The photo that showed Vietnam War’s human toll

This April 1968 file photo shows the first sergeant of A Company, 101st Airborne Division, guiding a medevac helicopter through the jungle foliage to pick up casualties suffered during a five-day patrol near Hue, April 1968. Two soldiers in the photo, Dallas Brown, bottom, and Tim Wintenburg, far right, recently reunited to talk about the iconic photo and the war. (AP)
Updated 14 February 2018
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The photo that showed Vietnam War’s human toll

FORT CAMPBELL: Dallas Brown can still see the bullets coming for him 50 years later, smacking into the dirt at his feet as north Vietnamese soldiers fired on his platoon during an ambush deep in the jungle.
Minutes later, as the deadly firefight wound down, Brown and his fellow soldiers in the 101st Airborne would be immortalized.
In one of the most searing images of the Vietnam War, Brown grimaces as he lies on the ground with a back injury. Not far away, a platoon sergeant raises his arms to the heavens, seemingly seeking divine help.
Landing on the front page of The New York Times, the black and white image by Associated Press freelancer Art Greenspon gave Americans back home an unflinching look at the conditions soldiers endured in what would become the war’s deadliest year. Captured on April 1, 1968, it was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize and appeared prominently in Ken Burns’ recent Vietnam War documentary.
But for the young Americans who have decided to talk about it a half-century later, it was merely a moment in another sweltering day in a Southeast Asian jungle with well-hidden enemies all around. Some of them have spent years putting the experience in perspective.
“When I look at that picture now, I say, ‘If I can survive that, I can survive anything,’” said Tim Wintenburg, who in the photo helps carry a wounded soldier over jungle hacked away to create a helicopter landing zone.
Sgt. Maj. Watson Baldwin has his arms raised to guide in a helicopter that would take away the wounded men, including one shot in the leg by the Vietnamese soldier who was firing at Brown. Baldwin died in 2005, according to Fort Campbell officials who recently tracked down soldiers in the photo.
Brown, who lives near Nashville, and Wintenburg, of Indianapolis, met with an Associated Press reporter at Fort Campbell in Kentucky to recount the events surrounding the photo — their first news media interviews ever on the war.
After he received his draft notice in 1965, Wintenburg visited a recruiting office and was told he looked “like Airborne material.”
By early 1968, he was 20 years old and on the front lines.
Brown, who was 18 when he landed in Vietnam, remembers being inspired by “The Ballad of the Green Berets.” He was encouraged to go through airborne training. Both men ended up at Fort Campbell, home of the 101st Airborne.
In the spring of 1968, Brown and Wintenburg’s squad was in the dangerous A Shau Valley on a weeks-long “search and destroy” mission, meaning they never took prisoners. Firefights were commonplace.
Brown recalls their battalion commander, a lieutenant colonel, telling them before one mission: “You get a body count, you get a prize.”
“To my knowledge we might have taken a handful of prisoners the whole time we was in Vietnam,” Brown said.
The soldiers were hiking up a slippery mountain trail after a monsoon when they paused to eat lunch.
Brown, sitting on his rucksack with his M-16 rifle across his lap, thought he saw a sapling move down a ravine. He didn’t feel any wind. He switched his rifle to full-automatic as an enemy fighter stepped into view.
Known in the platoon as “hillbilly” for his Tennessee drawl and proficiency with a rifle, Brown fired on the first north Vietnamese soldier, killing him and then another behind him. He was reloading when a third enemy fighter fired back.
“You know, you see these movies where you see clods of dirt jumping up? I could see them, I mean they was coming right at me and that’s when I got off that rucksack,” Brown said. “I thought, this guy, he means to kill me as sure as the world.”
Brown lunged for cover, and a bullet struck the leg of a soldier who had been behind him. Once the ambush was put down, Brown carried the wounded man up the hill, injuring his back on the way.
Brown grimaced as the photo was snapped. Wintenburg, who had lost his helmet, helped the wounded soldier up to the landing spot. He glanced back toward Greenspon.
Greenspon now lives in Connecticut. He declined to be interviewed, saying the soldiers should always be the focus of any story about the photograph.
Brown and Wintenburg each spent about a year in Vietnam, and both men struggled with anxiety for years. But now, 50 years later, they relish opportunities to reunite with fellow 101st Airborne members.
Brown has a copy of the photo hanging in his home, and he has plenty of stories of how he convinced relatives and friends that he is in it. A few years ago, Brown’s granddaughter and her boyfriend — now her husband — asked about it. Seeing it through their eyes reminded him of the growing pride he now takes in his piece of history.
Wintenburg shares that pride, though he is perhaps more sanguine about what led him to that moment.“We didn’t really have a choice back then,” he said. “We did what we had to do.”


