Scroll down to watch “Back to China Beach: A Story of Hope & Healing” video


For Vietnam Veterans China Beach in Da Nang was a little piece of heaven in the middle of hell. Those troops who took R&R at China Beach are sure to remember the beach well known for its surf.

Producer of the award-winning documentary “Back to China Beach” Mike Cotton will join the show to discuss how the beach boosted morale, gave the troops a bit of peace amongst the chaos around them, and the story of a group of Vietnam Veterans who returned to China Beach and how the experience helped heal the wounds of decades passed.

Back to China Beach: A Story of Hope & Healing – Video

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TRANSCRIPT – Transcript and Subtitles are generated automatically by YouTube and may contain errors.

okay good evening vietnam
this is live from lc bunker veterans
live show
we were speaking with the award-winning
producer of the documentary back to
china beach
mike cotton
mike and i will discuss how the beach
boosted morale gave the troops a bit of
peace among the chaos around them
and the story of a group of vietnam
veterans who returned to china beach
and how the experience helped them heal
the wounds of decades past
we’ll get to the show in a minute but
first i’d like to let you know that the
program is brought to you by
the vietnam veterans book
fallen never forgotten
gives one
state memorial
of each state
and this all the guys never returned
from the war from that state
you can visit fall
for that
and to purchase it or to get more
thank you and how you doing mike
i’m doing good
all right so got a little experience
here with some
productions of film so tell us about
oh here’s some sound off hold on a
minute how many of your brothers made it
to china beach let’s hear about your
time there
let’s go guys
i never knew they had a science china
beach paul tavares took a swim several
times nice
now markley three-day country in country
r r
chance to heal up get the stitches out
so we can go back to the field
yeah there you go
good thanks now
baltimore’s again took a swim several
times that’s a lot of swims there well
next one
jj matia friends visited in 2016.
that different
thank you jj
wow look at the palm trees it looks like
miami beach over here
or maybe even better
probably is
next one
okay let’s go talk about your project mr
well what’d you brought through into
this world
this is uh my third documentary
that i’ve co-produced actually with uh a
brilliant guy dave barnes i can’t say
enough about dave um i’d actually moved
up from south florida about 25 years ago
to pensacola
and about 12 years ago hooked up with
dave and
kind of changed gears with a lot of
stuff in the music industry i was doing
for decades even though i have had
experience in television and some film
uh over the years
and um got hooked up with dave barnes
and uh we went on to do
i was working on a show called senior
extremers i was trying to get out about
older people that do extreme stuff and
of course it ran into a lot of veterans
that skydive or whatever and they’re not
kids and they’re doing some pretty wild
stuff so we had some success with that
show and
i went on and
probably did over five years over 100
national news stories with him for all
the major networks uh
don’t always believe what you see on tv
because it might not be
pardon how did you get into the vietnam
the vietnam uh was something
in china beach in fact i started to hear
these stories
uh back when i was a teenager in south
florida in the 60s and some of the older
ones were coming back and we were all
and one told me a story of going to
cameron bay because there was other
beaches besides china beach
is just the most famous and it has good
surf and there’s but there’s a lot of
other spots as well
and um i just thought it was amazing
this guy ended up
got a wound and uh they decided not to
send them home and heard he was a
lifeguard in fort lauderdale he ended up
being a lifeguard at cameron bay for six
months and dodge rockets all the time
so i began to hear these stories and i
began to ask questions and i’ve always
been a a student of history and and
always interviewing people and trying to
find out what what really happened
what’s the real story you got any
photographs of it you got an eight
millimeter film
so time went on and um
most of us know about apocalypse now
when that film came out and uh
maybe it’s
not all true but some is true you guys
are there i wasn’t but the thing about
surfing in battle uh that did happen uh
to a point maybe not exactly the way it
was in that film
and um
so when i moved to pensacola and hooked
up with dave barnes i began to tell him
these stories and the tv show
in 88 came out china beach and a lot of
people don’t know the tv show was
actually the the consultants to the show
were vietnam veterans this was not like
even though mash was a funny
a tv show great writers i don’t think it
was too accurate it’s what they were
doing in the korean war right uh yeah
but was it was entertaining
right china beach the tv show did try
and there’s and i’m going to give
locations people go to and see some of
