May 6th, 1970 afternoon – Kent State students die.
What I’m about to share is an observation of what occurred with Tiger Flight, Pleiku airbase. I’m not clear of the day, May 5th or May 6th at formation and briefing for perimeter duty. There is a friend whose last name I will not share other than he and I are friends after 43 years.
Jerry and I along with others from our flight (= platoon), the afternoon was warm and at full strength (45-50 Air Force Security Policemen). Before the flight was dismissed after receiving our assignments for the day and intelligence reports.
The NCO in charge, announced that on May 4th, 1970; four students at Kent State University, Kent, Ohio were shot and killed by the Ohio National Guard.
As soon as the words came from the Ssgt. In charge all hell broke loose ! One half of the flight said “They deserved to die, those ungrateful motherf*ckers ! Or Son of Bit*hes !
The guys I had gotten to know were more open minded, this consisted of Caucasians, Blacks, Hispanics and maybe an Asian or two. We were shocked and erupted with our opinion that was unanimous… “they are Americans who have the right to protest regardless if we agree with them or not !”
Those of us who where unanimous shook our fists as protest, the “brothers” had given me a black power bracelet and I wore a Montagnard bracelet.
After the screaming and yelling finally subsided… the Ssgt was standing there with his mouth open and couldn’t believe how their deaths signified the divisiveness of the flight and how things would never be the same again.
On a personal note so much had happen in a matter of days, from the end of April to May 5th, 1970 and those of us who witnessed and participated with our fellow Americans going off to Cambodia. That’s all that mattered during this time.
The U.S. Army elements left the morning of either May 4th or May 5th and were going overland in convoy from Pleiku heading North on Highway 14 towards Kontum. At the same time we would hear the Army grunts and soldiers were ambushed and took casualties. This is what we heard… some of us who had meet these guys couldn’t believe this happen.. This isn’t suppose to happen to us – were the good guys !
To this day, I couldn’t tell you the names or nicknames of those who may have been KIA, WIA or MIA. This experience is one of the many as to why I had to make the film.
For them… for those who made it back from Cambodia and Nam. I knew no one else would.
I am reminded about Compassion, Understanding, Patience and Forgiveness. Someone told me as I was editing the film in 2008 until the final edit was ready about a year ago.
That I was referencing the Bible and Corinthians.
I told them this was something I didn’t know. And this was something.. this enlightenment would emerge after I downloaded the 10 hours of film clips. And viewed the events for the first time as a witness to history of the 25th Anniversary, Vietnam Veterans Memorial
Thank You, Mark