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The Vietnam Tapes of
Lance Corporal Michael A. Baronowski

Produced by Christina Egloff with Jay Allison

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  • Learn more about Lance Corporal Michael Baronowski

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    Baranowski
    Michael Baronowski, 1966, age 19.
    In 1966, a young Marine took a reel-to-reel tape recorder with him into the Vietnam War. For two months, until he was killed in action, Michael Baronowski made tapes of his friends, of life in foxholes, of combat. And he sent those audio letters home to his family in Norristown, Pennsylvania. 34 years later, through our Quest for Sound, his comrade Tim Duffie brought those tapes to Lost & Found Sound.

    Here is an excerpt of
    Mike's Vietnam recordings:

    [Explosion]

    Mike: The rest of the tape here on this side are sounds as I recorded them when they called 100-percent alert, which is pretty rare. [More explosions]

    Tim: The attack was officially, I guess, referred to as a probe. So what the NVA were doing is they were looking for a weakness. And that whole battle was taking place 30 yards from Mike and I.

    Mike: (whispering) Now the word's been passed to fix bayonets. The Sarge just came running by, saying let me go get my bayonets. I can get him on this. This started to be a fun tape. I don't - it's getting too much like a 12-cent combat comic book now. [Artillery in background]

    Man: Hey Carter? How many of you over there? Three of you? Three of you in that hole? OK. [explosions]

    Mike: There's all kinds of garbage going on. We don't know whether it's outgoing or incoming. No word's passed down like that. The illumination is being kept up. Every once in a while a 60 millimeter mortar mission is called out to our left front, holding on out there. Some of this looks like a nine acre Christmas tree fire. Low peter, high explosive. You can hear the illumination being kept up there. [Boom]

    Those were heat rounds, high explosives. It's dark now. We're waiting for the illumination to go off. There goes the illumination. [laughs] That's the heaviest thing, a heavy feeling, sitting here in the dark with all that stuff going on. Sounds of the Enchanted Forest.

    [boom, boom, etc.]
    [machine gunfire]

    There they go. Jesus! Whoa, that was too close [boom] Air strike [boom, boom, boom] They wiped napalm all over that place. Look at that.

    [big boom]
    [singing]

    You're in the Pepsi generation.


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