Schwarzkopf in Vietnam: A Soldier Returns

Picture 6 - General Schwarzkopf and Dan Rather in Vietnam

"Schwarzkopf in Vietnam." Rather (Dan) Papers, Box 78 Folder 7_0005, Howard Gotlieb Archival Research Center, Boston University.

The first of the "new" CBS Reports, “Schwarzkopf in Vietnam: A Soldier Returns,” which aired on June 30, 1993, was produced by Joel Bernstein who wrote it together with Dan Rather. It featured General H. Norman Schwarzkopf and Dan Rather traveling back to Vietnam for the first time. In addition to archival footage, the show featured interviews with veterans and a few Vietnamese, who, as Schwarzkopf commented, had been able to put the war behind them and move on.

In what the Los Angeles Times called “an evocative documentary,” the two men reminisced about their experiences and disagreed about the reasons for the failure of the war and the role of the press. While they both hold different positions, the conversations, as producer Christopher Martin remembers, were always cordial. Despite some hesitation, the trip was very meaningful for both men, especially after General Schwarzkopf was reunited with a young soldier he had helped after a land mine injury.

The New York Times called "powerful" Schwarzkopf's account of three people who had been severely wounded by mines, but complained about how other comments had "a resounding banality." In a similar vein, Variety mentioned a few interesting bits, including Schwarzkopf's "lovely and moving anecdote about learning he was to become a father for the first time in the late '60s as war and weather were raging around him." Ultimately, though, the paper was disappointed by what it called "one of those pseudo-events the network news division love to contrive solely to cover," and by Rather, "who can be a contentious and interesting interviewer," but "simply [paid] deference as he tries to compare some of his own experience as a war correspondent."