Mike Roberts, 41, Detroit, Michigan remembers Hanoi Hannah. Mike was a Marine, in a Hawk Missile Battalion just outside Da Nang through 1967 and 1968.
"Now for our talk. A Vietnam Black GI who refuses to be a victim of racism is Billy Smith. It seems on the morning of March Fifteenth a fragmentation grenade went off in an officers barracks in Bien Hoa Army Base killing two gung-ho lieutenants and wounding a third. Smith was illegally searched, arrested and put in Long Binh jail and brought home for trial. The evidence that clearly showed him guilty of all charges and specifications was this: being black, poor and against the war and the army and refusing to be a victim of racism." (Hanoi Hannah, 30 March 1968)
Mike Roberts summed up the black veterans attitude to Hannah's broadcasts: "I remember June 1967, I was sitting in a tent with about thirteen guys from Charlie Company. We were all on mess duty and we were gambling, drinking and having a good time shootin' craps, talking about the world, man, listening to music and you know one guy kept saying, Sshh, sshh, be quiet, and everybody says what, what, and he says Theres a riot in Detroit! I guess the Governor called in the troops. There was some loss of life. There was no feeling of, you know, what were they rioting for? What possibly could they want? We all knew what they wanted, you know what I'm saying. So of course we would feel some sort of empathy for the folks back home...the guys in the street who were struggling or rioting."
Armed Forces Radio didn't give you an in-depth account of what was happening?
"Hanoi Hannah comes on soon after that, and she knows what guard unit was called in, what kind of weapons were used...you know what I'm sayin'. That's when it starts to hit home. We knew what kind of fire power and what kind of devastation that kind of weapon can do to people, and now those same weapons were turning on us, you know, our own military is killing our own people. We might as well have been Viet Cong...you know what I'm sayin'? It was just bad news, but Hanoi Hannah picked up on it and she talked about it. And clearly if she knew about it, Armed Forces Radio did too. They knew more than they had broadcasted. That was really the first time I started hearing Hanoi Hannah call upon Blacks, you know, to rethink their situation there. Why are you fighting? You have your own battle to fight in America. We were smoking herbs, you know, and we decided to listen to Hanoi Hannah. Now most of the guys that I hung out with didn't stay up all night waiting for Hannah to come on. But there were times when-like during bunker watch at night-we wanted to listen to Hanoi Hannah...to see what she had to say. But we didn't really see her as our friend...someone who is looking out for our best interest and would keep the Viet Cong from killing us if they had a chance."
Comments by Mike Roberts -1