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Trains Go To War: Railfans in Vietnam

Magazine produces special issue featuring train stories from World War II, World War I, the American Civil War, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War
To order, Trains Go To War, visit:

Video Transcription courtesy of YouTube.

[NARRATOR] Rob I'd like to I'd like to ask you to talk about something later on in the issue — that's about railroads in Vietnam.

It's a really interesting story one of our longtime authors, I think Jerry Pinkepank ...

[ROB MCGONIGAL] Correct, Jerry Pinkepank, yep.

[NARRATOR] And he was in Vietnam during the Vietnam War, the U.S. war with Vietnam in 1960s and 70s, and he was able to follow the railroad and take pictures. I think he was railfanning Vietnam railways at war, which is a bit unusual to me.

[MCGONIGAL] Right, correct Jerry was in the U.S. Army in in communications. He wasn't directly involved with the railroad but he was a student of railroads and worked professionally in the railroad industry before he went overseas and took a great interest in the operations, and together with information and photographs supplied by Paul Stephanus, who was a commercial news photographer, they put together this magnificent actually two-part article about Vietnam railways and they ran... the two parts ran in trains magazine in 1969.

The first part was pretty much the history of Vietnam railways up until hostilities really heated up in the 1950s and this — part two — the one that we reprinted in here in our special issue picks up there and talks about the the railway as it was impacted by the war.

And also the weather, there were, I didn't realize this, but the railway the Vietnam railway was in terrible shape partly because of some terrific hurricanes that struck the country in the 1960s. So a lot of the handicap that the U.S. and Vietnamese, South Vietnamese, forces were dealing with was really due the weather, not just enemy action.


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