the stuff i have a clip of an interview
that larry martin who was one of our
main consultants who many people
consider mr china beach because he was
the guy that really organized the surf
club there and got things really going
uh for the soldiers when they came there
for r r and made it easy for them um but
he was on there with brian wemmer and
that night they were doing a show
juxtaposed to
veterans telling the real story and they
were depicting the story in that
particular episode
so when i moved to pensacola and finally
it took me
several years to get my co-producer
interested he was from chicago
you know he didn’t know a wave from a
whack let’s say
but you know surfers are kind of an
interesting breed because no matter
where we go if we see waves we’ll figure
out how to make a board get a border
wait a minute water
whack that could be somebody in the navy
or the air force yes that could be thank
and i do a lot of work out at nas
pensacola all right i got you
and uh so we i heard that larry martin
who had heard about and read about lived
in pensacola
and uh there was uh uh a big event down
at the beach one day and somebody came
running down and i was filming uh
another film interviewing people
somebody said larry martin’s up the
beach and i and i said well how do i
know him they was in a crowd but he’s
about six five you know having a leather
jacket with a gigantic china beach surf
club patch on the back
so you know i’m like five eight i’m up
there pulling on his jacket going hey
mister mister i want he he literally he
turned around and looked at me and goes
i’m not interested
again you’re not interested in what he
says i’m too old i don’t have the time i
i already know your story larry and i
know you’ve been going around for 20 25
years taking interviews and telling this
story we’re talking about making a damn
we’re talking about dave and i
investing our spare time
our money but we can’t do it unless
somebody like you would get involved
you know we’re we’re documentarians
we’re journalists it has to be accurate
we don’t want to make a fool out of
ourselves either
so finally i think larry’s wife
convinced him get on board and we became
friends and larry to this day in fact
he’s my he’s my assistant my business
and he began to pull out memorabilia and
and larry actually worked in depot
down the road at night and somebody told
him about china beach which is the beach
at da nang and by the way today that’s
called mikey beach the vietnamese aren’t
real happy with the chinese so they
really don’t like that name but yeah i
can see that we may have to change the
name when we go when we show it over
there because we’d like to do a goodwill
but um so he went down there and the
whole place was a disaster there’s
boards laying all over the lifeguards
didn’t care guys from arkansas were
paddling out no offense but they were
getting hit and head to the surfboards
and you know the joke was what if you
came back in a bag and been killed by a
surfboard in vietnam be a hell of a way
to serve your country so he convinced
the powers to be to let him organize it
they built the infamous
surf shack
he created a club he uh tested people so
if they didn’t know how to surf they
would get some lessons or not go out at
all that started to come to us and then
we began to network through social media
everywhere we could go
and um
going moving forward because it took us
about three years to put this all
together we began to get people from all
over the country and out of country
contacted us with photographs some film
unfortunately everybody had a 35
millimeter camera i guess is what i
understand over there but not many
people had a movie camera so
the actual film other than national
archives combat film military film is is
not that available so we began to build
a story
um from really the
mid-60s when this began to happen
going really into the early 70s when the
ceos went in there and said tear it all
down it’s over
and all these little stories in there
i probably talked to 200 vietnam
veterans that had some sort of
interaction with that beach or the other
beaches and all their different stories
uh we probably interviewed about 75 or
80 and about 30 have made it into the
um so it’s uh it’s a combination of
current interviews
a lot of photographs
some moving pictures from that era as
well and then
we finally got to film together to where
we want to show it and we thought we
could look at the trailer
you want to put did we did we looked at
the trailer we didn’t have that on the
air right no coulee
yeah this
all right
thanks zack
in 1967 when i got to uh china beach and
i found that they had a few surfboards
there and i was very excited it was one
of the things that kind of reminded me
of being home and made me feel
a little bit
you know not so lost in a foreign
a china beach was uh
it was a gift from heaven you know i
the whole surfing thing
was a blessing
it was going to rain that night so i
until i was enlightened by someone who
said carol
not lightning
welcome to vietnam
when for the first time ever
we had clubs in a war zone we had never
done that before
