Author Archives: mewcomm

Where is Vietnam?

I was assigned to the 101st Airborne Division in Vietnam. The Division Area of Operation or AO was designated as I Corps. 4 Maps below to get you there. Why the maps? Because Geography matters.  Climate and geography LINK HERE

Map 1. shows where Vietnam is on the Global Map.

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 Map 2:  The Shortest flight path from the USA to Vietnam is 8,584 miles

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Map 3: depicts the region of South East Asia at large and the arrow point to the specific part of Vietnam my unit worked in.Vietnam Regional

Map 4 Depicting the area the 101st Airborne was assigned to. The important features are the Firebases in the center (Birmingham, Veghel, and Bastogne) and of course the famous Ashau Valley where the Division saw significant combat.  (During my time in Vietnam–70-71 I never went into the Ashau on a mission.)101STAO

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John Hinckley Special Event Station

1982 Hinckley Beach

In June 1982 as a Cameraman for NBC News based in Washington D.C. every Saturday for a month, I was assigned to stake out the U.S. Federal Courthouse where the trial of attempted Presidential assassin John Hinckley was underway. All the networks and the print media set up on the front lawn of the courthouse. (This was back when Federal Courthouse security was waaaay laxer than it is today.) Our job was to await new developments and the lawyers would periodically come out and stand in front of the microphones and update the press.  We in the Press Corps called the setting, “Hinckley Beach” since it was summer and little happened until the end of the trial.  We’d bring lawn chairs, coolers, and umbrellas to beat the DC summer heat and humidity.

One weekend, I threw my Kenwood TS-130 HF rig in the microwave truck and and a Hustler Mobile Whip that I mounted on an upside down trash can (a faux ground) and set it up on the roof of the van. A Washington Post photographer thought my radio set up was interesting and shot the photo above. It didn’t make it into the paper, but he sent me a copy.

My recollection is, I worked a lot of DX on 15 meters that day. I declared myself a “Special Event” station and foreign hams would express surprise when I told them where I was operating from. Surely operating from the courthouse would be prohibited!  I was on the air, MC-60 mic in hand when this photo was taken. It was fun.

NOTE: Some years later (mid 90’s)  I would see Hinckley up close and photograph him thanks to (Bearcat Scanners)….but that’s another story for another time(and video too!)

 

Education matters in a Globalized Knowledge-Worker era

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In High School, I attended a military boarding school in Oklahoma.  Known as the “West Point of the South West”, the Oklahoma Military Academy was well run and had a good staff of former military professionals.   I went back for the 50th Anniversary of my 1968  graduation in June of 2018.  That school made me a better soldier in the Army when I joined in 1969.

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A photo I shot reunion weekend in 2018, 50 years since I was last there. The memorial above honors the Cadets who were Killed during WW II, Korea and the 21 who died in Vietnam.

OMA Diploma

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“Hook ’em Horns”

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It took me 6 years to get my undergraduate degree from the University of Texas at Austin.  I had the GI Bill, and I worked part-time and I was in No hurry!! Who wanted to leave Austin in the 70’s?!?

I picked up an FCC 1st Phone Ticket and got an entry-level gig in Austin at KLRN-TV.

First Phone

I was a “go-fer” on the  PBS Music Show Austin City Limits (which is still on the air!) and most summers I went out and worked Pipeline Construction around the nation. (New Mexico, Oklahoma, Michigan, Alabama, W. Virginia and Texas of course.) As I finally was getting around to graduating I sent my Resume all over the country. I got a job as a VR (Vacation Relief) at NBC Washington. I was made a permanent hire 3 weeks after I started.

In DC there were always lots of cool courses on the various campus sites in the city. NBC paid for coursework that was related to your professional responsibilities. I took at least 10 continuing education classes over the years– from graduate programs in the area. I picked up a Six Sigma Green Belt and ITIL certifications which were pretty standard in management programs.IMG_0250

After spending 18 years in the field as a Cameraman/Editor/Field producer/Tech Ops I took a Masters Degree at American University and then I promptly descended into management.  I had a blast in the AU graduate program. And I was invited back to teach in the Film and Video program as an adjunct in 2000/01/02.  There was always an interesting course each year somewhere in the region. I took advantage of it.

Footnote: My favorite Media production “Learning” environment? Lynda.Com  It is a part of LinkedIn and owned by Microsoft.  Quality software apps and business process learning.  If you’re not familiar with it— You should take a look.

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Veterans Day Special Event Stations

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I was the network television pool camera for the Desert Storm “Victory” Parade. We were on a Flat bed truck rolling in front of the parade leaders. I took this still image of General Schwarzkopf and his staff at the front as they marched down Constitution avenue in Washington DC., The parade was in June of 1991. I used the photo for a “Veterans Day Special Event Station” 1991.  On Veterans Day that Year (91) it was pouring rain! Wet and Cold. We operated near the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in the service drive next to the Lincoln Memorial. We were in an empty truck similar to a UPS delivery truck with no packages. We set up a table and put wire antennas out. It was fun.

