Vietnam:Looking Back – At Facts

Updated – 9 May 04 © By: K. G. Sears, Ph.D. – mrken@saigonnet.vn

Information presented here was excerpted from Dr. Sears’ dissertationand related research materials.

The reason America’s agonizing perception of “Vietnam” will not go away, is because that perception is wrong. It’s outof place in the American psyche, and it continues to fester in much the sameway battle wounds fester when shrapnel or other foreign matter is left in thebody. It is not normal behavior for Americans to idolize mass murderingcommunist despots, to champion the cause of human oppression, to abandonfriends and allies, or to cut and run in the face of adversity. Why then, didso many Americans engage in, or openly support these types of activities duringthe country’s “Vietnam” experience?

That the American experience in Vietnam was painful and ended in long lasting (albeit self-inflicted)grief and misery can not be disputed. However, thereasons behind that grief and misery are not even remotely understood – byeither the American people or their government. Contrary to popular belief, anda whole lot of wishful thinking by a crowd tens of millions strong that’s madeup of mostly draft dodgers and their antiwar cronies, along with their families/ supporters, it was not a military defeat that brought misfortune to theAmerican effort in Vietnam

United States military in Vietnam was the best educated, best trained, bestdisciplined and most successful force ever fielded in the history of Americanarms. Why then, did they get such bad press, and, why is the public’s opinionof them so twisted? The answer is simple. But first, a fewrelevant comparisons.

During the Civil War, at the Battle ofBull Run, the Union Army panicked and fled the battlefield. Nothing evenremotely resembling that debacle ever occurred in Vietnam

In WW II at the KasserineTunisia, elements of the US Army were overrun by the Germans. In thecourse of that battle, Hitler’s General Rommel (TheDesert Fox) inflicted 3,100 US Casualties, took 3,700 prisoners and captured ordestroyed 198 American tanks. In Vietnam there were no US Military units overrun nor were any infantry ortank outfits ever captured.

WW II again. In the Philippines, US Army Generals Jonathan Wainwright and Edward King surrenderedthemselves and their troops to the Japanese. In Vietnam general, or any military unit ever surrendered.

Before the Normandy invasion(“D” Day 1944) the US Army1 in England filled its own jails with American soldiers and airmen who refusedto fight and then had to rent jail space from the British to handle theoverflow. The US Army in Vietnam never had to rent jail space from the Vietnamese to incarcerateAmerican soldiers who refused to fight.

Desertion. Only about 5,000 men assigned to Vietnam deserted, and just 249 of those deserted while in Vietnam. During WW II, in the European theater alone, over 20,000 USMilitary men were convicted of desertion. On a comparable basis, the overall WWII desertion rate was 55 percent higher than in Vietnam

During the WW II Battle of the Bulge in Europe, two regiments of the US Army’s106th Division surrendered to the Germans. Again: In Vietnam no US Army unit, of any size, much less a regiment, eversurrendered.

The highest rankingAmerican soldier killed in WW II was Lt. (three star) General Leslie J. McNair.He died when American war planes accidentally bombedhis position during the invasion of EuropeVietnam there were no American generals killed by American bombers.

As for brutality: During WW II the USArmy executed nearly 300 of its own men. Again, in the European Theater, the USArmy sentenced 443 American soldiers to death. Most of the sentences were forthe rape and murder of civilians.

In the Korean War, Major General WilliamF. Dean, commander of the 24th Infantry Division, was taken prisoner of war(POW). In Vietnam there were never any generals,much less division commanders, ever taken prisoner.

During the Korean War, the US Army wasforced into the longest retreat in its history. A catastrophic 275 milewithdrawal from the River all the way to Pyontaek, 45 miles south of Seoul. In the process they lostthe capitol city of Seoul. The US Military in Vietnam was never compelled into a major retreat, nor, did it ever abandonSaigon to the enemy.

The 1st US Marine Division was drivenfrom the Chosin Reservoir and forced into anemergency evacuation from the Korean Hungnam. There they were joined by other US Army and South Korean soldiersand the US Navy eventually evacuated 105,000 allied troops from that port. In Vietnam there were never any mass evacuations of US Marine, SouthVietnamese or allied troop units.