and uh and i think honcho today is
probably the first dog that ever went
surfing in vietnam
and we could see um
monkey mountain in the background look
like diamond head in hawaii so
you could almost feel like you were on
vacation there
there’s something about the water
and maybe our connection with the water
that not only brings the child out in us
but maybe the hope out in us
since the first time i came back in 1998
i’ve seen a world of change here when i
first came back it looked like we had
just left
the villages were just like they were
when we left our base was still there
just like it was when we left
because nothing else had worked
over the years we met a dozen
guys who had surfed in vietnam and they
said if they hadn’t been for surfing
when i came back from vietnam i don’t
know what my life would have been like
but it wouldn’t have been good
all right
that was excellent man that’s pretty
thank you you filmed itself about an
hour and ten minutes
um we do have we have added in rocky
if people know him from the pittsburgh
steelers right yeah
rocky is a bronze star winner i never
knew this somebody sent me a video he
did with for espn about a year ago he
went back to vietnam where he was
and it was uh pretty pretty emotional uh
short documentary and uh i was able to
talk to the producer at espn i said you
know we’ve tried to get we want a
celebrity to open the film introduce the
film we tried to get to gary sinise uh
he wasn’t available tom mark wahlberg
who has a connection in the area where i
live who also supports a lot of veterans
causes um but somebody sent me this i
talked to producer he says here’s
rocky’s cell phone number and says well
you know i don’t want to do anything out
of line here he goes call him tell him i
said to call
call him rocky said send me a clip
and uh the next day he said what do you
want me to do i said don’t you do about
it one minute i’m gonna send you the
film the whole thing and then if you
like it like for you to just do an intro
you know add some you know authenticity
to the film of an actual veteran that
was there that’s also a football hero
but um uh he goes around the country now
play that you’re gonna play that now
oh you got it yeah yeah there you go
it’s a one minute thing get ready real
nice what he did
the film that’s
the real story is told by veterans who
were there and how many found a little
bit of happiness and home at the beaches
of vietnam also what their life has been
like for the past 50 years
now many veterans tell their stories for
the first time in this film
back to china beach is the real story
told from the heart
that’s great good for you
he has a great story i mean he was told
he would walk but part of his foot was
blown off
he was a running back and had just
drafted by the steelers but rooney loved
him and when he came back he said you
know i’ll give you a shot and he worked
his butt off and i don’t know if he has
some sort of prosthesis or whatever but
uh he was uh
a couple years later won four super
bowls with terry bradshaw and franklin
that backfield so
he’s uh he’s a great inspiration you
know particularly the veterans you know
yeah desire desire to cannot stop you
sometimes absolutely so good for him
that’s great welcome
some photos we’re gonna look at some
photos now we’ll do our final club all
right let’s shoot it this is uh this is
actually um we have a we work with a
surf shop over there in fact the whole
story of us going over there to film was
is pretty pretty funny and interesting
but that’s actually monkey mountain any
of the veterans uh probably don’t
recognize it if they haven’t been back
but that was all defoliated uh they did
have a tv and a radio station on top of
there and that’s a big kind of buddhist
temple thing up top and it’s real
but that’s china standing right on china
beach right there on a nice glassy day
nice yeah this of course uh probably
rocket hit back there somewhere that
would be looking back towards where camp
tinshaw was i believe
that’s where that that would have been
the way that picture is
which a lot of guys knew marvin and uh
yeah that’s that’s right out in front of
the surf shack
and uh
kind of funny had like pine trees there
this guy here who sent me this picture
he wasn’t a surfer but he says i got
this picture and i think it’s a good
picture i said send it to me so i never
had an abortion
it’s a classic vietnam surfboard yeah
got this vietnam flag on it that’s great
rick holt is his name he lives up in new
england i think somewhere ohio
never been on a board
that’s terrific yeah but he impressed
his girlfriend now this is of course
china beach from monkey mountain uh
looking back the other way south uh
towards uh marble mountain would be way
down the other individual a lot of guys
were stationed down there we do talk a
lot about marble mountain in that area
as well yeah
but right there in the middle was this
is on top of monkey mountain i’m not
really going to get into what boom boom
rock i didn’t know what it was but now i
do and uh it was just sort of a uh
a moment of
of passage for young men
well that’s a
little a
pretty good view from up there too
