Bill Lord’s underlying reason for writing, “50 Years After Vietnam: Lessons and Letters from the War I Hated Fighting”~
“I think a lot of us retired and thought, ‘I’ve to get this off my chest.’ Because remember, I got back from Vietnam on a Friday and started school again on the next Monday. I put it out of my mind. Honestly, I didn’t talk about it much at all. Lots of people didn’t even know I’d been to Vietnam.”
Andy Ockershausen: This is Andy Ockershausen and this is Our Town. One of the great privileges we have in Our Town is to talk to a lot of people who’ve made a great impression on Our Town. May not have been natives, but they’ve been here long enough almost to be involved with natives. The gentleman with Bill Lord. Bill Lord wrote a book called “50 Years After Vietnam” and it’s a fabulous book, I read an excerpt from it, and I want to talk to you about … you started your war here at Channel 7, Bill and welcome to Our Town.
Bill Lord – University of Washington Huskie Football Fan
Bill Lord: Thank you, I’m happy to be here.
Andy Ockershausen: Well, looking back at your career though, I see you’re University of Washington, a Huskie.
Bill Lord: I am a Huskie. As a matter of fact, an intense football fan even to this day.
Andy Ockershausen: Most magnificent stadium in America, I think, is on a lake.
Bill Lord: It is, it’s beautiful.
Andy Ockershausen: It’s a fabulous place.
Bill Lord: One of my old houses used to look across the lake into that stadium from a couple miles away, but it was a beautiful, beautiful place and I have only the fondest memories of it.
Andy Ockershausen: Now they got to play Washington State though in the big game, I think it’s two weeks coming up.
Bill Lord: We always were pretty confident going into the Apple Cup.
Andy Ockershausen: That was a gimme wasn’t it?
Bill Lord: But it’s no more. They are really good. Washington State is really good and it’s a crap shoot. I mean honestly, whoever wins that game goes to the championship game and I would not bet, as much as I love the Huskies, I wouldn’t bet on them in this one.
Andy Ockershausen: No, heard they’d probably play Stanford in the championship game. That’s what it looks like now.
Bill Lord: Yeah, yeah.
Andy Ockershausen: Well Bill, you’re from Seattle area or-
Bill Lord: No, I grew up in the Seattle area.
Andy Ockershausen: … Seattle’s Best. You are!
Bill Lord: Thank you. No, it was a great place to grow up and we had nothing but great experiences there. The University of Washington was a wonderful place to go but once you get into the media, you move.
Andy Ockershausen: How’d you get in it though? I mean, you started at KRIO?
Bill Lord: No, I started in Medford, Oregon but honestly, I got-
Andy Ockershausen: I know Medford, Oregon.
Reporter for the University of Washington Daily
Bill Lord: … I got into it at the University of Washington because I was just back from Vietnam, I was in school, and I was looking for a way to kind of being involved in things. But we were so splintered in those days, if you think the nation is divided now, it was completely divided then.
Andy Ockershausen: Absolutely, I lived through it, I know what you’re saying Bill.
Bill Lord: And I actually found, by working on the University of Washington Daily, that I could be involved in all of the events of the day without having to be the advocate for some radical cause. I think it was like I kind of found my calling there and you know, for the next 50 years I spent working in news rooms.
Andy Ockershausen: You started as a writer with the-
Bill Lord: Yeah, I started as a writer on that paper.
Andy Ockershausen: … street writer? I mean, you were a reporter?
Bill Lord: Just regular old reporter.
Andy Ockershausen: Slogging around the streets of Seattle?
Bill Lord: Well we didn’t do that much slogging around. We did mostly telephone calls to be honest. Honestly, it was a great place to kind of get my feet wet.
Andy Ockershausen: And great call letters, a great station, a powerhouse in the far west, I know that KRIO.
Bill Lord: Yeah.
Andy Ockershausen: And then you began to move, which is what happened in the early days.
From Medford, Oregon to Salt Lake City, Utah to Beirut, Lebanon
Bill Lord: You go from one place to another. I started in Medford, Oregon, then I went to Salt Lake City, then I ended up Beirut, Lebanon. People ask me, “How did you ever get a job in Beirut, Lebanon?”. It’s just the luck of the draw. A friend of mine, his father had worked for NBC and NBC hired him to go be the bureau photographer there, and the reporter job opened up and they said, “Well, who’s that guy on your tape? That reporter?” And he said, “Well, you know, that’s Bill”.
