"Those guys are heroes and nobody knows it." That is what Vietnam Veteran Ken Miller said of his fellow medevac crew mates during the recent filming of a documentary. On assignment for CBS Evening News, a combat medevac mission in Vietnam, journalist Morton Dean, and cameraman Greg Cooke, had the opportunity of filming those heroes back in 1971. The seven minute segment came across television screens nationwide, but to those involved in the filming, both military members and civilians, the impact was long lasting. It tells of a story of combat, personal missions, healing, recovery, reflection and a touching relationship between a journalist and our military members. It reconnects the medevac crew members with some of the service members they had rescued.
More than forty years since the segment aired, local Emmy award recipient Morton Dean, and cameraman Greg Cooke, are developing a documentary, Vietnam Medevac, to reconnect with the service members that they encountered during that particular piece. The result is both inspiring and encouraging, and it is a story that needs to be told for Veterans, service members, their families and civilians alike.
Each of these crew mates had been impacted by their experiences differently, and that is not to say that one is stronger or weaker than the next. As a society, we need to remember that when we speak with our service members, and we need to remember that when we speak about them. There is less of a stigma now in regard to the effects of war and mental health treatment, but occasionally there is also an underlying assumption that everyone comes home with invisible wounds in one way or another. Every individual and their takeaway from their military experience is unique; honor that.
There are, undoubtedly, painful aspects of any military conflict, but Dean and Cooke's documentary is an touching account that shows how growth and healing can rise from such an experience. The men featured decades ago, and again now, risked their lives for their comrades. As a medevac crew, they each volunteered for the missions, flying into heavily combated areas to rescue the severely wounded. They didn't risk their lives because they felt like a hero; they risked their lives because they felt that could do something good and worthwhile.
During this Memorial Day weekend, in between barbecues and discounted shopping, please take a moment to connect with this documentary. Take the time to let their stories impress upon your heart. When that happens, then let it allow you to speak with compassion, genuine interest and a bit more understanding to our Veterans of any generation. Let it put you in their shoes, even for just a moment, to reflect upon what we are honoring during this long holiday weekend.
For more information on the Vietnam Medevac, I encourage you to watch the segments HERE. Please share their message and their stories. You never know who it will touch, and how it will impact their life. So far, the documentary has proven to be a wonderful source of discussion for our Veterans, leading to a deeper understanding, a willingness to open up and validation of their experiences.