SUMMARY: The By War & By God Podcast is a companion series to the award-winning documentary film By War & By God. The podcast will allow us to go deeper into the stories than the film allows.
Kent C. Williamson: Hello, I’m Kent Williamson, the director of the film By War & By God and host of the soon-to-be-released By War & By God Podcast from Paladin Pictures. How soon? March the 8th.
For those that don’t know, By War & By God tells the story of a group of Vietnam Vets who survived the hell of war and who, since 1989, have been returning to Vietnam to care for some of the poorest of the poor of that beautiful land.
The film was recently nominated for an Emmy. It also won Best of Show at the Docs Without Borders film festival where it took home the Human Spirit Award, Best Direction, Best Editing, and Audience Impact Awards.
The reason we’re creating the By War & By God podcast is to go deeper into the fascinating stories these veterans told us. When we edited the film there was so much good content that didn’t make it into the film. But the podcast is the perfect vehicle for us to share these stories. Some episodes will be topical where these men reflect on their very first day as machine gunners, medics, and kids in Vietnam, or they share the stories of their absolute best… or even their worst days during the war. Other episodes will focus on a single Veterans story… their experiences as soldiers in the war… their return to a nation who didn’t appreciate them… and what led them to go back to Vietnam.
So I hope you’ll join us on March 8th as we launch the podcast. Go ahead and subscribe now so you don’t miss a single episode. If you haven’t seen the film By War & by God yet you can stream it or buy the DVD at a variety of online retailers including Vimeo On Demand and Big Heaven Cafe dot com. That’s Big Heaven Cafe dot com.
To give you a little taste of what the podcast will be like here’s the audio of the first few minutes of the film By War & By God….
Archival Footage – News Clip: Because of the following CBS News Special Report the program normally seen at this time will not be presented today.
Phil Carney: My first recollection is just watching the news as a kid.
Bob Peragallo: There was a broadcast on the television about Vietnam and that Marines had landed there. And I had no idea that there was such a place called Vietnam.
Pat Cameron: The war was going on but I didn’t really pay a lot of attention to it.
Sandy Sturch: Whatever our purposes were, we were going to go in and do and get out and I wasn’t much concerned about it.
Archival Footage – Marines Commercial: If you think every Marine learns how to handle a rifle. You’re right.
Steve Scott: I grew up reading a lot of Kipling and wanted [laughs] some adventure.
Archival Footage – Marines Commercial: But if you think that’s all he learns, you’re wrong.
Archival Footage – News Clip: With American air support, South Vietnamese troops are still engaged in the endless, weary, bloody business of war.
Walt Griffin: Well, I really didn’t know much about until around ’64, the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution. And I watched the famous Johnson speech.
Archival Footage – News Clip: The confrontation between Reds and the West was the most critical since the Gulf of Tonkin incident last summer. When the US replied just as swiftly to North Vietnam PT boat attacks.
Sandy Sturch: I wasn’t much concerned about it, until my brother was sent to Vietnam
Cal Dunham: In 1967, I found myself with a set of papers that said I was now going to be joining the army
Steve Scott: I think the first time I heard about Vietnam was in boot camp in the Marine Corps. But the drill instructors inured us to the fact that we’re all going to go to Vietnam.
Roger Helle: And I remember one of the teachers one day, I think in Social Studies, He was – started screaming at me and he said “Some of you are going to end up in a rice paddy in Vietnam!” And you know, as a senior in high school, I thought, you know, “Where’s Vietnam? and why would i want to be in a rice paddy?”
Sandy Sturch: You might go for your first tour and get back ok, but not as many people went for their second tour and came back.
Chuck Ward: On the first day of school the next term, which was September, my Junior year, a priest by the name of Father Barry Jones brought together the dozen or so students that weren’t doing very well in school. And he sat us down and told us how important it was to improve our grades and all this, because there was this thing called the Vietnam War. And already, some of the classmates from that high school had come home, killed in that war.
