[Photo left: Gini Hashii, director/producer; Annette Hall, exec. prod., with Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf (U.S. Army, deceased) after he was interviewed for SILENT VICTORY. Photo right: exec. producer Don Hall with Gen. Schwarzkopf. Photos courtesy of Don C. Hall.](Note: prior to his death in April 1998 (which was just four months before the Halls began shooting the documentary), Col. Maus had recommended them to General Schwarzkopf.)SILENT VICTORY was shown at Ft. Bragg, NC, on September 21, 2006, to the men of Company F, 51st Infantry (LRS) (ABN), the present-day version of Don’s unit in Vietnam. The unit invited Don and Annette Hall to visit them for four days to see what the unit was currently doing. F/51st LRS was a direct descendant of Don’s unit, F/51st LRP, and was back from deployment in the Middle East. New volunteers to the unit were undergoing training. Everyone was very impressed with the documentary and had a lot of questions for Don after the showing. After the Q&A, F Company’s C.O., CPT Isaac Rademacher, presented Don Hall with a plaque, upon which was inscribed: “Thank you for preserving the distinguished heritage of F Company IN (LRS) (ABN).” After the presentation, the Halls did a book signing for I SERVED.***Comments written by members of the audience immediately after a November 2000 Veteran’s Day sneak preview of the rough cut of SILENT VICTORY:Gary Newbill (1/Lt, USMCR, Co K, 3d Bn, 5th Marines [Infantry]. 107mm Mortar Battery, 2d Bn, 11th Marines [Artillery], RVN, 1966-1967):Thank you, again, for a wonderful evening of reflection, the November 11th showing of "Silent Victory." Our son Erick (age 22) and I talked into the night about the experiences of Company F, 51st Long Range Patrol (Airborne) Infantry, and how your time in-country compared to my own combat tour with the Marines in I Corps...your story placed Tet 1968 and other actions in proper respective, United States forces won and the VC lost, notwithstanding media reports and subsequent historical revisionism. Thank you, Don, for serving so well, as you honored our country's call to arms. The men of Company F have earned my undying respect and admiration.A software designer:"One thing that struck me was that this documentary had no narrator—extraordinarily rare-—and yet it was completely cohesive and clear. I think the absence of a narrator—an intermediary between the viewer and the subject—makes the story more immediate because everything is told in the first person. I'm reminded of the miniseries of James Clavell's "Shogun." Though written and produced by talented Hollywood talent, after the first airing they hired Orson Welles and gave him narration to read, which they added before the second showing. That you guys were able to do what far more experienced filmmakers could not says a lot about your talent and perceptiveness." A son of one of the F/51st “Lurps” who was interviewed for the documentary:“It has always been something I've personally wondered about, what my Dad did in the Army and what it meant to him. Seeing this movie and hearing his testimony about LRP gives me a window into what he and fellow soldiers had gone through, both in VN and home. I know for many years that this war was carried upon Dad as an emotional scar and doing this movie I feel gave him the ability to heal and time to reflect. I [didn't] know what these men meant when [I heard] them talk about the hardships of Vietnam war, but seeing this movie has opened my eyes to the world that my Dad lived in and I am grateful. Thank you." A wife of one of the F/51stLurps:“Personally, I do not like any kind of documentaries or stories about war. My husband Bill persuaded me to see 'Silent Victory' with him, and after doing so, I found that it was very intriguing. Once I started watching it, I could not stop. It was very well put together in the sense that even I could understand what was going on. Even as long as it was, I didn't leave my seat until it was over. I have to say that it was the best documentary I have ever seen about Vietnam and I think it will answer a lot of questions for a lot of people. Welcome home, guys!"A woman who is the director of program management at a high-tech company:“GET THIS STORY OUT! I've always had an interest in Vietnam and none of the books, movies, etc. I’ve read/seen come close to portraying what was portrayed here. (I've read a lot!) We weren't idiots in Vietnam, we could have won. There was effectiveness, leadership, intelligence. There are great lessons about leadership and teams here. The business world could benefit from these. Thank you!" A wife of one of the helicopter pilots who flew for F/51st LRP:"This was an excellent showing and accounting. Maybe one of the best I have seen. I hope that the American people, our countrymen, have the opportunity to see this side of Vietnam. So many today, myself included, have never fully appreciated what our soldiers tried to do."A Vietnam vet:“Outstanding communication by each soldier. Riveting, spellbinding stories by team leaders. Audience was quiet, silent and non-moving for long periods of time. Great coordination between video story and audio description of the operation. Shows soldiers' true emotions regarding the political reason of war and true soldiers’ feelings. Most personal and emotional documentary of Vietnam I've seen. Great Job!" A son of a Vietnam vet:“Incredible film! As a son of a Vietnam veteran (USMC), I was deeply moved, and appreciate even more the human element to the war. I hope this film reaches a large audience. From a production standpoint, it was great, too. Job well done!"***
