157 VVN – The Battle of Hamburger Hill – Part 1

MG Melvin Zais, Commander 101st Abn Div, Vietnam Veteran News, Mack Payne

Major General Melvin Zais, Commander, 101st Airborne Division, 1968- 1969.

This episode will begin a series on one of the few large scale set battles fought in The Viet Nam War, The Battle of Hamburger Hill. Its official name was Hill 973 and was fought on Ap Bia Mountain which overlooks the A Shau Valley. The main players in the event were units of the 101st Airborne Division led by Major General Melvin Zais.

It is a notable battle for several reasons. From a personal standpoint I flew many missions over the A Shau Valley and I knew of a famously heroic thing done by WO Frederic Cappo, a member of our sister unit B/4/77 FA(ARA).

Another notable thing about this battle was that it was a watershed event due to the furor that erupted in both military and civilian circles over the useless loss of American lives wasted in the taking of a hill that was given up the next day. As a result, General Abrams, overall commander in Vietnam at the time discontinued a policy of “maximum pressure” against the North Vietnamese to one of “protective reaction” for troops threatened with combat action, while simultaneously President Richard Nixon announced the first troop withdrawal from South Vietnam.

Listen to this podcast to get the full story.

156 VVN – Vietnam Veteran News Roundup

Joint Base Lewis McChord Event, mack payne,  vietnam veteran news

Marvin Merritt of Lacey and other Vietnam Veterans are welcomed off a bus before a day-long salute to Vietnam-era veterans at Joint Base Lewis McChord, October 9, 2014. It part of the 50th Anniversary Commemoration of the Vietnam War. PETER HALEY — Staff photographer Buy Photo

This episode is about good and uplifting news for all Vietnam Veterans. It appears the attitude of the country toward Vietnam Veterans is changing for the better. An event at the Joint Base Lewis McChord out in Washington state was held as part of the DOD sponsored 50th Anniversary Commemoration of the Vietnam War. There a group of Vietnam Veterans were given a belated welcome home ceremony .

In Broome County New York there was a proclamation making the county a Purple Heart county. The guest of honor at the proclamation ceremony was Jeffrey Largue, a Broome County resident who received the medal for his service in the Vietnam War.

In South Carolina a replica of the Wall Monument was on display at Spartanburg. Also at Spartanburg hundreds of volunteers helped Vietnam Veterans at Upstate Stand Down.

Get the full story in this episode.

155 VVN – Karl Marlantes Writes Book About Vietnam War

Karl Marlantes, What It Is Like to Go To War, Mack Payne, Vietnam Veteran News

Vietnam veteran Karl Marlantes, and author of The New York Times bestselling book “What It is Like to Go to War.”

In this episode we are going to talk about a book recently published by Karl Marlantes, a highly decorated US Marine veteran of the Vietnam War. At the time he was on a speaking tour in California talking about his philosophies relating to killing people.

He also recounts some of the challenges he has faced and still faces about dealing with PTSD. He offers some valuable information to all veterans on how to deal with the condition.

You are encouraged to get a copy of Karl’s book “What It is Like to Go to War” and find out what it really means to go to war.


154 VVN – American Hero James Bell Remembered

James Bell, mack payne, vietnam veteran news

: James Bell, a Navy captain and pilot was held prisoner for seven and a half years during the Vietnam War.

In this episode the memory of James Bell, US Navy Vietnam Veteran who died peacefully in Arlington, Virginia is honored. He was another one of those brave America Pilots who survived years in a North Vietnamese Prison. He was one of the first to be shot down over the North in 1965 and one of the first to be released in 1973.

He survived seven years of captivity in grim circumstances in those dreadful prison camps and then he went on to a distinguished career in the Navy and the business world after his retirement. He is survived by his wife, Dora Griffin Bell, the former wife of another POW who died in captivity. In addition to his wife he is also survived by three children from his first marriage, two step children and eleven grandchildren.

Captain James Bell – we salute you.

153 VVN – Mike Scruggs Remembers His Secret War

Mike Scruggs, Mack Payne, Vietnam Veteran News

Mike Scruggs, an Air Force Vietnam combat veteran whose most significant combat missions were flown over Laos. On Saturday evening, September 27, he had the honor of speaking to the Royal Lao Airborne at an annual banquet in Greenville, South Carolina, celebrating their recent and past achievements.