it’s uh they actually found it’s all
grown up now and uh ronnie ratliff who
was our guide over there uh navy veteran
he they went one year and he he takes
vets back and he said yeah we dug it we
found it we cut some bushes back we
actually found it well
this would be uh
i don’t know if that’s the px errors
that’s more that’s security they had a
center yeah they had a great px at china
beach we have one guy in the film he
bought a gto there of course people
thought he got in vietnam he had it was
waiting for him when he got home
oh wow
but uh this guy here forget his name
some guys call me to have a like a
veterans yoga group and they want to
know who this guy was i says i don’t
know but the picture’s been sent to me
by a dozen different people
and they
i need to get back with them they found
who this guy was and i don’t think he’s
alive they got the parents to allow them
to put that image on i have a t-shirt
here i tried to show but it didn’t show
up uh of him on it but that’s a famous
picture of the guy in his you know in
his fatigues ready to go to that yeah
that’s nice
just kids you know what can you say
about this picture yes babies you know
these kids are right out of high school
maybe you were in high school perhaps
blue ribbon that’s the beer of vietnam
that was it you know and that’s back
oh god yeah everywhere i go
i went to nashville about if you i keep
going every few years whatever but
excuse me what was i saying about the
yet uh
uh i forgot it that doesn’t matter that
happens this is that surf shack expanded
over time uh larry martin who was our
main consultant he’s throughout he’s in
the film all over it uh telling the
progression of this but that ended up
being like a big warehouse building they
actually in the end were building
surfboards right there they did best
they could in that shack
for repairs and they did build a few but
they saw the officer saw that this was
such a good thing and a fun thing you
know they got everybody what they needed
in order in the way of materials and
i’ve got one picture in the film where
guys standing in there with probably 50
surfboards all lined up where it’s a
that’s ronnie uh this is the first day
we’re on china beach which is uh mikey
beach as vietnamese call it that’s
monkey mountain in the background
and i’m standing next to dave’s running
the camera and right behind me is two
secret police i asked ronnie he says are
those cops he goes this is the secret
police they’ve been following us since
the hotel
um i will confess
we did not check with the state
department here and we did not check in
over there no permits we went in as a
bunch of rednecks having a family
reunion in vietnam and we these cameras
they look like they’re still cameras but
they shoot they shoot 4k 6k film so does
he know who that guy served with
the that guy was a civilian right this
guy here no no he was navy he worked on
the top okay in fact he’s from texas and
he’s in he’s got some great parts in the
film as well but he was our guy uh we we
had gotten turned on to him by somebody
else out west and they hooked us up with
ronnie and i got to talk to him and he
says well about twice a year he says i
take groups over of vets and uh here’s
one of his groups
and um
he actually
finds uh
former north vietnamese soldiers
and i guess via kong and they actually
meet and go have dinner
with these guys
that’s right
and he says they they
those guys
the the vietnamese veterans and these
aren’t from the south i mean even
there’s a lot of in the south they love
us for sure but
they would just tell them you know just
get over it it’s in the past and we were
doing what we were told to do because if
we didn’t do it
we’re out of here so you know they said
and you were doing what you were told to
do so that’s just the way it is war and
across the board
most experiences are these people are
very forgiving
across the board i mean there’s
now this lady she saw her in the uh in
in the trailer that’s carol law she
lives in pensacola she was the manager
of the uso club
at china beach that was the first u.s
zombie that ever did in a combat zone
first time
and she worked with uh joey heatherton
and in fact that little flyer she’s
showing she went back the first uh
a goodwill tour was with joey heatherton
and that’s joey heatherton in that
picture you can’t really see it but she
went back
uh there and they they wanted to play in
a tree and the vietnamese government
said no no so all the girls put dirt in
their pockets and they went over there
and they had little seeds and they put
dirt out somewhere and they planted an
american tree there somewhere
but uh yeah she was over there and uh
the f her story was a whole another
angle but she’s there she’s getting the
guys flip-flops surf trunks you know
hamburgers whatever they need right
happy for one to three days and you know
a lot of guys like clary were stationed
there they worked there every day but um
she uh her story was her husband was a
marine fighter pilot was that f-4s maybe
they were flying
and um he was uh he was quite up the
ladder and the joke in her family was
she got sent to vietnam with the uso in
