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Vietnam War Statistics and Facts 2
This is a reprint of an article published in _Vietnam Generation_, Volume 3, Number 3. _Vietnam Generation_ is a quarterly journal and newsletter.
We called her Hanoi Hannah. She called herself Thu Houng, the fragrance of autumn. But her job was to chill and frighten, not to charm and seduce. (Hanoi Hannah, 16 June 1967)
The wartime words of Hanoi Hannah, part of the loud soundtrack for the Vietnam war. It may have been the first war fought to a rock nroll background, but for American GIs, along with the beat came the message: disinformation from the enemy in Hanoi and misinformation from the US Army in Saigon. Even so, radio brought music and messages with a familiar sound to soldiers who thought the war was the end of the earth, and to many it didnt matter who was broadcasting; Radio Hanoi or US Armed Forces Radio.
It was my first return to Vietnam since the war and mixed into the list of economists, generals and journalists I asked to interview was Thu Houng, the lady we knew as Hanoi Hannah. The meeting was arranged. We would meet on the roof cafe of the Rex Hotel in Ho Ville for coffee at ten.
As an ABC News correspondent during the war I tuned into her broadcasts regularly. Like attending the five oclock follies (USMACVs daily briefing) Radio Hanois broadcasts in English were just another source of information or disinformation to be checked out and sorted in the communications pudding of the Vietnam war. Some days on Radio Hanoi you just might hear useful information like a message from a US POW or the first hint of a policy shift in Hanois Politburo, but mostly it was highly exaggerated reports of the war and curious messages to American GIs from Hanoi Hannah. Not much news worth reporting.
<< American GIs dont fight this unjust immoral and illegal war of Johnsons. Get out of Vietnam now and alive. This is the voice of Vietnam Broadcasting from Hanoi, capitol of the Democratic republic of Vietnam. Our program for American GIs can be heard at 1630 hours. Now heres Connie Francis singing I almost lost my mind. >>(Hanoi Hannah, 12 August 1967)
In Vietnam you habitually tuned into whatever newscasts your transistor radio would pick up. It was reassuring to know that you were not missing a big offensive somewhere in the next Province and that you could spend another few days on that elusive pacification story in Xuan Loc. BBC was the first choice for radio news and most reliable, but often hard to pick up. On US Armed Forces Radio even a major battle could sound like a minor skirmish if it didnt favor US or ARVN forces, but you learned to read between the lines of their newscasts.
Sometimes you would hear your own TV or radio reports from Stateside broadcasts, picked up and rebroadcast over US Armed Forces Radio, as long as they didnt mention American setbacks or were critical of Washington policy.
Radio Hanoi could be heard in most areas of South Vietnam, particularly at night and I would often join groups of American GIs around 10:30pm having a few beers before bed and setting the dial for Hanoi Hannah for a few laughs.
The GIs radio was, after his rifle, his most valued possession. Like his rifle butt, the radio was usually wrapped in frayed black tape for protection. GIs would laugh and hoot over Hannahs attempts to scare them into going home or her suggestions to frag an officer. If their unit was mentioned a great cheer went up and they pelted the radio with empty beer cans.
We would ask each other how the hell could she know what she did. Inevitably, the stories of her insights and military intelligence grew with each telling and she was often credited with broadcasting Viet Cong offensives in advance and within hours of battle knowing the names and hometowns of dead American soldiers.
