My Father's Vietnam (2015) Movie Script

[helicopters whirring]
My name is Soren
Peter Sorensen ll,
and this is my namesake
Soren Peter Sorensen I.
He was born over a century
before me in Denmark in 1871,
and he's pictured here at 17
in his Danish military uniform.
Here's his son, my great
grandfather Ralph Sorensen,
holding me at two months old as my
father and grandfather look on.
When I look at this photograph
I wonder if any of these men
ever thought my life would
even remotely resemble theirs.
There's a stranger
lying in my bed
A slate-eyed asleep
assassin in my head
I keep on dying until
I finally fall dead
Every day has a way through
There's an ether hanging
at my door
A cross-eyed crucifier
keeping score
I keep on smiling until
I can't smile no more
Every day fades to blue
We go Waltzing past
the grave
We go Waltzing
past the grave
And we go Waltzing
past the grave
For one more day
[Soren] The first time my father took me to
Washington DC, I was around 1 O years old,
too young to really get it.
DC was one of a number of uniquely
American destinations we used to visit,
places like Annapolis
and Gettysburg,
where all I ever really learned from the monu-
ments, memorials, re-enactments and powwows
was that I loved the junk food that always
seemed to accompanied each day's outing.
When we visited
the Vietnam memorial,
I was hardly old enough to comprehend the
Smithsonian or the air and space museum,
let alone Maya Lin's
granite masterpiece
honoring the more than 58,000 Americans
who were killed during the Vietnam War.
The experience always stayed with me
because my dad made pencil rubbings
of two of the names that day: Loring M.
Bailey Jr. and Glenn D. Rickert.
I remember standing as far away as
I could from my teary-eyed father
as he made the rubbings and took
pictures of each of the names.
Who were these people, I wondered
to myself, these dead soldiers?
He had never
mentioned them before.
I can probably count on one
hand the number of times
I've seen my father's eyes well up with
tears, and I'm not sure he's ever cried.
But it wasn't a good
feeling as a child
seeing that vulnerable, human side
of a guy I imagined was invincible.
This little effort to distance myself
physically from my father in DC
continued emotionally
throughout my adolescence,
manifesting itself as a fear of
upsetting or disappointing him,
as I intentionally grew
into what I considered to be
a much different person
than he once was.
This distance between us,
real or imagined on my part,
caused me to wait until I was over 30
to ask him how he ended up in Vietnam.
"Not by choice, by chance."
Or is it "By chance, by choice"?
There was a recruiting
slogan that had to do with...
Yeah, "By choice, but not by
chance," or something like that.
You pick your branch and all that
good stuff and you get a career path,
go to college and become
a PhD machine gunner.
I backed into it. I knew that this was
probably the biggest news story of my life.
I knew that I wanted to be a journalist,
or thought I wanted to be a journalist.
I was a political science major.
There have been family males
involved in the Civil War,
the Spanish American War, World War I
and II, Korea, and this was just my war.
There's a tradition of, if you're a male
and there's a war on, that's your job.
That's what you do.
It's just bad luck, or good luck
if you're into that sort of thing.
So I was balancing not wanting
to miss this news story,
a dyed-in-the-wool
Ernest Hemingway fan.
On the other side of the coin, I knew that
this was a bogus war, it was a civil war,
the politicians were steering us astray, and I
sure as hell didn't want to die over there.
But you balance one against the other, and
then depending upon where you want to go
with the discussions, you can play this
out right until the day I got over there.
It's avoidance tempered with,
this is something I should
be doing, or want to be doing.
[Soren] In 1968 a lot of
high school and college seniors
were in the same
situation as my father.
And the perception of Vietnam as a working
class war fought only by America's poorest
and least-educated
citizens was changing.
In March, President Lyndon Johnson announced
that he would not seek reelection.
In April, Martin Luther King
was assassinated.
In June,
it was Robert F. Kennedy.
In November, Richard Nixon
was elected president.
[Peter] Nixon had a plan.
I remember distinctly sitting in Fort Dix
cleaning an M14 and listening to speeches,
and Nixon had a plan
to get us out of Vietnam.
I was thinking to myself, if he can do that
in two months, I'm going to vote for him.
[Soren] Another Connecticut resident
who probably voted for Nixon in '68
is Loring Bailey, then an employee
of Groton-based Electric Boat,
the largest manufacturer of submarines
for the United States Navy.
Bailey's only son Loring Jr., or "Ring"
to his close friends and family,
enlisted in the United States Army
around the same time as my father,
and for similar reasons.
When the kids came out of, or
graduated from school, from college,
when they ended home
here in Connecticut...
Well, all over the country,
there lying in the pile of mail
was the card for
registration for the draft.
Every senior faced that.
A lot of people said, "My God, if I'm
going to be drafted I'll enlist."
"I'll go before they call me."
[Soren] It surprised me to hear that
so many young people in the late '60s,
including my father and Ring
Bailey, were still enlisting.
Members of my generation, the sons
and daughters of these baby boomers,
seemed to treat the topic of Vietnam
either with overt criticism,
including comparisons to Iraq and
Afghanistan, or eye rolls and apathy.
I've honestly never spoken to very many people
my age or any other come to think of it,
willing to defend the American
government's motivations
for expanding our military's
involvement in Vietnam.
But the reasons people enlisted were
not as simple as I once imagined.
Because the United States
military is now all-volunteer,
I always figured anyone who made
a conscious decision to enlist,
rather than waiting for the draft
or avoiding the war altogether,
must have been enthusiastically anti-communist,
that or too willing to please their fathers,
members of Tom Brokaw's
"greatest generation."
I think it's partly doing
what is expected.
So I think he was reared in the
tradition of being responsible,
"doing the right thing,"
however you define that,
and not disappointing
your family.
And he had not just a father, but a
grandfather whom he loved, and aunts,
and a family tradition that would
be a big deal to just walk out on.
The National Guard wasn't available unless
you knew somebody, or your name was Bush
or you had some way of getting
in to the National Guard.
The National Guard was closed out,
the reserves were closed out,
'cause they were
really popular, obviously.
You weren't going to see action.
I looked into the Army.
The Army had a program-
And I was about to be
drafted as far as I knew...
If you sign up for officer candidate
school, and at any point wash out,
you get the time you spent in training
subtracted from a two-year draft.
So my mind is cranking away
and I'm thinking to myself,
it takes a couple months for Basic, a couple
months for Advanced Individual Training,
however long I could
play out OCS,
and then if you, again,
throw in the towel-
If I played it right, I would
have either less than a year...
And at that point if you had less than
a year, they weren't shipping you out-
So I would come
pretty close to a year.
If I had done something other than go, my
father probably would have been disappointed.