Andy Ockershausen: Bill Lord.
Bill Lord: Yeah. Does Bill Lord want to come work in Beirut? And they called me up and I sort of looked at the map and, “Yeah I’ll go there!” Then I started doing a little more homework about the civil war that was going on there.
Andy Ockershausen: You’re getting right in the middle of it!
Bill Lord: It was a little more dangerous than I thought it was going to be.
Andy Ockershausen: How many years ago? That must have been 40 years ago, Bill.
Reporting from Beirut – 1976-78
Bill Lord: Yeah, that was 76, 7, and 8 that I was over there in the Middle East.
Andy Ockershausen: Wow! And you were there in a hot time. It’s always hot in Beirut, right?
Bill Lord: It always was but this was kind of the teeth of the civil war there, where all of the different factions were trying to blow up the city at once.
Andy Ockershausen: But what a great experience for you to be involved in that community.
Bill Lord: It was-
Andy Ockershausen: To see what it’s about.
Bill Lord: … and honestly it was much better then, because if you’re over there now, reporters are fair game. When we were over there, all of these terrorist organizations had media offices.
Andy Ockershausen: They were feeding you!
Bill Lord: Yasser Arafat had a PLO spokesman that would take us aside and give us information. So, we were somewhat protected by the various different factions over there.
Andy Ockershausen: How about Al Jazeera Was that alive then or was that before that?
Bill Lord: That was before that.
Andy Ockershausen: They came along later. They were doing the same thing though. They were taking care of the reporters.
Bill Lord: Yeah, that was probably in the 90s that that came around.
Andy Ockershausen: So then, why did you come back? Did NBC send you back?
Bill Lord: No actually, I realized a couple of things. First of all, I figured that sooner or later my number would come up and so I was starting to get a little worried about that. And then secondly-
Andy Ockershausen: Naturally.
On Wanting Connection to Audience
Bill Lord: … I didn’t get any feedback from my work. I would send them off on a satellite, I’d never see them, I’d never hear about them and one of the things that I loved then and love now, is in local television, you get immediate feedback from the audience. You’re in a relationship with your audience and I think that that-
Andy Ockershausen: That’s a wonderful feeling.
Bill Lord: … is a wonderful thing, and that’s what I brought to WJLA and WUSA9 here. I loved doing stories about people and getting to know them on the stories, and honestly, getting their feedback after they saw the story.
Andy Ockershausen: How did you end up … you left Beirut and came back to the States of course, why in Washington? Is that-
Bill Lord: This was just-
Andy Ockershausen: … target of yours?
Bill Lord: … it was not necessarily a target. As a matter of fact, it was a city that I’d been to so many times, but every time I’d look at the local TV it seemed like they were just doing national news. And I didn’t have a great deal of interest in it until this job came along and they wanted to go very, very, ultra local and they wanted to not go to Senate Committees and House Committees. They wanted to get down into the weeds with the local population.
Andy Ockershausen: Was Paul Berry still here when you arrived?
Bill Lord: Paul had gone.
Andy Ockershausen: Had gone, right.
Washington DC – The Right and Final Stop
Bill Lord: We have a number of people, we got Leon Harris right after I joined. But honestly, that kind of coverage was exactly what I was kind of born to do I think. So, I was thrilled to be there.
Andy Ockershausen: Well naturally, if you were in Beirut, you better be a good street reporter and know when to run. Same thing in Seattle.
Bill Lord: Long after that, I had sort of retired from on air stuff and become a news manager.
Andy Ockershausen: Right.
Bill Lord: I sent other people out. But that was another, just kind of transition for me. When you start out in these things-
Andy Ockershausen: What a great thrill though for you.
From Lone Reporter on the Street to News Director
Bill Lord: … oh yeah! But when you start out, you want to be the lone cowboy out there doing your story and I was the News Director’s nightmare. But then I sort of figured out that this would be a lot more fun if I were actually pulling together the work of all of these people and creating an actual news cast, at an actual organization. And I sort of transitioned into the management sector.