<<Now for the War News. American casualties in Vietnam. Army Corporal Larry J. Samples, Canada, Alabama... Staff Sergeant Charles R. Miller, Tucson, Arizona... Sergeant Frank G. Hererra, Coolidge, Arizona....>> (Hanoi Hannah, September 15, 1967)
Former US Marine Ken Watkins joined me on the Rex roof for the meeting with Hanoi Hannah. Ken is now a counselor at the Vietnam Veterans Outreach Center in Houston, Texas. He had returned to join a group of veterans from Garberville, California to build a health clinic in Vung Tao. Ken had been confronting many old ghosts of his Vietnam duty in the past weeks. Hanoi Hannah would be yet another phantom to encounter face to face. Ken was a regular listener of Hannahs during his time as a Corpsman with the U.S. First Marines based at Marble Mountain in 1966. Ken recalled, The signal was pretty good around Danang and we would tune in once or twice a week to hear her talk about the war, a war I was beginning to question and wanted to hear discussed. U.S. Armed Forces Vietnam Radio didnt talk about the war really, they ignored the issues or public attitudes at home. Hanoi Hannah didnt necessarily make sense and there was a certain awkwardness; she used American English, but really didnt speak our language in spite of her hip expressions and hit tunes, even tunes that were banned on U.S. Army radio. The best thing going for her was that she was female and had a nice soft voice.
Any of her broadcasts you particularly remember? I asked Ken while waiting for Hannah to arrive. Whenever she named our unit, the First Marines, and where we were, that always stands out in my mind. Some of us thought she had spies everywhere or a crystal ball.
Do you still feel anger toward her, Ken?
Sure, some antagonism, add it to the Vietnam list, but this trip back is about coming full circle on a lot of things and she is another voice from the past I want to confront in person.
So an old Marine and an old journalist waited that sunny Saigon morning on the roof of the old Rex for the real Hanoi Hannah to appear, waiting for reality to sweep away years of bitter old images in the mills of our minds.
Dragon Lady? Prophet? Psi-warrior par excellence or what? Like so many of the phantoms encountered in Vietnam she was not what she seemed.
She was not phantom. She didnt look like a dragon lady and she was on time. A pleasant looking woman, slim, well groomed and attractive showed up at 10:00am sharp on the Rex roof accompanied by an escort from the External Affairs Press Office. The wartime sounds of Radio Hanoi came flooding back.
<<We Gotta get out of this place, if its the last thing we ever do. We gotta get out of this place, surely theres a better life for me and you.>>
An Eric Burden song... regularly heard on Radio Hanoi, banned on US Armed Forces radio.
Don: Thu Houng, you played a lot of American rock music, where did you get it? Hannah: Yes, yes, we bought the music from progressive Americans who came to visit Hanoi. We also have our own music, but I think that the GIs like to listen to American music, its more suitable to their ears. Don: Have you ever heard from those GIs who heard your broadcasts and to whom you became a household name? Hannah: After the war we received one letter from an ex-GI who said he listened to our broadcast and now that the war was over he is back home and wanted us to know about it. I am sorry that I forget his name, it has been quite a long time now. Don: What prompted your government to begin your broadcasts to American soldiers. Hannah: Because the GIs were sent massively to South Vietnam, maybe its a good idea to have a broadcast for them. It wasnt a new idea. During the war against the French we had this kind of broadcast for the French soldiers. Don: What about the foreigners who helped you during the war? Hannah: The Australian journalist Wilfred Burchett helped us from time to time and a French woman, Madelaine Riffaud. We did several interviews with Cora Weiss and Jane Fonda. We asked Jane Fonda if she would like to meet American pilots in Hanoi, but she refused, she didnt want to. I saw the pilots sometimes and we broadcast statements but I never interviewed them either. They were authorized to listen to our broadcasts. And we broadcast tapes sent to us from Americans against the war. These were most effective I believe. Americans are xenophobic, they will believe their own people rather than the adversary, even a friendly enemy voice. Don: Did you ever evaluate the effects of your broadcasts? Hannah: No, during the war it was difficult to get feedback except through foreign news reports but we knew we were being heard. Don: What were your main aims? Hannah: We mentioned that GIs should go AWOL and suggested some frigging, or that is fragging. We advised them to do what they think proper against the war. Don: But there were few, if any, defections of Americans, did that surprise