the time. one was written by david mauer, which was a fiction account called the driving place -- dining place. it was the same unit i was in.
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the other was a scholarly work by a gentleman named john plaster and wood bed cnc central and ran recon. most of the people that john plaster tried to interview refused to speak to them in myself when i first started writing about because as far as we know, they were still classified. a lot of the information in john's book, got the one or two people they were willing to talk to and in all cases, eyewitnesses, everyone of them has a different view of the same incident. there were things that were left out. but today, more and more authors are coming forward in writing about special projects. john mayer has written to really
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find the and toby todd and i think a couple of the others. i love them in their effort to come forward and tell people about their peers. i didn't write it for myself. i wrote up for the guys i was there with. the most incredible people i've ever met in my life, all of whom are old friends of mine. i hope that the book gives you an idea of what it was like to be there and not time. it's not a scholarly work. there is a lot of profanity. it is the viewpoint of someone who was there at the time, who witnessed it at the time and had the impressions of that time. i think it pretty well details what it was like on some of the missions. there is a sequel but it worked
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on at the same time that will come out if he detailed the last part of my tour and special projects. i hope that they get the book that you enjoy it. i hope you learned something from it, but it doesn't offend you, but at the same time what we went through and why we went through a period so i can take questions now. [applause] >> thank you. >> if you have questions, please go to the microphone. >> thank you for your top. i'm curious if someone asked a bunch of questions and you thought they say classified at that time. what were some of the things
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that we'll all find if you read your book that you would need to get cleared so many years after you experience them. what kinds of things have opened up or become less classified. >> i never got clearance when i wrote the book. he was 15, 20 years ago when i will. the portions of what we did in some of the target areas i'm sure are still sensitive because of the particular country they were in or the location and other aspects that we still don't talk about because they are classified i'm sure. as far as the techniques in the way we operated, i had a good friend of mine give an idea of the complexity. when we were young staff
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sergeant, we were running operations, joint combat operations, directing air support on the ground, running a combat mission. you are running to save your life at the same time fighting to get out with the information you got in there with her wit and therefore. today, one of our guys went all the way to major general and he was instrumental in afghanistan and somebody asked them, aren't you afraid of the danger you're putting these young men in? when they're in less danger as i was in laos also comfortable there doing their job. so is challenging, but it paid off in the end. >> what would you describe i guess maybe probably in your
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book and maybe you can touch on it, and pat buchanan joined in the type of people that go into special projects. how did they raise their head or have their hand raised for them to go down there path if you are involved with, versus other divisions of the military. >> you heard the term shanghai? >> yes. even occur a special forces. what kind of training collection source did you go through to get into special projects? blackmail. you had to be a triple volunteer percival. you had to volunteer for special forces. he had to volunteer for vietnam and you had to volunteer to be in private. anytime you could quit. i mean, you had people that actually quit. to this day, there was no stain on their manhood or anything because this was about as high
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pressure as you can get. the only thing that comes close to a i think it's been over 70 because every day could be your last one. it is something that some of you recognize. but as part of the special selection, we ran a 10 course. it was a recon team leader. i was a select for us. one was his assistant, better. we actually ran a school of longtime viet anh that was run missions and you could go from running missions to be in and start there. i never saw that happen, that they said it was possible. the actual last exercise where
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they put you in on the ground. you are going to into somebody out there in the whole idea was training you to survive. we became masters of plan b. when plan a fails, you pull at your back pocket and start working it out. there was no real selection to get you in the special projects. you were told he could be in the hot chick company then you can be in support i think something else that most people don't understand, at the height of the war, special forces consist of about 3500 people worldwide.