But in terms of my family, I received
no input either to go or not to go,
whether it's a good idea
or bad idea.
I think he cared about his father's
impression of him, but I'm not sure...
but I also think he resented it.
[Peter] It would have been
an embarrassment probably,
because there was
a stigma attached.
Again, if you go back to
that era, in a neighborhood,
if somebody was evading, if somebody went to
Canada or something, the neighbors talked.
[Soren] Perhaps America's hindsight
perception of '60s counterculture, hippies,
and the sexual revolution
produces the illusion
of a greater protest
movement than actually existed.
As much as I can't imagine enlisting in
the military during the Vietnam era,
for my father and Ring Bailey,
evading, avoiding, dodging the draft,
or going to Canada
weren't really options.
When I contacted Ring Bailey's
widow Maris to request
an interview she respectfully
declined, stating,
"The years since Ring's
death have done little to soften
my heartache
and anger over his loss."
Maris put me in touch
with her brother Rik,
who invited me to his home
in Burlington, Vermont.
Rik's deaf in his left ear, so he received a
4F designation, meaning unfit for service,
upon completing his physical.
He told me the outcome of the physical
didn't matter. He wasn't going to Vietnam.
Does it look like me?
I would have gone to jail.
They sent draft resisters to a
Allenwood prison farm in Pennsylvania.
It's minimum security.
There's no barbed wire.
Ring became
my sister's boyfriend.
Ring was two years older than me
and he became a mentor.
He went to Trinity
College in Hartford.
He was really smart.
And I really liked him,
and here he was with my sister,
and we hung out together.
So that's how I met him, and he
eventually married my sister.
You know, that's Ring.
And by gosh, the telephone
call that I received
the night that he went
down to Fort Dix was,
"Hey, Dad, I'm in the infantry!"
Well, you take Rings glasses off and
he couldn't see a hundred yards,
and make out anything without
glasses, in a hundred yards.
But here he was in the infantry.
Well, okay. So, you'll
learn how to march.
Ring liked automobiles. He was
a real automobile enthusiast.
His father was
an automobile enthusiast.
His father had
a XK140 Jaguar coupe.
Most of them are roadsters, this
one was a coupe. It was swooping.
And I learned the appreciation
of these automobiles from Ring.
He drew cars, he knew race cars, he
had little die-cast miniature cars.
He collected them and now I do.
He had a Bugeye Sprite.
Before he went to Vietnam, he bought a Bugeye
Sprite, and I bought a 1600 Fiat roadster.
And in his time off before
he went to Vietnam,
we worked on these
two cars and we drove around.
With a cloud over your head fun.
[Soren] My father met
Ring Bailey in 1969 at OCS,
Officer Candidate School,
in Fort Belvoir, Virginia.
They were both aspiring writers, Hemingway
fans from small Southern New England towns.
And the seemingly insignificant common ground
they shared led to an alliance that almost
spared them both from service
outside the United States.
[Peter] He was gonna be a journalist.
He wanted to go into writing.
And he found a colonel who was looking
for people to write training manuals.
And the colonel said, "I need a
half-dozen or I need four writers."
And he got the job, and he said,
go down there, and he said, "We'll spend
the next year outside of Washington."
He was married,
I was about to get married.
He said, we'll spend...
either a year or a year-plus
writing training manuals
at Fort Belvoir
which is a suburb of
Washington DC with our spouses.
What could be better?
In any case I went down,
interviewed, got the job,
and in both cases our orders
for Vietnam got cut
before the orders
for the writing job.
[Soren] My father and Ring both
decided against finishing OCS
and were sent
to different bases.
They weren't gung ho by
any stretch of the imagination.
Neither were countless other Americans
who found themselves in Vietnam.
Selective service and self-preservation
were not as contradictory
then as they seem to be today.
When my father received word that he
would be shipping out in October of '69,
my parents had to move their wedding
up from September to August.
People in my mother's hometown, Wheeling, West
Virginia, were convinced she was pregnant.
The day that he left for Vietnam, my
parents didn't feel comfortable having me
drive him to the airport
because I was gonna be upset.
And so they arranged a bus trip
or a limo trip for him,
so the thing came
around the circle.
I remember vividly
saying goodbye to him
and opening that door and having
him walk and get in that car.
[Peter] It could have
been Air America,
but it was a commercial flight
with stewards and stewardesses,
although we were
wearing jungle fatigues.
We landed in Hawaii
and Guam for refueling,
but essentially other
than the fatigues...
I don't recall
an in-flight movie,
but we had meals and it was
like nothing was happening.
And on the way down, everybody was sort
of hanging onto their seat and concerned,
because we're in this commercial setting...
it was just a regular airplane flight,
and the next thing we knew, we were
at a 45-degree angle coming down.
When we landed, I asked one of the
stewardesses what the story was
and she said when we get to
Vietnam, we do military landings
to lessen the exposure
to enemy fire.
And on the way down, it was like we were looking
at each other like we're not gonna make it.
We're not even gonna land this plane, or
there's been a mechanical difficulty.
We saw the South China Sea, we saw
Vietnam, and the next thing we knew,
we were just...
seemingly crash-landing.
We hit the deck,
they open the door,
and once it was open it was like a blast
furnace, it went from an air conditioned cabin,
originating flight from
Fort Louis, Washington,
and the heat and humidity
was unbearable.
It was just very difficult
to communicate.
Within two hours I was on the perimeter of
Cam Ranh Bay stringing Concertina wire,
and I figured I wasn't
gonna make it 24 hours.
I figured the environment or the
temperature was going to do me in.
I wasn't going to make it
because of the weather.
[Elizabeth] I was scared that
something might happen.
I knew he wasn't going to be in the
jungle, that would have freaked me out.
I guess I didn't constantly fear the way I
would if he had been in combat or a Marine.
And then at night, I remember there was
some kind of either an arc: light,
which is a B-52 drop,
or there was a firefight, something
going on in the mountains.
And I remember looking, coming out of the
hoooh and looking toward the mountains,
and it was like there
was a large thunderstorm.
You'd see a flash and then
there'd be a four-minute delay
and then you'd feel
the concussion.
It brought home that
you know where you are,
and then tomorrow or the next
day, the day after that,
you're going to be closer
to what's going on there.
Loring was assigned to an infantry
brigade, an infantry battalion.
I was assigned to an
engineer company,
and essentially he went off and did his
thing and I went off and did my thing.
His first letter
indicated that he had,
on the day of his arrival, that
night, they went out on a snake.
That was a case of where
you blackened your faces,
you're heavily armored,
and he was with
a group of machine gunners,
and they set up
a blocking force.
And he said, the blocking force,
we were there,
but nothing occurred.
