WXXI AM News

Vietnam War

Coming in September to WXXI-TV, The Vietnam War is an immersive, ten-part, 18-hour documentary film series directed by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick that tells the epic story of the Vietnam War as it has never-before been told on film.

These stories from WXXI News help to shape an understanding of the reasoning and impact from The Vietnam War ahead of the documentary in September. You can find more on the upcoming documentary including a 30-minute preview at WXXI.org/Vietnam.

Brent Downing: 'I'm not sorry I was there'

Sep 7, 2017
Emily Hunt/WXXI

A doughnut almost led to disaster while Brent Downing was serving with the U.S. Navy's Seabees during the Vietnam War.

He was on a mortar crew, which typically only fired flares. But one night, the crew was asked to set up for high explosives, or HE. A lieutenant a mile away from the mortar pit was instructing the crew by telephone on what to do during the drill.

At one point, Downing said, the lieutenant told the crew, “Give me one.”

So, the mortar crew dropped a round of high explosives in.

During this special broadcast from The Little Theatre, we delve into the history of the Vietnam War with members of the Vietnamese community. It’s a preview of the forthcoming 10-episode documentary series called The Vietnam War on PBS. The series, produced by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick, launches Sunday, September 17 at 8 p.m. on WXXI-TV.

Our panelists share their personal experiences of the war: stories of heroism, loss, and hope. Our guests:

  • Ginny Nguyen, Rochesterian, Blue Star Mother and Vice President of the Vietnamese Community of Rochester, Inc.
  • Loan Nguyen, wife of Special Force Lieutenant Colonel Doi Nguyen of the South Vietnamese Army, and mother of Ginny Nguyen

During this special broadcast from The Little Theatre, we delve into the history of the Vietnam War with veterans and activists. It’s a preview of the forthcoming 10-episode documentary series called The Vietnam War on PBS. The series, produced by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick, launches Sunday, September 17 at 8 p.m. on WXXI-TV. 

Our panelists share their personal experiences of the war: stories of heroism, loss, and hope. Our guests:

  • John White, U.S. Marine Corps veteran
  • Alan Levin (“Brother Wease”), U.S. Army veteran
  • Henrietta and Max Levine, anti-war activists

Caitlin Whyte / WXXI News

New York Senator Charles Schumer stood with the family of local veteran and Veterans Outreach Center founder Tom Cray Monday afternoon, calling on the VA to better assist veterans diagnosed with glioblastoma.

Cray served two combat tours in Vietnam, but does not receive service-related compensation for the cancer because it is not recognized as a service-connected illness by the VA.

Filmmakers Ken Burns and Lynn Novick believe now is the time to turn back to the Vietnam War. They say to understand war, we need the passage of time. Their forthcoming 10-episode series called The Vietnam War, launches Sunday, September 17 at 8 p.m. on WXXI-TV. It's an immersive narrative featuring archival footage, photographs, and conversations with nearly 100 witnesses, both in American and Vietnam. You can watch a 30-minute preview here

Lynn Novick is the co-director and producer of the series with Ken Burns. She's our guest this hour, discussing how the project came together and what she hopes viewers will gain from watching the series.

You can join the live audience of two special broadcasts of Connections at The Little Theatre on Thursday, August 24. The episodes will explore different elements and perspectives of the Vietnam War. The event is free and open to the public, but registration is required. Please register here.

Caitlin Whyte / WXXI News

The bright sun and warm temperatures this Memorial Day reminded everyone at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Highland Park that summer is right around the corner.

But that’s the problem, said veteran Ken Moore. That the meaning of Memorial Day is sometimes buried under barbeques and beach time.

Randy Gorbman / WXXI News

One of this area’s largest Memorial Day parades was held Monday in Rochester.

The light rain at the beginning of the parade didn’t do much to discourage people who already had been lining parts of East Avenue and West Main Street; they just opened up their umbrellas, took out their rain gear, and waited for the dozens of marching bands, floats, and numerous local military service people and veterans to make their way through the route.

This Memorial Day, we hear from two local veterans who served our country during the Vietnam War, and who are now serving Gold Star families in Rochester. The Gold Star Families Memorial Monument honors relatives of fallen service members. Located in White Haven Memorial Park in Pittsford, the monument was dedicated in June 2016.

We hear from Barry Culhane and John White about the effort to honor local Gold Star families, and about their experiences serving our country.

Randy Gorbman / WXXI News

Hundreds of local veterans got a chance to get referrals to much-needed services on Wednesday.

The event is sponsored by the Veterans Outreach Center once a year, and it’s what Executive Director Todd Baxter says really provides a one-stop shop for local veterans who may be in need of a variety of services, everything from counseling, to housing, employment, health care and others.

The event held in the Harro East ballroom attracted a variety of men and women who served their country in different wars, including Vietnam.

The Vietnam War claimed 58,000 American lives, and a small community in Orleans County had what officials there believe was one of the highest death tolls for a community its size.

Eight residents of the Village of Holley lost their lives while serving in Vietnam between July, 1965 and April, 1971.

The casualty rate in the village of 1,800 residents rivaled even the loss experienced by many Northern states in the Civil War.

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