The Creation of the MACV Army A Team
By William Foulke and Bruce Wesson
By 1964 Vietnam had begun to replace Cuba as America's hotspot. In response to the growing need for oversight of information activities there, U. S. Army Colonel Roger R. Bankson was selected to serve as Special Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense to handle Southeast Asia news. He immediately left for a first-hand look at Vietnam. Shortly thereafter, the Colonel was assigned to MACOI as Chief of Information in MACV Headquarters at Tan Son Nhut Air Base.
Knowing the United States was spending millions of dollars on Nation Building and Pacification projects in Vietnam, he was disturbed by the “blood, guts and gore,” being shown on the nightly network news while America was trying to eat dinner. Upon arriving at his new position, to counter this negative image of the U.S. involvement in Vietnam, he created the five photo teams: Two Army, One Air Force, One Marine and One Navy. All were drawn from existing military photo units and were tasked with showing the American citizens the positive aspects of the mission the U.S. was conducting in Vietnam.
Only one of the allocated MACV Army Photo Teams was activated and it was assigned to the 221st Signal Company headquartered at Long Binh. After meeting with Maj. DeYoung, 221st commanding officer and being interviewed by Col. Bankson and his staff, Lt. Bruce Wesson was chosen to serve as leader of the first Army team. This was to be known as the “MACV Army A Team.” With his transfer it was his contention that combat operations should be part of the team's mission. That was contrary to the MACV Photo Teams’ objective and not a part of the original mission but the concept was approved by Col. Bankson and Lt. Wesson was encouraged to pursue combat engagement at his discretion as long as that coverage did not interfere with assignments from MACIO.
During its first 10 months of operation the team completed over 30 assignments, from the Delta to the DMZ, ranging from the LaSan School for the Blind in Saigon to coverage of the Chieu Hoi Armed Pacification Team out of Pleiku. Each assignment produced a self-contained story that could be edited down to 30, 60, 90 or 120 seconds for distribution to stateside television networks. In addition the team covered combat and other special operations as schedule and logistics allowed. Film was rushed to designated Air Bases, placed in Pan Am classified express air-freight containers and flown to Washington, D. C. where it was processed, cleared, edited and distributed. It was possible for a story to be aired within 48 hours from the time it was shipped.
First two paragraphs of this article written by William Foulke, Texas Tech Archive.
Spc 5, William “Bill” Foulke was a founding member of the MACV Army A Team.
A knowledgeable, focused and talented professional, he was a vital link in the success of every assignment completed by the MACV A Team.
1Lt Bruce Wesson
Sp5 Bill Foulke
Sept 20, 2017 … I want to make you aware of a veteran's outreach program called Operation Song (OS). Their website is: Operationsong.org. If you look at it you will have context for what follows.
I have an exhibit up at the Arkansas Museum of Military History. Some of the guys from OS were in town from Nashville and got in touch with me to say they had seen my pictures and wanted to write my song. I spent close to three hours with them telling my story about my Vietnam experience... the good, the bad and the ugly... telling them things I'd never shared before. The more I talked the more I realized that this was "our" story. A 221st story. I changed a few words and by the time we were done what you hear is what we wrote. I'm in there but it's about us. They went back to Nashville and put it to music. As far as I'm concerned this is for all of us. - Bruce Wesson
Nov 15, 2017 … Thanks guys, for posting. There are two shots in the video that aren't mine. The chopper bail out on the link and the "soldiers and the pain" shot. Both are in my collection and are pretty special to me. The chopper shot was taken by Tim Parks and I have permission to use it. The other is by Dana Stone. I was doing my last solo story on a medevac medic who was about to receive a Silver Star and I only had minutes on the ground. Had to run to chopper before I got the shot. Dana rewound his the cassette, tossed it to me and said "they're yours." This is the first time I've used one of his shots. Great guy. Paths crossed a few times in press camps over the year and we enjoyed trading stories. After the war he and Sean Flynn took a bike trip through Cambodia. They disappeared and after a time were presumed to have been killed by one side or the other in the mess over there, One more thing. I recorded the audio track for the intro lying under an APC at the Long Binh ammo dump on the morning of Jan. 31, 1968, the first day of the Tet Offensive. I ended the day in Cholon with the 11th Cav and 101st. Photo with the line, "Made a deal with the prayers..." was taken there. Two days later I was off to Hawaii to meet Kathleen on R&R. Tet shortened our time there by a day. - Bruce Wesson