Other items: Only 25 percent of the USMilitary who served in Vietnam were draftees. During WW II 66 percent of the troops weredraftees. On a percentage basis, the Vietnam force contained three times as many college graduated as did theWW II force. The average education level of the enlisted man in Vietnam was 13 years, equivalent to one year of college. Of those whovoluntarily enlisted, 79 percent had high school diplomas. This at a time whenonly 65 percent of the American military age males in the general populationwere high school graduates.

The average age of the US Military menwho died in Vietnam was 22.8 years old. Of the one hundred and one (101) 18 year old draftees who died in Vietnam, seven were black. Blacks accounted for 11.2 percent of combatdeaths in Vietnam. At that time black males of military age constituted 13.5 percentof the population. It should also be distinctly noted that volunteerssuffered 77 percent of the casualties and accounted for 73 percent of Vietnam deaths.

The charge that the “poor” died indisproportionate numbers is also a myth. An MIT (Massachusetts Institute ofTechnology) study of Vietnam death rates, conducted by Professor Arnold Barnett, revealed thatservicemen from the richest 10 percent of the nationscommunities had the same distribution of deaths as the rest of the nation. Infact his study showed that the death rate in the upper income communities of Beverly HillsBelmontChevy Chase and Great Neck exceeded the national average in three out of four,and, when the four were added together and averaged, that number also exceededthe national average.

On the issue of psychological health:Mental problems attributed to service in Vietnam are referred to as PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). CivilWar veterans suffered “Soldiers heart.” The WW I term was “Shell shock.” DuringWW II and Korea it was “Battle fatigue.” US Military records reflect Civil Warpsychological casualties averaged twenty six perthousand men. In WW II some units experienced over 100 psychiatric casualtiesper 1,000 troops; In Korea nearly one quarter of all battlefield evacuationswere due to mental stress. That works out to about 50 per 1,000 troops. In Vietnam the comparable average was five per 1,000 troops.

Perspective

To put Vietnam in its proper perspective it is essential to understand that theUS Military was not defeated in Vietnam and that the South Vietnamese government did not collapse due tomismanagement or corruption. Nor, was it overthrown by revolutionary guerrillasrunning around in rubber tire sandals, wearing black pajamas and carrying home made weapons. There was no “general uprising” or“revolt” by the southern population. South Vietnam was overrun by a conventional army made up of seventeenconventional divisions and supported by a host of regular army logisticalsupport units. This totally conventional force (armed, equipped, trained andsupplied by Red China and the Soviet Union), spearheaded by 700 Soviet tanks,launched a cross border, frontal attack on South Vietnam and conquered it inthe same manner as Hitler conquered most of Europe in WW II.

A quick synopsis of AmericaVietnam” experience will clarify and summarize the Vietnam scenario:

Prior to1965; US Advisors and AID only

1965 –1967; Buildup of US Forces and logistical support bases, plus heavy fighting tocounter North Vietnamese Communist invasion.

1968 –1970; Communist invasion halted, and the so-called Communist “insurgency”destroyed, to the point where over 90 percent of the towns and villages inSouth Vietnam were free from communist domination. As an example: In 1970 theSouth Vietnamese government held a bicycle race that ran from the DemilitarizedZone (The official boundary between North and South Vietnam) to Ca Mau near thesouthern tip of the Mekong Delta. Ca Mau was South Vietnam’s southern most . The race course was over South Vietnam’s public highways. The participants were unmolested and the eventtook place with no, zero, interference from thecommunists. Because they did not control any ofthe territory which the race course ran through. By1971 throughout the entire, heavily populated Mekong Delta, the monthly rate ofCommunist insurgency action dropped to an average of 3 incidents per 100,000 population (Most cities wouldenvy a crime rate that low). In 1969 Nixon started troopwithdrawals that were essentially complete by late 1971.

December1972; Paris Peace Agreements negotiated by North Vietnam, South Vietnam, theSouthern Communists, (i.e., composed of the VC, NLF / PRG, etc.2) and theUnited States.

January1973; Paris Peace Agreements officially signed by all four Parties.