a combat zone and he stayed back and and
he never went to vietnam but she did and
you know there was you know they were
shooting rockets down there was there
was rock i called it rocket city danang
from what everybody oh
yeah when i went to like i can’t believe
that that’s crazy i added a country or
not to wang tao which was i couldn’t
achieve it
that’s where ronnie ratliff moved when
ronnie went out there
he he was going to the va he had
psychological issues and the buddies
just said man they’re not going to do
nothing for you here you need to go back
to vietnam and ronnie’s like that’s the
last place i want to go no and the guy
goes his friend goes i i thought that
too i went back there and
it was a i had a healing he said not
everybody has it but he said i got with
the people i interacted i spent about a
month in there so ronnie goes over
he hid in his hotel room
for a couple weeks then he got out and
started walking around denying a
different place and uh
he ended up staying three years he moved
got a house down his boontown is that
where you were long time yeah yep okay
he got a house he lived there for they
got married she came back they live in
oklahoma now and uh
that was kind of how he got interested
spreading the message to other veterans
that you might want to give this a try
it could and he does one little thing
where they gather around a fire on the
beach how can they find where to watch
the documentary okay the best thing to
do what we’re doing right now
we decided um
i mean the plan was at the end of 2019
we had a huge premier in pensacola 250
people over 100 vietnam veterans
um we didn’t know what the reaction
would be but when the veterans started
coming up to us with tears in their eyes
and hugging me and the co-producer we
we’ve said you know what i think we did
we done good and their families came up
and said you know you put a whole puzzle
together because we’ve been hearing the
stories for 50 years so the the
plan was i had already started to book
private screenings
around uh florida and the southeast
where uh we could
different ways we partner with vet
groups or whatever it can be a
fundraiser but it’s more about uh if
they have a group like your book and
what you do it can you can get a lot of
promotion out this so we began to do
these screenings we opted not to go on
um uh online to netflix or amazon or any
of that not saying we won’t because we
will eventually
and we got about four or five uh gigs
down the road
we got call back to pensacola
uh to enter the pensacola film fest
which we didn’t even know it was a
we won that we beat
we became we were the best film of the
festival we beat parasite who had just
won four academy awards and this
festival was voted on by the by the
viewers not necessarily a
professional the people that were there
yeah and so that meant a lot to us
nothing not the in crowd not the in
crowd well the judges are they’re
involved in it but they got a vote like
everybody else so tuesday followed the
festival they sent us an email and said
congratulations you won best film of the
festival like that blew our mind
unfortunately we couldn’t parlay on that
real quick because then the kobe came
people would have us they book us but
nobody’s going to show up
so we spent a year we tinkered with the
film some more we’re actually
the film is the third version called the
director’s cut probably the final
version and we’re back out now so um
what we’re doing is we’re booking the
film primarily with vet groups
uh where we can get a venue
all kinds of projection systems are out
and we we partner together to promote it
and we come to town and it’s it’s an
event so if there’s somebody there that
can speak with us on at the podium about
it uh there’s a meet and greet uh if
it’s in an area where i have people that
are in the film or production people
they come out so it’s not just a film
it’s an event
how big is this uh venue needed to be to
do this because we have a we have a uh a
reunion at
west point every
perfect yeah
called the bast stone banquet the 100
sailborn division recognizes
what they did back in world war ii
uh they’re our predecessors obviously so
we could get a hundred two hundred
people in it is that you know
100 people if we’re on the road if we’re
if we’re uh we’re doing like uh uh when
i was a traveling musician we have what
we call routing dates so you’re willing
to go in and take a little more of a
risk if you’re already going past that
town anyway on whatever night
and you need a gig so
you know 50 to 100 people is is
respectable they usually charge you know
ten or twelve dollars to come in
but i had when by the time
the premier was over the end of 2019 by
the january 2020 i had about 18 dates
lined up from miami all the way to
boston on the east coast when i was
already starting to work on the west
coast you saw the lady in the film
that was the california surf history
who we worked with and went out there
three different times to film
and ironically
i walked in there about four years ago
when i looked like we were going to do
this film
and i went to the museum with my son who
was living out there and i put my
