BALDWIN CITY, Kan. -- A powerful series on the Vietnam War wrapped up on PBS Thursday night, the latest project from Ken Burns, American's most celebrated documentary filmmaker.
John Musgrave graduated from high school in Independence, Mo., and within months found himself in Vietnam.
"I was a teenage Marine infantry rifleman. And I was terrified," Musgrave told FOX 4's Pat McGonigle.
His incredible journey from a teenage Marine to anti-war protester is one of the central story lines in Burns' new 10-part Vietnam documentary series.
"I was raised in Missouri but I grew up in Vietnam. I`m getting noticed now and I appreciate it, but I wasn`t anything spectacular."
But the producers of this series clearly disagreed; they found Musgrave`s story extraordinary. The second episode begins with him describing a terrifying night patrol. Musgrave could hear the enemy, but in the darkness couldn`t see them.
He cheated death on the battlefield in Vietnam in 1967 and went home. That`s when Musgrave says he made the hardest decision of his life: to protest the war in Vietnam.
"I thought I might be disappointing men who literally saved my life. But I didn't have a choice," he said.
Musgrave admits he still struggles with psychological injuries you can`t see, but remarkably, he says this documentary is healing wounds he`s been coping with since 1967.
"As I watch this I'm thrilled, I'm horrified, I'm depressed, I'm angry," he described.
The documentary is told from dozens of perspectives, including the North Vietnamese. Musgrave is seeing men who once fired shots at him.
"Like I say, being able to hear those men I fought against, and some of those men I literally fought against, they picked them because they fought around Con Thien," he said.
Ironically, Musgrave says seeing the faces of an enemy who nearly killed him gives him a kind of peace, and he hopes this series will give our nation some sense of closure on a dark and confusing chapter.
"They are the stuff of nightmares. And now I see them as old men. I see them as a fellow combat veterans. They're no longer demons. They're just fellow grunts," Musgrave said.