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Bob Whelan

Vietnam war, The Green Berets

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On May 23 TCM aired The  Green Berets starring John Wayne for Memorial Day weekend.  I was a Green Beret in Viet Nam in 1965-66 in the 5th Special Forces Group on two teams, B23 and A235, later designated  as A304.  The movie is a joke and I was somewhat offended that you would choose this movie full of erroneous information about the war and  Special forces role in it to honor veterans.  I won't belabor the errors in the movie, but do want to cite one that stood out for me in the first 30 minutes as that's all I could watch.  A Teams were designated by the Corps area they served in i.e. 2 Corps teams had the first letter as 2, such as in A235.  Those in I corps would then have the designation as  A107 or A109 and so forth.  One of the teams in the movie was designated as A107, as I recall.  And the colonel played by John Wayne had teams in I corps as they were so designated with the first number being 1, yet he said that at least one of these teams was on the Cambodian border. The geography is wrong as all of I Corps has a border with Laos, not Cambodia which is to the south and borders 2, 3 and 4 Corps, the Central Highlands, the area around Saigon and the Mekong Delta respectively.  I have watched all of the movie before and did note that the ending was the sun setting over the South China Sea -- too bad as the South China sea is on the east of Viet Nam, where the sun rises, but does not set.  Why not choose a Vietnam war movie that was honest, such as Hamburger Hill, Platoon, Full Metal Jacket, Coming Home and so forth, not a movie that had so many things wrong and was a strictly propagandistic piece.

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Posted (edited)

Hi Bob and welcome.  Just a suggestion but maybe you could post this topic again  in General Discussions where it will get more readers.  

You're not really supposed to post the same thing in different spots but in this case I think more people might like to read what you wrote and the place for that is in General Discussions which is more about films.

I have Whelan relatives in Scotland - though they came from Dublin!!

Edited by Bogie56
moved by the moderator

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18 hours ago, Bob Whelan said:

On May 23 TCM aired The  Green Berets starring John Wayne for Memorial Day weekend.  I was a Green Beret in Viet Nam in 1965-66 in the 5th Special Forces Group on two teams, B23 and A235, later designated  as A304.  The movie is a joke and I was somewhat offended that you would choose this movie full of erroneous information about the war and  Special forces role in it to honor veterans.  I won't belabor the errors in the movie, but do want to cite one that stood out for me in the first 30 minutes as that's all I could watch.  A Teams were designated by the Corps area they served in i.e. 2 Corps teams had the first letter as 2, such as in A235.  Those in I corps would then have the designation as  A107 or A109 and so forth.  One of the teams in the movie was designated as A107, as I recall.  And the colonel played by John Wayne had teams in I corps as they were so designated with the first number being 1, yet he said that at least one of these teams was on the Cambodian border. The geography is wrong as all of I Corps has a border with Laos, not Cambodia which is to the south and borders 2, 3 and 4 Corps, the Central Highlands, the area around Saigon and the Mekong Delta respectively.  I have watched all of the movie before and did note that the ending was the sun setting over the South China Sea -- too bad as the South China sea is on the east of Viet Nam, where the sun rises, but does not set.  Why not choose a Vietnam war movie that was honest, such as Hamburger Hill, Platoon, Full Metal Jacket, Coming Home and so forth, not a movie that had so many things wrong and was a strictly propagandistic piece.

Thank you.  

I served with the 173rd Airborne during the war and with the XVIII Airborne before and after the  war.

In the past I have annually lamented that TCM shows no or few Vietnam War movies on Memorial Day, but to no avail.  So, I gave up this year.  Glad to see your post and welcome.  As you noted there are far better movies about The Vietnam War and there are lots of them.  One of my favorites is Go Tell the Spartans (1978).

The Green Berets is not a "war" movie nor a movie about the Vietnam War.   It is a propaganda film by John Wayne made in order to create support for the war.  I read the book, The Green Berets, by robin Moore, when it came out in 1966.    Not sure how much of the movie was supposedly based on the book, if any.   The book was far better than the movie.

Personally, I think John Wayne made a lot of "propaganda" type war movies to make up for his non-participation in WW II.

Thank you for your service - and your post.

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Welcome Bob, and thanks for your post.  My never having been in the military leaves me at the dependence  of veterans for accurate information.   And even though I was never in the military, when I first saw this movie it did seem something was off.  In my case, the "off" part was John Wayne's age at the time he made this flick. 

Sepiatone

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I didn't think anyone didn't know THE GREEN BERETS was meant as a propaganda movie in support of the Vietnam War. 

