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07-12-2009, 03:41 AM   #61
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Bob, thank you for relating your stories and experiences to us, it's absolutely fascinating - especially for someone like me who has always been intrigued with military operations (my Father was a Naval Aviator/photographer), but due to the courage of men like you, have never - thankfully - had to go to war.

Seriously think about the book. I'd buy it!

07-12-2009, 07:38 AM   #62
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Missing pictures from previous post

I'll try to get the missing pictures from post above here! Sorry guys, I can still shoot (cameras and guns), but this picture attachment is a little awkward here.
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Last edited by Peter Zack; 07-12-2009 at 09:36 AM.
07-12-2009, 10:59 AM   #63
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Hillerby, it's an honor to have you here posting about your experiences and your photos. You should be very proud of your service. My Dad served in the Army Air Core in WWII, I served in the Air Force from '70-'74 (not in Nam, though) and both my sons are now serving in the Air Force.
Thank you for your service, we are very proud of you. If you ever publish a book, I, also, would like to buy a copy.
07-12-2009, 11:19 AM   #64
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QuoteOriginally posted by hillerby Quote
Here's a picture (horribly out of focus) that I'm surprised I didn't trash. Taken w/YashicaMat. It's a "grab shot" I got when we were on a patrol with an element of Australian patrol (maybe New Zeland ,, I've forgotten). I happened to look up and see the two small boys walking down the road and tried to get off a quick shot. The Yashica was difficult to focus in rainy weather due to the waist level finder and ground glass viewing screen.
I have a Yashicamat twin lens reflex. It's capable of great pictures with it's medium format 6 X 6 negative...but boy are you right when focusing. Also a hard camera to take any sort of action with that waist level finder.

Les

07-13-2009, 03:58 AM   #65
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Late to this thread, but just wanted to say to "Hillerby" thanks for your service from one vet to another. I was a USN radioman at Cam Ranh Bay in 1968 - my last tour of duty. I can remember that time just as clearly as if it was yesterday.
07-13-2009, 03:37 PM   #66
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OK ya'll, hopefully we are back in action, it appears that I'd reach the size limitaions for uploading images. A very kind soul on this forum recognized the problem and was able to get that limitation increased. THANKS Peter!
So, I'll make an attempt here to put up an image of our Platoon Sgt (center frame w/no helmet on). He was questioning the local villagers about the location of an NVA unit who we were trying to locate and engage.
Unfortunately, this man was killed a couple of days after this was taken. One of my greatest regrets is that I've never been able to provide this picture to his surviving family. He was a GREAT soldier who was loved by us all. There were grown men crying the day he died.
I wasn't with the platoon on the day he was killed, but I'm told he was hit with a head shot by a sniper and died almost instantly. The proof of his bravery and professionalism is that he'd gone forward to get our point man back to safety (he'd also been wounded). Upon arrival at the scene, he was hit and fell to the ground in a perfect firing position... rifle at his shoulder, trigger on the finger, eyes on the sight and ....DEAD! And YES, the skinny little S.O.B. that got him also died that day!
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07-13-2009, 04:14 PM   #67
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Here's a couple more pictures.

1. Questioning Villagers: The expression on this soldier's face tells it all. The average American Soldier didn't hate the indigenous Vietnamese people, in fact most of them really wanted to treat them with dignity and respect. The problem was that they had information we desperately needed and they most often would not give it to us.
2. Interpreter: This photo is a shot of our Interpreter (Tien). Tien was a sgt in the Vietnamese Army who was assigned to our recon platoon. He was incredibly loyal to the U.S., but also loved his native people. A very good soldier in all.
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07-13-2009, 09:17 PM   #68
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Hilerby: "REMF attitude (see if you can google that one)"

What, 'Rear Echelon So-and-so?'

07-13-2009, 09:33 PM   #69
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Hillerby, great to have you with us and sharing your experiences from 'Nam. I'm much too young to have even been graced with such powerful stories and like my generation, have been quite disillusioned by Hollywood and video games.

I watched presentations by local Toronto Star photo journalists back in May as well as October of last year at the biannual photography show here in Toronto, one of whom, followed Canadian Troops into Afghanistan and I was quite literally welling up with emotion by the middle of it. Different part of the world, people, cameras/digital SLRs now, but similar pictures of the danger and devastation of war, the emotion and comradeship.

Thanks again for sharing and look forward to hearing more!