Andy Ockershausen: Well, we trained one of your better sportscasters, Timmy Brant.
Bill Lord: I love Tim.
Andy Ockershausen: Right here in this studio, I brought Timmy in from the University of Maryland. He was working for a promoter out there but I knew the family and so forth, but they were local people. Tim is a local guy.
Bill Lord: Oh yeah. You can’t ever have a conversation without him bringing up the good ole days of Catholic schools and sports and all that kind of stuff.
Andy Ockershausen: He did it all.
Leon Harris, Kathleen Matthews, Tim Brant, Doug Hill and Gordon Peterson – Channel 7 News Team
Bill Lord: So, he was one of the great pieces of the team at Channel 7.
Andy Ockershausen: Absolutely.
Bill Lord: With Leon and with Kathleen Mathews and Tim Brant. Tim Brant-
Andy Ockershausen: Kathy Cunningham, you knew that did you?
Bill Lord: Yes, yes. And I can’t go without saying Doug Hill. Doug Hill was another-
Andy Ockershausen: Oh yeah!
Bill Lord: … significant part of our operation.
Andy Ockershausen: Channel 9!
Bill Lord: Yeah, we swiped a lot of people from Channel 9, including Gordon Peterson.
Andy Ockershausen: Tell me about it. You did the world a great charge with that. We’re going to be right back and talk to Bill Lord more. We’re deep into Channel 7 now and I want to talk to him about the rest of the market. This is Andy Ockershausen and this is Our Town. …
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Announcer: You’re listening to Our Town with Andy Ockershausen. Brought to you by Best Bark Communications.
Andy Ockershausen: Thank you. This is Andy Ockershausen and this is Our Town. We’re talking with Bill Lord about his time and grade here at Channel 7. At one time it was WMAL-TV, of course.
Bill Lord: Sure.
Bill Lord – Charged with Closing the Rating Gap
Andy Ockershausen: And being part of the furniture there at one time where I started in the world, is being a messenger for Channel 7, which was maybe the best job I ever had because I knew everything going on, but that was a long time ago. That was like 1950. And to see and growing up here and being a part of it, I envy you and the opportunity you had to do something significant at Channel 7.
Bill Lord: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Well, I went in there and was told that my job was to close the gap between Channel 7 and Channel 4. Channel 4, as you know, was the long-time market leader.
Andy Ockershausen: Right. Always competitive.
Self-Promtion was Key to Success
Bill Lord: And we didn’t have a lot of the advantages they had. They had that team that had been together for 30 years. They had the NBC programming, my gosh. It was tough to compete with them, but we did occasionally catch them on certain programs. We’d win at 5:00 every now and then and we’d win at 11:00 every now and then. And, we would do the massive promotion of these wins, not to say that we actually were the number one station in town, but just to create an argument as to who it might be.
Andy Ockershausen: To get the buyers talking is well worth it.
Bill Lord: Yeah. We did extremely well on a couple of these books and when that would happen, we were a trumpet solo out there blowing our own horn.
Andy Ockershausen: You had to and that was great … The buyers and all knew it. I recall at times talking to the ownership, Joe Allbritton, way back about Channel 7 was WMAL-TV. They couldn’t be number one. So I said, “Why don’t we change the focus and be the most profitable?” So if you can’t get one, you get the other and we made a lot of money at Channel 7.
Bill Lord: He was almost a visionary in that sense, or maybe it was you doing it for him. Maybe he was just stealing your good work, but that was kind of the premise when I got there is if we can’t be the number one station, we’ll make the most money or we will make the most money relative to our total sales.
Bill Lord: But the son, Robert Allbritton, also wanted to win. He was competitive, still is very competitive.
Andy Ockershausen: Oh I know he’s very competitive.
Serving Sales Department Needs
Bill Lord: So, we maintained our ability to serve our sales department and to make sure that there were adequate profits so we should say.
Andy Ockershausen: Well you had a great staff, Bill. I mean recognized them on the street.
