Arts of War By Marc Leepson

Welcome to “Arts of War,” Vietnam Veterans of America’s up-to-the-minute compendium of information, news and reviews about the arts—movies, television, stage plays, musicals, music, dance, popular and fine arts, and more—that deal with Vietnam veterans and the Vietnam War.

This web page replaces the “Arts of War” column that ran in Vietnam Veterans of America’s national magazine, The VVA Veteran, from 1986-2009. That popular column was written by The VVA Veteran’s arts editor, Marc Leepson, who continues that work on this web site.

We encourage feedback. Please email your comments, questions, and suggestions to

Posted on January 28th 2009 in Comments

Proposed Doc, ‘Renew Vietnam’

“Renew Vietnam,” is a proposed short documentary film that looks at the humanitarian organization, Project Review, which was co-founded in 2001 by Vietnam veteran Chuck Searcy  in Quang Tri Province to find and dismantle Vietnam War era bombs and mines.

“The organization works primarily on three fronts: educating children and adults on how to be safe and how to report findings of bombs immediately,” said Benjamin Welmond, the filmmaker, “responding immediately to those call-ins with Explosive Ordnance Disposal teams that safely remove or destroy the bombs; and providing assistance to accident victims already injured by bombs and mines.


If you’d like to learn more about the film go to its crowd-sourcing page.


Posted on June 29th 2015 in Artistic Queries, Documentaries

Documentary Query – ‘American Platoon’ Doc

All3Media, a production company that specializes in “unscripted and documentary style programming shedding positive light to our unsung heroes and the storytelling process,” is working on a new cable TV doc called American Platoon. Caren Sachs of the Casting Department would like to speak to  Vietnam War veterans for the show.

If you’d like to participate, call 434-732-6604 or email

All3Media’s web site is

Posted on June 29th 2015 in Artistic Queries, Documentaries, On TV

Jack Ely, 1943-2015

Jack Ely

Jack Ely, the guitar player and lead singer for the Kingsmen who sang the classic rock and roll song “Louie, Louie,” died April 27. He was 71 years old.

In 1966, three years after he and his band mates recorded the iconic song, Ely was drafted into the U.S. Army. He served for two years, but following his Army service the band never had another hit. Ely said that his famed garbled singing of the words to the song was the result of having recently been fitted for braces and the rudimentary microphone the band used to try to simulate a live concert recording.

Posted on May 27th 2015 in Music, Obituaries

‘Reporting Vietnam’ Exhibit to Open in D.C.’s Newseum

Reporting Vietnam,” a multimedia exhibit showcasing how journalists covered the Vietnam War, opens May 22 at the Newseum in Washington, D.C. The extensive exhibit, held in conjunction with the 50th anniversary commemorations of the 1965 entry of U.S. combat troops into the Vietnam War, will be on display through September 22.

The exhibit features photographs, news footage, music, and other artifacts related to the American news media’s coverage of the nation’s most controversial overseas war–in Vietnam and at home. “Reporting Vietnam” also  includes several documentaries on the war and the antiwar movement, as well as a series of public programs featuring journalists and others discussing the legacy of the nation’s first “televised war.”



Posted on May 20th 2015 in Documentaries, Journalism, Museums, Photography

Great Doc: Escape From Firebase Kate

Readers of The VVA Veteran first learned the remarkable story of VVA life member William Albracht and the amazing escape he led from the besieged Firebase Kate near Ban Me Thuot in late October of 1969 in a feature article in the March/April 2013 issue.  We then ran a review of the excellent book Albracht wrote on the subject with Marvin J. Wolf, Abandoned in Hell: The Fight for Vietnam’s Firebase Kate, in the January/February issue this year.

Now comes Escape From Firebase Kate (Storytellers International), a high-quality documentary written, directed, and edited by Paul Kakert. Narrated by J.V Martin, the doc also includes the voices former Army Special Forces Captain Albracht and others who served with him. In addition to the present-day interviews, Kakert makes good use of stock footage, stills taken at the time, and a life-like digital mock-up of the firebase and surrounding area, along with actual audio transmissions between Albracht on the ground and American pilots in the air.

Albracht, at twenty-one and the youngest Green Beret officer in Vietnam, faced a daunting task on his second day of command at Kate when between four and six thousand NVA poured out of Cambodia to try to overrun the little firebase. Albracht’s CIDG Montagnard fighters (about a hundred of them) tried to fend off the NVA with the help of his two dozen or so artillerymen.

Kate barely held on. Then Albracht led his remaining men on a harrowing, night-time E&E to link with two companies of Special Forces and Montagnards sent to rescue them.

His men have started a movement to have Bill Albracht (below, at Fire Base Kate) awarded the Medal of Honor. That would be in addition to his collection of awards that includes three Silver Stars, three Purple Hearts, five Bronze Stars (three for valor), two Air Medals (one for valor), and an Army Commendation Medal (for valor).

