Time of Remembrance – Joe Scheimer
Interview with Joe Scheimer as part of the Secret War Oral History Project.
00:00 – Introduction
00:44 – Clip 1: Joe describes how he volunteered to be a pilot and wanted to fight in the Vietnam War. He wanted to be a fighter pilot but became a Forward Air Controller (FAC) in an 02 aircraft and went to Vietnam in October of 1970.
02:38 – Clip 2: Explains that the pilots were working for the Embassy and State Department because Laos was officially neutral in the Vietnam War.
03:15 – Clip 3: Talks about how he replaced a pilot who was shot down over Pakse. The focus of the mission was to cut off the supply lines on the Ho Chi Minh Trail.
04:12 – Clip 4: He had his own plane and Laotian co-pilot. They would fly up to the plateau to see if there were any new tracks that indicated new supplies. If they found supplies he would call in fighters or T28’s flown by Laotians.
06:24 – Clip 5: Explains that Pakse was a town on top of the Bolaven Plateau under the control of the North Vietnamese.
08:09 – Clip 6: Briefly discusses how the Ravens and Air America pilots didn’t usually interact – but they were closely bonded with their Backseater (Robin).
08:57 – Clip 7: Talks about his Backseater, Ponte, who he describes as a “great guy” who was always ready to fly.
09:23 – Clip 8: Explains that he was not allowed to tell anyone where he was and that Nixon and Kissinger denied the U.S. was in Laos.
09:57 – Clip 9: Responds to a question about mail – that mail was delivered and they were supplied through the Embassy, but they knew not to tell their families where they were.
10:59 – Clip 10: Describes how he had to bomb a small village, which he did not like to do, but there was a large amount of supplies being hidden there.
12:31 – Clip 11: Discusses how, after the war, Vang Pao and a small number of people were evacuated to the United States, but most of the people were placed in camps in Thailand, and it took many years for them to be evacuated to the U.S.
14:13 – Clip 12: Talks about the “greatest generation” and how they were supported by the United States but that the soldiers who returned from Vietnam were treated badly for fighting in the Vietnam War.
16:06 – Clip 13: Explains that while in Laos they were allowed to go wherever they wanted.
18:32 – Clip 14: Discusses the Special Operations he involved in and wishes that the U.S. would have done more about the situation in Laos.
19:01 – Credits