Bill Lord: Yeah, but we also wanted to get out there and win the news battle and win the rating. So, in my case, I was kind of the product guy. I was the guy that was going to create the product so that the sales people could keep the finances in order. And, you would think that naturally there would be some push and pull between the sales department and the news department. Didn’t really exist at Channel 7.
Andy Ockershausen: That is a very unique situation and usually at logger heads.
Bill Lord: They usually are, but we got along great and I think it was partly because I recognized and ultimately got the sales people to recognize that most of what they did was similar to what we did. Most of the people were similar. A sales account executive is similar to a reporter. You got to do it on your own. You got to make your own breaks. You got to get out there as an individual , and you’re going to be judged as an individual.
Bill Lord: And, once they realized that they were very similar people, a lot of friendships came out of that and it made it so much easier. And every now and then, there are going to be problems between a sales department and a news department. You know, they do a terrible story about a car dealer and somebody’s going to tear their hair out upstairs.
Andy Ockershausen: We’ve all had those.
Bill Lord: But, we found ways to do the story in such a way that we were journalistically correct and yet, do it in such a way that the sales department didn’t throw themselves out of the building.
Andy Ockershausen: Well I recall 7 On Your Side, but that was started way before you came here.
7 on Your Side Was a Component of Success
Bill Lord: It was, but I revived it a lot.
Andy Ockershausen: Yes, it was a great thing.
Bill Lord: After Paul Berry left, it had fallen into just kind of a slogan for the station.
Andy Ockershausen: Yeah, they weren’t doing it.
Bill Lord: But I hired a guy named Ross McLaughlin, who I had worked with at another station, who was just a … he was a brilliant investigative reporter and he was a guy that I think just enjoyed getting in peoples’ faces.
A Ockerhsausen: Laughter.
Bill Lord: And, he would drive people nuts, but he would turn the best stories you could imagine.
Andy Ockershausen: Great stories.
Bill Lord: And he always was … he had a photographer, Shawn Hoder, that worked with him all the time and they always were ultra prepared. At one point, some guy they were trying to get an interview with grabbed the camera, threw it in his car, and drove off. And-
Andy Ockershausen: That’s a story right there.
Bill Lord: Yeah. It’s a story, but what the guy didn’t realize is that they had set up a second camera on a little tripod on the hood of their car, so they have the whole thing on tape. While this guy’s stealing their camera, the guy was arrested about 20 minutes later.
Andy Ockershausen: Ingenius. They’re very good reporters.
Bill Lord: So, that franchise I think was part of our success was we really had some substance to it, in addition to a marketing slogan.
Remembering Larry Krebs – Successful Overnight Reporter for Radio and TV
Andy Ockershausen: Well way back before Bill Lord, we had the only overnight broadcaster on duty for radio and television, a guy named named Larry Krebs, that had his camera and the stuff he caught overnight, nobody else was on the street and he wasn’t lucky. He was there all the time, but we got so many … He’s the one that trapped Wilbur Mills in the Tidal Basin. Had it on film. He was shooting B-roll then, too.
Bill Lord: I know. And frankly, it’s taken a long time for stations to adopt this, but if you can get those hours between midnight and 5 a.m.-
Andy Ockershausen: You’re golden.
Bill Lord: You’re going to have the best stuff.
Andy Ockershausen: I believe it. I believe that.
Bill Lord: And it’s, you know, people will argue about the economics of it, but I always like to have things that the other guys didn’t have and that was one of the great ways to do that.
Andy Ockershausen: I found that there was not enough money in the world to pay him for what he did, but he was happy. He worked for radio and television, alive and he was just a great reporter for WMAL and Channel 7.
Bill Lord: If you can find somebody who likes that job.
Andy Ockershausen: Ah, he loved.
Bill Lord: It’s gold.
Andy Ockershausen: 24/7.
Bill Lord: Yeah.
Andy Ockershausen: This is a great conversation I’m having with Bill Lord about the golden days of television. I think they’re still here, but we’ll be right back, Bill, and we’re going to talk to you about your new career as an author.
Bill Lord: Okay.
Andy Ockershausen: This is Andy Ockershausen, this is Our Town.
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Announcer: You’re listening to Our Town with Andy Ockershausen.
