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“So I hope you can understand our anger at a show that wasted a golden opportunity to educate as well as entertain. The scene with the B-52 wreckage could have been used to tell a story about what was then America’s longest war, about the 58,195 American names on the Vietnam Wall, about the 1,652 Americans still listed as missing-in-action, or about the fates of the multiple crewmen aboard each of the 17 American B-52s we lost in combat. The B-52 scene, as well as the young people singing a propaganda song, was totally unnecessary to the show’s plot, which speaks volumes about naive producers who think they’re in charge when they are not.

“I left Vietnam on a stretcher in 1970 after being wounded a third time as a Marine Corps rifleman, but I have been very fortunate to have returned several times to meet the people and to discuss the war with my former enemy, many of whom are now helping to recover the remains of missing Americans. To the Vietnamese, their war with America was a drop in the bucket compared to fighting the French for a century and the Chinese for millennia, but to many VFW comrades and fellow Vietnam Veterans, that war continues to influence our daily lives.

“CBS reopened an old wound by failing to educate a viewership about a time in American history that continues to be misunderstood, misrepresented and stereotyped. The Vietnam generation and our nation deserve and expect much better from your network.”

Send letters to Sgt. Shaft, c/o John Fales, P.O. Box 65900, Washington, D.C. 20035-5900; fax 301/622-3330, call 202/257-5446 or email