business card on the desk the guy was
there and says you guys really should do
an exhibit
kind of like the film we’re doing and i
told him he goes
guy almost fell over he goes how did you
know and i was like how do i know what
he goes how did you know we’ve just
voted to do a vietnam surfing exhibit in
the uc
i had
it wasn’t yours it wasn’t yours
it’s just an exhibit that exhibit went
up the biggest exhibit they ever had it
was going to pay up six months it’s up a
year and a half
it went on the road kobe shut it down
and made it as far it’s in storage with
the texas surf museum and corpus christi
and they just call me and they’re
getting ready to bring it out of
and larry martin in our film he helped
them design the whole exhibit
all right we’re going to get back to
that sooner or later but we’re going to
do a little q a now sure you ready okay
it’s fire away
kevin blackburn 75th ranger regiment
84 to 2 000. you have a question or
comment kevin
okay next
marie kenmur thank you for your service
from marie
the who this would what the heck is
hudas okay
about the lady in the film oh i got you
girl from vietnam i’ve been watching
october 25th uh
october 15th at 2 p.m for the vietnam
memorial fund memory program
to finally honor your husband wow that’s
james kennemur
uh my late sidekick ue pilot ronnie mike
and harry adams too i love everything
you do keep the facebook on youtube
going thank you very much marie i’ll be
in touch about that thanks again the
lady the lady as we were just talking
about is yeah carol law she was with the
u.s uso
thank you
terry kennedy was a chinese beast in
chula was it no no chinese beaches
yeah all right 67 with the second oh
here’s the funny thing the chinese are
the biggest tourist demographic over
there right now i hear you
thank you terry
joe sabia love all the
bm af veterans before my time in 79.
i don’t know what that means but i hope
it’s safe
never made it to eternal china beast or
even eagle beach oh i remember eagle yes
100 first was that uh
way too short-handed i almost made it to
bob hope show camp eagle yeah i was
there too
uh but ended up not getting go due to
being short-handed thank you tim yeah
that’s why i went to bung tao
yeah i’ll post on my facebook pages i
should have sent y’all it’s a map the
california surf museum did of all those
beaches uh on the coast of vietnam
we’ll post it on page yeah yeah just
send it right i got it we’ll post it on
the page the vietnam veterans photo club
okay john sabi any vietnam vets in
no but i live 20 miles away
there you go i know one john rowe 101st
airborne division john rowe r-o-w he
lives in uh
i’ll get back to you on that job
patrick blaiser i got to swim in both
ends of china beach when i was in
vietnam in 68 and 69
and when i was in korea in 67 it was so
god bless you all this old vietnam vet
is fighting parkinson’s from agent
orange i’m still hanging in there
hawk hill first armored cav division
headquarters company tet 6869 america
division god bless you all and god bless
you patrick okay well
brother okay welcome home next
john sabia we love all your old school
fellow veterans
what the hell does that mean
what are we what are the guys in world
war ii
thank you that’s what we’re trying to do
john we try to get the real guys on here
to do the real deal
this is not hollywood this is uh the
all right
let me take you out of tandem jump in my
dc in connecticut i’m going with john
i’m going to normandy uh
in june and i have to go to florida to
do some uh
uh jumps so uh we’ll talk about it
talk to me on facebook thank you
okay next
keep all the historical
stories coming never forgotten amen to
all right there you go that’s that’s
really uh a lot of my motivation
because in music my my passion music is
the blues and american roots music and
the music that if the younger people
don’t come up and do something with it
so it’s just like these stories uh our
film is is a vehicle to keep the stories
from in perpetuity forever
uh because we don’t want people to
forget and it seems like it’s taken 50
years to get the real story out
about vietnam i mean i we have a lot of
kids middle schoolers their parents
bringing the film i said well you know
we’ve got
some combat in there and stuff they said
we don’t care because they don’t learn
anything about this in school and i want
them to talk to these veterans and see
this film and yeah well said yeah i
appreciate it
but it’s educational too you’re right
about that
you know what’s weird
you say and i say i think all the time
and i try not to think and they say wow
50 years that’s like a long time man you
know what i mean yeah i’m 73 now and
you know the civil war was only
80 years or something before i was born
and it’s already 50 years out i’m 50
years out of this war
yeah you know what i mean it’s like
crazy that stuff goes on
and yeah
but it’s now i mean
there’s parts there’s a lot of
dimensions film you know i think it’s
it’s like a lot of projects in the arts
and other things too but you start out
with an idea
and you know we didn’t want to make this
the ptsd film in a way right we just
felt like this was going to be