Archival Footage – Soldier: I mean I can’t say that I’m scared to death, but I’m scared. I mean after a while you know it’s gonna come and you can do nothing about it. And you just look to God. That’s about the only thing you can do.
Cal Durham: We were engaged in fighting
Bob Peragallo: There were about 500 VC that had attacked this 14 man patrol
Cal Dunham: The tree that i had dodged behind was hit with a rocket propelled grenade
Roger Helle: And I was walking point when a grenade was thrown and hit me in the leg and bounced before I could do anything that grenade went off, just lifted me off the ground, ripping me apart
Cal Dunham: Then this explosion, right where I was, knocked me unconscious. And when I woke up all I remembered was hollering for the medic
Phil Carney: I could tell that people were panicked about something and they were pointing back. And I walked deeper into the water, I was real tall and there were children in the river that were being swept away.
Archival Footage – War Report: Our position is threatened. The patrol has been ambushed and is tied down
Bob Peragallo: All of my buddies were in that squad and we lost contact with them.
Archival Footage – News Clip: I had 13 with me when I came.
“It’s 4 days later now and how many are still here?”
“We’re losing to many men, if we stay here much longer, we wouldn’t have much left of this platoon, let alone a company.”
Phil Carney: And nobody could find them. But you could hear them screaming.
Archival Footage – News Clip: There’s dynamite 5-2. I request dust off
Pat Cameron: We had some in-coming helicopters coming in, and we had more body bags, than we had people.
Roger Helle: I was shot twice. Knocked to the ground again.
Cal Dunham: I found myself writhing in pain
Roger Helle: Run through the stomach by a North Vietnamese solider with his bayonet while I was laying on the ground.
Phil Carney: And then about an hour later it was daylight. And we went back to that same area, and waded down in there and ah, and found um, a bunch of these little kids. And they had been swept into the concertina wire. And they had just been like in a blender; just churned up.
Pat Cameron: That was a bad night.
Roger Helle: I knew I was going to die on that field.
Phil Carney: And I can sort of remember just pulling parts of those kids out of that wire. Just trying to get them out of the wire. And just losing it. And… I never, ah –– ah, never got over that.
Pat Cameron: We just hadn’t been around death that much.
Roger Helle: My company of 219 Marines walked in to a 650 man Vietcong ambush.
Bob Peragallo: And they took the brunt of the ambush and were pretty much annihilated. Only 2 survived.
Pat Cameron: I still have visions of that…of the body bags. I even have visions of people moving in the body bags. Death is tough on a young guy.
Archival Footage – Soldier: When youth was a soldier and brought across the sea. We were young in cold hearts, a bloody savagery. Born of indignation, children of our time. We were orphans of creation and dying in our prime.
Kent C. Williamson: Thanks for listening to this preview episode of the By War & By God Podcast from Paladin Pictures. Don’t forget to subscribe to the podcast so you won’t miss an episode. We launch on March the 8th. Learn more about the the podcast and the film at www dot By War And By God dot com. That’s By War And By God dot com.
Paladin Pictures is committed to the creation of redemptive entertainment and thought-provoking cultural critique. Learn more about us at Paladin Pictures dot com. That’s Paladin P-A-L-A-D-I-N Pictures dot com.
The By War & By God Podcast is produced by me Kent C. Williamson with finish editing by Ashby Wratchford. Our Audio Engineer for today’s program is Steve Carpenter. The film By War & By God was edited by James Burgess and the music for the film was composed by Will Musser.
Special thanks to the Paladin Team which includes Leslie Wood, Steve Carpenter, Dan Fellows, Steve Lessick, and Ashby Wratchford and of course our web site guy, who happens to be the Director of Photography on By War & By God, and who also happens to be my brother… Brad Williamson. Thanks!
And of course thank you to our Veterans… this who returned… and especially those who didn’t. Like my wife’s Uncle Floyd. Thank you!