Last March, KUED aired the first episode of Utah Vietnam War Stories, a powerful documentary tribute to the men and women of Utah who served during the Vietnam conflict. The second gripping segment, Turning Point, airs Monday, September 10 art 7 :00 p.m.
Built upon dozens of interviews with soldiers, sailors, airmen and medical personnel, Turning Point is a compelling oral history of the pivotal months in Vietnam during and immediately after the Tet Offensive of 1968. The film features interviews with Ephraim’s Lynn Wilson.
Drafted late, at age 21, Lynn Wilson went through basic training and advanced infantry training in 1969, and was stationed south of Saigon in 1970. Soon after he arrived in-country, his unit was ambushed on the trail where he was severely injured. Unable to fight, he dragged himself to a hiding place. The rest of his company left the combat area so quickly they left him behind, but Wilson was picked up by another American company that brought him to a defensive circle nearby. He lay prone on a stretcher for six hours, in shock and full of shrapnel, with enemy fire overhead. Thankfully, he was given a shot of morphine almost immediately.
“And just to make sure I wouldn't take too long to get another one, I rubbed the grease pencil ‘M’ off my forehead, so if I ran into another medic, I could tell 'em I needed some more.” He laughs. “You think about stupid things at a time like that.”
Finally he was evacuated on a helicopter. At a medical center in Japan, he was told that he would heal completely and be sent back to Vietnam. “It put me in a panic,” he recalls. Another doctor, however, decided he would be sent home, and he was glad to leave. Only later did he begin to wonder about what would happen to the firends he left behind. On the plane ride back home, he met another wounded soldier from another squad in his platoon, who told him about the devastating explosion that had taken out most of Wilson’s company a week after he was injured.
Wilson served the rest of his time in the military at a desk job of the military police in Fort Lewis, which is why he decided to make a career inn law enforcement. Even after many years as a civilian, Wilson still prefers the company of other veterans. The attitude towards Vietnam veterans was unfriendly for many years, and Wilson, like so many other veterans, has adopted a defensive stance. “I got a little patch that's got the American and Vietnamese flags, and it's red, white and blue, and it says, ‘If you weren't there, shut up.’ That's my attitude.”
The second episode of a projected three-part documentary series, Utah Vietnam War Stories: Turning Point provides a sense of the wide scope of human experience that took place during the Vietnam War. Additional episodes of Utah Vietnam War Stories will debut in early 2013.
Utah Vietnam War Stories is made possible by The Katherine W. Dumke and Ezekiel R. Dumke, Jr. Foundation, The George S. and Delores Doré Eccles Foundation and the contributing members of KUED.
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