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PBS Vietnam War Documentary Reopens Old Wounds; Sparks Needed Discussion

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Vietnam veterans (left to right) Dan Gannon, Caesar Smith, Ron Langel, and Roger Elliott (standing) in IPR's Des Moines studio in 2015.

The new Vietnam War documentary series on PBS, directed by Ken Burns and Lynn Novik, is reopening a national conversation about the long, controversial conflict.

On this edition of River to River, Ben Kieffer talks with Iowa veterans of Vietnam to get their reactions to the series and discuss the relevance it may have today, more than 40 years after the fall of Saigon. 

“We gotta continue to talk about our experiences and the sacrifices; because once we quit talking about them, it’ll all be forgotten," says Lt. Dan Gannon, who served as a marine corps infantry platoon commander in Vietnam and is chair of the Iowa Commission of Veterans Affairs.

Also included in the discussion: Roger Elliott, retired Master Sergeant who served in Vietnam from 1968-1970; Joe Gasperetti, who served with the 4th Infantry Division in Vietnam from 1966-67; and Ron Langel, commissioner at the Iowa Department of Veterans Affairs, who served in Vietnam in the U.S. Army as an E5 Sergeant for 13 months.

Ben Kieffer is the host of IPR's River to River