- The Memorial
- Education Center
- Search The Wall
Programs & Events
The Wall That Heals 2013 Tour Schedule
Hosting The Wall That Heals
Requesting The Wall That Heals
Sign the Guestbook
In Memory Program In Memory Day
Ceremony Information 2013
Virtual In Memory Honor Roll
In Memory Application
Ceremonies Veterans Day
Mother's Day at The Wall
Father's Day Rose Remembrance
Christmas Tree at The Wall
Planning an Event
Cruising for a Cause
Echoes From The Wall Teacher's Guide
Web sites for educators and students
The Legacy of The Wall
Teach Vietnam Teachers Network
Request for Education Materials
Remembering Vietnam My War Story - Bill Nelson
My War Story - Marsh Carter
My War Story - Nancy Sinatra
My War Story - Sen. Chuck Hagel
My War Story - Ron Nessen
- Planned Giving
About Bill Nelson:
Bill Nelson is chairman and CEO for Home Box Office, responsible for the overall management of the world’s largest premium television company which operates multiple premium networks in the United States, branded joint ventures and On Demand services internationally as well as other ancillary businesses. He was named to this position in June 2007.
Q: Did you enlist or were you drafted?
A: I enlisted with a close neighborhood friend in February 1969. It was his idea that we step forward and serve the country that we loved. We grew up in the Bronx, New York, and I remember walking to the recruitment center with him. We felt proud to sign-up. We joined on the Buddy System whereby we went through basic training and advanced individual training together. We both were designated as U. S. Army 11 Bravo, Light Weapons infantry. We flew to Vietnam together. We were both assigned to the 101st Airborne Division. Went through Screaming Eagle Replacement Training School and then were assigned to the same infantry regiment—he to the 2/327th and me to the 2/502nd. He was killed that October, and his family arranged for me to be his body escort home. After which I returned to Vietnam and completed my tour. I’ll always carry with me the memory of him, and the men in my unit who fell.
Q: How many months did you spend in Vietnam, and what did you do there?
A: I spent 12 months in Vietnam. I was assigned to an infantry company and we performed search and destroy activities in I Corps, which was north of Da Nang up to the DMZ, and west from the Vietnamese coast to the Laos border. I was a rifleman “grunt” for several months, and then was given the M60 machine gun, because I was a bit bigger than the other men in my squad. We participated in several major campaigns throughout I Corps: It was a life changing experience.
Q: In what ways did your time as a combatant in Vietnam impact you?
A: There were many similar effects on the everyone in my unit. We all felt like we matured several years in a span of a few months. We formed a deep respect, trust and bond for each other. We all realized that we could be challenged beyond what we thought were our mental and physical limits and still keep functioning. We were in a brotherhood and looked out for each other in a very selfless, honest and sincere way. I will never forget the men I served with.
Q: What were your feelings when the war ended?
A: I was happy that the war was over, but I was disappointed that the politics of the situation, which affected the war strategy, had yielded that result. More than 58,000 men and women gave their lives in Vietnam, and more than 3 million served in Vietnam. I never wanted to believe all that was given was done so in vain. I will tell you this, those who I served with did so with valor, integrity and distinction, and I believe that is true for every infantry unit and the Marines, Air Force and Navy that participated in the war. It is not unreasonable to believe that the war was lost in the halls of government, not on the battlefields of Vietnam.
Q: What personal qualities have led you to succeed in challenging jobs culminating in running the very successful HBO?
A: There are several traits which I believe enabled me to move up the corporate ranks over my career. Those include patience, insight, anticipation, willingness to evolve, taking prudent risks, and always preparing for and expecting the unexpected. But the area that helped me most significantly is a true spirit of collaboration, and principle of teamwork. I attribute my deep understanding of the power of a team spirit to my experience in Vietnam. Since the war, I have lived with a “We are all in this together” mentality, ensuring that everyone conducts themselves always, and especially in the most challenging situations in a way that supports the team effort.
Q: Do you think most Americans today have an understanding and appreciation for the military?
A: I believe that is generally true. And I believe that it is a direct result of two main things: The lessons learned from the lack of a national embrace for those who served in Vietnam, and the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001. The Vietnam veterans, who were less than welcomed home in the 60’s and 70’s, vowed that never again will a generation of veterans be abandoned. It is the motto of the Vietnam Veterans of America. And the Vietnam vets have joined together and exerted much influence in their communities to ensure that those who served and are serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, and around the globe in the war on terror are hailed for their service and sacrifice, and supported as they transition back into civilian life. It is that catalyst mixed with the country’s own awakening that the warrior deserves America’s respect, no matter the politics of the war. So, I believe that the majority of the country now recognizes its obligation to support its warriors. We all know that it is our military’s and uniformed service’s efforts that have secured our safety and freedom post 9/11.
Q: The Education Center will teach about values like loyalty, integrity duty, honor and courage, which are integral to military culture. What are your thoughts about the impact of the Center?
A: It’s clear that all good people want to live in freedom and peace. But, as we have seen throughout thousands of years of history, there are regimes that would impose their will over others, shattering the hope of freedom and peace. From that fact was born the need for armed forces to protect a free way of life from tyrants and terrorists who seek to destroy liberty. I believe that the Education Center is a tribute to those who stepped forward for America across our long history, and it will bring insight and understanding to those who visit and absorb the messages emanating from the Center. The Center will not only teach about the valor, service and sacrifice of our military, it will inspire, motivate and instill a sense of honor and respect for those who put themselves in harm’s way on behalf of this great nation. The magnitude of their selflessness will be amplified through the Education Center and resonate with those who pass through its doors.
Enter your search term below