Andy Ockershausen: This is Andy Ockershausen, Our Town, talking to Bill Lord, the esteemed News Director and Boss at Channel 7 who worked in media for many, but what detracted me and my producer and my wife to Bill Lord was his book. “50 Years After Vietnam: Lessons and Letters from the War I Hated Fighting” by Bill Lord. What a great title.
Bill Lord: I have to tell you that like so many other media people, I thought I was going to retire and write the world’s greatest novel. And, you know, I was all prepared to do that and my wife finds this little envelope filled with all of the letters I had written home from Vietnam that I didn’t even know existed.
Andy Ockershausen: You were not married at the time or were you?
Bill Lord: No, I was … no, I was. I was 19 and single in those days.
Andy Ockershausen: You were a young man. You were a kid when you were over there, correct?
Bill Lord: Yeah. We were children.
Andy Ockershausen: But what is it, the 9th Infantry. You weren’t in the army, you were just attached to it.
Bill Lord: No, I was in the army.
Andy Ockershausen: Oh you were?
Bill Lord: Yeah, I was a soldier. You know-
Andy Ockershausen: They’re shooting at you.
Bill Lord’s Letters Home During Vietnam Tour of Duty
Bill Lord: Yeah. That was my job was rifleman. But we were what they called “Grunts”. But anyway, my mom had saved all of these letters. My sister had kept them for years and finally gave them to my wife, and they sat in the house for a year or two and then she read them one day and said, “You’ve got to write a book about this. You’ve got to turn it into a book.” And so these letters kind of became the timeline-
Andy Ockershausen: As a writer, you were doing a good job and at the time, correct?
Bill Lord: Well-
Andy Ockershausen: You were getting rid of something by telling them.
Women Who Read the Book Comment on the Letters, Men Comment on Stories
Bill Lord: Let me put it this way. Those letters were better than I thought they were because my wife loved them and it’s been kind of funny, people who read the book, women who read the book comment on the letters. Men who read the book comment on all the stories I tell.
Andy Ockershausen: When you’re fighting, right.
Bill Lord: Yeah, so it’s been a very interesting lesson and how these things worked.
Andy Ockershausen: How long a period time does that take place, your letters?
Bill Lord: The letters cover a nine or 10 month period.
Andy Ockershausen: Okay.
Bill Lord: Which was pretty much my entire time in Vietnam.
Andy Ockershausen: You were rotated in and out as a unit or as an individual?
Bill Lord: No, I was an individual that rotated in. The way it worked in those days is to keep a unit alive, they made sure that you could go into a unit and come out of a unit and I was one of the replacements that went in and joined a unit that was already there.
Andy Ockershausen: There’s another book written by somebody about this Vietnam thing. It’s 50 years must’ve triggered a lot of peoples’ thoughts.
Bill Lord: I think it did. I think a lot of us retired and a lot of us thought, “I got to get this off my chest.” Because you got to remember, I got back from Vietnam on a Friday and started school again on the next Monday. I put it out of my mind. Honestly, I didn’t talk about it much at all. Lots of people didn’t even know I’d been to Vietnam.
Bill Lord: So, it was something I suppressed totally and you know-
Andy Ockershausen: You lived with it, but you didn’t let it out.
Bill Lord: Yeah. And so this gave me an opportunity to spill it all out.
Paul Berry’s Vietnam Experience
Andy Ockershausen: Well great. I’m so dying to read it. Another aside for you, you probably haven’t heard it yet, Paul Berry, has been a friend of ours when we brought him from Detroit, but Paul told a story about Vietnam about him building a radio. Have you heard that story?
Bill Lord: No.
Andy Ockershausen: He built an FM station with equipment that they stole from various units and they put it on the air. The same time the other guy was doing Good Morning, Vietnam.
Bill Lord: Oh, that’s funny.
Andy Ockershausen: Paul Berry, the Newsman.
Bill Lord: That’s funny, that’s funny.
Andy Ockershausen: He came back on the plane and got a job the next day in Detroit, almost like you did.
Bill Lord: Yeah.
Andy Ockershausen: He put it aside, and then we got it out of him. Nobody ever knew that story about the FM. But anyway, Bill, what else happened after you got back? You decided to go into broadcasting, or you … ?