[Peter] From Cam Ranh
Bay orders to Chu Lai,
which is the military
headquarters company
or headquarters
for the Americal Division,
and it was there, they have what
they call the Combat Center,
which is like graduate school,
and for a week you were there to acclimatize
yourself and also go through a quick kill course,
where you had a BB gun and had
to shoot at pop-up targets,
booby traps and mines
and try not to set them off.
Everybody set off something,
which is kind of debilitating...
Warning lectures on drugs.
All the hooches had
essentially plywood walls,
screens, and then
corrugated tin roofs.
And then attached,
or very close by,
there were culverts or half
shells covered with sandbags
which were for rocket
attacks or incoming...
The defensive
positions essentially.
The first night I was there,
we had incoming rockets.
There was an explosion.
We were green. We were looking
at each other, what was that?
And finally somebody came
running through the hooch
and said, "Everybody in the shelter,"
and we all got in the shelter.
There were three or four more
rockets that came in that night.
So the first night that I was in Chu
Lai, we received rocket attacks,
probably B-1 Os
or Soviet-made rockets.
They were just set up with bamboo
stakes out in the hinterlands
and they were launched
towards the American base.
I don't think there were
any casualties or anything,
but that was my
introduction to incoming.
From there, we got orders
to Duc Pho, which is about
on the coast,
it's in Quang Ni Province.
I was assigned to the
engineers, from the engineers
I was shipped out to LZ Liz,
or Landing Zone Liz,
which was a forward
fire support base.
And there were three mountains, one
large lump where the LZ was located.
There were a couple of howitzers there, and I
stayed there for four months or so, five months,
doing mine sweeps
and construction.
[Soren] For soldiers of the
Vietnam era and their loved ones,
letter writing was the most
useful method of communication.
As much as pictures tell us what the
war was like for these young men,
their letters home are as remarkable,
not only for what was written,
but also for what was left out.
[Rik] He wrote to us
to protect us.
He wrote to us and tried
to look at the light side.
He wrote a letter about a duckling
that he took with him for three days,
a little duckling that he carried on heli-
copter rides and finally let go somewhere.
There was Pete the puppy clog who followed
them around. He wrote about micro frogs.
[Loring Sr.] Oh, he was upbeat.
It was an upbeat deal.
He made it that way. I could tell you
one letter that he sent to his wife,
three or four paragraphs of
disassembling and assembling...
a machine gun,
a 50-caliber machine gun.
I don't think he copied it out of the
manual, but it was very, very close.
And he wrote this...
"Also, saw an enormous
python the other day."
Those exciting animal names grow
a bit meaningless or prosaic
when we think of them as automobile
models or can opener trademarks.
"But a real python opens your eyes and gives
new meaning and respect to the name."
He was in a God awful
just hideous.
[Peter] He was carrying 70 pounds of pack,
and then going from place to place,
and at night
setting up ambushes.
If it was the monsoon season,
you were wet to the bone,
48 hours, three days,
four or five days at a time.
Elizabeth, I wrote once a day. If I
missed a day I used to write two.
I probably got back
an equal amount.
It wasn't like World War ll where everybody
wrote, and everybody sent cookies,
and everybody did this. It was fairly confined
to the closest relatives and closest friends.
So you didn't get groundswells of mail, but the
ones I counted on obviously were Elizabeth's,
and friends.
I wrote him a letter
every day and did that.
But when he was gone,
he left in September
and at Christmas, which was a big family
gathering around the Christmas table
with my parents and Aunt Susie and Uncle
Atwood and all of the cousins and everybody.
And here I was having
been married one month.
And he left in September
and it was Christmas.
The entire Christmas clay and
through the entire Christmas dinner
not one person mentioned him,
he was not toasted.
He was not... it just
wasn't in their conscious.
Part of our job was
to get up, very punctual,
so that the enemy knew
we were coming.
But there was at least
eight of us,
this parade of people
going down the road.
We did the sweep, and then
at the end of the sweep,
what would happen was a five-ton dump
truck would be filled up with sand.
It was called pressure testing,
and it would back down the road,
so anything that we missed electronically,
theoretically the clump truck would set off.
We did this one day,
got onto the truck,
because the pressure testing had been done,
and they would drive us back up to LZ Liz.
And on this particular day, we were working
on bunkers and then all of a sudden
we heard an explosion
down toward the road.
It was after the monsoon,
so they were repairing the road.
Anyway, we got down there and
the medevac was just leaving.
The dump truck driver...
The mine went off right under
the cab and it blew his eye out.
He had other injuries, but we had to
do another mine sweep of the road.
So this is the second mine sweep
within four hours, five hours,
and they did another
pressure test.
Got back on the dump truck to LZ Liz
and started working on the bunkers,
and we heard another explosion.
Another truck bringing
a load of dirt blew up.
Again the medevac was there.
But there were those two
in one morning.
The next day they
had sniffer dogs.
They accompanied us
for the next week,
and we never found
anything else.
But we lost two dump
trucks and two guys.
This is a Corgi die-cast miniature car.
I don't know the scale.
It's a De Tomaso Mangusta
that I sent to him as a Christmas
present, and we liked our cars.
And he wrote to me, he said,
"In the dark watches of the night, I roll
the De Tomaso Mangusta Corgi toy car"
that Rik sent me back
and forth very quietly.
I sit squishing the suspension up
and down for minutes at a time,
looking at it at eye-level,
digging its amber headlights.
But that's another form
of devotion entirely.
Huddled under my poncho, trying to
preserve the condition of my stationary,
all thought of quality gone,
writing away while monitoring
my trusty two-way radio,
looking out at the little
plastic Christmas tree
that one of our machine
gunners received in the mail
and planted before
his draped poncho.
Put the little metal car, the De Tomaso
Mangusta that I carry in my pocket,
beneath the plastic
tree and lo and behold,
we'll have toys under the tree
come tomorrow morning.
All the amenities are not lost.
One little Tupperware container
of mother's best cookies, too.
No, all is certainly not
lost at Christmastime.
Next Christmas Eve,
I'll perhaps remember
my rainy night
squatting beside my radio
on my plastic covered map to keep
my bottom unsuccessfully dry,
watching the bushes move, and every so often
munching on mixed nuts without peanuts.
"Maybe this was the Christmas Eve and
Christmas to make the rest worthwhile."
[John] For about
two-thirds of the time,
it was as a platoon leader.
I went in as
a second lieutenant.
March, April, somewhere in there, I
was promoted to first lieutenant,
and so I had a platoon of men.
We never had a full
compliment of people.
I believe a full compliment
would be 40 some people,
and we had generally running
close to about 30 at the max.
We would go out
on patrol during the day,
and we'd set up
ambushes at night.
Most of what we were looking
for were resupply issues.