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This was the first Special Event Station I organized.  Me and several Hams from NBC manned the station, set up near this monument statue at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall.  On the air there was a tremendous response. I shot this photo on the morning of Veteran’s Day 1990. About 7am. I’ve always liked this statue. Jan Scruggs the Vet who made the wall happen, came by that day and said hi at the station site.

 

.Radio Domain

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The Internet Domain Space for the Global Radio Community

 

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Most Hams don’t have a personal Web address.  But if you’ve ever thought of claiming your call sign domain— there’s an even better reason to claim it now.  Instead of being wa4d.net. or arrl.org you can now register for your call .Radio   This is a new internet extension reserved for the Radio Community. ” .radio is a new top-level domain (like .com or .net) which is exclusively dedicated to radio stations, web radios, radio professionals, companies selling radio goods and services and radio amateurs.”

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Learn about the .radio extension–Click on image below. or GO to www.nic.radio.

Radio TDL site

Random career photos

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mewcamunknownLooks like about 1982. I can’t remember what the event was! Laughs.

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2013: You could sell that iD for $1000 on the day of the Emmy’s! Laughs

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1979 Andrews AFB The Pope had just arrived.

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Summer 1985 — Joe Namath was to be inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame. In early summer we flew up to Connecticut where Namath still has summer Football camp for kids. As I recall we were there 3 days to shoot a “profile piece” on Namath for NBC Sports.  It’s impossible to overstate how much fun it was shooting that story. Namath was sincere,friendly and you would never have known he was still one of the most famous Sports celebrities in the nation. Below: I’ve still got the Sun Visor!

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mewDesertStormMiddle East: Military Transport Depot Dahran, Saudi Arabia. January 1991 (before the ground phase began).

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Above: Hollywood– Academy Awards 2009

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Some of the dozens and dozens of Press Passes from over the years.

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Above: With the US Army Parachute team: The Golden Knights.  227D57C6-96A0-4495-9DF9-239353559AD6-1226-000002C5EAD096D4

Above:  1979 Cop Killer on the loose.  Murder Scene 14th Street Washington DC 2:00am

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Los Angeles Mayoral Debate 2012. Me in the Control Room.

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Regional Emmy’s I won for News Photography

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Above: I worked at the Oscars for 9 years in a row.  What a blast! Who gets to have this much fun in the last decade of their career?

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Above: This is the shot millions of Americans recognized in the years of Washington Coverage pre-1990.  This is the balcony of the Russell Senate Office building. Known as “the Russell balcony”. Reporters have stood at this open window for decades delivering Washington DC coverage.

 

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Above: My first time at the White House.  Jan or Feb of 1980. President Carter was not in the White House compound that day.  

 

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Me and Jessica Savitch. Among the first Women to anchor a Network Evening Newscast.

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Los Angeles Lakers NBA Champions 2010 PARADE Crowd. wa4d photo.

If it’s Veterans Day, “Don’t Thank me for my service”

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Basic Training Graduation Photo: Ft. Bliss Texas  Drill Sgt’s Annus (on left) Drill Sgt Semko (on right)   You never forget the names of your Basic Training NCO’s.

 

I joined the Army in 1969.  The Army has a battery of tests to figure out how to best use a new recruit.   One of the questions was “Which would you rather do? Go to the Opera? OR Go camp out in Yellowstone National Park?

42nd Infantry Platoon Scout Dog

Of course, I answered the Campout!!  “Yep.., He’s infantry material.“    I finished at the top of my class in Basic Training. And  the Top 2 % Army Wide in Infantry training. I took Basic at Ft. Bliss –went to Infantry School at Ft. Lewis and Scout Dog Handler  training at Ft. Benning. I landed in the 101st Airborne Division (I Corps) Vietnam 70-71. Vietnam was a defining experience for those of us who went, I”m glad I did. Combat Infantry.  At the Tip of the Spear. It does not get any better.

My unit was the 42nd Infantry Platoon Scout Dog / 101St Airborne Division)

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I was an Infantry Scout Dog Handler.

Scout Dog Teams walked “Point‘ on Infantry jungle patrols. The “mission” of the Scout Dog team is to provide “Early Silent Warning”  of booby traps, ambush, cache’s of weapons, and evidence of enemy activity. The “Point” Man and his Scout Dog, (worked off leash) followed closely by the “slack” man.  The “slack” position is filled by an experienced soldier to “backup” the “Point” team. NO CHERRIES!  –My unit only had 3 CAR-15‘s (CAR-15 with shorter/telescoping stock ).  CAR-15’s were issued to the 3 senior field opns soldiers in my unit. I didn’t get a CAR-15 until sometime in early spring of 71. — Photo above with M-16. I carried 23 magazines….  2 (7) magazine OD green cotton cloth bandoliers across my chest. 2 Magazines on the weapon itself. (Taped in Reverse for rapid reload) 4 in a Pistol belt pouch on my right side — and 3 in an outer pouch of my Rucksack.– Carrying grenades was optional. My first few months in the field I carried 4  — I loosened the pin — which was hard as hell to first-time pull –– but I taped the spoon down so I had to remove the tape first. You only get one chance with a grenade. Improper pin removal, stance or throwing method could be fatal.— The Jungle is too thick and lots of stuff grabs onto you. I didn’t want to chance any detonation. — with the M-26. I eventually dropped to carrying 2 grenades. I always started a mission with  18 quarts of water. That’s 2 lbs per quart =36 lbs of water alone Dogs dehydrate way faster than a Man.  A Dog Handler couldn’t be sure his mission would be near the bountiful jungle streams. I always max- loaded water as if we would not be near a natural water source.  In our AO (area of operation) there were many streams that fed the rivers.,  The Song Bo River out near the Ashau Valley was magnificent.