lighthearted a bunch of goofballs like
myself that are like my you know they’re
at there’s there’s stuff going on but
these guys are going to have they’re
going to pull pranks they’re going to go
surfing they’re going to go they’re
going to go a little crazy um
and we got all of that but as we began
to talk to these veterans
the the
whatever it was the seven or eight years
that this was happening in vietnam
became a 50 to 55 year story so many of
these guys we actually have fallen their
stories from when they were 17 or 18
years old and now they’re in their late
early 70s we in fact we have joe savelli
in the film who’s 84
he flew the last heavy helicopter out of
saigon and he had 347 missions never got
really wounded got shot down six times
somehow made it out of there he was when
they had that that scene where there’s
like a hundred vietnamese and yeah the
babies are that’s his he’s flying that
yeah yeah yeah
i guess yeah
it just you know so what what’s happened
is yeah they’re surfing surfers love it
a lot of servers are older vietnam
veterans as well we got them in the film
bunches of them um but it really became
uh that there is hope there is healing
even if it takes 50 years to do it yeah
that’s we zero in on that i mean we have
some investor psychologists in there
guys that are counselors guys that were
really really messed up that have a
success story to tell and they’re
telling it they’re talking to their
brothers in the film yeah that’s the
only way to do it i had if i you know i
it took me 40 years
and a very serious situation to get out
of what i was held in for 40 years
especially because of the
friendly fire incident that my
unit was involved in
and i’ll tell you it’s uh yeah it’s not
to see that happen 40 50 years later
get some help and they finally open up
and i i figured that’s that’s the best
therapy for me and everybody else just
stay involved the best you can with
event you unit in a better organization
be an american legion go to parades go
to parties go to the vfw go to the vva
something or other go to washington go
to arlington cemetery
you got to face the facts man and it’s
going to help you well and a lot of
these guys we we have a lot of
experience particularly dave barnes
who’s i’ve done over 100 national news
stories with him he’s probably done a
but uh and we’re kind of getting away
from that that’s a young man’s game to
be out there up into your neck and
floods and alligators and
you know tornadoes or whatever but
we all we seem to get the gig where we
have to go and interview the family
that’s lost someone i got you and
there’s a technique of bringing down the
lights and a calming effect that he’s
taught me how to do
and particularly interviewing these
veterans which some never got on it
never would interview but there was many
in there that never really talked to
anybody seriously
what we do in there is we don’t ask
direct questions
we ask leading questions right you know
tell us about when you got there and
what was what was the smell whatever and
then we just let them go and uh you know
you know we got uh less than an hour and
15 minutes to make a film but you know
we’ve got 100 hours of these just
incredible interviews that we can
re-edit those later and put those out
i always ask at the end of the interview
particularly guys that have gone through
really heavy situations
how do you feel now
and almost every time they said you know
i feel better i feel like
you guys are here to listen to my story
and and you’re honoring
what we’re doing
and you’re making an effort
to make it real and that’s we’ve get a
lot of we’ve gotten a lot of compliments
with the fact that
we’re gonna ask you i’m gonna tell you
how you feeling about what you just
talked about us because we’re gonna have
to go
thank you
thank you very much thank you for being
on guys you’re great we’ll get your
links up and this i guess in the
archives we’ll get it repeated
absolutely and uh people could go to
mike cotton productions on facebook yeah
just go there and uh hit the like button
and then you’re in the loop you can
message me that way and uh there’ll be a
phone number on there if you want to
call but we are looking for dates we’re
looking to get this thing out and
heavily toward the rest of this gear and
then we’ll probably put it online and
you can put it on the vietnam veterans
photo club page
yeah well they didn’t post it up there
you wouldn’t let me on in the beginning
because i wasn’t a veteran but when i
explained what i was doing oh no yeah
i’m there and then that other one that’s
the uh best of the baby voters no no
vietnam veterans photo club right that’s
me we got we got it yeah you guys have
been great and uh
my son matt does all the tech work i’m
just a reference here
thank you
god bless you and welcome home brother
thank you thank you
okay boy oh boy
what a story got one more question there
oh we got here john savior
a young event need all your stories and
have your back
thank you 24 7 365.
thank you john
war as hell it’s not fun
it sucks but uh
try to take care of those older guys
because one day you’re gonna be older
appreciate it god bless you and welcome