The area we were in had been defoliated,
bulldozed, burned, and was a free-fire zone.
So anybody out there
theoretically was a target.
That made it difficult when you
actually wanted to eliminate a target,
you were told that you could possibly
impact some poor innocent civilian
who wasn't supposed
to be there in the first place.
So I was involved in planning,
deploying the troops, making sure
everybody knew what their mission was,
making sure the resupply came in, whether
it was weapons, food, whatever it was.
[Loring Sr.] Ring volunteered
to go out and carry the radio.
I wrote back to him saying,
"You get rid of the radio
as fast as you possibly can.
That is
a highly visible target."
He had already been in this unit, my
first unit that I was assigned to.
So when I first met
Loring he was spec 4,
I believe was his
rank at the time,
and he was my radio guy.
And so he was responsible for any
communication out of our field unit
to anything or anybody else
we needed.
Actually, when I saw
the picture, I...
realized, I hadn't remembered
a whole lot
from the picture you sent me.
I remember dark hair.
I always had the impression
he was a lot taller than I was,
but I'm not sure
if he was or not.
And the glasses.
He seemed like a, this sounds terrible, not
that the other people weren't civilized people,
but he seemed more civilized,
educated, reasonable, intelligent
than many other
people I ran into.
I'm the guy that when he went fishing
as a kid I threw the fish back in.
I had never hunted,
I had never been around weapons.
I didn't come from a family
that was into the outdoors.
We were tennis players
and swimmers.
So this gung ho, try to keep
yourself from being killed,
carrying a hundred
pounds of supplies
and being armed and shoot
to kill, very strange.
The minute I was in country
and the night we were rocketed,
I knew I didn't want to be
a combat engineer,
and I knew that I wanted to get as
far from the ugliness as I could.
And I went to the division headquarters
and I got a unit transfer application,
dutifully filled it out the second day
or third day that I was in country
or in Chu Lai and then did not
hear anything for four months.
During that period, we were
in Mo Duc building a bridge,
and I took pictures and wrote
a story about the project,
and I submitted it to the 31
st public information office,
and that was that, and about three
weeks later or two weeks later,
the squad leader over the radio received a call
from the captain in charge of the engineers,
"Have Sorensen on the LZ at a certain
hour with all his equipment,"
and the squad leader, of course,
looked a little askance at me,
"Where are you going,
and how'd you do it?"
So anyway, I got on the LZ
and the next thing I know,
the captain's personal helicopter
was there, picked me up,
and then flew me back
to Bronco, all of five miles,
and the captain was in his jeep
waiting to pick me up,
and he looked at me and said,
something to the effect that,
"You look a little scruffy to be someone
who's working in the rear now."
He explained that I had been reassigned
to the public information office.
The story that I had written
appeared in either "The Army Times"
and or "Stars and Stripes"
and so someone said,
"Take this guy out of the engineers and put
him in the public information office."
There happened to be an opening.
So that was the transition,
it was abrupt.
There were four people assigned
to the public information office
and two of them were officers,
two were enlisted.
So I was in a position where
I could come and go as I pleased
as long as I maintained a certain flow of
stories and pictures out of that office,
they didn't care if I showed up.
They didn't care what I did.
Sort of to further add to the confusion
and to the elation on my part,
the division thought the brigade was in
charge of the public information office,
the brigade thought the division was
in charge, so nobody was in charge.
[Peter] One of the things I did was fly
with either the combat assault unit
or they had a light observation
helicopter unit that did scouting work,
or drew fire, or visual
reconnaissance flights.
And there was a pilot named Rickert
and I typically flew with him.
Glenn Rickert was a captain,
very accessible, very friendly.
When I had to take pictures, when
we needed aerial photographs
or reconnaissance photographs,
I would go out,
or if I needed to take pictures
of a body or something like
that, he would fly me out there.
[Soren] This is Glen Aurelius.
He flew Light Observation Helicopters
with Glenn Rickert in Vietnam in 1970.
For him the Vietnam War represented an
opportunity to pursue his love of flying.
He works as a pilot to this clay.
[Glenn] I looked up to
him, maybe a role model,
I believe that
would be the case.
He had a commanding
presence, soft-spoken.
I Wasn't the only one
who would say this to him,
but probably the first and I'd say
it many times because we were close.
The job we were doing was
very dangerous, very risky.
Every day you never knew
what was going to happen.
And I said, I told him
a couple of times that
I could do all of those trips
and he wouldn't have to do any,
because he had a wife
and a child now,
there was more to lose there
if something happened to him.
I remember
the conversations with him,
and he said "No," he said, "Thank you,
but I really like flying these flights."
[Soren] Like my father and Ring Bailey, Glenn
Rickert had only been married a short time
before shipping out. His son Glenn Jr.
Was only an infant at the time.
He and his mother Margie still live in Pennsylvania,
not far from where Glenn Sr. Grew up.
[Rickert] I think it was a little bit
after the parade for Bucks County,
Vietnam Memorial. I finally
started realizing my heritage,
so I finally wanted to get it
all put together, the letters,
the uniforms, things like that,
so it was a lot of information
so I figured I'd just kind of start throwing
it all together in some type of format
just so I could show people.
Because a lot of people
were asking after that time.
And then, in school I did
a project about his life,
that helped out a lot, too,
with being able to share that.
[Margie] He wanted to go,
he wanted to do his part,
and he really believed
in what he was doing.
It wasn't that he didn't
feel that we should be there.
I mean, of course everybody
has mixed feelings about war,
nobody likes war, but if you believe
in what the purpose of it is,
tying to liberate
an oppressed people basically,
that's what it comes down
to and he believed in that.
He was a very moral person.
He was a Christian, so he valued life,
every life, regardless of their politics.
In Vietnam, there was a time when
I was so wrapped up in the war
and what I was doing over there, that
I didn't really write regularly.
I believe it was Glenn that told me one time
that my parents were trying to get a hold of me
or that the Red Cross had contacted him
to tell me that I needed to write home.
Because I hadn't written or contacted
them for maybe a couple of months,
and when you think about it,
that's pretty sad
with all that was going on
on TV every day of the week,
every hour there were pictures
of helicopters being shot down
and people getting
killed by the thousands.
So I thought it was very selfish of me
to be that way and not communicate.
I just isolated
myself over there.
I just really detached myself from there
rest of the world, it just didn't exist.
No newspapers,
I didn't see any TV.
It was really what was going on
right there and then.
But then when the Red Cross
contacted me
through Glenn Rickert, then I realized
there that I really needed to communicate,
and that they cared and they wanted to
hear from me, so it was a wake-up call.
[Margie] Because of his
morality and his beliefs,
I believe that's why on weekends
he would go to the orphanage.