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so we were a small compact group innocence in the beginning and special projects became even smaller and more compact. the statistic one time of the 7800 men that served in ground combat operations, there is a difference. ground combat operations. guys that actually ran on the ground. only about 1800 of us survive a war. so i mean, we lost eight team teams that disappeared without a trace. they vanished off the face of the earth. even more were decimated. they consisted of between 30 and 50 americans. you had supposedly 18 teams that were available, but they were so
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shot up that they couldn't go back out. they needed to recruit new people, train your people, get back in shape to get on the roster. towards the end, 70, 71 and 72, you are running more missions because there are less teams because the war had changed by then. we saw been a reconnaissance unit and actually became bait. get out there, stirring them up, make them come up on the radio while getting a pedicure. i hope i answered your question ended ramble on too far. >> thank you very much. you mentioned locals in the area is and relying on them in trying to build up trust and sometimes the trust failed. what is your experience with the
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areas you participated in them being relied on for support and involvement of those missions. >> i have worn this. it's a bracelet that john wayne war all the time. i will be blue until the day i die. the moans and the people who were with, you became a warrior in their tribe and the fidelity of the day served. i've had yards lay on top of me to keep me from being wounded again. some of the most dedicated, hard core fighters you'll ever find. they were essentially an iron ape tribe and then we came in and started handing out than
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jewelry. new rifles, new mortars. they adopted to a like ducks to water. the chinese monks, pretty much the same story. the vietnamese and the cambodian , the other ones we used. up in the north reuse the same might yards from the brew, said dang and the rise they tried. -- tribe. in some vietnamese. oddly enough, most of the vietnamese were recruited out of prison and they were good week on people. i mean, hard-core. they were in prison for robbery, bank robbery, whatever. we recruited them and god at the same time. that was a prevailing thing but it happened on a couple occasions. i actually recruited by gunnar, and 79 was a former north
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vietnamese office said he was in the pow camp next door. i recruited him out of the pow camp and he said he wants to come out, work with us if they trust him, i was going to trust him. to this day, we betrayed in the end. not us but the government. basically they signed away our pows and all the other stuff in the agreement with the north vietnamese. they basically gave the north vietnamese license to do what they wanted to do, which was destroyed the people. they were the terms of the yellow rain. they were the victims of out and out genocide after the war. i went back after the war in a lot of the little people that we had, they had their arms cut off
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because most of them had seu tattoo on her arm. anyone with that, they chop it off right above it. a lot of them went back up in the hills. a little footnote error. at the end of the war, we knew pretty much that they were going to sell a the yards. the vietnamese were going to be able to hold them if they did, they wanted to get rid of it the yards, too. so we were arming them. i don't mean a pistol here in a couple cartridges they are. the big americans were pulling out they left stacks of ammunition and weapons behind. especially upon tree and we took it up and give it to the yards and hope they'd be a lot of survive afterwards. they are a warrior nation.
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as you nation. no nation. as you know, it is then that way for centuries. in their oral war, they actually have a memory in stories about hunting elephants with long hair. originally the people came from an area in china and were gradually push south to the centuries were finally they ended up in the mountains of laos and vietnam. very, very interesting people. i still hold them very close to my heart. any questions? >> this is a little outside the scope of your book, the served in special operations in berlin. could you elaborate a little bit on that? >> are you the sniper in the crowd?
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yeah, okay. thank you. let's see. we have to first understand about special projects people. when i came back from vietnam he was the six special forces. at that time a change from bt to sergeant major. he says come back monday in the old man wants to meet you. the company commander. i came back monday and he goes you're to have to find a new job. why? the company commander doesn't want you. everybody knows that people from projects are either alcoholics or psychos and apparently you're sober. so i had to find a new job. my brother-in-law and he will pay for this, he was the adjective. he had been vietnam.
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in the bookies known as captain psycho. so he was expanding at the time in virtually everybody else that didn't want initial projects people, he got them a test group and it became the core of the special forces group. attend special forces group has a special unit that was always associated with it, which was detachment a in berlin. detachment a starts hissing if i want there into sensitive areas. wrote a book about berlin. but it was a stay behind unit basically. when the balloon went up in russians came through, and they were supposed to blend into the local population and using hidden caches of weapons and
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money, we were supposed to start a resistance movement to tie it is the same thing we did in vietnam, destroyed the logistics chain. everything moves by rail that the russian army advocates rail yard in eastern europe was in east berlin at that time. that was one of the particular areas of interest. oddly enough, most of the people were former special projects people. they had gone there. you have to speak german or speak a foreign language to get there. and you had to have top secret clearance to get in there. was pretty much the same thing. 12 man teams. you have a different mission. some things match, some things don't. that unit participated in both of the iranian hostage rescue
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attempts. people from det aa. and then you had the mission of intelligence gathering and in the case the balloon went up performing other functions for the army. you look at the numbers today, their 60,000 or 80,000 special operations, troops have not yet where they are? it included a lot of people like the rangers in the seals in that category on that. there's still a lot of people out there doing essentially the same thing. come back from vietnam he might go on a mobile training team to bolivia to work with the rangers in the mountains as a radio op her entre operator to crowd where propagation and communicate. they were actually hunting down what they called bandits in those days, but was actually the
