Messages From a Forgotten Troopship

Broadcast: November 5, 2017 at 4pm

In the 1960s, it took almost three weeks to cross the sea from America to Vietnam. Three weeks for young men in crowded cabins with salt water showers and absolutely nothing to do but think about home, the war, and what might be next. In this special episode we focus on a single troopship, the General Nelson M. Walker, and a few of the soldiers who traveled on it.

There’s the man who wrote home about the voyage to Vietnam—about tanning oil, hillbilly radio, and a run-in with a typhoon. Another who survived the jungles of Vietnam, only to return home and feel as though democracy had passed him by. And then there’s the fiancée who snuck on board to say one last goodbye to her lover before he was killed in action.

Through found tape and contemporary interviews, we recreate the troopship experience and capture the moments outside of combat—three weeks there, and, for the lucky ones—three weeks back.