you? Hannah: No, we just continued our work. We believed in it. I put my heart in my work. Don: Many American soldiers think you received excellent intelligence on their unit positions and battle readiness and casualties. What was the main source of your information on US troops in Vietnam? Hannah: US ArmyStars and Stripes. We read from it. We had it flown in everyday. And we also read Newsweek, Time and several newspapers. We could also intercept the AP and UPI wires and of course we had the news from our Vietnam News Agency and we rewrote it. We had many sources of news. We took remarks of American journalists and put it in our broadcasts, especially remarks about casualties...high casualties. There was the list of Missing in Action, those who were killed on the battlefield, we read the news with the native place. Don: Sometimes the North Vietnamese Army when the killed Americans would find letters to their families. Did you ever get such letters and read them? Hannah: No. Maybe the Army, but not our radio station. Don: Do you remember any articles in particular that you used? Hannah: Yes, Arnaud DeBorchegrave in Newsweek. I remember we used his articles. And Don Luce about the tiger cages in South Vietnam. We would often say to the GIs that the Saigon regime was not worth their support. Don: Did you ever announce attacks before they took place? Many soldiers in Vietnam thought you did? Hannah: No, but, um, I dont think...for example, if we made a sum-up of war news maybe the GIs will guess something. I dont know. We never informed that such and such a battle would take place. That we would not do. Don: You never gave any hints of what would take place? Hannah: Well, in our talks we said that if they were in Vietnam, how could they avoid the war zone and maybe they will get bad chance, maybe killed. But its not that such and such a battle took place.
Mike Roberts, 41, Detroit, Michigan remembers Hanoi Hannah. Mike was a Marine, in a Hawk Missile Battalion just outside Da Nang through 1967 and 1968.
<<Now for our talk. A Vietnam Black GI who refuses to be a victim of racism is billy smith. It seems on the morning of march fifteenth a fragmentation grenade went off in an officers barracks in bien hoa Army Base killing two gung ho lieutenants and wounding a third. Smith was illegally searched, arrested and put in Long Binh Jail and brought home for trial. The evidence that clearly showed him guilty of all charges and specifications was this: being black, poor and against the war and the army and refusing to be a victim of racism. >>(Hanoi Hannah, 30 March 1968)
Mike Roberts summed up the black veterans attitude to Hannahs broadcasts: I remember June 1967, I was sitting in a tent with about thirteen guys from Charlie Company. We were all on mess duty and we were gambling, drinking and having a good timeshootin craps, talking about the world, man, listening to music and you know one guy kept saying, Sshh, sshh, be quiet, and everybody says what, what, and he says Theres a riot in Detroit! I guess the governor called in the troops... there was some loss of life. There was no feeling of, you know, what were they rioting for? What possibly could they want? We all knew what they wanted, you know what Im saying. So of course we would feel some sort of empathy for the folks back home... the guys in the street who were struggling or rioting.
Armed Forces Radio didnt give you an in-depth account of what was happening?
Hanoi Hannah comes on soon after that, and she knows what guard unit was called in, what kind of weapons were used...you know what Im sayin. Thats when it starts to hit home.... We knew what kind of fire power and what kind of devastation that kind of weapon can do to people, and now those same weapons were turning on us, you know, our own military is killing our own people. We might as well have been Viet Cong...you know what Im sayin? It was just bad news, but Hanoi Hannah picked up on it and she talked about it. And clearly if she knew about it, Armed Forces Radio did too. They knew more than they had broadcasted. That was really the first time I started hearing Hanoi Hannah call upon Blacks, you know, to rethink their situation there. Why are you fighting? You have your own battle to fight in America. We were smoking herbs, you know, and we decided to listen to Hanoi Hannah. Now most of the guys that I hung out with didnt stay up all night waiting for Hannah to come on. But there were times when...like during bunker watch at night...we wanted to listen to Hanoi Hannah...to see what she had to say. But we didnt really see her as our friend...someone who is looking out for our best interest and would keep the Viet Cong from killing us if they had a chance.
Tom Walles spent eight years in Vietnam and Thailand with the US Army Special Forces. During his time in the Central Highlands Tom particularly remembers one broadcast.