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Double Click or ZOOM in on the Chopper Photo above. You’ll see my  Scout Dog “Argo” his head over my leg. He loved to watch the ground as we flew. Sometimes his saliva would blow back on the door gunner! They would always laugh!   We “Argo” and I walked “Point”  in the Jungle.  I live today because of that small ( 58 lb. Shepard) Best pure “Combat Dog” ever. We (“Argo and I”) shared the Combat Medal shown below.

Among the most coveted awards in the US Army

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                                                         Combat Infantry Badge

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No Ceremony. No handshake. The Presidential Combat Medal. The Bronze Star.

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CIB Bronze

42nd photo

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Most GI’s in Vietnam got a 5-7 day leave for “Rest and Recreation”. Your choices were Thailand for debauchery, Hong Kong, Australia and Honolulu.  OR worst case. China Beach and “In-Country” R&R.
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I discovered photography in Vietnam and badly wanted a 35mm camera.  I could buy the 35 mm camera– but then I couldn’t afford an out of country R&R.  So I bought the camera and went to China Beach near DaNang. We surfed all day then got wasted every night listening to a Vietnamese Rock Band play American songs.  They were awful musicians.  We didn’t care!

China Beach is now a “hip” tourist destination.

 

FtCampbell Ft. Campbell Gander Memorial Service: Some years later in 1985, I was working on a political story on Capitol Hill.  The news desk editor called and told me that members of my former division had been in an airplane crash in Gander, Newfoundland. He asked if I wanted to go to Ft. Campbell for the Memorial service. (As if there was any question?? Of course!) He said, “yes we figured you would want to go”. The soldiers, most of them from the 101st Airborne Division’s 3rd Battalion, 502nd Infantry Regiment, crashed shortly after taking off from a refueling stop in Gander, Newfoundland, Canada. All 248 soldiers and the plane’s eight crew members were killed.

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The Memorial Service was on Dec. 15/16 1985. It was bitter cold that day. In the 20’s with 9-10 mph winds. (I looked it up!) The division was formed on the parade field for hours. And we in the press stayed in the stands for hours. Above: A 105mm howitzer was fired every 5 minutes, marking the loss of one soldier

101 EagleSteeped in history, it is an honor to have been a  “Screaming Eagle”  of the  101st Airborne Division.

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Above: Professionally  I returned to Vietnam in 1995.  We shot a documentary at the 20-year point of the war’s end.  It was an amazing trip. We traveled the entire country. Photo. Above: –POW/MIA recovery dig near Haiphong in the north

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Above: Mike Whatley left, Vietnamese government official and interpreter in Center, Retired North Vietnamese Infantry Colonel Nguen Quoc Khan.  He was a big deal. How I got to talk with him still boggles my mind. We stayed in his hotel in Hue. Retired at the time of photo–He was dressed in uniform for a military parade that morning, that was held in honor of General Võ Nguyên Giáp. March 24, 1995. I shot the still of General Giap below.

General Giap

I shot this photo of General Vo Nguyen Giap on March 24, 1995.  It was pouring rain and he was under a reviewing stand roof. I was in the rain and I could not believe my good fortune. Security allowed me within about 20 feet of the General and the Politburo Boss seated next to him. Many historians regard Giap as one of the most important Military strategists of the 20th century. I knew that as I pressed the shutter of my Point n Shoot camera. I had read Bernard Fall’s “Hell in a Very Small Place: The Seige of Dien Bien Phu” in college. And this elderly man in uniform was the Commander that defeated the French in 1954. He was a hugely important military figure in the lives of all of us who went to Vietnam.

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Above: The statue of now  Senator John S. McCain, where he was captured as his parachute dropped him in Trúc Bạch Lake in Hanoi. It was a pretty heavy moment to stand before this statue. I think of it often now as he lays dying of brain cancer in Arizona.

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Above: The young men in this photo were in their early 20’s in 1995. Even then their posture, expressions and confidence showed.  I wish I could interview them now.

Vietname Wall 1995

Me at the Vietnam Memorial in Washington DC, with photo given to me by Colonel Khan.  It is a picture of  Colonel Khan and General Giap.

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The series  “20 Years since the Fall” won 2 Regional Emmy’s.

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Vietnam Dog Handler Association Decal

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