Comments from various people who have seen SILENT VICTORY:
Deborah McCabe, Editor, MILITARY & VETERAN SEARCH“Awesome! I loved the description of teamwork, the C.O., and Schwarzkopf's right-on remarks. It just had everything rolled up into a well-done documentary --the description of fear, buddies, the enemy being people too, patrols, our winning of the war, the politicians' incompetence in handling Nam and not letting the military run it, the unjustified reactions of others when our guys returned, and the nightmares that haunt. It was well-done and my hat goes off to Don and Annette–and to Virginia Hashii who did a superb job of directing and editing. It was truly well-done and flowed smoothly. Sometimes the smallest of details can make an impact: I was moved by her technique at the end of fading from their combat boots trudging along in Nam to their shiny shoes of today walking together again.Cheryl Landes, writer and editor (she has published more than 100 freelance travel and history articles in magazines and newspapers throughout the U.S. and Canada and is the author of two travel books)“It's great...a powerful film. I like the format you and Don chose - having the members of the LURPS and the other soldiers who assisted them tell the story in their own words instead of having a professional narrator say anything. It made the film far more authentic than the other documentaries I've seen about the wars. General Schwarzkopf's comments were also very powerful. I think the biggest problem with the media's reporting of the war to the public during that time was the public's trustworthiness of the media. Television was still relatively new at that time, and I can remember people where I grew up accepting anything on the news as the ‘gospel truth,’ for lack of a better description. It's sort of like the Internet when its popularity started growing among the general public - remember the line, ‘It must be true, because I saw it on the Internet?’ The same could be said for television back then! Anyway, just wanted you to know that I enjoyed it and that it's an excellent film. The story needs to be told to a wider audience. It would help them understand a lot about what was happening behind the scenes during that era.”Stephen (Steve) Calderon, 4th platoon to Commo platoon, AKA: Sgt. Shorty“My congratulations to you, for both your book I Served and your Documentary Silent Victory. Both of which are well done and OUTSTANDING!! You wrote a very honest portrayal of what life as a member Co. F (LRP) 51st ABN INF was like. It may be unbelievable to some, but you not only wrote the true story, but backed it up with the after action reports and documents to prove its authenticity. Having been an original member of Co. F from its inception to it being disbanded, (4th Plat, radio relays and TOC Ops), I remember many of the accounts in both your book and documentary. It brought back many memories and much pride, knowing I had served with the BEST. I also concur that we were very fortunate to be led by two of the finest leaders, Col. Maus and First Sgt. W. Butts. What a perfect match. Both leaders not only trained us well, but instilled a camaraderie and pride in each and every one of us. I am grateful to you for telling OUR true story. Thank You and Best Wishes in your future endeavors. Fox 51 Sir! Airborne all the WAY!” Kenny Moore, Vietnam Veteran, F/51st LRP“The film was terrific! Let me offer my thanks and congratulations on a mission well done. You’ve done a great service to the men of F Company. And any and all Vietnam veterans who had the good luck to serve in an outstanding unit. The production work was superb. I hope you’ll do another, you’ve got the knack for it and it would be a shame to waste a unique talent.”Len Magruder, President, Vietnam Veterans for Academic Reform“Silent Victory [is] a remarkable account of Company F from a number of perspectives, by members of the company looking back after 30 years, but interspersed with actual footage of the unit in Vietnam. It was really interesting to hear the opinions of every one, including Schwarzkopf, on the Tet Offensive and the role of the media. Impressed me greatly, went over it twice, because it is what I have been saying for years, from impressions gained while here on campuses during the war on the home front. My overall strategy by emphasizing these films and pointing out all the new, more truthful books on Vietnam on campus is to try to head off a polarization over the war on terrorism that could lead to another paralysis, and loss, as happened in Vietnam.” Note: Click here to see Mr. Magruder’s review of Don Hall’s Vietnam memoir, I SERVED.Chico Hernandez, Vietnam Veteran, F/51st LRP“[Y]ou guys did a fantastic job on this. Watching it for me was like being there all over again. The emotions still run high. Thanks again.”Tyler Furbish, Vietnam Veteran, 195th Assault Helicopter Company“During 1967 and 1968, my company provided helicopter support for F Company, 51st LRP (Abn) Inf. You’ll see some of our ships and crews in Silent Victory. I sent Don and Annette an email “review”. It consisted of one word – a word that I knew Don would understand and in which he would take pride. That word was “Outstanding”. Anyone who was in the Army in Vietnam will understand all that the word implies.And that is exactly the word for this documentary - outstanding. In Vietnam, we might have added an adjective in the middle of the word for effect (Out-blank-standing). What a novel way to tell a story. And what a story it is. The film is strong. It has great impact. The story is told by the LRPs themselves. The 51st LRPs, as we used to call them, were a class act. I am proud to have