Nearly 50 years after the end of combat operations in Vietnam, Oregonians remain deeply affected by the events of those times.
"Oregon Experience" explores the stories of a wide variety of people, from combat veterans, nurses and support personnel, to anti-war protestors and outspoken political leaders, grieving family members and today’s Vietnamese community — all coming to terms with an event that divided the country and forever marked those who lived through it.
The documentary is streaming above, and premieres on OPB TV Oct. 2, 2017, at 9 p.m.
Related: 'The Vietnam War,' A PBS Documentary
More than 120,000 Oregonians served in the Vietnam War. More than 800 died as a result of their service. "The Vietnam War Oregon Remembers" is a 90-minute "Oregon Experience" special that showcases the memories of Oregon Vietnam veterans — and explores how their experiences have shaped their lives today.
It also observes the impact of Oregon’s outspoken politicians who were early leaders in the national anti-war movement. "Oregon Remembers" includes first-hand accounts of men and women from every branch of the military — Army, Marines, Navy, Air Force — grunts, medics, battalion photographers, entertainers and fighter pilots.
They tell their stories of being drafted as naïve kids and how they learned to fight and survive in a brutal war. They remember how the "real world" treated them as they returned to the United States — not as heroes but as "baby-killers" and war mongers. Many share their experiences with post-traumatic stress disorder before the disorder even had a name and how they’re dealing with the aftermath of exposure to Agent Orange.
Some have returned to Vietnam to visit former battle sites and reconcile with former enemies. Others have devoted their lives to helping fellow veterans get the support and services they need. The program also includes refugees who fled their homeland after the war and explores local programs that are strengthening our ties with Vietnam today. "The Vietnam War Oregon Remembers" illuminates widely divergent viewpoints of a volatile time in American and Oregon history.
It is an intimate look at War through the experiences of 40 Oregon veterans — men and women — who openly share their stories.
Those interviews include:
Carol Brown, Army nurse
Dennis Guthrie, Army medic
Charlie Haughey, Army battalion photographer
Don Janigian, Navy. Parents created the first statewide memorial for fallen Vietnam soldiers.
Larson Kalama, Army radio operator. Warm Springs Native American who started a “Healing Circle” for all veterans and family members.
Donna Lowery, Womens Army Corps. Part of the first WAC detachment deployed to a combat zone since WWII.
Karl Marlantes, Marine. Rhodes scholar and nationally known autho.
Alison Perry, Therapist and founder of Central Oregon Veterans Ranch
Gwen Hall Davis, Sister of Blue Angels’ Commander Harley Hall, who was shot down on the final day of Vietnam combat operation.
Floyd McKay, Author and Journalist
Gerry Frank, longtime aide to Sen. Mark Hatfield
David A. Horowitz, Portland State University Professor and anti-war activist