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ABC TV Day One Program

After reading the book in 1993, ABC officials decided to produce a television piece for the “Day One” Monday night show hosted by Forrest Sawyer (link to view the show is below).

During the summer of 1993, ABC inteviewed several veterans of the Ia Drang battles in New York. In October ’93, the Ia Drang Veterans, Forrest Sawyer, Terry Wrong (Producer), Quyen Thai (Asst. Producer), and two 2-person TV crews flew to Vietnam.

The veterans are listed below. Included are their military ranks, duty positions, and Ia Drang Battlefields they fought on: 

PFC Jack SmithRifleman, C/2/7 CAVX-Ray, Albany
1LT Larry GwinXO, A/2/7 CAVX-Ray, Albany
CPT George ForrestCO, A/1/5 CAVX-Ray, Albany
Joe GallowayUPI CorrespondentX-Ray
SP4 Bill BeckMachine Gunner, A/1/7 CAVX-Ray
CSM Basil PlumleyBn Sgt Maj, 1/7 CAVX-Ray
CPT Tony NadalCO, A/1/7 CAVX-Ray
CPT John HerrenCO, B/1/7 CAVX-Ray
SGT Ernie SavageSquad Leader, B/1/7 CAVX-Ray
LTC Hal MooreCO, 1/7 CAVX-Ray
MAJ Bruce CrandallCO, A/229th Huey BnX-Ray

In Hanoi, the veterans met for two hours with Lt. Gen Nguyen Hau An, PAVN Battlefield Commander and five PAVN Colonels who were in the Ia Drang Battles as Lts or Captains. They are: 

COL Lo Khac TamPlatoon Leader, 7th Bn, 66th Regiment
COL Tran Manh HaoOperations Officer, 66th Regiment
COL Vu Dinh ThuocRifle Co Cdr, 7th Bn, 66th Regiment
COL Nguyen Khac VienHvy Wpns Plt Ldr, 7th Bn, 66th Regiment
COL Vu ThaiCommunications Officer, 66th Regiment

(Note: Lt Gen An died in early 1995)

These discussions were all filmed by ABC.

The next day, the Americans, along with Lt. Gen An, Colonels Thuoc and Hao, Vu Binh (escort officer and interpreter, Foreign Press Office), and other Vietnamese officials traveled by air south to Da Nang thence by vans to Qui Nhon. Fred Rohrbach, a 173rd Airborne Vietnam Veteran – with years of business experience in Vietnam, joined the group in Hanoi.

After overnight in Qui Nhon, travel by vans to An Khe, former base camp of the 1st Cavalry Division from 1965-1969, for a short visit; thence over Mang Yang Pass on Route 19 to Pleiku City.

On Oct 17th, the group shuttled into LZ X-Ray (2 lifts) in a Soviet-built MI-8 helicopter piloted by two PAVN officers. Filming was conducted. In the late afternoon, the helicopter returned with the 1st lift back to Pleiku (37 miles). Before it can return for the rest of the group, clouds close in. This, plus rapidly approaching dusk and heavy monsoon rains shut down further flights. The group left in X-Ray for the night included:

  • Sawyer
  • Wong
  • the 2 ABC TV Teams*
  • Galloway
  • Beck
  • Forrest
  • Gwin
  • Moore
  • Vu Binh (Foreign Press Center, Hanoi)
  • Nguyen van Manh (Peoples Cte, Gai Lai Province)

* Minh Van Dong, Bruce Renwick, Bill McMillin, Tom Levy.

The next morning, the helicopter returned and carries the group – along with Jack Smith – to LZ Albany for filming. On the night of October 18th, the entire Vietnamese/American group ate dinner together. During the dinner, Col Hao read a poem about the Ia Drang trip.

The one hour documentary entitled “They Were Young And Brave” aired on January 10, 1994 to very favorable reviews. It aired again in June ’94. 

ABC_trip_19

Various pictures taken during the filming of the ABC Day One episode.  Pictures include the North Vietnamese participants in the battles as well as American veterans.

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ABC_trip_18

Various pictures taken during the filming of the ABC Day One episode.  Pictures include the North Vietnamese participants in the battles as well as American veterans.

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ABC_trip_17

Various pictures taken during the filming of the ABC Day One episode.  Pictures include the North Vietnamese participants in the battles as well as American veterans.

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ABC_trip_16

Various pictures taken during the filming of the ABC Day One episode.  Pictures include the North Vietnamese participants in the battles as well as American veterans.

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ABC_trip_15

Various pictures taken during the filming of the ABC Day One episode.  Pictures include the North Vietnamese participants in the battles as well as American veterans.

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ABC_trip_14

Moore and General An Various pictures taken during the filming of the ABC Day One episode.  Pictures include the North Vietnamese participants in the battles as well as American veterans.

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ABC_trip_13

Various pictures taken during the filming of the ABC Day One episode.  Pictures include the North Vietnamese participants in the battles as well as American veterans.

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ABC_trip_11

Various pictures taken during the filming of the ABC Day One episode.  Pictures include the North Vietnamese participants in the battles as well as American veterans.

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ABC_trip_10

Various pictures taken during the filming of the ABC Day One episode.  Pictures include the North Vietnamese participants in the battles as well as American veterans.

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