You saw this week's episode of "War Stories: The Furious Fight for Dong Ha", and now's your chance to ask Col. Oliver North and his trusty crew of producers YOUR questions.
In Vietnam in 1972, facing the largest communist invasion of the war, U.S. advisors like Marine Capt. John Ripley and Lt. Col. Gerry Turley, risked everything to halt the Red blitz. You heard both of their accounts in Dong Ha, now go in depth with the 'War Stories' crew!
• E-mail your Question
1. What was the name of the Navy CEC Offficer (who built the Dong Ha Bridge) who was an academy classmate of Capt. John Ripley? — Jim, USN Seabee Retired
PRODUCER KELLY GUERNICA: Dear Jim, Thanks for writing in and having an interest in our show. The name of that Navy officer who built the bridge back in 1968 was Bill Heine. Thanks again for writing.
2. This evening, I watched Colonel Oliver North’s program “War Stories” on FOX News, as I try to do every Sunday evening. The program is very informative about the military in Iraq, Vietnam and other war zones from the past. A decision was made to blow the bridge to prevent the enemy from crossing the river. I may have missed an explanation, but my question is, why could they not call for air support to destroy the advancing enemy? Looking forward to your reply. — Joe
NORTH: THE CEILING WAS TOO LOW. WHEN THERE WAS LIMITED TACTICAL AIR SUPPORT, THE NVA USED SURFACE-TO-AIR MISSILES. THE B-52s COULD NOT BE USED BECAUSE OF POLITICAL DECISIONS AND THE COMBAT OCCURRED TOO CLOSE TO A CIVILIAN POPULATION.
3. I am a U. S. Navy Vietnam veteran. I served on riverboats on the Mekong Delta in 1970 - 1971. I just watched your story on Dong Ha. I was praying that you would end that story of America’s pull-out of Vietnam with a mention of what happened after America pulled out. Three million innocent people were slaughtered. Those of us that know what happened in Vietnam and surrounding countries after America cut and ran from Vietnam have a responsibility to speak the truth so that all will know. You had an excellent opportunity to mention what happened at the end of your Dong Ha show, and you didn’t do it. I am disappointed. — Doug (Port Hueneme, CA)
NORTH: DOUG: THAT IS A DIFFERENT WAR STORY. THIS EPISODE WAS ABOUT THE EFFECTIVENESS OF A HANDFUL OF AMERICAN ADVISORS WHO WERE CRUCIAL TO STOPPING THE NVA ADVANCE IN 1972. YOU MAY HAVE MISSED LT. COL. BINH DESCRIBING WHAT HAPPENED TO HIM AFTER THE 1975 COMMUNIST TAKEOVER.
GUERNICA: Dear Doug, We appreciate your candor and thank you for writing in with your opinion. Many times when putting together a program that is only 40 minutes and 40 seconds, certain details and parts of a story need to be left out. This episode was not an exception. As always we like to hear the opinions of our viewers and take what they say under consideration. As for this episode, it was about the Marines, Col. Ripley and the other brave men who did their duty during the 1972 Easter Offensive. This show was meant to honor the men who sacrificed themselves and did their jobs above and beyond, not necessarily to speak about the politics of the time. We focused on our principle characters and did touch upon what happened to Major Binh after the war. He was jailed for 12 years. Maybe in future episodes we will be able to go into more detail about what happened after the war. Thanks again for your letter, as always we hope you keep watching and sending us your thoughts.
4. Dear Mr. North, I am a huge fan of yours and you are a truly great American. I am a big supporter of what we are doing in Iraq and I believe that in time our soldiers will come home with the respect and honor they have earned. My question is do the soldiers over there hear what the media is saying, and do you think it makes it hard for them to do their job when all they hear is that the war is going badly? (Alyssa, Minnesota)
NORTH: ALYSSA: GLAD YOU ARE A FAN OF "WAR STORIES". STAY TUNED AS I WILL BE BACK WITH THE TROOPS IN IRAQ SOON.
