The Bob Edwards Show learned about the 40th year reunion of the Third Medical Battalion from its organizer, Al Naar. He’s a fan of the show (I later learned he listens to the show multiple times throughout the day) and he wrote an email to invite us to attend their anniversary in Charleston, South Carolina. Bob couldn’t go because he had a commencement speech to give that weekend, so I had the honor. I knew a couple of the stories before going there but I really didn’t know what I was going to find. What I found was a slew of men – yes, all men, because of the dangerous locations where they were based in Vietnam – who were very eager to tell their stories. I recorded interviews until the last minute, literally, before I had to leave the hotel to catch my plane and I still wasn’t able to get to everyone. I took photos of each person who I talked to. At some point someone asked me how I was going to remember who was who. Well, after hearing these stories, I don’t think I’ll forget any of these men, their faces, nor their stories for a very long time.
I didn’t do much in the interviews – I told the men that the microphone was there for them to use, not me. I figured they were the ones with the important things to say (yes, a technique used by our formidable host, I believe). The music was crucial to the Third Med veterans – they said they always had music on (The Doors, Neil Young, Crosby, Stills and Nash, and others) so it was important to use in telling the stories. I think it also helped steer the storyline--- as did the archive tape I was able to use. Traditions Military Videos kindly granted us permission to use those recordings. You should go to militaryvideo.com if you’re looking for archive material. They have lots of good stuff there.
I can’t think of a better way to remember our men and women who have served our country than through stories like these. I hope you agree.