In honor of Veterans’ Day, the History Channel is premiering a new, six-hour series, “Vietnam in HD.”
Following the success of its Emmy-winning series, “WWII in HD,” the History Channel’s new documentary focuses on one of the most controversial chapters in U.S. history: the conflict in Vietnam.
Culling thousands of hours of uncensored footage from war correspondents and never-before seen film shot by soldiers on the front lines, “Vietnam in HD” follows firsthand accounts of veterans who served during the conflict in Vietnam.
The footage has been converted into state-of-the art HD, so at times it feels as if one is watching a movie shot in 2011. But the footage is all too real. In often emotional testimony, men and women who served their country during the conflict remember some of Vietnam’s most infamous battles.
Arthur Wiknik described himself as “just an 18-year old punk” when he received his draft notice in the mail in April of 1968. After just a month in Vietnam, he fought in one of the most notorious episodes of the war: the battle of “Hamburger Hill.”
“When our Captain told us that we were going into the A-Shau Valley, it didn’t mean anything to me, because I didn’t know what it was,” 61-year old Wiknik recalled, sitting on a couch in his wood-paneled Connecticut living room. “He told us all, ‘You’re going to double up on your ammunition – instead of carrying 200 rounds of M16s, you’re going to carry 400, instead of 50 rounds of M60 ammo, you’re going to carry 100 rounds...’ We knew then that this was going to be a big operation.”
Flying over the Vietnam mountains, New England native Wiknik was reminded of home. “It was very picturesque. It was green – it looked like you were in Vermont. It was very nice looking. To me, it looked safe, but we all knew different – it wasn’t safe.”
Wiknik and his fellow soldiers landed and waited for gunfire to subside. “The order came, ‘Move out!’ You’ve got 700 guys attacking this hill. 700 people shooting their weapons – it was just mayhem.”
Fighting his way up the hill, Wiknik noticed something. “Having never been under fire before, I was a little dumb, a little naive. I noticed on the ground ground in front of me, that the dirt was bubbling. I had no idea what that was, so I went in for a closer look–I was thinking that it was some kind of geological thing occurring here in Vietnam, something that I never saw at home. But ... those were bullets coming in.”
During the brutal battle, which lasted ten days, the U.S. lost 56 soldiers, and 700 North Vietnamese were killed.
Once the battle had ended and the muddy hill was secured, another soldier spoke to Wiknik. “‘Hey, they have a name for this hill.’ I said, ‘Really? What is it?’ ‘Well, they call it Hamburger Hill.’ ‘OK, why do they call it that?’ ‘Well, because it was a human meat grinder.’”
Twelve other men and women who served in the Vietnam conflict also share their stories during “Vietnam in HD.”
The series premieres Nov. 8-11 at 9pm EST on the History Channel.