Cronauer was 11 credits short of graduating from American
University, where he majored in broadcasting, when he joined
the Air Force in 1962. In the space of a few years, he went from
working at radio stations and studying to serving in Vietnam.
Cronauer remembers Saigon as a peaceful outpost when he arrived
in 1965. But then the North Vietnamese attacked American
destroyers in the Gulf of Tonkin and the war escalated, turning
Saigon into a frenetic danger zone.
Airman Cronauer spent a year in Vietnam as a disc jockey
for a military radio station. To boost the morale of homesick
kids, he mimicked an American radio station by playing rock ‘n
roll music, doing weather forecasts (abruptly discontinued when
the military discovered enemy forces were using them to plan
operations), and giving news reports. Sometimes, the reports hit
close to home.