That was an outlet for him that he felt probably
counteracted all the death and destruction,
through the week whenever
he could go to the orphanage
and do something in a more positive vein,
I think that was an outlet for him.
[Glenn] He was really a very humane guy.
He really cared about,
he wasn't prejudiced, he didn't
look at the Vietnamese as being-
whereas some pilots you know, looked at
the Vietnamese as being maybe inhuman,
not like them.
But really we were all the same,
and Glenn looked at
the Vietnamese,
both the enemy and not
the enemy, as being people.
And there was an
orphanage in Quang Ni.
He wanted me to do a favor for him. He
had adopted an infant Vietnamese girl.
She was probably
six months, four months old.
Anyway he asked as a favor,
"Would you mind taking pictures of the
baby so I can send them home to my wife."
It was kind of strange because
she was a part of his life,
but of course to me
it was just a picture.
But I knew I'd be able
to love her like he did.
He flew me up there
and we got out.
I met the baby and took pictures and
printed up some pictures for him.
I had it in our kitchen. I don't...
Well, Glenn was so little.
I also had a bank where I was saving
money towards our R&R in Hawaii,
so it was like Ian and the
bank were right there.
It was just, that was
what we were, you know,
that was our goal to get
to R&R and then to adopt Ian.
[Soren] Glenn Rickert shot this 8mm footage
while piloting his light observation helicopter
over Vietnam in 1970.
Margie told me that Glenn had always wanted
to fly helicopters and that, in a way,
he was very much in his
element during the war.
For Ring Bailey, unfortunately,
things were not going quite as well.
So I think it was at least on two
occasions, once before and once after,
I was in the public
information office,
his unit...
I crossed paths with his
unit and he was there.
And he was...
I got insights.
He had no axe to grind,
and he was an honest person...
or candid with me. I had no reason
to believe he'd color the facts...
or would say anything
that was inaccurate.
But the first time he was seemingly
pretty down in terms of spirits.
The unit was involved
with a company
either practicing or calling in
air-strikes on farmers,
clearly not military targets,
and they were either just for the
hell of it or they were practicing.
There were situations like that, or just
the day-to-day grind was getting him down,
the lack of sleep,
the physical work,
the snipers, the ambushes that
were set up night after night,
He was not in a good place
mentally, let's put it that way.
He wasn't depressed, but
he was exhausted, I think.
I had a cat named Miranda.
And I had her bred
and she had kittens,
and I had written him about the kittens,
and here he was in the jungle and he said,
"You know how I'd react, but its
really hard for me to understand"
the joy of being
a cat with kittens
"when I'm out here
in the jungle."
The second time I saw him, we were about to get
an opening in the public information office
and I said, and in fact
I had mentioned it last time,
if I can put your name in or would you
mind if I put your name in for a position
writing and taking photographs,
and of course he jumped on it.
And it was about the time that
the vacancy became available
that I found out
that he was killed.
It's just another day
going out on patrol.
We were getting toward evening.
We were setting up a night defensive
perimeter for the platoon.
And so I had both Robert and
Loring with me up on the knoll...
giving out instructions, "Okay,
we want our grenade launchers"
to cover those gullies
over there.
"We want the M60's along this straight
area, this flat area that's open."
Normal things you would do
to set up for a perimeter.
I can't recall exactly how
long we were up there,
but we were up there shuffling around
this area for quite some time.
Then I said, "Okay, let's get
that set up" then I walked away,
and that's when
the explosion went off.
And to my knowledge, there wasn't
anything left of either Loring or Robert.
I was blown through the air... what
seemed like quite a long distance,
but I really don't have any way
of objectively measuring that.
I know one individual about an
arm's length in front of me...
had a big piece of shrapnel
sticking out through his shoulder.
He survived but had significant nerve
damage on his right arm, his shoulder.
It would have to have gone within
inches or a foot of me to hit him,
just with the line of sight.
And I remember lying there,
not knowing what
the heck had happened.
Ears are ringing and I remember
saying, "My legs, my legs!"
And another lieutenant
came along,
and I can still
picture him. He said-
It seems funny
but in this tragic situation...
He said, "There's nothing wrong
with your legs, Wilson, get up!"
And so I got up... The
rest of it's pretty hazy.
Every night somebody had
to go in at 12:00 at our office,
the information office, and then go
over to the tactical operations center
where all of the communications from
the fields was filtered into one room,
a sort of action room,
or war room,
where the colonel could come and see the area
of operation and see where various units are,
what military intelligence was
telling us, where people were.
And then there was a list on a corner of
enemy and friendly missing in action,
killed in action,
wounded in action.
That particular day, I was on duty, and so I
had to go over and I went over at noontime- ...
Or not noontime, at midnight.
On the board it said
two KIA, 1st and the 20th.
Before I went back
to wire it in, I went down
to graves registrations,
where the bodies went.
And anyway I asked
the enlisted in charge
the names of the people
who were killed.
One was a sergeant and the
other was Loring Bailey.
And I said "How'd he die?"
And he said...
The euphemisms for a booby
trap, a mine or booby trap,
was traumatic amputation.
So he died of
traumatic amputations.
Then he sort of sarcastically said, "Do you
want to see the body?" and I declined.
I didn't think I could take it.
Anyway, I dutifully went back to the
detachment and called the division,
called the numbers in and Loring became a
number. He went from a person to a number.
The device that killed
both Loring and Robert
was either an artillery
round or a mortar round,
and we suspect that it was either
a 155mm round or a 175mm round,
and that was triggered,
we think,
by a battery and
a couple of metal plates.
And when the contact was made,
completed the circuit, and up it went.
The officer...
that came and
announced Ring's death...
I was at work and I was putting
my coat and hat on the rack
and I heard someone say, "He just
came up on the elevator." And then...
another man that worked
with me came down and said,
"Look, they want you in the
conference room right away."
So he and I walked up to the
office and he opened the door,
and I stepped in thinking he would come in
right behind me, but he closed the door.
And here I was face to face
with a service officer, a major,
and a sergeant major.
And he was on one
side of the board table
and I was facing him
across the table
and the sergeant
was on his right.
And he introduced himself as Major So-and-So,
I can't think of his name right now.
But his daughter worked at
SUPSHIP across the street,
so we had a little chat about the
fact that I knew his daughter.
Then he said, "I have some..."
Well, I looked at him,
and it was perfectly reasonable.
I saw that he had
a bronze oak leaf,
and the device
on his lapel indicated
that he was
of the engineer corps,
corps of engineers.
That seemed to be perfectly normal
to me, so, what's this all about?
It never dawned on me
until he said, "I have some
very bad news for you."
And even then,
until he went to work and said,
"Your son was killed
on the 15th, Monday the 15th."
