A New Vietnam Documentary

It’s MidWeek‘s 30th anniversary next week. Almost my 26th year as a columnist here.

A chunk of my young-adult life was in-the-field coverage of the Vietnam War as reporter over a nine-year period. First with Honolulu Advertiser and later as a foreign correspondent for NBC News.


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New state plans could ruin Kawainui Marsh NATHALIE WALKER PHOTO

Once wounded, many times scared witless, once rescued from a horrendous battle in Quang Tri by Waimanalo’s Lt. Col. Peter Kama. I owe him for that armored personnel carrier snatch!

My wounds healed, my exposure to Agent Orange didn’t have any bad effects. I don’t qualify to use the VA hospitals. Others do. They’d been waiting an average of 145 days here to see a doctor.

I know “that sucks” is an overworked phrase but it’s the best I know to describe the situation.

Also, there’s the resentment many Vietnam vets harbor about the way American protesters treated them when they came home. Many shed their uniforms as quickly as they could. They were not getting free bar drinks and restaurant meals.

That is the subject of my television documentary How Do YOU Remember Vietnam? to be broadcast July 15 at 8 p.m. on KHON-2.

I’ve talked to Vietnam vets from all walks of the war from infantry point man to medic and intelligence agent. The interviewees are Allen Hoe, Ed Gayagas, Ernie Fukeda, Matt Arashiro and Steve Molnar.

This half-hour documentary is a Hawaii Stars production of Carole Kai Onouye and executive producer Dirk Fukushima, with camera work by Mike May.

It will make a case that America owes an apology to Vietnam vets, and owes a debt to all who fought recent wars in Korea, Vietnam, Somalia, Iraq and Afghanistan.

They deserved to go to the front of the line for schooling, mortgages and employment promotion. They offered their lives for us while we prospered with schooling, mortgages and employment promotion.

That’s not fair!

Some of the things the vets say in this documentary may hit you like daggers — I say good! You need that!

I hope you’ll set aside some time from your busy lives and watch.

You can comment afterward to my email.

And thanks for reading MidWeek these 30 years.

Two ways of handling special outdoor places:

(1) Yosemite National Park will remove the Mariposa Grove gift shop and parking lot, move them two miles away, and let the grove be a quiet “place of awe and reflection.”

(2) Hawaii’s DLNR proposes that Kawainui Marsh have 37 buildings, nine access roads, 11 parking lots, eight pavilions and a boardwalk.

The phrase “just let some natural places be natural places” usually gets buried in our fragile, special islands.

We could have been the Galapagos. Mostly park. Limited building permits. A refuge for wildlife with carefully controlled tourism.

But we didn’t go that way.