We had a young Lieutenant who had just turned twenty-two years old and we wanted him to come down and celebrate his birthday at headquarters. He got in a sampan with a couple of security guards and they started down the river. One of the enemy reached out and handed them a grenade and killed two of them in the boat. We found the boat later and there was a birthday card bought at an American PX pinned to his chest that said Happy Twenty-First Birthday Lieutenant...this will be your last. A day or two later we picked up Hanoi Hannah saying that, uh congratulations to Lieutenant so and so, its too bad he wont make his twenty-third birthday.
Jim Maciolek served at Lai Khe with the First Division in 1966. When we heard Hannah mention our unit we would give a toast to her and throw our beer cans at the radio. If she knew where we were, so did everybody else. But Armed Forces Radio was on constantly, too. It was run by the U.S. military so we heard what they wanted us to hear. I think I would have liked to hear about opposition to the war that was being staged back home. That way I would have been better prepared when I got back home...seeing hippies, people chanting slogans, people with black arm bands...that was all new to me.
Hanoi Hannah could always be assured of at least the POW captive audience authorized to hear her broadcasts in the Hanoi Hilton. A speaker wired into every room made Hannahs commentaries impossible to ignore, although some tried.
Lt. Commander Ray Voden, of McLean, Virginia endured her broadcasts for almost eight years after being shot down over Hanoi on 3 April 1965. Hanoi Hannahs broadcasts often stirred up argument among the POWs, there were near fist fights over the program. Some guys wanted to hear it, while other guys tried to ignore it. Personally, I listened because I was never influenced and usually gleaned information, reading between the lines. They always exaggerated our aircraft losses, often claiming hundreds of U.S. planes shot down around Hanoi when we had not heard anti-aircraft fire for weeks. Once they piped in the BBC news by mistake and for once we really heard what was going on in the world. The music was the best part of Radio Hanoi and sometimes playing American tunes that were supposed to make us homesick had the opposite effect. One time they played Downtown by Petula Clark and everyone started dancing and yelling for an hour...just went wild. Another one that gave us a hoot was Dont Fence Me In...by Ella Fitzgerald I think. I taped Christmas messages for Radio Hanoi a few times, most of us did...it was not big deal, but they would make life miserable for you if you didnt. Ive no hatred for them now. They were doing their job and I was doing mine. But, no, I wouldnt go out of my way to meet Hanoi Hannah if I was given the chance today.
Gerry Clark, Detroit, had been in country just two weeks when he heard Hanoi Hannah. After welcoming our unit Hanoi Hannah said she had a surprise for us. She said that in honor of Ho Chi Minhs birthday there would be an enemy attack.
Just then I heard small arms fire in the distance. It grew steadier and louder until it became a full-scale attack on the Da Nang Air Base.
George Hart, Boston, remembers Hanoi Hannahs broadcasts that mentioned specific GIs by name and said their girlfriends were sleeping with someone else back home. A few days later he remembers the soldiers named got Dear John letters from home confirming what Hannah had said.
Just as most vets remember a specific Radio Hanoi broadcast above all others, I do too. But it wasnt by Hanoi Hannah. It was broadcast by her male counterpart, Nguyen Van Tung, who sounded like an actorPeter Lorrethe popular villain of the Hollywood screen. It was also the first Hanoi Radio broadcast I ever heard, four week after arriving in Vietnam. It was recorded late one night in An Lac, a US Special Forces Camp in the Central Highlands. I still have the tape twenty-five years.
<<You are new here and we dont expect you to believe us when we tell you just how bad it is. But just a sample of what you can expect was written up by a bona fide American correspondent for the New York Times on June 20th about some fighting less than fifty miles from Saigon. Zone D is all they said it was. It is a flat, scary jungle, thick with scrub trees and tall grass... hot and wet with intermittent rain and strong tropical dragon flies and Viet Cong sniper bullets.>>(Nguyen Van Tun, Radio Hanoi, 30 June 1965)
An Lac is about one hundred miles west of Nha Trang. I had been on patrol with US Special Forces advisors and the Montagnard Irregulars they were trying to train and motivate. It was pretty quiet, no contact and it had been raining hard for over a week keeping the supply plane that was my ticket out of coming in.