And this was Wednesday,
just two days later.
March 17th darling, March 17th.
And that was a...
that was a tough thing.
[Rik] My mother called me
and told me that he was gone.
I mean, she just said,
"He's gone."
And I walked out the back door
and I went home,
and I went home and you
know, you see it in movies
the olive green sedan,
with the dress uniforms,
that drives up to the house.
And there was the olive green sedan
in front of my mother's house,
and my sister was there...
- I'm sorry.
- It's okay.
And the Army men were there,
and their shoes were
so, so fucking shiny.
At the time that we were
informed of his death,
the officer that was responsible
went to the apartment,
the address that Ring had.
That was his abode at the time that he
went into the service was Hartford.
So that officer went to
the Hartford apartment
and he received a very
unpleasant greeting
from a member of Marie's family.
When they were leaving,
I said to him
in my anger, I said,
"It's too bad he was
fighting on the wrong side."
The young brother,
Marie's young brother
was sort of a wild
kid in college,
and I don't know what the name
of the association was,
but he represented
the ultra extreme
student opposition to the war.
[Rik] I was involved
in antiwar activity.
I had a choice
when I went to college.
Some of my friends went further to the left, went
to what they called the Weather Underground.
I was involved with a group called Students
for a Democratic Society, it was SDS.
And I went with what was
called the moratorium.
The moratorium was
symbolized by the dove,
and it was the peace movement.
And it wasn't just kids like us with
long hair. It was grandmothers.
It was real people who really wanted to end
this war and make the world a better place.
So I talked with
the older brother,
and I gave him a little
bit of a warning, I said,
"As a result of
Rik's involvement..."
I think you should be aware
that I've been informed
that there's a possibility
"that students may go
to work and demonstrate."
They were concerned
about me at the funeral.
They were concerned that I'd do
things that, I don't know...
All I did was cry.
I couldn't drive my car.
I've never known
that amount of grief ever.
[Soren] Loring M Bailey Jr. was killed on March
15, 1970 in an explosion that also killed
19-year-old Staff Sergeant Robert A.
Wood of Savannah, Georgia.
In a letter to my mother dated
March 17th my father wrote,
"I just learned yesterday that a good
friend of mine was killed by a booby trap."
I'm sure you remember me speaking
of a Loring Bailey after OCS
and a few months ago
when I met him on LZ Liz.
It is such a damn waste.
I tried ever since I got a job in the rear to
get him into the office and out of the field.
"Now I feel like
I didn't try hard enough."
A little over two months later on May 20,
the helicopter Glenn Rickert was piloting
received enemy fire,
and he was killed.
It's hard to recollect because I wasn't
there, but from the information that I got,
which was sparse,
and the Way I envision it
in my mind
is that he was on
a combat assault,
combat recon.
He had cover, aerial cover,
with maybe some other types of
gunships or maybe another LOH.
More than likely other gunships
and he was...
doing low-level
reconnaissance, I believe.
When I say that, we're talking
about five feet above the ground,
hovering around low and slow
blowing the bushes away,
looking behind rocks
and looking for tunnels.
I believe it was on
the side of a mountain,
maybe 150 feet or 200
feet above the valley.
It wasn't unusual
to uncover hiding places,
and have people get up and start
moving and running and shooting.
From what I was told
that's what happened.
He uncovered the enemy
or somebody was there
and maybe from behind
a rock they shot him down.
The bullet that killed him actually came
in through his back, through his shoulder,
and hit his heart,
so it was instant.
So somehow, even though
he had protective armor on,
it came in at a side angle, but
still directly hit his heart.
I was thankful it
wasn't a painful death.
For us it was very decisive
and we knew that it was quick.
I mean, that's small
comfort, but...
I don't remember too much about
Vietnam after that day actually.
I'm not sure of the day, whether it was
close to the end of my tour, I don't know,
but I don't really have
much of a recollection
of Vietnam or what
happened after that sad day.
[Soren] Before Glenn Rickert's body was shipped
home, there was a short memorial service
held to honor
the popular captain.
When my father was given the assignment to
shoot these pictures he initially refused,
so saddened was he by the
loss of his colleague.
When threatened with an Article
15 letter of reprimand,
he reluctantly
documented the ceremony.
We had been living up in
Sellersville, Glenn Jr. and myself.
And that Saturday there was
a Memorial Day parade
and of course it came right down
past our house, and we were outside.
And then it came down
to the little town square
and they had a little ceremony, and I'll
always remember at that time I prayed
and was thinking about
all the women who were widows
or had lost loved ones, or
mothers who had lost loved ones.
I said a prayer for them, just in remembrance
because this was a Memorial Day parade
and the next clay was Sunday.
I had gone with Glenn's parents and then we came
home to Glenn's parents' home in Souderton.
We came in the back door,
and as we came in the back door,
the doorbell was
ringing at the front.
And I walked through the living room
and saw the uniform and you just know.
So I opened the door, and the poor guy
there, I said, "Just tell me he's not dead."
And of course,
what could he say?
Just, "I regret to inform you."
And then Glenn's morn came in the room
behind me and she just started crying,
because she just knew.
I mean, that's a day
I'll always remember.
I'm feeling emotions right now because it's
just something you don't ever want to hear,
but the minute you see
the uniform,
you know they're not coming
to tell you he's fine.
You know that it's bad news.
So that's how we found out.
We were together.
And After Glenn had been killed,
the proceedings just stopped.
I had received one phone call the
week I found out Glenn was killed.
They said, "We're sorry,"
and they hung up,
and if I had wanted to go on,
I had no connections,
because Glenn was handling
everything over there.
And it's been a source of guilt,
like, whatever happened to Ian?
I pray that maybe someone else adopted her,
or that she was able to come here to America.
But I often wonder
what happened to her.
Every once in a while I wonder if
in fact this child got over here.
The follow up, again, the psychology
or my psychology was such,
and I think the psychology of a lot of
the people that served over there was,
you serve your time,
you get back
and then you get back into
the world and you do your thing,
which is essentially what I did.
[inaudible conversation]
[Rik] Where Ring's death fell
in terms of my activity,
I can't really recall now.
After he was killed,
we defaced a billboard.
The billboard said, "To an unemployed
veteran... peace is hell."
And so we changed it with spray paint,
"To a dead veteran... war is hell."
And for the first time in the history
of the Hartford Times newspaper,
they printed a picture
on the editorial page.
We wrote this letter about it
called "Yours and uncertainty."
We called ourselves "the
Children of American Blood."
But we were young,
and we were immature.
When President Nixon mined
Haiphong Harbor,
a group of us, maybe 20
of us, got together.
We got 40-gallon steel drums
and we made mines out of them.