Bill Lord: I did. I wanted to find a place where I could work and not have to be an advocate. There were so many different advocates of one thing or another in those days.
Andy Ockershausen: Oh, living through that while you’re over there saving us. I’m living in Washington, D.C., and reading about it, not knowing anything. I had relatives over there, I had friends and so forth. Never really looked back the way I did after the war ended.
No More “Leave It To Beaver” – Our Country’s Attitude Changed with The Tet Offensive | Lyndon Johnson Presidency | Martin Luther King, Jr. Assassination | Robert Kenneday Assassination | 1968 Democratic National Convention, Chicago Police Riot
Bill Lord: Let me give you an idea. I was there from late ’67 through middle of ’68. During that time there was the Tet offensive.
Andy Ockershausen: Tet, yes.
Bill Lord: Walter Cronkite came out against the war. Lyndon Johnson gave up the Presidency. Martin Luther King was shot. Bobby Kennedy was shot. The Chicago Convention and the police riots. All of this happened while we were away. And this was changing the attitudes of the entire Country so that I went over there as kind of this innocent kid thinking that I was gonna come back to the kind of “Leave it To Beaver” world and it wasn’t there anymore.
Andy Ockershausen: It didn’t exist.
Soldiers Met with Disdain After Tour of Duty in Vietnam | U.S. a Different Time, a Different Country
Bill Lord: And during that time, people went from being worried about the war to hating the war to ultimately disliking the soldiers who were fighting the war. So by the time we got home, we were kind of persona non grata. I mean, you talk about … I mean, I am thrilled.
Andy Ockershausen: That was the population, I do recall that.
Bill Lord: I am thrilled when I go to a baseball game and everybody has the veterans stand up and-
Andy Ockershausen: Now, yeah.
Bill Lord: These are all the younger veterans. But honestly, when we got back we were just basically just treated poorly, I guess is the way I would say it. We were not-
Andy Ockershausen: It’s historical. That’s a fact.
Bill Lord: Nobody ever said thank you for your service. That didn’t exist.
The first person who said that to me was Doug Hill at Channel 7. We were talking one day and he’d been in the Air Force and I’d been in the Army, and as we were walking away, he said, “Thank you for your service.” And it was like, “I’ve never heard that phrase before, Doug, but you’re welcome.”
Andy Ockershausen: That’s 40 years after you were … yeah, faced them yourself. What do you feel now? Because I sense what you’re saying. I think what happened in the terrible situation in Iraq, but that sort of brought the Army back.
Bill Lord: Yeah.
Andy Ockershausen: Once there was Schwarzkopf and all that group and the Generals. They got some popularity back. One time they used to boo the Generals.
Bill Lord Has No Animosity Toward Draft Dodgers
Bill Lord: Yeah. I have put it a lot to rest. It’s funny, people ask me all the time, “Well, what do you think about these guys who dodged the draft?” “What do you think about Trump and his bone spurs?”, or some of these other people. And it’s like I’ve wiped that off the slate.
Andy Ockershausen: It happened. It’s over.
Bill Lord: It might have been me in a different circumstance. I mean, I had a cousin that moved to Canada who still lives there. Lots of my friends in college dodged the draft. There was no good option for people our age in that era. If you came of age in ’66, 7, or 8 and the draft was hot, you either dodged it or you got caught up in it or you moved. And I just can’t judge anybody who took a different alternative than I did.
Andy Ockershausen: I think that’s wonderful, your attitude, because you can’t change it. It was what it was, it is what it is, and that’s the way it was in the Country.
Bill Lord: Yeah.
Andy Ockershausen: It wasn’t right, looking back, but at the time nobody knew what was right or wrong.
Whole Series of Bad Choices, No Way to Gracefully End the War
Bill Lord: No, we faced a whole series of choices, all bad.
Andy Ockershausen: Exactly. And our politicians were guilty but they were good citizens, they just thought they were doing something great for the Country and they weren’t.
Bill Lord: Yeah.
Andy Ockershausen: McNamara, for instance. The whiz kid.
Bill Lord: Yeah, he was a whiz kid but he just couldn’t … None of the politicians could figure out a graceful way to end it. They all knew they had to, but I say in the book, honestly-
Andy Ockershausen: I’m dying to read it.
