VIETNAM Revisited Saturday & Sunday 18-19JULY2015
10am till 4pm
Photos and Commentary
The VIETNAM Revisited Combat Bivouac at the Pennsylvania Military offers visitors an up close immersion experience into the sights, smells, sounds and tactics of American invlovement in Southeast Asia circa 1968-69. Visitors may tour the camps, go out on patrol (good footwear and trousers advised) and witness the combat action in the recreated ambush scenario at 1345 (1:45).
A large surgical tent is the central focus of the bivouac. The wounded are triaged here immediatley following the tactical ambush.
Our "In-Processing" sign is designed to receive signatures from visiting Vietnam vets. The acronyms are based in reality. 0825 is the numerical designation for the museum within the state bureaucracy; PHMC is the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission; BHSM stands for Bureau of Historic Sites and Museums.
Our participants use a variety of skills to interpret the period. Local folk guitarist Doug Irwin served for real as a member of the 82nd Airborne Division.
Impressive Viet Cong and North Vietnamese Army displays enjoyed the best bivouac area. While the Americans baked in the hot summer sun, the VC and NVA were nestled in the thick foliage and tree canopy of Spring Creek.
This "exhibit" is based on real bush photos from 1968-69.
(It was adjacent to the VC/NVA area.)
Private Adam Hartzel of Mifflinville briefs a "squad" on a Vietnamese sign warning of mines in the area. Small groups of visitors accompany a "pointman" and "tail-end Charlie" as they're led through the combat trail. The point demonstrates the techniques for walking, stalking, and detecting enemy booby-traps. More than 75% of troops who served in-country were support personnel assigned to garrison areas. They kept those doing the fighting supplied. Our combat trail, combined with the heat and humidity of July, provide an eye-opening experience for visitors. Many veterans in attendance admit that they were part of the 75%. We remember them all with our efforts.
Visitors are instructed to look deep into the bush since anyone can be hiding only five feet off the trail.
A series of booby-traps and pitfalls with "the enemy" running circles around the civilian "patols" educated the public throughout the day.
This walk along the combat trail makes for some great photos and movies.
Ambush demonstrations are conducted at 1345 each day. Time and space get condensed. All action concludes in 15 minutes. Just as in some real firefights, intense terror is experienced for very brief moments followed by complete silence.
SFC Tom Gray (with the radio hand-set) from the Greater Pennsylvania Military Preservation Association out of Altoona leads a squad along a treeline for the tactical ambush demonstration.
Conducting public demonstrations of 18th or 19th century battle reenactment is quite easy. The Napoleonic tactics used during the Revolutionary and Civil Wars were designed for an audience sitting beside the battlefield. As weapon systems improved, the tactics changed. By the mid-1960's, American soldiers found themselves in an environment, and war, much different than anything they ever faced. Our tactical demonstation offers an "ant farm" view for the public. The patrol is "ambushed" while walking along a tree line. The public experiences the action from the safety of a hillside a short distance away.
A combat casualty is brought to the batallion aid station.
Medical officer Mike Williamson of Indiana, PA and surgical nurse Julie Decker from Altoona provide first person demonstrations of a field surgical group in operation.
Mark the calendars. . . 18-19 JULY 2015
for photos of the past bivouacs