Pete,
07-14-2009, 05:48 AM   #70
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Rear Echelon Mother F@#%cker would be correct! I'll say it again, I was not a REMF!. We (the Combat Photographers) did consider the "Lab Rats" as REMF's. They worked in an air conditioned photo lab for 10-12 hour shifts, but they stayed in the safety and comfort of Division Rear Base Camp.
Please understand, that I no longer look down in disdain on the REMF's. Hell, they kept us supplied w/ammo (bullets & film), food, and water; all the things we needed to do our jobs. Today, I hold great respect for ANY veteran, regardless of branch or job held.
07-14-2009, 01:26 PM   #71
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QuoteOriginally posted by hillerby Quote
Rear Echelon Mother F@#%cker would be correct! I'll say it again, I was not a REMF!. We (the Combat Photographers) did consider the "Lab Rats" as REMF's. They worked in an air conditioned photo lab for 10-12 hour shifts, but they stayed in the safety and comfort of Division Rear Base Camp.
Please understand, that I no longer look down in disdain on the REMF's. Hell, they kept us supplied w/ammo (bullets & film), food, and water; all the things we needed to do our jobs. Today, I hold great respect for ANY veteran, regardless of branch or job held.
I didn't figure you meant any offense. (Besides, I'm pretty 'rat positive,' if you couldn't guess. Used to be a lab rat for a living, too, some ways back there, not in the military, though. )

I believe I mentioned that a few of the 'old timers' I learned a lot from were vets. They didn't really share a lot of war stories, so I don't know if any were out there in combat, as photogs, at least.

Really interesting stuff, here.
07-14-2009, 03:27 PM   #72
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RatMagicLady has made a rather astute observation! Vets (Vietnam Vets in particular) don't usually share a lot of war stories. They will (and often do) share those stories with other veterans. Those of us who served in Vietnam generally don't do it because of the negative reception we almost universally received when we returned. Additionally, there is a phrase veterans all seem to fall back on..."If I have to explain it, you wouldn't understand it anyway!".
In my case, I spent the better part of 30 years either ignoring, avoiding, and sometimes denying the fact that I was even in Vietnam. I ultimately came to the point where I saw so many incorrect assumptions about Vietnam being made that I decided to simply speak out.
There are a great many things that I never speak about unless it's with another Vietnam Vet (We often don't even discuss some things with veterans of other wars).
A little know fact, that I discovered about Vietnam Vets is that over the years we developed a "code language" to determine if the person with whom we were speaking was someone with whom we could speak openly. To this day, my wife can't figure out how I can walk into a room of say 50 complete strangers and IF there's another Vietnam Vet, we'll be conversing as if we'd been friends for years!
It's my personal theory that this "code language" is a "defense mechanism" we disovered individually (and perhaps accidentally) as the years went by and has now become a matter of habit.
I don't have too much trouble discussing it now, but there are still things that I keep pretty "close to the vest".
In conclusion, a "word to the wise".... NEVER ask a combat veteran if (or how many) people he killed! I personally consider it insensitive to say the least; and vulgar and intrusive at worst.
I'll be going through some pictures this weekend and see if I can get a few more scans made to post here.
I'd like to personally thank all of you who've been so interested (and I notice) regularly monitoring this thread. It's been a real surprise to me thus far.
07-14-2009, 04:02 PM   #73
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This forum is known for it's mega-threads and I certainly hope this is one of them. Thank you for sharing your experiences. I have one question I hope is not off limits...how many cameras (if any) did you kill?

Last edited by bogiesbad; 07-14-2009 at 04:35 PM. Reason: continuity
07-14-2009, 04:05 PM   #74
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Bob,

Thank you for your service, and for this very interesting thread. Please keep posting, it's all very interesting.

And yes, there's definitely a book/presentation here. You should do it. Even if you didn't want to focus on the war portions, you could use them as outstanding/interesting examples of how to do photojournalism.

Looking forward to more!
07-14-2009, 04:15 PM - 1 Like   #75
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I definately "KILLED" a Pentax Spotmatic AND a Miranda G (pretty good camera by the way). We made an Air Assault into the An Lao valley an area that we knew was an enemy stronghold. Anyway, we were expecting trouble on the LZ (which we did have). For reasons tooo complicated to explain here, I was "riding the skids" on our short final approach.... was late jumping. OUR pilots NEVER landed the chopper, we just swooped down from the sky and we JUMPED (usually at 8-10 ft from the ground). When the pilot felt the load off the bird, he'd "pull pitch" and get the hell outa' dodge!
Long story short, I was late on the jump and was later told that I'd jumped from about 20-25 ft in the air. Now bear in mind, the bird is movin' about 25 or 30 knots forward air speed at the same time.
As soon as I left the door i thought "OH SHIT".... I knew I was tooo high to have jumped. Now of course it's too damned late. When I hit the LZ, I cracked my ankle (but "continued to march"). At the time, I had a Spotmatic, Miranda G (both SLR's) and a my trusty ole' Leica M-3 all suspended from METAL neckstraps. From that point on, all the pictures I took with the two SLR's were terribly out of focus. It seems when I hit the LZ, the impact knocked the mirrors out of alignment and it went downhill from there. My sturdy old M-3 wasn't affected at all! All the film from that camera were in perfect focus!
So, I effectively "KILLED" 2 cameras (ha). Now that's a story you won't hear often.
As a "side note", the Pilot drew a "Superman" logo on the back of my helmet camoflauge cover , and I still have that helmet and cover to this day. It's probably one of my most cherished pieces of memorabilia.

Last edited by hillerby; 07-14-2009 at 04:19 PM. Reason: I left important stuff OUT!
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