At night after the perimeter had been secured there wasnt much to do but play cards, read, drink Ba Moi Bao beer and listen to the radio. Up in the Central Highlands of Vietnam Radio Hanoi boomed in loud and clear.
Each evening I drank Ba Moi Bao with members of the A-Team and listened to Radio Hanoi. Each morning we all swore not to do it again. The Ba Moi Bao was said to be laced with formaldehyde and produced monster hangovers.
The Radio Hanoi broadcasts, while funny at the time, also tended to stay with you like a Ba Moi Bao headache.
<<You are a long, long way from Fort Riley now and there is no Jersey Coffee in town on Washington Street where you can sit around the counter, eating hamburgers and sipping coffee without having to be afraid a bomb might go off, like it did in that restaurant in Saigon a few weeks back. Like I said you are new here and really dont know what LBJ and company have let you in for by sending you across the Pacific to invade Vietnam, because the local stooges and the more than sixty thousand American troops who came before you couldnt stop the South Vietnam liberation forces. But you will learn the hard way. Ask some of the guys that have been around a while. This isnt Washington Street in Junction City. You can get killed here. Get out while you are still alive and before its too late. >>(Nguyen Van Tung, 30 June 1965).
I had been at the Mekahn Restaurant that Tung was talking about in his broadcast. The Mekahn was a floating restaurant tied up on the Mekong River dockside in Saigon. The bomb went off about ten oclock when it was full of customers, many of them Americans. A Claymore mine tied to a tree was detonated three minutes later aimed at the survivors of the first bomb as they clambered down the gangplank toward shore. I arrived about 45 minutes after the blast, just in time to see 40 mangled bodies being loaded into ambulances and the Saigon Fire Department washing rivers of blood off the sidewalk with firehoses. Yes, Hanoi Hannah and her partner Nguyen Van Tung often knew how to invoke the images of war most painful to American in Vietnam.
The combination of his Peter Lorre delivery and the fact he hit the right buttons for me at the time in his psy-war commentary made him an enigma for twenty-five years. He didnt sound Vietnamese and many of the Special Forces Team listening that night guessed he was a turncoat Frenchman affecting an Oxford accent. I was to hear him many times during the course of the war, but never as clear as that night in An Lac and never with the same impact as that first broadcast.
I played the tape in Hanoi. They recognized his voice. Nguyen Van Tung was retired but known to be living in Hanoi. An address was found and I set off with my cyclo driver on a Sunday afternoon to face another voice from my past.
If i had been a man from Mars dropping in for tea, Nguyen Van Tung would not have been more surprised. He turned up his hearing aid and I played the tape of his broadcast heard in An Lac 25 years ago.
Do you remember making that broadcast? I inquired.
Yes, of course, I was an announcer at Radio Hanoi. We made special programs for American GIs, he replied in his carefully enunciated style.
Have you ever met any of your American listeners before?
No, sorry but I have not. It is a great pleasure to meet you here in Hanoi.
His eyes glistened with tears. Who wouldnt wonder at a foreign stranger, an American in Hanoi, walking in playing back your words from a nights broadcast 25 years in the past?
Nguyen Van Tung is 67 and in good health except for his hearing problems. He lives comfortably in downtown Hanoi with his wife and sons family. From time to time he teaches English to private students. He had studied French and English as a schoolboy in Hanoi and then his father arranged for him to study English at the prestigious St. Johns Boys School in Hong Kong, which explains the Oxford accent fighting against the earlier French.
Nguyen Van Tung remembers well the years when Hanoi was under siege and he broadcast daily to the enemy. Words of conciliation and forgiveness do not come easily to the old wordsmith who used to hector the American enemy daily during more than ten years of war.