We painted "Kaboom" on them and tied
them with ropes and cinder blocks,
and in the middle of the night,
drove over the Connecticut River
and dropped these drums off into the
river and drove to the other side.
When it was all secure, people
called all the media and said,
"We mined the Connecticut
River," in a protest.
I used to say "Nixon,"
now I say "President Nixon."
I hate the man, but there's
a respect that's important.
And then we held a press conference
in front of city hall in Hartford
and turned ourselves in.
This is what we did
and this is why we did it.
But that put the people onto us,
whoever they were...
the FBI, or army intelligence,
whoever they were
and they were parked outside
our apartment so...
So we moved, I was the last one
to leave and I came to Vermont...
The safety of Vermont.
We were no more liberating that
country than we're liberating Iraq.
We weren't even invading.
We were trying to prop up
a puppet state to our own ends,
either for economic reasons
or to "stop communism."
Stop the domino from falling.
[Elizabeth] He changed.
He was always pretty serious,
but I think this experience would
be life-changing for anyone,
and I think it was
life changing for him.
In the immediate return,
his startle response was high.
We were driving home from
a trip right after he got back,
and a helicopter flew over and
he almost dove out of the car.
He was just much more...
and that would be typical.
And I also think it made him more
grave, and a little bit darker.
[Peter] I feel guilt
about surviving.
That doesn't go away. Collateral damage extends
not only to the individual who survives,
or is in fact killed,
but there's a ripple effect.
It effects the family in
physical and psychological ways.
Elizabeth essentially
has had to contend
with a different person than
she married after one year.
The person you had or my offspring
experienced a different person than I was
before I went in the military,
and those things don't go away.
Those things are perpetuated.
It's like the ringing in my ears
from the concussion.
It's there all the time and
it's very close to the surface
and I can hear it all the time.
Sometimes it's louder, sometimes
it's softer, but it's always there.
That's self-serving because I also know that
it affects my son, my daughter, my wife.
It's not that I feel guilty
for surviving. I just-
I just...
Why do these things happen?
It's hard. I'm trying
to find the right words.
I'm not guilty for surviving...
but I guess you wonder, well...
what made me walk away at the moment?
Where was I going?
Was I truly done there? Did somebody
call me away to do something else?
Why wasn't I there?
I went years and years dealing
with the symptoms,
and then we figured out, "Oh, of
course, it's post traumatic."
So one of the options here is to take
some anti-depressants or whatever,
which didn't seem to do the job.
But it's still there. It's not necessarily
going to kill you, but it's there.
You can't rationalize it. You can identify
it, but you can't make it go away.
I would like to be able to remember
everyone's face that I lost in my unit.
I would like to know the names.
I would like to be able to, in
some way, go back through those...
Even though they
were horrible things...
Because I just feel like
I'm not doing justice to them
to not be able to remember who
the heck they were when...
they died there right in front of me doing
things we were all supposed to be doing.
I have a very low
startle threshold.
If I was napping or if you came
up behind me in the garage
and tapped me on the shoulders,
my reaction is to spin around or put up my
hands, or somehow go into a defensive position.
I'm telegraphing to,
whether it's Elizabeth or you or my
daughter that the world is hostile.
If you want to survive,
this is how you have to be,
and it's an unspoken
message, it's telegraphed.
I remember him overreacting
to certain things,
but the thing is that
that's sort of, that's Dad.
So he will overreact to things,
but then it'll be fine.
And his overreaction wasn't
a big deal to me, ever.
Ever. It was just the way it was
and it's sort of like,
I knew it wasn't something
that he could control.
My daughter, my son, my wife have experienced
somebody who, since coming back,
often times does not take
that step of thinking,
but reacts as if in the jungle.
He's definitely been
affected by Vietnam.
I mean, he probably was a
different person before Vietnam,
but he's not a bad person now.
He's a great person now.
Living with guilt is awful, and I think
that guilt and regret and remorse
and all those things
are real wastes of emotion,
because you can do
something about them.
So if you feel guilty about something
what can you choose to do?
[Peter] I always had this interest in terms
of finding where Loring Bailey was buried.
I checked a couple
graves registrations
and went on the Internet
when the Internet was available,
and found nothing
in the immediate area.
And of course 20 years later, it was our
first Memorial Day weekend here in Mystic.
Elizabeth said,
"You're not going to believe,"
or, "Take a look at the
front page of the paper."
And the front page of the paper had that picture
I showed you of Loring Bailey, the son,
in Vietnam, and the story that accompanied
it had to do with Memorial Day
and the mother and father living in
Stonington which is four miles away,
three miles away, and the fact
Loring is buried
less than two miles
from where I'm living right now.
In any case, I read the article and was
incredulous that after all these years,
and my failure to find where he was
buried, the front page of the newspaper,
sort of rubbed my nose in it saying,
"Here they are, here's the family."
So I picked up the telephone,
introduced myself,
"I apologize in advance
if this is a painful subject,
but I just wanted to let you know I knew
your son, and he was a wonderful person."
Your father said...
"You don't know who I am,
but I was with your son
in Vietnam and I
was with him at OCS."
And I said, "Oh, where are you?"
"Well," he said,
"I'm in Old Mystic."
The thought that I had was, "Well, he must
have picked up Rings name from the stone",
the monument down in Old Mystic.
And I hesitate to call you because I
didn't want to bring back bad memories,
"and I hope you don't mind."
He said, "I don't mind at all."
I said, "I'll stop by sometime," and he
said, "What are you doing in 10 minutes?"
"We would like
very much to see you."
And he said, "Well I'd be glad to come over, and
I'll come over as soon as I change my clothes."
And I said, "Well that's
fine." I hung up.
I turned to Dot and I said,
"I have no idea where he is, he's
going in to change his clothes.
He couldn't have been
at the monument in Old Mystic."
It never dawned on me that
he was living in the area.
So he came up to the front door and
that's how we met, at the front door.
It was quite interesting.
[Peter] We've been visiting
each other ever since.
And, as I told them,
I was, for 20 years, 30 years,
more interested in where he was
buried than where they were living,
which is probably a regret or
probably a monumental oversight,
but that's the way
it played out.
And I think he felt like he helped them to
really get to understand what their son's...
Some of the times that he spent
in the last year of his life,
because when your son
is in training or OCS.
So just the stories
he could tell,
a little bit about what his last
months might have been like,
or what it was like in Vietnam.
I know he thinks he performed a service
and really was helpful to them.
Dorothy obviously feels a loss, and
is still very, very sensitive.
Not to say he isn't,
but he's in military history
and that kind of thing and follows the
history of his son's involvement.
And then when we talk we talk about,
typically I'm talking to the father.
I think about him now
and it's just sadness,
that a man would lose
his son at the age of 24.
