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Vietnam remembered

The Smithsonian Channel offers two premieres for veterans

The Smithsonian Channel will air two premieres, Gun Trucks of Vietnam and The Lost Tapes: Tet Offensive, in honor of Veterans Day. Photo credit: Randall Love

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The Smithsonian Channel will commemorate this year's Veterans Day with two premieres offering unique and new aspects of the Vietnam War.

A one-hour special entitled, Gun Trucks of Vietnam, airs Sunday, Nov. 11, at 9 p.m. The feature tells the story of the innovative Army soldiers who were assigned trucks under-equipped to protect convoys.

"The gun trucks were mostly an Army operation," said Tim Evans, the executive producer of the special. "It took creativity, guts, and a willingness to put oneself into harm's way in order to get the job done."

Rare 8mm film taken by soldiers under fire introduces viewers to how they had scavenged parts and weapons to turn these unarmed and under-equipped trucks into five-ton killing machines.

These trucker soldiers were tasked with leading and protecting convoys, which were the lifeblood of the Army's camps throughout Vietnam. At many points, the gun truck crews were the first convoy drivers ever to be on the front lines, making them prime targets.

A typical one-hour show takes the Smithsonian Channel about six months to a year to complete. Evans noted that this production took quite a bit longer.

"Gun Trucks of Vietnam not only celebrates the technological genius of young men under fire, it also reveals how these experiences created bonds that still last today," he concluded.

A second premiere, The Lost Tapes: Tet Offensive, will air a week later Nov. 18 at 9 p.m.  

The program returns viewers to the well-known Tet offensive through the use of newly discovered, and never-seen-before 8mm films taken during the Viet Cong-led offensive.

"This series is all about in-the-moment storytelling," said John Cavanaugh, executive producer of the show. "The result with this episode is that you feel like you are on the ground in Vietnam as the attack unfolds and chaos breaks out."

The episode retells the events of the attacks throughout South Vietnam and illustrates the ferocity and scope of the Tet Offensive in early 1968.

Not long after the attacks, American public opinion -- which had generally supported America's involvement in Vietnam -- began to change in favor of withdrawal.

Both Evans and Cavanaugh said that the Smithsonian Channel creates a lot of programming on military topics.

"We happened to have these two Vietnam programs completed at about the same time," explained Evans. "It's also significant to us that there are nearly seven million Vietnam veterans in the U.S. today, so it seems like now is a good time to highlight their service."

For more information about the two premieres, visit

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