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1 hour ago, Mr. Gorman said:

I didn't think anyone didn't know THE GREEN BERETS was meant as a propaganda movie in support of the Vietnam War. 

So is such a film 'good' Memorial Day material?     

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I do not think The Green Berets is a good movie to show on Memorial Day.  There are far better ones which I mentioned in my post, but I did  omit one that shows the reality of war and the cost -- We Were Soldiers,  based on the book, We Were Soldiers Once, and Young, by Joe Galloway and Lieutenant Colonel Hal Moore, the former being a reporter caught up in the fight in the Ia Drang Valley and the latter being the Battalion Commander who led his battalion in the fight, one of the best officers in the war.  I recall that Hal Moore retired as a Lieutenant General

For me, Memorial Day is a day for reflection and remembering my fellow soldiers and the sacrifices they have made through the years of our Republic.

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 I wonder, Bob Whelan, if perhaps you were too close to the subject matter to enjoy The Green Berets: I'm fairly well-decorated from my involvement in Operation Desert Storm but have zero interest in military movies that come anywhere near that period of time! On the other hand.....

 I view The Green Berets in much the same way as I've seen recruiting material for the Armed Forces since I was a young kid: perhaps not entirely honest, but entirely entertaining!

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@james and thy jazzy geetar:  I reckon the decision as to whether THE GREEN BERETS is a 'good' movie to air on Memorial Day Weekend lies in the minds of the TCM Programming Department.  :P

 

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No Shear, thanks for the response and you are absolutely right--I am too close to the subject, but I do wish that the movie was a more accurate portrayal of Special Forces in Viet Nam and how it operated.

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Well,(and will await the flames) I'm still waiting for the Viet Nam war movie that shows just what the U.S. helping to fight that county's civil war was of any benefit to us. 

Sepiatone

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3 hours ago, Bob Whelan said:

No Shear, thanks for the response and you are absolutely right--I am too close to the subject, but I do wish that the movie was a more accurate portrayal of Special Forces in Viet Nam and how it operated.

 Should've already typed: Thank you for your awesome - Green Beret(!!) - service.

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On 5/25/2020 at 8:50 AM, TheCid said:

Thank you.  

I served with the 173rd Airborne during the war and with the XVIII Airborne before and after the  war.

In the past I have annually lamented that TCM shows no or few Vietnam War movies on Memorial Day, but to no avail.  So, I gave up this year.  Glad to see your post and welcome.  As you noted there are far better movies about The Vietnam War and there are lots of them.  One of my favorites is Go Tell the Spartans (1978).

The Green Berets is not a "war" movie nor a movie about the Vietnam War.   It is a propaganda film by John Wayne made in order to create support for the war.  I read the book, The Green Berets, by robin Moore, when it came out in 1966.    Not sure how much of the movie was supposedly based on the book, if any.   The book was far better than the movie.

Personally, I think John Wayne made a lot of "propaganda" type war movies to make up for his non-participation in WW II.

Thank you for your service - and your post.

I believe if you were to do some research you would find that most of the Hollywood films made during World War II were propaganda films with the remaining actors in Hollywood who did not go off to war starring in them.  Actor John Wayne only appeared in five films set during World War II while the actual war was being fought. And he only made ten more war films after the war ended in 1945.

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You're lucky that they didn't have Mr. T go to Vietnam in the A Team.

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13 hours ago, MovieMadness said:

You're lucky that they didn't have Mr. T go to Vietnam in the A Team.

They had John Kerry,  but no one with bone spurs!

 

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On 5/27/2020 at 11:53 AM, fxreyman said:

I believe if you were to do some research you would find that most of the Hollywood films made during World War II were propaganda films with the remaining actors in Hollywood who did not go off to war starring in them.  Actor John Wayne only appeared in five films set during World War II while the actual war was being fought. And he only made ten more war films after the war ended in 1945.

My point is that Wayne chose not to serve, whereas others did serve.  And no, he is not the only one.  However, he made a career of playing the rough/tough stand-up guy in many war films.  He also spent his life as pro-war or pro-US intervention.   Research clearly shows that The Green Berets was made by John Wayne to gin up support for the war in Vietnam.

As for movies during WW II; most were absolutely  made to gain the support of the people back home.  There was some element of propaganda in most, if not all.  The Green Berets under Wayne's intention was almost totally a propaganda film.

I like John Wayne Westerns and a few others.  I tend not to watch WW II movies any more as I have seen most many, many times.

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