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“I thought, They have the look of veteran about them, and I have the look of wimpy about me.” (Video interview, 5:04)

   Arthur B. Wiknik, Jr.
Collection image
Arthur Wiknik in Vietnam [1969]
War: Vietnam War, 1961-1975
Branch: Army
Unit: Company A, 2nd Battalion, 506th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade, 101st Airborne Division
Service Location: Fort Dix, New Jersey; Fort Polk, Louisiana; Fort Benning and Fort Gordon, Georgia; Vietnam
Rank: Staff Sergeant
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Drafted into the Army and sent through Officer Candidate School, Staff Sergeant Arthur Wiknik arrived in Vietnam as a “shake and bake” sergeant, a squad leader with no combat experience. While he felt pressure to win the respect of men beneath him who had already served time in country, eventually, he won their allegiance by proving that his main goal was to keep them alive. This strategy became crucial during his participation in the infamous Battle of Hamburger Hill in May 1969. In his interview, he narrates the specific sights and sounds of the battle—as well as after, when the A Shau Valley came to resemble no-man’s-land.

Interview (Video)
»Interview Highlights  (6 clips)
»Complete Interview 
Download: video (64 min.)
»Photo Album  (15 photos)
More like this
»Vietnam War: Looking Back, Part 2
 Video (Interview Excerpts) (6 items)
Arriving in Vietnam with no combat experience; friction between him and men who had spent time in country; suggesting new procedures to ease tensions; implementing common-sense practices. (03:47) Receiving word that they are needed in A Shau Valley; flying there in choppers; gear carried; chaplains arrive; starting to get worried about potential action. (03:31) Picked up by transport choppers; transfer to Valley; instructed to jump out and into sniper fire; context of battle. (03:16)
Facing reality of possibly killing someone; training kicking in; artillery bombardment; shock of realizing that sniper was targeting him. (04:33) Getting hit; clothes are on fire; moving toward cover. (01:34) Conditions after battle; eerie and calming to be able to hear wind; sights and sounds and smells. (03:16)

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  October 26, 2011
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