Scott: “Why do you think why all those bullet holes have been left there all these years that they didn’t cover them up?”
Thu: I’d say it was to teach our young generation a story!”
Early December 2018, only a month away for Vietnamese to commemorate our 40th year Tet Offensive in Hue, I had a chance to work with Full Measure with Sharyl Attkisson‘s production team from New York.
Here is my little knowledge about them.
“Full Measure is a weekly Sunday news program focusing on investigative, original and accountability reporting. The host is Sharyl Attkisson.
Each week, they have a cover story that explores untouchable topics in a fearless way including: immigration, terrorism, government waste, national security and whistle blower reports on government and corporate abuse and misdeeds”.More on Full Measure website here.
At first, I did not know what they expected me to say in the interview. What I had in mind was my confidence when it comes my knowledge of the war from my family’s telling and research I did on my own.
I was introduced with Scott Thuman, a 40-year-old man who has a perfect accent to be a reporter. Apparently, he is a political reporter whom has involved in a few politic documentaries of US soldiers attending warfare in different country.
We could not go to Hue Citadel for the interview where many of the ruins still remained, thus, the interview setting was on a terrace in La Residence’s hotel with the pouring rain outside.
Scott was a real charm to work with. As we were talking, it did not feel like an interview at all. It was more like two friends discussing and sharing each other stories about the Tet Offensive.
Watch full interview “Tet Offensive by Full Measure” here
If you find some part of interview difficult to follow, especially the strong accent of Ray Wilkinson, a US marine who fought in the Battle of Hue, you can read more of the whole interview below:
51 years ago this month.. A battle began in Vietnam that would change the course of that war. The Vietnam war is still impacting many American veterans. Many have returned to the city of Hue, to revisit and remember, the most fierce battle of what became known as the Tet Offensive.
Hue in monsoon season. Rain doesn’t stop the flow of tourists to the Imperial City, and the citadel that surrounds it. The Communist flag that flies now, very different from the one that flew in January 1968, at the beginning of the battle that would change the course of the war in Vietnam.
Thu: So, many people have shed their tears and blood for the flagpole. That would be the first thing that I tell them stories about.
Thu shares those stories for a living, to Vietnamese, Americans, and many who want to understand what happened during the longest and bloodiest battle of the war.
Thu: The first day of the Tet Offensive happened, there was battle, and there was alert in the city that tell every family to go and hide in the bunker. In my mom’s house, there was a bunker as well that could fit six, I mean, seven people. My grandparents, two of them, and my mom, and four of her siblings.
That first day was January 31 – the North Vietnamese and Viet Cong used a holiday truce, to launch attacks across Southern Vietnam. Many of those attacks were rolled back within days. Not in Hue.
Scott: This went on for a long time.
Thu: It went on for 26 days in the city. It was chaos for many civilians, many North Vietnamese army, thousands of North Vietnamese soldiers died, and also the South Vietnamese army and US forces as well.
Ray Wilkinson was a young US Marine in the middle of it all.
Ray: Hue was World War II style fighting and this had not been the fighting in Vietnam. The fighting in Vietnam normally was out in the bush, out in the boonies, this was street to street, World War II style fighting. The Marines, as they’ve admitted, the Marines were totally unprepared for this kind of warfare so they had to learn it street by street.
Scott: Is that hard for you when you think back to it, or do you try not to think about those times?
Ray: When you’re right in the middle of it, you’re not scared because you’re so full of adrenaline and trying to survive and shooting back, you don’t have time to think about that. It’s when it stops a little bit, when the shooting stops a little bit, that you begin to shake and say, “My God, what am I in for?”
What the Marines were in for next, was an assault on the heavily fortified citadel.
Scott: Crossing the Perfume River was a critical part of the fight, on one side you had the Military Assistance Command Vietnam known as MACV – and that’s where a lot of US army soldiers and marines were based, and on the side was the Citadel – and that’s where the fiercest of the fight was taking place.
The battle of Hue lasted over a month. More than 200 Americans died in the battle of Hue, over 15-hundred wounded. Vietnamese casualties were counted in the thousands. The impact of the Tet Offensive – was that it brought the war home to America, raising questions about whether we could win the war…
Walter Cronkite: To say we’re mired in stalemate seems the only realistic if satisfactory conclusion.
…And gave root to an anti-war movement. Now, Hue is a tourist mecca for war and remembrance.
Scott: Why do you think all those bullet holes have been left there all these years, that they didn’t cover them up?
Thu: I would say it was to teach our young generation a story.
Scott: Ray, the combat veteran, chose to stay here when the fight was over. He teaches English in a nearby town.
Ray: The Vietnamese suffered much more, frankly, than the average American, in a sense. They’ve gotten over it much more quickly than the Americans. They have a great capacity to forgive and they’ve got a great capacity to move on.
Our trip to Hue was part of reporting on a number of stories.. You’ll see here on Full Measure, including how Vietnam has become both benefactor, and something of an ally, in the trade war with China.
I believe in the power of story. It helps to send message. It inspire people to take action and it makes you remember for life.
The interview was meaningful to me, as it helped to spread my country’s forgiveness and promote my homeland of Hué.