In this episode another story about a tremendous representative of the Vietnam Veteran Generation is presented. Daniel C. Emke of Amherst, New York served with the US Marines in Vietnam. An article from the Buffalo News titled: Saluting Our War Heroes: Horror of televised execution inspired service in Vietnam that was submitted by Lou Michel is featured.
Emke was a high school student in 1968 and along with many others witnessed the summary execution of a Viet Cong operative on TV. It occurred during the Tet Offensive when a captured VC fighter was dispatched to Valhalla by National Police Chief Nguyen Ngoc Loan with a small caliber pistol up against the bad guy’s head. Chief Loan assured the NBC cameramen who took the iconic photograph that the departed VC had killed many of his men and assured them that Buddha would forgive him (editorial note – he may be surprised when he meets St Peter and discovers the only way into heaven is through Jesus Christ not Buddha).
Just the sight of the street front execution amazed Emke to the point of deciding to join the Marines and to check out the situation himself. As soon as he graduated from Riverside High School he joined the Marines and by January of 1969 he first set foot in Vietnam. He served a year in country as a “ground pounder” Marine infantryman that consisted of many 30 days on and 2 day off search and destroy missions. Most days were filled with boredom that was interrupted with occasional moments of horror.
Emke survived his year in Vietnam with a reasonably sound mind and body. When his hitch in the Marines ended he took advantage of the GI Bill and attended college. He went to work for Union Carbide, started his own business and then worked his way up to being president of a manufacturing business.
Daniel C. Emke is an excellent representative of the Vietnam Veteran Generation who served his country in Vietnam and back here at home as a civilian.