Tung: I escaped death many times in Hanoi... the planes, the bombs... the house next door to me was bombed out... even a room on my house was blown down. But my family escaped because they were out of town. Don: Mr. Tung, what would you say if you had the chance to broadcast again this night to American troops. Go ahead, say what you want. Tung: We were fighting for a just cause. All people want to be free and independent and to what they like. We know your history, Washington, Lincoln... great men. But those following them, well, we distinguish clearly between the American people and those who made the war. Theres not reason the Vietnamese people and America cant be good friends. Our government changed policy and we are now glad to have friends cooperate in mutual understanding and benefit. However, the U.S. government has a responsibility to heal the wounds of war. We didnt make that war and I deem it reasonable that the U.S. government reconsider its policy and shake hands with Vietnam. There will be many benefits if we can be friends together on an equal basis. There is no reason to be enemies, the world should be in peace and we should enjoy our lives.
Today the Voice of Vietnam still broadcasts from the same old ramshackle building at 58 Quan Su Street in central Hanoi. The equipment too has survived the war years and generation of patient repair. Only the announcers are new. A new staff of Hanoi Hannahs in their early twenties can be heard on Radio Hanois English service today. From 1600 hours Hanoi time until 2:00am, Voice of Vietnam can be picked up around the world on 12035 KHZ on the 25 meter band.
<<The Kampuchean people fully support the new policy of national reconciliation. The Kampuchea United Front for National Construction and Defense says the cessation of all foreign interference must be emphasized in order to guarantee the pol pot clique will not be permitted to return to power. >>(The Voice of Vietnam, broadcast 1600 hours, Hanoi, 4 April 1989)
The broadcasts are certainly less strident these days, reflecting the fact that Vietnamese are not fighting anyone for the first time in 50 years. There is also a state of shock in the Hanoi leadership these days as misguided comrades from Poland to Rumania thumb their collective noses at Lenin.
Another reason for the lower decibel rhetoric being beamed out from Hanoi to the world may be the presence of an American advisor. Ms. Virginia Gift peers sternly over her bifocals at the confusion of Radio Hanois newsroom. Antique typewriters clatter in unison and outside the window carpenters pound hammers, shoring up the crumbling building. Ms. Gift is employed by the Government of Vietnam to improve English skills of Hanoi civil servants.
This generation of Hanoi Hannahs, it seems, learned English from Russian textbooks. Twice a week Virginia Gift attempts to de-Stalinize the Radio Hanoi newscasts.
The main problem with their English is they learned it from Russians. They use a lot of Stalinist terms and double-talk that mean nothing to most English listeners. So I try to purge the Marxist gobbledeguck and substitute straight English vocabulary. They learn fast and if it helps the world understand where the Vietnamese are coming from today, well then its worth all my trouble.
There were in fact many Hanoi Hannahs who worked here at Radio Hanoi during the war between 1965 and 1973, but Thu Houng was the senior and most frequently heard Hannah. Together, with Nguyen Van Tung, they wrote and taped three commentaries a day for broadcast to the American troops.
After the war, Hannah, or Thu Houng moved to Ho Chi Minh city in 1976 with her husband, an officer in the North Vietnam Army. Hannah began her career with Radio Hanoi in 1955, when North Vietnam as an independent country began broadcasting to the world in several languages. She had been an English student at Hanoi University and was hired as the first English voice of Radio Hanoi at age 25. Her broadcasts directed toward American soldiers began in 1965 just after the U.S. Marines landed at Da Nang.
She does not like being compared to Tokyo Rose of World War II. Yes, she had read about Tokyo Rose but never studied her broadcasts or tried to emulate her style. Tokyo Rose was Iva Toguri, an American-born Japanese caught in Tokyo after Pearl Harbor and forced to broadcast. (As with Hanoi Hannah, there was no single Tokyo Rose. Twenty-seven different English-speaking Asian women, most Americans, broadcast to American troops during the Pacific War. But it was Iva Toguri who was singled out by muckraking journalist Walter Winchell and with the enthusiastic support of FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover, she was convicted of treason. Iva Toguri spent eight years in prison before being pardoned by President Gerald Ford in 1977).
