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This is the Columbia River located just seven miles south of the demilitarized zone in the DMZ that once separated.
North and south Vietnam.
Good evening I'm Oliver North this is war stories coming through from the city of -- -- from the Socialist Republic of Vietnam.
In the history of warfare bridges have often been the stuff of legend the bridge over the river choir and the bridge too far aren't.
In 1972 on Easter weekend.
This -- became the choke point and another epic clash as tens of thousands of north Vietnamese army troops invaded south Vietnam.
To advance they had to -- this river.
Standing in the way -- badly battered battalion of south Vietnamese Marines less than fifty cast off American tanks and two.
US military advisors.
As the defenders were about to be overrun.
One advisor marine captain John -- decided.
He had to act.
What transpired that day is now enshrined in the annals of American military history.
Tonight -- stories brings John Ripley back to the scene of this bloody battle.
Stay with -- -- eyewitness accounts of the furious fight for the bridge at dot com.
To every man there comes that moment when he's asked to do something.
What -- it.
If he is found I'm prepared unwilling or -- knowledgeable of performing.
We -- here for a purpose.
They're going to become leaders of the world's best fighting force.
We'll still -- in Radford Virginia John Walter -- dreamed of becoming an officer of Marines.
Right out of high school in listed in the core and a year later he received an appointment to the US naval academy at Annapolis.
So tough warriors.
My thoughts at the time world I hope I can be as good -- before.
Just thought career in the navy and be exciting and that's when I fixed my sights on the Naval Academy.
New Jersey native bill behind joined -- in 1958.
Is a midshipman at the academy.
Everybody participated in sports we had regular parades.
We also had military formations.
I do vividly remember Kennedy because in 1961.
All of us at the Naval Academy.
-- in this inauguration parade Washington.
What on the front of the coldest days her record in Washington I'm not felt like the rifle -- was for listen to Oregon man.
By use standards that this reform one could not leave their uninspired.
When you graduate 1962.
Could you ever heard of Vietnam at that point.
There was very little feeling at the time than any it was -- and -- and such replaced.
But the 161000.
Troops Kennedy sent to Vietnam would soon be substantially increased by his successor.
-- today ordered the Vietnam air mobile version tonight.
This when we increased our fighting force to 190000.
-- By 1967.
Almost half a million Americans were fighting in Vietnam including now captain rippling beating -- rifle company in a third battalion third Marines.
We knew that this was not going to be a short flash in the pan.
Again from that point expanding.
You Trier High Court.
High Court was so Vietnam's first line of defense against invasion from the Communist north.
Bordering the demilitarized zone or DMZ.
The military region was called the ring of steel.
With -- airfields and fire bases including current -- the rock -- and camp Carroll.
The Columbia River was a natural defensive barrier and itself -- the city of -- off.
They don't and for the most.
And south Vietnam marine corporal John greater Miller retired to become an historian and author of the book the -- -- off.
Wasn't much there strategic -- except for the bridge over the Columbia River and John how did this bridge and the people.
This bridge was built by they should be but Diane MCB 62.
Including one of my classmates -- behind -- -- initially went to.
Vietnam in 1968.
I was the operations officer of the -- and that job was.
The responsibility for all the construction the bridge was 437.
Which they drove steal files into the river bottom.
Profit they ran anywhere from sixty to eighty -- murders -- and then that was a word surfaced.
Now as you can see.
This is a concrete bridge.
-- bridge with a 100% steel.
That's still up there for battleship and the idea on that was it would be very difficult to destroy -- -- -- -- and all of us who serve tonight for you all well the DMZ was the militarized enable.
Our combat -- was with him artillery range pfc from.
They would fire rockets mortars and -- camp we of course that had any number of attacks by fire we're used to say.
Our business -- business is good.
Back in the states the country was divided.
So he could no longer stomach the war.
In the 1968.
Richard Nixon won the president's promising to bring the boys home this play and the program of victimization.
And this could mean.
We are Vietnam -- in this search repeats.
It was designed to turn the war over to -- Vietnamese.
Mostly just units route chief advisors -- the US presence.
From a high of 550000.
In 1968 to less than a 100000 by the spring of 72.
The Americans still in the southeast Asia were committed to support the army of the Republic of Vietnam these are very.
Scattered throughout the country among Vietnamese brigades and battalions.
These American advisors formed a strong bond with a fellow Brothers in arms who called the Americans -- -- it's.
In Vietnamese Colombians.
Why did you volunteer group that there's a great compelling force to get back where your brother Marines -- and to participate.
Came up and then lobbed it on -- I was commander of third battalion Ripley was assigned to -- -- 35 year old major -- was a combat veteran.
Serving nine tough fears in the Vietnamese Marines -- the -- this battalion along with -- and -- was posted just south of -- -- I was tremendously fortunate and ending up in what was without question.
The Vietnamese Marines pressed for time.
-- -- Some rules this annual losses have been major been first it's going to be homes by the and that we chose to see wolf as we -- -- and -- analysts' fears that the wolf.
They guarded here -- on if you will there advisors.
Better than it -- February 1972.
Lieutenant colonel Jerry Shirley was one of the lonely -- going the other way.
Returning to Saigon and a second tour is a senior advisor to the BMC.
Just weeks later and 29 march colonel truly rewards and if you would feel recon mission over.
Fight -- war that was tough orientation to got to keep the next morning and we drove six.
With the commanding officer -- receive.
An unbelievable good grief after the break would win over the basketball and have lunch and we worked out that the best throw that stuff screen door.
-- the -- Heavy heavy heavy artillery.
There's no doubt.
That it was the beginning of America.
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