Mark Woods: Fifty years later, renewed effort to tell Vietnam’s stories

Ask Bob Tipton the place he grew up and he doesn’t begin with Tennessee.

Sure, he spent a part of his childhood there. Sure, he went to highschool within the Atlanta space and, within the Nineteen Sixties, thought-about himself a Georgia redneck. However he doesn’t say he grew up there.

“I grew up in Vietnam,” he says.

Tipton first headed to Vietnam was he was 18 years previous. He did 5 excursions, a part of the Navy PBRs (Patrol Boat, River) that cruised the brown waterways in 31-foot boats loaded with machine weapons and grenade launchers.

A decade in the past the Discovery Channel devoted one episode of a collection referred to as “Battle Zone” to an evening — Aug. 2, 1969 — that River Division 593 inserted six Military troopers into the higher Saigon river jungle. When the Military staff got here beneath heavy hearth, Tipton bumped into the jungle with a machine gun and all of the ammunition he might carry.

Three of the American troopers died. Three have been rescued. Tipton, then 22, acquired a Bronze Star.

He’s 70 now, his beard and ponytail a mixture of white and gray, his voice gravelly.

He and his story will probably be a part of a panel dialogue Tuesday night time tied to the newest Ken Burns documentary. The occasion, initially scheduled for earlier than “The Vietnam Warfare” started airing on PBS, was postponed by Hurricane Irma. So now those that collect at WJCT — bringing a variety of tales and views — can be speaking concerning the conflict after the 18-hour collection about it has aired.

This, in fact, isn’t the primary time somebody tried to seize Vietnam on movie. Tipton provides a blunt evaluation of the depiction of PBR sailors within the 1979 function movie “Apocalypse Now.”

“That’s the most important bunch of rubbish there ever was,” he says.

He factors to the scenes of consuming and medicines on patrol boats. He readily admits PBR wasn’t simply an official Navy designation. Once they have been off patrol, they drank fairly a little bit of Pabst Blue Ribbon. However once they went on patrol, that was a special story.

“I don’t care what you smoked, what you drank, who you slept with, however the second you stepped on my boat, you higher be as straight because the day you have been born,” he says.

There are a number of tales that do really feel like one thing from “Apocalypse Now.” Just like the time he went water snowboarding in a canal and waved to a low-flying Piper Cub. When he was summoned by his commanding officer, he discovered that the passengers on the aircraft included a congressman who had simply arrived in Vietnam.

Not that…

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