That the whole lifetime
would be taken away.
And now here I am, I'm 60 years
old and my son is a Marine.
And who'd of thought that my son
[chuckles] would be a Marine?
Now I fly an American flag
in front of my house,
and I wouldn't have
thought of it then,
or I would have flown it upside
down or something like that.
[Elizabeth] I think it's fascinating,
that at least you've told me,
a number of people you've been in touch
with about this process of making this,
working on this film, where they have said, "I
never thought I'd talk to anybody about this."
I've never talked
about this before."
So remember that Dad,
and many people,
they don't talk about themselves
unless they're asked.
I'll talk about myself
whether you ask or not.
Dad's introverted, so if you
look at type he's an introvert.
He generally needs
to be drawn out.
And so when people say, "How was the
war?" They want you to say "Fine."
And they might say, you know, "What was
the best thing that happened to you"
or the worst thing
that happened?"
But if you sit down and say, "I want to
know what was the hardest thing about it?"
or "What was the best thing
about it?" or "What elated you?"
Those, I believe are the things
that he's willing to talk about.
But you need to feel the interest
when you're somebody that has
his particular type, and I would think
that'd be true of almost anybody.
It's not a conversation I ever have.
No one's interested.
You're interested.
Would you be interested if your father had
not had a similar type of experience?
Would you be asking these questions
and things? Maybe you would...
but this starts out with you wanting
to know more about your father,
and what his experience was,
and what was going on at the time,
and how did he deal with all this.
Was that the thing
that started you?
I mean, if you hadn't had that connection would
it just have been something that happened
in history, and you
wouldn't be here today?
I'm really glad you're here and I'm
really glad I have a chance...
to talk about Ring. I'm just
thrilled that I have a chance to...
let this out.
I'm talking to you today because
of the way you presented yourself
as someone who's got a serious interest in
putting together a little piece of history,
some people that
are intertwined somehow,
and if there was something I could
say that would add to that,
I'd be happy to do that,
although I've never had a conversation
like this with anybody else before.
When David graduated from Paris
Island, and he was a young recruit,
Paris Island, eyes like
deer in headlights.
We brought him home,
and we passed through airports,
and it was obvious that we were
parents and he was a Marine.
And people came out of the crowd to
shake his hand, to pat him on the back.
The respect was overwhelming,
and as a parent it just
made us immensely proud.
And I'm sure that that's
what Mr. Bailey felt.
But the pride and the respect
for my son is wonderful.
Is wonderful, you know,
and I see it and
I hear it all the time.
People say, "How's your
boy doing? Where is he now?"
And I always say,
"Thanks for asking.
Thanks for asking because
we're very proud of him, too."
I have to say
it's been interesting.
I have run into some
people in the last few years,
and not just when you go in
and see a doctor at the VA,
because they're all primed to say,
"Thank you for your service."
That's kind of part of
their mantra down there.
But I have run into other people
and it's caught me quite off guard
when somehow they've found out...
And I'm not sure, I can't point
to a specific conversation...
But when they find out that I was in
Vietnam and I was in the infantry,
and very sincerely
they say, "Thank you,"
and... it catches me off guard.
Just saying it now has kind of...
because nobody ever said that.
And I didn't realize anybody
really thought about it.
It's kind of unnerving because I don't
think I did anything to be thanked for.
It could have been anybody.
It could have been anybody going, anybody
being killed, anybody surviving.
The difference between somebody wounded,
being killed, not being hurt...
A couple of inches,
a few seconds in time.
When my son is in harm's way...
Barbara and I live
with a level of fear.
Every car that comes clown the street, I
look to see if it has government plates.
That's hard.
[Soren] Because you know
what that looks like?
- I do.
- Those shoes.
Oh, shiny. Shiny, shiny shoes.
How do they get them so shiny?
Three or four months into the
tour, I was noticing the ringing,
and the inability to understand
people when they're talking.
And I went to Chu Lai and
they tested my ears and said,
"You've got a hearing
loss in the mid range."
The nerves are destroyed.
It's not temporary.
The middle range is where
the consonants are formed,
which means you're going to have trouble
understanding people when they talk.
Here are some earplugs,
"so if you're gonna be in a situation where
there is loud noise, wear your ear plugs."
[Soren] My father took this
picture in Vietnam in 1970.
Seconds later he took this one.
When he first showed me these prints, he
asked me if I could tell the difference.
I pointed out the obvious, or what had become
obvious to me during the making of this film
after pouring through
hundreds of others like it.
The barrel of the 155mm Howitzer
is recoiled in the second picture,
and you can see the dust
rising from the ground
under the weight of the
gun's thunderous discharge.
He asked me if I noticed anything else
and I couldn't think of anything.
So he pointed to the people
in the second shot and said,
"They're all holding their ears.
I was holding a camera."
[Elizabeth] You know, you think back on your life
and what are the things you wouldn't change?
I think this is one of the
things that he wouldn't change.
It was phenomenal for him in the
best way and the worst way.
[Soren] My father has often asked
me why I'm making this film.
As different as we are,
we share this story,
this presence like
the ringing in his ears.
My wife Carrie and I even
named our firstborn son Loring,
after both Loring Baileys, junior and
senior, who meant so much to my father.
And I suppose the journalistic process of making
a documentary has brought me closer to him.
But in this picture, he still looks about
as far away from me as my namesake,
Soren Peter Sorenson I, born over a
century before me in Denmark in 1871,
pictured here at 17 in his
Danish military uniform.
On the train from
Jackson to Chicago
Providence is yet
to be revealed
Standing on the platform
by my window
Soon you will be
swallowed by the fields
A sudden blur of trees
A sudden blur of trees
Rushing through
the delta veins
On the train from
Jackson to Chicago
Licking all the wounds
that never healed
Turn around Turn around
Now you're at
the end of the line
Don't look down
Don't look down
You're standing
on the shoulders
You're standing on
the shoulders of giants
Every day the shadow
of my father
Is painted on the walls
and on the floors
It stretches out across
the open water
And crashes on
the sandy eastern shores
Searching in the dark
Searching in the dark
Looking for a clue
to what's been lost
Now I see the shadow
of my father
On the shoulders
of the one that came before
Turn around Turn around
Now you're at
the end of the line
Don't look down
Don't look down
You're standing on
the shoulders
Standing on
the shoulders of giants
A clear run A blue sky
Downhill A free ride
A stone's throw
A straight line from here
Turn around Turn around
Now you're at
the end of the line
Don't look down
Don't look down
You're standing
on the shoulders
Standing on the shoulders
Turn around Turn around
Now you're at
the end of the line
Don't look down
Don't look down
You're standing
on the shoulders
You're standing
on the shoulders of giants