A Minnesota PBS Initiative


Through a series of 12 short profiles and a feature-length documentary, Twin Cities PBS producer Luke Heikkila unpacks the personal narratives of family members and Minnesota veterans who endured one of the most unsettling chapters in American history: the Vietnam War. These stories reveal the unexpected ways that war forever changes someone.



I was born a few months after the fall of Saigon. For me the Vietnam War isn’t a lived history, but one I learned about on the movie screen. Full Metal Jacket, Apocalypse Now, Platoon and Good Morning, Vietnam were films that provided me with my basis for understanding of the Vietnam War.

As I began gathering information for the Minnesota Remembers Vietnam projects I was working on I knew I would need to replace these Hollywood depictions from the minds of Hollywood directors Barry Levinson, Stanley Kubrick, and Oliver Stone with actual accounts of what it was like to go to Southeast Asia during the War so I began to read first-hand accounts written by men and women from Minnesota.

Jon Hovde, Michael Maurer, and Wendell Affield provided me, through their books, a vivid and desperate sense of Vietnam that no Hollywood director could.

Through phone calls and conversations over cups of coffee I began to learn what, I felt ashamed to admit, I hadn’t already known about the hundreds of thousands of people who fought and died for America.

Upon telling one person of this shame I felt he offered up words of advice along the lines of, “don’t worry about what you have or haven’t done in the past, you are learning our stories now and that is what we all want.” It is in this tone that I am excited to share the Vietnam War experiences of 12 Minnesotans with you, our viewers.



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