March1973; Last POW released from the Hanoi Hilton, and in accordance with the ParisAgreements, the last American G.I. leaves South Vietnam (Those few remaining US Military personnel were assigned to theDefense Attaché Office and in fact began performing as diplomaticadministrative staff).

August1973; US Congress passes the Case – Church Amendment which forbids, naval forcesfrom sailing on the seas surrounding, US ground forces from operating on theland of, and US air forces from flying in the air over, South VietnamNorth VietnamCambodia. Case – Church was in effect an unconditional guarantee, by the USCongress to the North Vietnamese communists, that the United States would no longer oppose their efforts to conquer South Vietnam. This Act effectively nullified the Paris Peace Agreements. Thecommunists had won on the floors of the US Congress, what they could notpossibly have won on the battlefields of Vietnam

Congresstook this action3 at a time when America had drawn its Cold War battle lines, and as a result, had the USNavy protecting Taiwan, 50,000 troops in South Korea, and over 300,000 troops in Western Europe (which had a landarea, economy and population comparable to that of theUnited States). Along with those military commitments, were ironclad guaranteesthat if communist forces should cross any of those Cold Warlines or Soviet armor should roll across either the DMZ in Korea or the Iron Curtain in Europe, there would be an unlimited response by the armed forces of the United States, to include if necessary, the use of nuclear weapons. Conversely,in 1975 when Soviet armor rolled across the international borders of South Vietnam military response was nothing. In addition, Congress cut off allAID to the South Vietnamese and would not provide them with as much as a singledollar or a single bullet. In contrast, from the beginning of 1974 (after theParis Peace Accords had been signed), up through the end of April 1975, theSoviet Union and Red China supplied over 823,000 tons of war materials to theHanoi regime.

In spiteof this Case – Church 1973 Congressional guarantee, the North Vietnamese werevery leery of President Nixon. They viewed him as an incredibly tough leader whowas also dangerously unpredictable. He had, in 1972, for the first time in theWar, mined PhongHarbor and sent theB-52 bombers against the North to force them into signing the Paris PeaceAgreements. Previously the B-52s had been used only against Communist troopconcentrations in remote regions of Vietnam and occasionally against carefully selected sanctuaries in Cambodia, plus against both sanctuaries and supply lines in

August1974; Nixon resigns.

September1974; North Vietnamese communists hold special meeting to evaluate Nixon’sresignation and decide to test implications.

December1974; North Vietnamese invade South Vietnamese provincePhouc located north of Saigon on Cambodian border.

January1975: North Vietnamese capture Phouc Long, provincialcapitol of Phouc . Sitand wait for US reaction. No reaction.

March1975; North Vietnam mounts full scale invasion. SeventeenNorth Vietnamese conventional divisions (more divisions than the US Army hashad on active duty since WW II) were formed into four conventional army corps(This was the entire North Vietnamese army. Because the US Congress hadunconditionally guaranteed no military action against North Vietnam, there wasno need for them to keep forces in reserve to protect their home bases, flanksor supply lines), and launched a wholly conventional cross-border,frontal-attack. This attack was spearheaded by 700 Russian tanks,that were burning Soviet fuel and firing Soviet ammunition. Then, usingthe age old tactics of mass and maneuver, theydefeated the South Vietnamese army in detail.

A complete description of this NorthVietnamese Army (NVA) classical military victory is best expressed in the wordsof the NVA general who commanded it. Recommended reading:Great Spring Victory by General Van Dung, NVAForeign Broadcast Information Service, Volume I, 7 June 1976 and Volume II, 7 July 1976 General Dung’s account of thefinal battles for South Vietnam reads it was taken right out of a US Army manual on offensivemilitary operations. His descriptions of the mass and maneuver wereextraordinary. His selection of South Vietnam’s army as the “center of gravity” could have been written byGeneral Carl von Clausewitz4 himself. General Dung’s account goes into graphicdetail on his battle moves aimed at destroying South Vietnam’s armed forces and their war materials. He never mentionsrevolutionary warfare or guerrilla tactics contributing in any way to his GreatSpring Victory.

