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"I thought, man, this is the way to go." (Audio interview, 10:00)

   Ronald Wayne Marshall
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War: Vietnam War, 1961-1975
Branch: Air Force
Unit: 600th Photo Squadron
Service Location: Texas; Colorado; Florida; South Vietnam; Kirtland Air Force Base, New Mexico; Germany; Sacramento, California
Rank: Staff Sergeant
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Enlisting in the Air Force in 1964, Ronald Wayne Marshall parlayed his childhood interest in photography into his primary military responsibility. Serving with the 600th Photo Squadron, he split his time in country between Tan Son Nhut Airbase and going out on patrols in the field to chronicle Army and Air Force operations. A motion picture cameraman, he was deeply affected, emotionally and physically, by what he saw and documented while embedded with Army units. Photographing Operation Ranch Hand--during which Agent Orange was used to destroy vegetation in the Vietnamese jungles--exposed him to such high levels of the toxic defoliant that he eventually developed diabetes.

Interview (Audio)
»Interview Highlights  (4 clips)
»Complete Interview 
Download: audio (90 min.)
»Photo Album  (1 photo)
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 Audio (Interview Excerpts) (4 items)
Arrival in Vietnam; spent first four months at Tan Son Nhut Airbase near Saigon; embedded with Army units; documenting Operation Junction City; mounting cameras on bombers; getting jungle rot. (04:06) Carry weapons, tripod, camera, and wearing heavy flak jackets; going out on patrol; well protected by squad; always the possibility of attack; getting out of the field every two to three weeks. (04:23) Typical lifecycle of the film he shot; carrying it with him until he could get back to the base; identifying subject matter after it was processed; photographing caves, tunnels, villages; makeup of the 600 and 601st Photo Squadrons; closeness of crew; losing friends. (07:49)
Return to Tan Son Nhut Airbase; documented Operation Ranch Hand (to spread Agent Orange and other herbicides over South Vietnam); taking pictures of Agent Orange being loaded onto planes, also damage done by it; witnessing interrogations; experiences during Tet Offensive. (11:04)  

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  The Library of Congress  >> American Folklife Center
  October 26, 2011
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