Tokyo Rose had been folksy and down-home American in her broadcasts. Hanoi Hannah maintained a friendly but correct and distant approach with her listeners. There was always a Vietnamese formality just under the surface of her voice as she suggested defection might be a good idea.
Interviewing Hanoi Hannah was like being Dorothy parting the curtains hiding the Wizard of Oz. The great and terrible Hanoi Hannah behind the faade we constructed turned out to be a mild-mannered announcer who spoke English and read Stars and Stripes.
As they say, in wartime, truth is the first casualty. By zapping the truth through an ostrich-like policycensorship, deletions, and exaggerationsU.S. Armed Forces Radio lost the trust of many GIs when they were most isolated and vulnerable to enemy propaganda. It wasnt that Hanoi Hannah always told the truthshe didnt. But she was most effective when she did tell the truth and U.S. Armed Forces Radio was fudging it. If we didnt know before, Vietnam should have taught us the communications are now so pervasive in this shrinking world that suppression of information is impossible. Accuracy and honesty in broadcasts are essential, not just because its morally right but because its practical, too.
After the war there was little recognition in Vietnam of her contribution to the war effort. Few of her countrymen have ever heard of her, there were no medals or honors and she herself modestly plays down her role in the war effort.
Don: You know, youre better known in the U.S. than you are here. Has the government ever recognized your work? Did you ever get a medal? Hannah: Everybody got a medal. Don: What did you hope to accomplish by your broadcasts? Hannah: Well, I think that our earnest hope was the GIs would not participate in this war, that they would demand to go home. That they would see this war is not in the interests of the United States. I mean the people, the GIs, the families. Don: And what effect do you think you really had? Hannah: Well, we think the broadcasts did have some effect, because we see the antiwar movement in the U.S. building up, growing and so we think that our broadcast is a support to this antiwar movement. Its been over twenty years now. I am happy with what Ive done. Don: How do you see Vietnam and its place in the world today? Hannah: Its an interesting stage. We are approaching normality. Things are much improved. Theres a policy now of opening the doors to the outside world. Its better for Vietnam and the world. Because our fight has been for such a long time we are isolated from the world, even after reconstruction we dont have much attention from people outside. Things are better now between the U.S. and Vietnam and I hope relations will continue to improve, to normalize. Don: Do you see any role for yourself to better relations with the U.S.? Hannah: Well, Im taking retirement now, but Id be happy to do something to help relations between the U.S. and Vietnam. I would like to see America some day. Don: What are you curious about in the U.S.? Hannah: Its difficult to tell you. I just want to be a tourist and see the people and the land. I have always compared our traditions of liberty, like those of Abraham Lincoln and Ho Chi Minh. I just want to see it with my own eyes.
Biography of Don North: As a features writer for the Hong Kong China Mail, Don Norths first assignment as a war correspondent was in North Borneo with the British Royal Marines and Gurkas fighting the Army of Indonesia. For two years he was a freelance cameraman and writer in Vietnam and Indonesia and became Vietnam Staff Correspondent for ABC News in 1966. The Mel Gibson role in the feature film The Year of Living Dangerously is in part based on Norths experiences in Indonesia. In 1967 he won the Overseas Press Club Award for his reports of Vietnam combat. During the Tet Offensive in January 1968, his report of the Viet Cong attack on the U.S. Embassy was the first broadcast on television in the United States.
In 1970, North was named Cairo Bureau Chief for NBC News and specialized in covering terrorism in the Middle East. He returned frequently to Vietnam. During the 1973 Arab-Israeli War, he covered the advance of Israeli forces in the Golan Heights and at the Suez Canal. For three years North worked as a producer on the 26-part series, The Ten Thousand Day War, a television history of the Vietnam war which was first broadcast on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. This series has been shown in many countries around the world and on Arts & Entertainment and commercial broadcast outlets in the United States. North has appeared as news anchor for CBC Montreal, KTTV Los Angeles and as host of numerous documentaries.
He established Northstar Productions, Inc, in Washington, DC in 1983 and has produced television news and documentaries about El Salvador, Nicaragua, Afghanistan and Lebanon.