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Feb 11, 2018

Sunday Focus: Hanoi Hannah & An Alabama Soldier's Death

Army Corporal Larry J. Samples
"That night Hannah was interspersing Western rock music with her reports. The sounds of the Animals, singing “We Gotta Get Outta This Place,” was followed by Hannah: Now for the war news. American casualties in Vietnam. Army Corporal Larry J. Samples, Canada, Alabama … Staff Sergeant Charles R. Miller, Tucson, Arizona … Sergeant Frank Hererra, Coolige, Arizona.”

The above was written in a New York Times Column about the war by "Don North", which may be a fictitious name*, I wanted to write to him but could not find an email address. In case he reads this, please drop me a note.
     What I would have said, and asked, is this:
     There is no "Canada" Alabama. Was that a typo or an auto-correct version of Corporal Samples real hometown---Henager Alabama. 
     We all make mistakes, but was your quote an actual transcription of a Hanoi Hanna broadcast? Did you tape it, and merely misunderstand her accented English? "Henager"---maybe--perhaps---possibly---could be mistaken for "Canada"?


     I was in Vietnam broadcasting on Armed Forces Vietnam Network a year after his death. 
     In fact he died the day before my 18th birthday.
     I was in 'Nam just under a year, in Quang Tri. 
     I worked at the AFVN TV station that had been moved there when the original location in Hue was destroyed in Tet....50 years ago this month
     I never once heard anyone mention Hannah. Or maybe I just don't remember. But I do remember only once in my time anchoring being told not to report something. You write:

"When violence broke out in Detroit on July 23, 1967, Hannah jumped on the news. American military stations were quiet; she broadcast every detail she had available."

    That was before my time on air in AFVN. I'm sharing this posting with the members of a former AFVN'ers who maintain a message board...and I encourage them to comment on your report, and specifically answer this question:
    Did AFVN censor news in 1967? 

*Don North covered Vietnam from 1965 to 1973 as a television news reporter. He is the author of “Inappropriate Conduct: Mystery of a Disgraced War Correspondent.” He is a member of the Vietnam Old Hacks, an organization of veteran journalists who worked in Vietnam.

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