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scenario. you ended up in different jobs in different places, but still pretty much stayed in special forces. >> nick ima which revealed to describe one of your actions that is not classified? >> have you been talking to my ex-wife? [laughter] yeah, sure. what's a good one. it means vietnam, right? for example, i think it's in the beginning of the second vote. we did wiretaps. the first wiretap machine, tape recorder like that they miniaturized it down and finally got it down to bad big enough lie. the problem was that tapes they were normal speed. you had to change the tapes
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every four hours which meant crawling down, changing the tapes, get out of there without bruising any of the vegetation. and then they came out with a new system that you could actually do coaxial cable with the north vietnamese used a lot of as well as the regular setups, which was much better. so we get a wiretap mission. the first one i've ever run. i go and draw the wiretap commitment coming to the tutorial on it, said town, work it through, talk to a couple of the guys from another team about a month before that. at that time we are trying to find out two things. how they were getting fuel down south without hauling it in 55-gallon drums. eventually they found out they had a pipeline they were
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resupplying when all the tanks the wheeled out of the jungle when they finally took the country, they were all down south and somebody had gotten pictures of them. not 55, but it looks like 55-gallon drums of exterior rear of the t. 54. while they weren't using it. they had to have fuel somewhere. we were going in wiretapping, trying to find cable and that was our mission to go when they try and do a wiretap in that area because they knew true concentrations were right for us to find the major headquarters. so anyway we go when. i got the thing set up. the montagnard and my 10 and 12 are behind me 30 yards up the
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slope. he had found a trail juncture where it came down and broke off to the west that was all overgrown. it was probably in that area. so we found a wire. and i am laying there. i've got to go back down and change the path every 24 hours. so the next morning at about 6:00 i am down there. you're going real slow because the north vietnamese users trail watchers and watch where the liar is and they have a machine so they knew if you had a top on it. so anyway, i'm moving real slow down there in the here to click some emergency radio which means somebody is coming. so i am laying there, trying to look as small as i can in here
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comes about 25 north vietnamese that sit it down. first, two guys came up with a detection device. one of those electromagnetic coils that detects blood loss and not. they went the way they came back with 25 troops and they started giving a class. this is a wire detecting device and that got described droning on and i am laying there sweating bullets. it is the nearest one is about where the cameraman is. they were kind of sitting up on the slope and i just know one of them is going to see me out there. so i am sweating bullets and i hear this typical thing, some nco yelling in vietnamese and then i hear a slapping sound and a little bit more talking can i
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get back up top and a nasty mac would have been. three of them were sleeping in the back row and one of the ncos went back. jack did not. if you believe you didn't see me. we decided to move the top, which was good. we just removed the top that pulled in another direction in here they came back and they came back with 40 guys that were not there for a class. they were looking for rest. so they had seen something for the top had been given away or whatever. we were going to leave it there. so the device was still there and we were going to put another one up the trail and come back and they found it and it went off. so would destroy the device and whoever was around it. it was about that bit around, designed to blow your leg off or whatever partisan in the way.
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so we got a lot of good intel. it was a technique. sometimes it works, sometimes you couldn't use an. you have to understand our top six are constantly evolving because they get on top of you in a minute. the latter part of the war in 71, and they started using entire week on teams. they were seized, experienced troops, mostly ncos and seasoned troops and made use green troops to take casualties and they would send the anti-week on people and drive you into an area where they could kill you, were you had no more charming than our lifeline was as much as everybody like to
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think they were giants of the battlefield, the aviation guy saved her cookies many, many times. hope that answered your question. >> i was very excited last night when i saw you were speaking. i was talking with my dad over the weekend. he served in special forces. he was active named during the tet. >> with your last name? >> were sold. his name was wayne. [inaudible] >> on make sure he knows you said that. >> a brother-in-law as a captain. the question i had for you though had to deal with in the beginning of your talk you mentioned the book about dean a
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cathartic experience for you and i know for several veterans including my dad, coming back home wasn't the best. didn't have the sport you did for the other wars. so, could you talk a little bit more about.cathartic experience that may be how other veterans who maybe have the gift of writing another ways to express because you never talk about any battles, and experiences he had. part of that was maybe because some of those classified, but some of it was he felt like it was going to be too emotional. could you talk about that cathartic experience for you? >> by the way, your father was there in 71. [inaudible] i remember captain gresham or nighttime.
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-- from that time. the guy who was mostly gosh i know it bothers him in that incident i've not written about it, but you know, it brings back too many bad memories for him. but we do have a reunion every year in las vegas called special operations association and we are getting older so there's less today from that era of time. it is healing for us to get together and drink a hotel out of their drambuie supply and scotch at the same time and let it out. the only people that are going to understand he was another veteran. when you get right down to it, with his family and others would like to empathize and sympathize the veteran, the only guy that
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understands you if someone that's been there and seen the elephant. war leaves an ugly scar on your soul. don't get me wrong because if you ask anybody they'll tell you i'm not a liberal or a pacifist. i still have the same spirit in me that i went to vietnam with, but i realized and your dad realized that things we did then were part of four in the shapes you and affects you. i worked a lot with the new special forces in another area that invented armor products and you can find a beating human heart under 55 feet of rubble and they use it to find targets that were hiding behind the walls. i couldn't be prouder of these guys if they were my own children.