This excellent, moving documentary should be used as evidence to make the case. For more info on the doc, go to

Posted on May 13th 2015 in Documentaries, Vietnam War

‘Unseen Warriors': Vietnam War Cameraman Doc

The “unseen warriors” of Traditions Military Videos’ “Unseen Warriors: Army Combat Cameramen in Vietnam” are—as the subtitle notes—a group of dedicated Army photographers and cameramen who often put their lives on the line to document the war on film.

This two-DVD set ($49.90) contains four hours of sometimes raw—but almost always evocative—footage of American and ARVN troops in action in the Vietnam War. There is plenty of combat, and close up images of the wounded and dead. There also are still photos that help tell the story.

Much of the footage here deals with the 1968 Tet Offensive. In addition to the narration, there also are the voices of the cameramen looking back on their work during the war.

For more info, go to the Traditions Military Videos web site.


Posted on May 4th 2015 in Documentaries, Photography, Vietnam War

PBS Vietnam War docs

PBS is broadcasting four Vietnam War documentaries tonight and tomorrow night:

  • “The Draft,” a history of the American mandatory military service tonight at at 9:00 p.m. Eastern time
  • “Dick Cavett’s Vietnam,” selections that deal with the war from the old “Dick Cavett Show” tonight at 10:oo p.m. Eastern
  • “Kent State: The Day the Sixties Died,” tomorrow night at 8:00 p.m Eastern
  • “Last Days in Vietnam” tomorrow at 10:00 p.m.

VVA Veteran Arts Editor Marc Leepson’s reviewed “Last Days in Vietnam” on this page last fall.

For more info on the other shows go to


Posted on April 27th 2015 in Documentaries, TV Series, Vietnam War

Giving Peace a Chance

The Peace Mural Foundation in Miami is commemorating the 40th anniversary of the end of the Vietnam War with a exhibit that focuses on world peace and ending war. It opens today and runs through April 30.

It features twenty four  large multi-media murals created by the Vietnamese artist Huong, who left Vietnam in 1975 with her infant son and now lives and works in Florida.

The murals use the themes of violence and despair, she says, in order to “make the world understand that the final victory does not belong to a nation, but to humanity.”

Posted on April 24th 2015 in Art, Art Exhibits

Harry Bosch on Amazon – No Longer A Vietnam Veteran

Tim Welliver as Harry Bosch in the new Amazon series

A little over a year ago we reported on “Bosch,” a cop procedural drama pilot that began streaming on Amazon Prime. “Bosch” was based on the Harry Bosch novels of Michael Connelly, and Connelly, in fact, co-wrote and co executive produced the pilot. As a big Harry Bosch fan since the first novel appeared in 1992, I was delighted to see the flawed but heroic LAPD detective who did a tour of duty as a tunnel rat in the Vietnam War come alive on film.

After the pilot got good reviews, Amazon agreed to produce a full ten-episode season. Shooting began last August and ended in December, and now Amazon Prime subscribers can watch all ten episodes, plus a Behind the Scenes piece, on line.

One disappointment: mainly because of main character Titus Welliver’s age, Connelly agreed that Bosch couldn’t be a Vietnam veteran. He’s now a veteran of the first Persian Gulf War.  Here’s how he put it in an interview in The Washington Post:

“Harry Bosch is 100 percent, and L.A. is 100 percent. But we blended the [first] three books together that, as books, stood apart. We had to create evidentiary connections. We had to play with Bosch having been in Vietnam, because Titus Welliver is too young to have been there, so we changed his military experience.”

Posted on March 30th 2015 in Drama, On Line

Maya Lin Receives Gish Prize

Maya Lin—he artist, sculptor and environmental artist best known as the designer of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial—received the 21st annual $300,000 Dorothy and Lillian Gish Prize in November. The prestigious award recognizes architects, musicians, playwrights, directors, actors and other artists for “outstanding and continuing artistic contributions to society and to the beauty of the world.”

“I am deeply touched and grateful to become a part of this astonishing line of prize winners,” Lin said, “all of whom were selected because of the very simple but powerful goal set down by Lillian Gish: to bring recognition to the contributions that artists make to society, and to encourage others to follow on that path. Because I have been donating so much of my time over the past seven years to a single long-term project, ‘What Is Missing?’, the award will make an enormous difference in enabling me to move the work forward.”

What Is Missing” is a multi-site and multi-media work that includes an interactive website with dozens of videos, a book, and a sound and media sculpture installation, all of which calls attention to the world’s loss of biodiversity and natural abundance.

“I sort of call it my last memorial, but it is a memorial that will basically reinvent [itself],” Lin told an interviewer in 2012. The website, she said, is “a map of the world looked at from an ecological point of view, but it is a map that allows us to see the past, the present, and … plausible future scenarios, what we call green print, which is really rethinking what the planet could look like.”

Lin’s goal, she said, is “to raise awareness about the present crisis surrounding biodiversity loss, link it to habitat loss, and not just be about raising awareness about what we are losing, but maybe using it as a wake-up call, telling you what is being done right now by all the environmental groups, all the experts, but then let’s dream up plausible ways, by 2050, to re-imagine what the world could look like.”




Posted on March 16th 2015 in Art, Honors and Prizes, Memorials