National Archives News

Filmmaker Explores ‘Just Like Me’ Experiences of Vietnam War

By Jonathan Marker | National Archives News

WASHINGTON, November 12, 2019 — In Just Like Me: The Vietnam War—Stories From All Sides, filmmaker Ron Osgood presented a multiperspective documentary on the conflict, featuring personal accounts from all sides.

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Journalist, author, and Vietnam veteran Marc Lepson (left) joined filmmaker Ron Osgood on stage to answer audience questions after the screening (National Archives photo)

Osgood screened the film in the William G. McGowan Theater at the National Archives Building in Washington, DC, on Thursday, November 7, 2019.

“Tonight’s program was originally scheduled for last January to coincide with our special exhibit, Remembering Vietnam,” said Archivist of the United States David S. Ferriero in his welcoming remarks. “Although the exhibit is no longer in the O’Brien Gallery, you can still find a selection of the documents and photographs from Remembering Vietnam on the National Archives website. We are very pleased that we were able to reschedule this film and discussion as a tribute to Vietnam veterans worldwide as we near Veterans Day.”

Just Like Me got its name from an interview Osgood conducted with fellow Vietnam War veteran Arthur Barham, who appeared in Osgood’s 2010 documentary My Vietnam, Your Iraq.

While inspecting enemy casualties following a skirmish with North Vietnamese Army soldiers, Barham discovered a booklet of letters between a fallen soldier and his wife. After translating the contents into English, Barham found that the nature of the letters mirrored those he and many other Vietnam veterans wrote in their own correspondences with friends and loved ones back stateside.

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Members of Company "A," 3rd Battalion, 22nd Infantry (Mechanized), 25th Infantry Division, gather around a guitar player and sing a few songs, January 18, 1968. (National Archives Identifier 530617)

“He was just like me,” Barham said. “Trying to get home.”

This perspective ignited Osgood’s curiosity, which, he said, quickly grew into an obsession.

But rather than perform a symmetrical, one-to-one comparison between the experiences of the North Vietnamese Army and the U.S. Armed Forces, Osgood took an asymmetrical approach that more accurately portrayed the nature of the Vietnam War. He interviewed regular combatants from the North Vietnamese Army, the Army of the Republic of Vietnam (South Vietnam), and U.S. Armed Forces; irregular combatants from the National Liberation Front (Viet Cong); as well as refugees, artists, musicians, and writers.

Following the screening, Osgood was joined on stage by journalist, author, and Vietnam veteran Marc Leepson to discuss the film and take a few audience questions. After recounting the process of how this documentary materialized, Osgood also shared a link to film clips that represent the spectrum of perspectives in Just Like Me.

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