worked with them and proud to know some of them today. I’m hoping for Silent Victory II.”Don Haase, Vietnam Veteran, Crew Chief 195th Assault Helicopter Co., 1968“Silent Victory...was as good as any production I have seen on History Channel or Discovery or wherever. I was amazed at the footage you had of the 195th AHC. I realize a lot of it was F. Co. 51st. Inf. personnel's private footage but not all of it was home movies. Because we flew special ops we didn't get filmed much. Your map of the Tet Offensive was awesome. I was on our flight line perimeter 1/4 mile away from the Long Binh ammo dump when the sappers blew it. Our M-60s and a 118th AHC Bandit gun ship kept them from blowing up our helicopters. I was impressed with the editing of the personal stories and the choice of footage to tie to the words of the person who was speaking. Very nicely done. And in a style that surprised me. I have never seen that method used before. The use of super-imposed images was masterful. My brother is taking film-making at college starting his third year next fall. I have heard it said you can't make a documentary without a narrator. You and Don have done it and made it look easy. The music was awesome, what a mood setter. It was good for me to see so many pictures of the 51st LRP guys in Vietnam. I recognized some faces as people I hauled on my ship in April and May of 1968. The F. Co. 51st guys and Stormin’ Norman really made this a work of historical art, again well done, Don and Annette.”Dennis Kistler, Vietnam Veteran, Huey pilot, 117th Assault Helicopter Co.“Truly a fine job. The first-person narrative technique, knitting a single story from many stories, was just terrific. The first-hand accounts and reflections were absolutely compelling. And you gotta love Schwarkzopf. Personally, I had been nervous about seeing the film (from a strictly vain point of view), but I was pleased to have my trust in you validated. I've since made and maintained contact with fellow pilots. We are a diverse group, but as your film points out, our war experiences drew us close to the people around us in ways that are difficult to explain. Rediscovering those friendships, sharing stuff I can only do with them, has added much to my life. So, again, I thank you both for helping me open that door. One more thing, an interesting anecdote--how things come around, go around. As you might know, the newspaper article Bob Johnson wrote about my participation in your documentary is posted on the VN Helicopter Crew Members site. As it turns out, when you put my name in a web search, this article comes up (previously, I didn't know this). Twice in the last eighteen months I've been at an introductory client meeting, where in their search about Kistler & Knapp Builders, these future clients had stumbled on this article. It seems being a Vietnam veteran is more "fashionable" than it had been for most of the years since the war. So, (at least for the time being) as one of my project managers noted, it seems to be an asset for the business. Not that I care, I am who I am, but it's always good to be appreciated, and if it helps clients see our integrity quicker, well that's terrific.” Chuck Luczynski, Vietnam Veteran, Crew Chief, 195th Attack Helicopter Co., then later, team member in F/51st LRP“Many kudos & thanks to you for the great labor of love you did in memorializing a truly unique unit. I am truly humbled, yet also proud to have flown for & then served with F Co.”J.B. West, Huey pilot, 17th Assault Helicopter Co.“Just wanted to thank you for letting me be part of your unit history. I understand the camaraderie you have as the second unit I was in was like that, D Troop of the 3/5 Cav. Your video is great. Hope it gets on TV one of these days. It is deserving and a well done piece.”James McNeill, from Glasgow, Scotland“I was very impressed. It was great to put faces to some of the names [from the book, “I Served”]. There is no substitute for hearing the words of those who were there. It was also good to hear some honest commentary about the military side of Tet '68.”Rick and Kim Jones. Rick served in Vietnam in the 199th LIB.“I Served” was a very intense book and “Silent Victory” seemed to fill in all the gaps of remembering the experience of life and death in Vietnam. Both of us have spread the word about the book, the documentary, and your web site to numerous veterans groups and other organizations of like interests. Len Magruder’s [of Vietnam Veterans for Academic Reform] are very commendable, too. Our nation needs the truth, especially now, so as to see the big picture of how our military needs and deserves their support in a united effort in fighting terrorism.” Robert Carmody, son of a Vietnam veteran“I read the book and it was great! Saw [SILENT VICTORY] and it was great, too! My father lost his life in October 1967 with the 199th’s LRRP unit so you can imagine my interest in your book and video because Don was in the same area about the same time as my father. Just thought I would drop a line and let you guys know I really appreciate what you have done and the message you are sending.”***
General H. Norman Schwarzkopf (U.S. Army, retired) and General Fred C. Weyand (U.S. Army, retired) both gave a thumbs-up to SILENT VICTORY after being sent a copy of the final edited version. General Schwarzkopf said the documentary was fantastic and that he appreciated how well Vietnam vets were portrayed. General Weyand said that Col. Maus (Executive Producer Don Hall’s former C.O., now deceased) would have been proud of what the Halls have done. He said the Halls and their team did an outstanding job putting the documentary together.