Mike Scruggs is a veteran of the US Air Force and flew many secret missions in the Vietnam War. In this episode he tells the reason why those war time missions were secret. He details a sad story of failure of leadership in this country that resulted in the death of many people in Southeast Asia and the expenditure of tremendous of national capital.

152 VVN – The Battle of Dak To, Part 4

173rd Abn Bde Honor Their Dead, Vietnam Veteran News, Mack Payne

“Ninety eight pairs of empty combat boots bear silent witness to the 173rd Airborne’s casualties from the Battle for Hill 875”

This episode looks at the aftermath of the Battle of Dak To. It appears to this writer that the General Giap and the North Vietnamese High Command had a well planned strategy for taking over the south. It was a bloody and methodical plan that played the Americans and their allies like a fiddle of death.

The North was so committed to their plan they willingly pursued it with a suicidal recklessness that had little apparent regard for the lives of their soldiers. They were executing their deadly campaigns against an enemy they could not defeat on the battlefield. In the end the only way they could accomplish their goals was on the TV screens of America with the help of their willing dupes in the Western Media.


151 VVN – The Battle of Dak To, Part 3

173rd Abn Bde Fighing on Hill 875, Vietnam Veteran News, Mack Payne

U.S. troops in combat on Hill 875.

In this episode we will look at the carnage in the mountains known as the Battle of Dak To. The terrible thing about this battle is that Americans died as it was attempted to write in water. The common fashion of war by the combatants in the Vietnam War was as follows: the NVA forces would concentrate on a mountain top, build defenses and set a trap for the Americans as they searched out the enemy. A battle would ensue with the NVA staying only long enough to inflict as many casualties as possible on the Americans and then disappear in the night to their sanctuaries across the border where they knew they were safe. It was a deadly game of cat and mouse.

In all this, American troops performed in a magnificent manner and the North Vietnamese displayed a reckless and relentless willingness to sacrifice their people in the cauldron of war.

150 VVN – The Battle of Dak To, Part 2


Major General William R. Peers, Mack Payne, Vietnam Veteran News

Major General William R. Peers, commander of the 4th Infantry Division and overall U.S. commander at Đắk Tô

This episode is a continuation of an examination of the Battle of Dak To, one of the biggest and bloodiest of the Vietnam War. Here the immediate events leading up to the battle are detailed. The American forces were spearheaded by the 4th Infantry Division with help from the 1st Cavalry Division, the 173rd Airborne and 199th Infantry Brigades and several ARVN units.

The Battle of Dak To was fought in fierce mountainous terrain against a tenacious foe who had made elaborate preparations for months in advance. In this episode, how the forces on both sides were arrayed for the oncoming battle is laid out.

149 VVN – The Battle of Dak To, Part 1

The Battle of Dak To, mack payne, vietnam veteran news

Members of Co. C, 1st Bn, 8th Inf, 1st Bde, 4th Inf Div, descend the side of Hill 742, located five miles northwest of Dak To. 14–17 November 1967.

The Battle of Dak To was one of the largest most challenging of the Vietnam War. Dak To was a small little bump in the road north of Kon Tum. It sat near the tri-borders of Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia. The North Vietnamese military leaders deduced that it would be an opportune place to sacrifice more of their sons in the effort to reunite their country under the Communist banner.

The ruckus arose in the US 4th Infantry Division’s area of operations and it was so significant other notable units were called in to help in the hornets’ nest of fighting. They included the famous 1st Cavalry Division, my son’s former unit, The 173rd Airborne Brigade and The 199th Light Infantry Brigade.

In this episode I take a look at the beginnings of the battle. The rest of the battle will be covered in later editions of the Vietnam Veteran News – stay tuned.

148 VVN – Vietnam Vet Tom Ducharme Finally Gets His Medals

Tom Ducharme, vietnam veteran news, mack payne

Vietnam War veteran Thomas Ducharme, center, receives the Bronze Star from Herman Breuer, right, executive director of the Trumbull County Veterans Service.

Tom Ducharme is another great American who answered the call when is country put out the call for help. He went to Vietnam and served well with little support and appreciation from the people back home in the USA.

Finally after forty plus years he has been publicly recognized in his own place of business, The Texas Big Dog restaurant in Warren, Ohio. He received ten medals and citations.

His story is highlighted in this episode. It is from a story by reporter Glenn Stevens of WFMJ of Warren.