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totally they have the same spirit, they are having the same experiences that we had dealing with ptsd and the other things that come with doing this type of a job. the government and the american people still have their arms around what a tremendous debt. when i look around, i may be opinionated, but i think that the people in this country should get down on their knees in a god variable to produce men like this. and women. that would go up there and do this for the country. vietnam shaped me because when i later got in the private vector, it has done me well over the years. don't get me wrong. i said bankruptcies in things like that, but i never quit anything that is one thing you come away with. don't stop.
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the minute you stop fighting, you're dead. >> another follow-up here. in the 1980s we saw a lot of movies at uncommon valor, rambo, chuck norris and they were all about bringing prisoners home. hanoi hilton and i believe there were attempts that nobody ever escape and it's not clear whether there were any attempts to get them out. i'm curious in regard to what you were involved with if there were plans in is that happen in iran in regard to the hostages. the attempts to bring people in recovery. anything you describe in regard to missions like that that existed from that perspective. >> we tried to do a wicked found out about it. there was a team of deserters from united days army that they called out and pepper.
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one black eye in one way qaeda was working with the north vietnamese. they were high on the list. when i had a question and answer period with them. it was an example of a mission that went really bad because it has all the potential to be done in the first place. i don't know if anybody here remember is the debacle where they accuse special forces of all kinds of atrocities and trying to rescue prisoners in south vietnam. and i think that staying against their honor is why we tried so hard to get the hostages out of iran, and that it came to an impasse, dealing with the persians would be, i don't know, they really are what they are
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saying out of one side is not what they mean out of the other. so they had actually come to the decision they had to do something militarily. all the assets were there. all the proper tools where they are. to be successful in the battlefield you have to have skill and luck on the same day. you can't have one and not the other. so there were a lot of failed attempts privately after the war. there were a number of groups that went back trying to recover people. they had excellent intel network with the laotians and the people we work with that they were feeding information to us. one case in particular, colonel bob howard was a former sergeant
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first class and he was the most decorated veteran of vietnam. he had a medal of honor. he then put in for it twice. hard-core west virginia, you know, let's go get him, that type of guy. he was in vietnam and i think 78 with some official function and the frenchman, journalist came up and handed him a note that had been handed to him by somebody in the crowd and it was signed, it said don't forget me and it was signed to bullet/. ..
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>> and we are pretty sure after the war and normally they did not capture us. if they got you they had instructions to execute in a nasty way to support the morale of the troops. but none of our guys survived. even with a totally different group.
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with the local militias. i i hope i answered your questions? i tend to babble on the. >> a couple of questions what inspired you to join? with three or four years? did you have to have a three or four year commitment? what was it like for your special ops? >> yes. you were listed. and then you went to there and did your time.
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so special forces is the greatest job in the world. and as a special forces sergeant is the best job in the world. so the mission are so diverse and challenging i don't know why anybody would want to be in special forces. did i answer your question? >> second you mentioned the american public embraced veteran so what is your suggestion the way the general public can do the jobs as a a policymaker? i have one friend who served in afghanistan but i feel the american public doesn't know how. we stand up at ball games but i come here to listen to you
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because i respect you have done for for that but not at the government level that the average citizen can do to thank you better? >> we are getting better at it. people come up all the time and say thank you for your service. when i i see veterans today i buy them lunch. that is what it's all about. and then to have the american public gets involved i agree with the president it is their own worst enemy.
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it is slanted. but we are becoming more open people don't like donald being in office but he has done a lot to change this country so far i cannot believe our country has gotten in the way because when i grew up you went off to war if you were drafted you went if they served in world war ii if your dad or uncle that by god it wasn't described it was your sworn duty as a citizen if your mom -- if you were called then you went. so that is how we won the two wars. the national guard to the
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activated battalion to fill up the ranks and then destroy germany and with vietnam. it wasn't mcnamara's hundred thousand. for the mentally disabled but they drafted people exceptionally low iqs as a way to a way to fill up the troop levels. but they honored themselves. >> any other questions?? one more?
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>> but things have changed. and one thing about it but so what i'm saying is that you had to volunteer to go to jump school but then they pay for the test. and to get into special forces. then a great bunch of guys. so they sent us down to the dominican republic.
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so the first thing we did was fail the people. >> as i'll sl make a good special forces operation. [laughter] >> and with that unconventional warfare. and with those professional bank robbers so how do you finance that organization soon as they got done with that they classified it but they physically searched us.
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>> speeseventeen speeseventeen. [inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations]
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>> he never learned politics. to serve roosevelt and taft as an aid will not play with popularity that's their prerogative with the madisonian view and alexander hamilton and john marshall created the greatest ever in believing slowly and thoughtfully over time that reason over passion could prevail and the entire system is so slow with popular
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passion so that the people can be governed in the public interest of self-interest rather than the public good. [inaudible conversations] >> good afternoon. thank you for being here today. it is a distinct privilege to introduce prof. travis morris executive director of thefi mposium and the peace anwr center the 23rd annual


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