Bill Lord: By 1968, by the Tet offensive, everybody knew that we had nothing to fight for there. We were fighting for a corrupt government, we were fighting rebels in their backyard, we had no reason to sustain our effort. And even the politicians tended to agree with that. They wouldn’t admit it publicly, but when they analyzed it they had to know.
Andy Ockershausen: Yeah, the body count wasn’t winning the war.
Bill Lord: No. But ultimately, 30,000 more Americans died before they could figure out a way to. . .
Andy Ockershausen: Before they could get it over with.
Fighting Vietname War was Unconscionable
Bill Lord: It’s just unconscionable because, honestly, we knew. I mean, I was a 20-year-old idiot but I knew that we had no business there. And all of the different … I mean the Pentagon Papers, all those things were out there. They read it, they knew it, but they couldn’t figure out a way to do it quietly.
Andy Ockershausen: There was just tons of unrest at home.
Bill Lord: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Andy Ockershausen: And you didn’t know it, of course. Now it’s on TV every night. Home and …. If you were fighting in Vietnam then we’d watch it on Channel 7 tonight.
Bill Lord: Oh, yeah.
Andy Ockershausen: That’s not the way it is anymore.
Bill Lord: Yeah. My wife, who is ten years younger than I am,-
Andy Ockershausen: Is she from Washington?
Bill Lord: No, she’s from New Jersey.
Andy Ockershausen: That’s close.
Bill Lord: She calls Seattle home now. But anyway, she grew up, her brother was exactly my age and he did not go. But she grew up watching it on TV and just being bewildered by it as a 10- or 11-year-old kid. Just saying, how can this keep happening?
Andy Ockershausen: How can it be?
Bill Lord: Yeah.
Andy Ockershausen: Well, we all were wondering how can it be, but we knew it was still going on, and we knew because of Andrews Air Force Base there were flying those body bags into Andrews every day around the clock. The boys were coming home, dead or alive.
Bill Lord: Mm-hmm
Andy Ockershausen: But, Bill Lord, you are such a very, very important part of Our Town and our life, and you’ve done a magnificent job for us. I wish you nothing but complete success with your book. If anybody doesn’t read about Vietnam, this is from a 20-year-old “Grunt”.
Bill Lord: Yeah.
Andy Ockershausen: So I’m dying to read it.
Bill Lord: Well, you will find that I was not even a very serious 20-year-old Grunt when you read it.
Andy Ockershausen: For whatever it is, there was some humor there by what’s his name, Good Morning, Vietnam, that was supposed to be a fun show.
Bill Lord: Yeah.
Andy Ockershausen: But there were not many funny body bags coming back.
One Guy’s Experience
Bill Lord: No, no there weren’t. Honestly, in the book I tried to give you a sense of it without giving you the blow by blow of the battles. I really didn’t want to write a war book where it was like, well, we were trying to outflank the enemy and well, we could get a machine gun over here. It’s not that kind of book. It really is just the experience of one guy and the inconveniences and kind of the growing awareness of the political situation.
Andy Ockershausen: The way you describe it it sounds to me like writing a football book without Xs and Os.
Bill Lord: Yeah, exactly.
Andy Ockershausen: And we’re dying to read it. Bill Lord, we thank you for all you’ve done for Our Town and for Channel 7. I’m sorry you’re not there anymore, but they’re still friends and they never say WMAL-TV anymore. But, Bill, we thank you for all you’ve done and for what you’ve done for Our Town.
Bill Lord: All right.
Andy Ockershausen: And we’re here for you 24/7 at WMAL. We’re gonna bring it back one day. They’ll drag me kicking and screaming.
Bill Lord: All right. Well, thank you very much for having me on. This has been the highlight of my week. Thank you.
Andy Ockershausen: We found out things about you we didn’t know and it’s just great. There’s no biographer can tell you what you told us. So, Bill Lord we thank you very much.
Bill Lord: All right, sir.
Andy Ockershausen: This has been Our Town with Andy Ockershausen with Bill Lord. Go out and buy his book immediately. 50 Years After Vietnam, Lessons and Letters from the War I Hated Fighting, by Bill Lord.
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