Al Jazeera comes under scrutiny in the US

Updated 15 August 2018
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Al Jazeera comes under scrutiny in the US

  • Controversial Qatari network will be forced to reveal funding and ownership details under new legislation
  • The revelation that Al Jazeera had 175 staff accredited to the US Senate and House of Representatives in 2016 rang alarm bells

LONDON: Qatari broadcast network Al Jazeera will be forced to disclose its ownership and the source of its funding under a new law passed in the US.
A clause in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which became law this week, requires foreign media outlets based in the US to reveal their relationship to foreign governments or political parties, and to report on the funding they receive from such “foreign principals.” The information must be submitted within 60 days and thereafter every six months.
The information is submitted to the US Congress and posted on the website of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), an independent government agency responsible for regulating the radio, television and telephone industries and all inter-state and international communications via wire, satellite and cable.
The new law is an indication of the growing mistrust with which the US, an ally of Doha, views the news channel because of Qatar’s support for groups which the US designates as terrorist organizations.
Both Republican and Democrat politicians have pressed the US Department of Justice to compel Al Jazeera to be registered under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) because of the station’s “radical anti-American” content. In March, 19 politicians wrote to Attorney-General Jeff Sessions citing their concerns.
“We find it troubling that the content produced by this network often directly undermines American interests with favorable coverage of US State Department-designated foreign terrorist organizations including Hamas, Hezbollah, Palestinian Islamic Jihad and Jabhat Al-Nusra, Al-Qaeda’s branch in Syria,” they wrote.
The Justice Department defines the purpose of the FARA law as “to inform the American public of the activities of agents working for foreign principals to influence US government officials or the American public with reference to the the domestic or foreign policies of the US.”
The Middle East Forum (MEF) think tank has also lobbied for closer scrutiny of Al Jazeera and welcomed the measure, which President Donald Trump signed into law on Monday.
Though the law applies to foreign media in general, the MEF said it was prompted “primarily from abuses by Al Jazeera,” which was described as “a political project masquerading in the guise of journalism.”
The revelation that, according to the Congressional Directory, Al Jazeera had 175 staff accredited to the US Senate and House of Representatives in 2016 rang alarm bells. In comparison, in the same year, The New York Times had 43 accredited correspondents and the Washington Post had 111.
“That Al Jazeera has more reporters covering Congress than The New York Times and the Washington Post combined hints at something going on beyond journalism,” said MEF director Gregg Roman.
“With more transparency, we will learn more about the Qatari government’s intentions.”
All Al Jazeera videos on YouTube already have to carry a disclaimer stating that the channel is entirely or partly funded by the Qatar government.
Al Jazeera did not respond to requests for a comment, but declared it was “shocked” when the 19 US politicians called for FARA registration and accused them of trying to curtail press freedom.
In a statement released at the time, the network insisted it followed no political agenda and maintained editorial independence “from any governmental institutions, Qatari or otherwise.”
If compelled to register under FARA, Al Jazeera would join China Daily and People’s Daily Overseas Edition (both English-language outlets), the Korean broadcaster KBS, Japanese broadcaster NHK Cosmomedia and — since last November — the pro-Kremlin network RT America, which was previously known as Russia Today.