5. Dear Ollie, Thanks for your series "War Stories." I think I have watched every episode in the series. Your analysis and thoughtful tribute to the men and women who have served are an inspiration to all Americans. During the early years of my USAF career, I served as a pilot on the B-52 in the Strategic Air Command. My first tour in Southeast Asia in 1969 was in the B-52. The hundreds of crews that flew those bombing missions for many years seem to have been almost forgotten. Would you consider doing an episode that features the B-52 mission and role in SEA? Bill, Major USAF (retired)
NORTH: BILL: WHILE WE WERE IN VIETNAM FILMING FOR THIS EPISODE WE STARTED PRODUCTION ON ANOTHER VIETNAM EPISODE: "OPERATION LINEBACKER". WE WILL MAKE SURE YOU ARE NOTIFIED WHEN THIS EPISODE AIRS.
GUERNICA: Dear Bill, Thanks for your letter and for watching our program. We are always looking for ideas on new episodes. The B-52 had a very important part in the bombing missions during Vietnam and doing a story on them would be very interesting. We will definitely put your idea into our pitches for next season and see what comes of it. Thanks again for watching and keep sending us your ideas and opinions.
6. Tonight's War Story of the Easter Offensive of '72 at Dong Ha was outstanding. Not only did it demonstrate the tremendous courage and valor of Marines one more time, it highlighted how much more challenging the advisory effort became at that time. I'd suggest Colonel North consider a war story about another outstanding yet controversial advisor who served many years in Vietnam -- John Paul Vann. Perhaps the toughest part of preparing a piece on Colonel Vann would be deciding what aspects to highlight (and appropriate for public non-rated viewing). As a side point, I've reflected over the past few days about how admirably our military forces performed during the Vietnam conflict and that we did not lose the war; the war was lost by Congress who withdrew support and funding of a country that was critical to our "Cold War" strategy in those years. The new gang who are now temporarily in charge of Congress should be strongly reminded of the people we left behind in '75. If Iraq becomes the next chapter of Congressional betrayal, it will become very tough for future allies to considered us trustworthy and our military members and families will find it increasingly difficult to sacrifice and make commitments when Congress and some of the voting public don't have the staying power.
Semper fi and Happy Birthday Marines.
NORTH: APPRECIATE YOUR BEING A FAN OF "WAR STORIES" AND AGREE JOHN PAUL VANN IS AN INTERESTING CHARACTER IN THE HISTORY OF THE WAR. REGARDING YOUR OBSERVATIONS ABOUT THE CURRENT WAR. IN MY WEEKLY COLUMN, I HAVE WRITTEN EXTENSIVELY ABOUT THE CONCERNS YOU EXPRESS.
SEMPER FI, OLLIE
GUERNICA: Thank you so much for watching our program and for the kind words. I think doing a program on advisor Col. Vann would be interesting and we will definitely look into it. In my eyes all the advisors that were in Vietnam at the time deserve an episode for all the work and sacrifices they made during the war. Also thank you for your opinion, we always like to hear what people are thinking. Take care.
7. I was in awe throughout the entire War Stories that featured the battle for the bridge at Dong Ha! Please pass on to (then) CPT Ripley: He is an amazing person! I agree with his assessment though, most any Marine in that position would have done the same thing. However, as the wife of an active duty Army Infantryman, I think one of them would have as well. People are capable of many things, when it becomes required of them. Our soldiers, sailors, Marines and coastguard persons are the best in the world, bar none. Absolutely fabulous show! (although, I suppose a Marine or soldier would be insulted by my use of the word fabulous. LOL!) Happy Veteran's Day! — BB
NORTH: BB: MANY THANKS FOR YOUR SUPPORT OF THE TROOPS AND I AGREE AS DOES JOHN RIPLEY THAT OTHERS WOULD HAVE DONE THE SAME THING. YOU HAVE MY RESPECT AND ADMIRATION AS THE WIFE OF AN AMERICAN SOLDIER WHO IS SERVING HIS COUNTRY AND MY PRAYERS THAT HE RETURNS SAFELY AS WELL. WE DO INDEED HAVE THE BEST, BRIGHTEST AND BRAVEST OF THIS GENERATION SERVING IN OUR ARMED FORCES.
SEMPER FI, OLLIE
GUERNICA: Dear BB, Thanks so much for your letter and your praise of this episode. It was a great piece to work on and as always, I learned a lot by doing it. We'll pass on your best wishes to Cpt. Ripley, as he is a great Marine and an even better person. I couldn't say it any better than you as all of our armed forces are certainly FABULOUS. Thanks again for watching and take care.