- john mccain
- oliver stone
- colin powell
- bob kerrey
- other famous american veterans of vietnam
of the nearly 1 million americans who served on active duty in the us. uu. armed forces during the vietnam war era (1964-75), many were or became famous in various fields such as politics, entertainment, sports, and journalism. Young Navy pilot John McCain, the son of a four-star admiral, spent five and a half years as a prisoner of war in Vietnam before becoming a senator from Arizona and a Republican presidential candidate. Oliver Stone, who served in an infantry division in Vietnam for 15 months, drew on his war experience for films like Platoon (1986) and Born on the Fourth of July (1989), which earned him Academy Awards for Best director . These men are just two of the most famous American veterans of the Vietnam War.
Mccain’s paternal grandfather and father were four-star admirals; his father rose to command the entire us. naval forces in the pacific. A graduate of the Naval Academy in Annapolis, McCain volunteered for combat duty in Vietnam and began flying carrier-based aircraft on low-altitude bombing missions over North and South Vietnam. On October 23, 1967, during his 23rd air mission, the North Vietnamese shot down McCain’s plane over Hanoi; he broke both his arms and a leg in the crash. When his captors learned that he was the son of a high-ranking officer, they offered him early release, but McCain refused, in part because he wanted to prevent the enemy from using his release as propaganda.
did you know? Jimmy Stewart, Academy Award-winning star of Philadelphia history and other classics, flew bombing missions over Nazi Germany during World War II and in 1959 was commissioned a brigadier general in the United States. air force reserve. As part of his duties in this position, the 57-year-old Stewart served on an active duty reserve tour of Vietnam and flew as an observer on a B-52 bombing mission in 1966.
mccain spent five and a half years in captivity, including a stint in the infamous hoa loa prison, nicknamed “hanoi hilton”, and was repeatedly beaten and tortured. In March 1973, shortly after he ended a US ceasefire. uu. participation in vietnam, he was released along with other american prisoners of war. McCain won a Silver Star, a Bronze Star, a Purple Heart and a Distinguished Flying Cross for his service in Vietnam. After retiring from the Navy in 1981, he decided to enter politics and won a seat in the Arizona House of Representatives in 1982. He moved to the United States. he seated in 1996, and in 2000 he ran unsuccessfully for the Republican nomination for president. Eight years later, he won the nomination but lost to Barack Obama in the 2008 presidential election. McCain died of brain cancer in 2018 at age 81.
read more: john mccain in the army: from navy brat to pow
Born and raised in New York City, Stone dropped out of Yale University to teach English in South Vietnam, then dropped out again to enlist in the United States. Army in 1967. During a 15-month tour of duty, Stone served with the 25th Infantry Division near the Cambodian border. In contrast to his earlier time in southern Vietnam (near the beginning of the American presence there), Stone felt that the Vietnamese had come to resent the presence of American troops, and he soon became disillusioned with the war effort. Wounded several times during his service, Stone received a bronze star and two purple hearts.
After his return from Vietnam, Stone attended film school at New York University under the direction of G.I. bill, studying with professors like martin scorsese and producing the first student films, including last year in viet nam (1971). Stone went on to exploit his experience in Vietnam for a trilogy of films: Platoon (1986) and Born on the Fourth of July (1989), which earned him Academy Awards for Best Director; and “heaven and earth” (1993). Platoon was based on Stone’s experience as a youth volunteer in Vietnam, while Born on the Fourth of July was based on a memoir written by Ron Kovic, a paraplegic Vietnam veteran turned anti-war activist.
see: vietnam war documentaries in the vault of history.
A native of New York City’s Harlem and South Bronx, Colin Powell joined the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) at the City University of New York and, upon graduation, was commissioned as second lieutenant in the united states. army. He served two tours of duty in Vietnam, from 1962 to 1963 and from 1968 to 1969. In 1963, Powell was injured by a punji-stick booby trap near the Vietnamese border with Laos; he was awarded the purple heart and then the bronze star for his injuries. During his second tour, he was injured in a helicopter crash, although he managed to help his fellow soldiers out of the burning plane and won the Soldier’s Medal for his actions.
After Vietnam, Powell continued to rise through the military ranks, winning the job of National Security Advisor to Ronald Reagan in 1987 and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff under George H.W. bush. He retired from the Army in 1993. Despite widespread encouragement to run for president in the 1990s, Powell refused to throw his name into the fray and in 2001 became the nation’s first African-American secretary of state, in the administration of george w. bush. Powell served as secretary of state until 2005. He died of complications from covid-19 in October 2021 at age 84.
read more: how colin powell’s service in vietnam shaped his leadership
as a 25-year-old lieutenant in vietnam in february 1969, nebraska-born kerrey led a team of navy seals on a night mission in the mekong delta town of thanh phong. They had been informed that the Vietcong were holding a meeting at the site, but ended up killing at least 13 unarmed women and children inside several peasant houses, known as “hooches.” The following month, Kerrey lost his lower right leg when a grenade exploded at his feet during his team’s mission to Hon Tam Island in Cam Ranh Bay and received a Medal of Honor. /p>
kerrey returned from vietnam to serve a term as governor of nebraska before winning a seat in the united states. Senate in 1988. He retired in 2001 and became president of New School University in New York. That year, Kerrey faced accusations from one of his fellow Seal Squad members that the squad had intentionally detained and killed civilians in Thanh Phong on Kerrey’s orders. Kerrey, who had been awarded a bronze star for “heroic achievement” for the events at thanh phong, denied this allegation but said the incident was a tragic mistake that has haunted him ever since. he later wrote about that night in his autobiography, when I was young.
read more: navy seals: 10 key missions
other famous american veterans of vietnam
roger staubach, quarterback for the dallas cowboys from 1969 to 1979 and winner of two super bowl titles, graduated from the united states. naval academy in annapolis and served a tour of duty in the us. uu. Marina in Vietnam before joining the National Football League (NFL). Longtime United States Senator from Tennessee and Vice President (1993-2001) Al Gore enlisted in the United States Army after graduating from Harvard and served in Vietnam as a military reporter from 1969 to 1971. Steve Kroft, who became famous as A longtime correspondent on the CBS news show “60 Minutes,” he also served in the military in Vietnam as a correspondent and photographer for Pacific Stars and Stripes.
Among the many other well-known Vietnam American veterans in various fields are Fred Smith, the founder of Federal Express; Craig Venter, the biologist who in 2001 announced the successful sequencing of the human genome; Tom Ridge, the former Governor of Pennsylvania who served as the first U.S. secretary of homeland security; former Governor Gray Davis of California; John Kerry, United States Senator from Massachusetts and 2004 Democratic presidential candidate; “Wheel of Fortune” host Pat Sajak; writers tim o’brien, tracy kidder and nelson demille; and actor dennis franz.