Paul Lenze

Vietnam: A Closer Look

Profilers: David Meister. Jack Kelly. Braden Davis.

Profile Video

Profile Highlights

On Experience as an Officer in Vietnam

As an officer in the army it was important to spend time because we all had to do it but the option to command a Calvary unit in combat is not one you dismiss lightly. It is an important mission, but the best thing you can do as a young captain is to serve in command in a combat environment. Not only did I serve in command in this Calvary unit but the nature of the organization were such that we weren’t in a major popular area. Moved from the central highlands to Bong Son in another area where they were withdrawing a major US military force, 173rd Airborne, huge organization of about 12-15,000 soldiers and put my Calvary troupe of about 250 soldiers with all of our tanks, infantry fighting vehicles and engineer unit in this area in Vietnam.

On Drugs in Vietnam

More serious problems directly related to Vietnam, instances of drug abuse—heroin, marijuana, you name it—significant amount of soldiers, even in combat units partaking, along major highways, not uncommon for Vietnamese to come and sell drugs to soldiers early in the evening or morning. Serious amount of drug abuse in Vietnam.

On Treatment of Captured Enemies

First of all, an important point needs to be made about how we treated the enemy when we came in contact with them. Of course you are in battle, you are doing everything you are to win an engagement but in an instance when an enemy soldier is injured and on the battlefield, we took very measure to save that soldier’s life with the same priority we would have with our own. Now if there was only one helicopter and you could only take three Americans who were hurt, you put them on but if you could also put the three Vietnamese…we would fly them out.

They were treated the same way with the same medical facilities and given same care. Important to know as Americans we have high value on human life and great respect believe it or not for what happens to individual on battlefield not just because of Geneva Convention but also because of what we are trying to do. The fact that someone is an enemy when that battle is over and you have wounded on the battle floor you evacuate them. Our medics took care of them just like they took care of our soldiers on the battlefield.

On Difficulty in Training ARVN

And so we face the same problems in Vietnam that we are in Afghanistan, which is creating an organization to have the will and determination to defend their country. So there is a valid question to be asked ya know. Was there a view or notion that service to country was an honorable thing like we Americans feel? You can ask ever soldier, every marine, every coast man, “What is it that you are fighting for?” and they will tell you in very clear language. Go ask a South Vietnamese soldier what he was fighting for and he is looking at protecting his village, which isn’t a bad thing, but there is no notion of a nation at the time to be loyal to for a just cause.

Final Thoughts

Gideon Rosewood wrote this great book “How Wars End,” mentioned that to you both, we just pile on because we are Americans and our way of life is the way it should be, you ought to see it our way and we can make this happen…well that is total nonsense.

We are not in my humble opinion, and demonstrated by our experience in Vietnam, we lost in Vietnam. Somebody once said, famous story about one of our senior colonels, real thinker teaching at war college talked to senior general in Vietnamese army at the end of the war. And he said “We never lost a battle” but the Vietnamese general said, “That’s irrelevant”. You may have not lost any battle but what does it matter, you are out of here. You lost. We won the war. You need to win more then a battle, need to have a concept Buy crestor of how we are going to win this campaign.

This entry was posted in American, ARVN, Combat, Drugs, US Army and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.
Notify of

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Jeff McCree

I served with Paul Lenze in 3/67 Armor at Fort Hood, Texas. he was our Battalion Commander. I was the Alpha Company Commander, Captain Mike Ryan’s jeep driver and friends with LTC Lenze’s jeep driver, SPC Foster.

He told our battalion on more than one occasion that: “A unit never stays the same, it gets better or it gets worse. Our job as soldiers in this battalion is to ensure our unit always gets better!”

I retired in 2006. I practiced Colonel Lenze’s philosophy throughout my entire military career and it served me and so many others well.

This man is one of the best examples of a true leader who shared experience, possessed impeccable integrity and defined the term great leadership which ensured mission success.

His leadership touched thousands of soldiers like myself. He shaped my expectations of what great leadership should look like and taught us all to accept nothing less.

Gregory post

My name is Greg post I was a driver for then Major Lenze when he was an S3 in a Calvary squadron.What a great man I thought of him many times over the years nice to see him in that video I’d love to get his email address and say hello


Hello, I served as a dutch infantery officer in Afghanistan twice. In 2008 I met Paul as commander of the Poppy Erradication Force (PEF) and had the oppurtunity to go out a few times with this PEF. I wonder if you got give me the e-mail adress of Paul.

Regards, Fred Gras