Other Aspects

USMilitary battle deaths by year:

                -Prior to 1966 – 3,078 (Total up through 31 December 1965)

                -1966 – 5,008

                -1967 – 9,378

                -1968 – 14,589 (Total while JFK & LBJ were on watch – 32,053)

                -1969 – 9,414

                -1970 – 4,221

                -1971 – 1,381

                -1972 – 300 (Total while Nixon was on watch – 15,316)

Source of these numbers is the SoutheastAsia Statistical Summary, Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense, andwere provided to the author by the US Army War College Library, CarlisleBarracks, PA 17023. Numbers are battle deaths only and do not include ordinaryaccidents, heart attacks, murder victims, those who died in knife fights inbarroom brawls, suicides, etc. For those who think these numbers represent“heavy fighting” and some of the “bloodiest battles” in US history shouldconsider that the Allied Forces lost 9,758 men killed just storming theNormandy Beaches; 6,603 were Americans. The US Marines, in the 25 days between19 February and 16 March 1945, lost nearly 7,000men killed in their battle for the tiny island

The single bloodiest day for theAmericans in Vietnam was 17 November 1965, when elements of the 7th (Custer’s old outfit) lost 155 men killed in a battlewith elements of two North Vietnamese regular army regiments (33rd & 66th)near the Cambodian border southwest of Pleiku.

ComparativePOW (Prisoner of War) Statistics

               -Americans taken POW during WW II 130,201 (The Greatest Generation)

               -Americans taken POW during the Korean War 7,140

               -Americans taken POW in Vietnam

These Vietnamese American POW numbersraise the obvious question. If the Vietnamese communist military were such asuperb, uncanny, divinely lead fighting force, that always outfoxed theAmericans, how come they didn’t take more prisoners? It’s because thecommunists were defeated on the field of battle in every single majorengagement of the War. In order for the communists to have taken significantnumbers of prisoners, they would first have to win battles and overrun Americanpositions.

The majority of those 771 captured in Vietnam were airmen shot down over North Vietnam. Less than 200 of these men were captured on the ground, inside ofSouth Vietnam. These figures alone, totally dispel thenotion that somehow the soldiers in Vietnam were not on a par with those who served in earlier wars. They alsorubbish the notion that the US Military in Vietnam were a group of unmotivated, hapless souls who were poorly trainedand commanded by inept leaders

This is not to say that these troops didnot experience a lot of hard fighting. In Vietnam, the US Marines lost five times as many killed as they did in WWI, three times as many killed as they did in Korea and suffered more killed and wounded in Vietnam than during all of WW II.

The following is from a speech by the USArmy’s 25th Infantry Division’s command sergeant major on the 25th anniversaryof the fall of the RepublicVietnam

“The 25th Infantry Division (TropicLighting) fought in Vietnam from early 1966 to late 1971.

The Division had a little less than17,000 men assigned.5 During its tour, the Divisionnever lost a position to the enemy, never had a unit overrun, and never had asoldier surrender under fire.”

Quite a record for a force that wassupposedly made up of uneducated, inadequately trained, drug addicted, bumblingdraftees, who were poorly motivated, led by officers who were less thancompetent and continually being outsmarted by their enemies. That theseSoldiers and Marines get little, if any, credit for their sacrifices andachievements is another story. One that is inextricably meshed into the fabricof that huge “anti-war” / draft dodging majority that still comprises the bulkof America’s media market.

Parallel Point

During its Normandy battles in1944 the 90th Infantry Division (roughly15+men), had to replace 150% of its officers and more than 100% of its men. The173rd Airborne Brigade (normally there are 3 Brigades to a division) served in Vietnam for a total of 2,301 days, and holds the record for the longestcontinuous service under fire of any American unit, ever. During that (6 year,3+ month) period the 173rd lost 1,601 (about 31%) of its men killed in action.

Casualty Statistics

Again, the US Army War College Libraryprovides the numbers. The former South Vietnam was made up of 44 provinces. The province that claimed the mostAmerican lives was Quang Tri, which bordered on both North Vietnam. Fifty three percent of Americans killed in Vietnam were killed in the four northernmost provinces, which in additionto Quang Tri were Thien, Quang and Tin. All three shared borderswith . An additional six provinces accounted for another 26% of theAmericans killed in action (KIA). These six provinces all shared borders witheither Cambodia, or, had contiguous borders with provinces that did share borderswith those two countries. The 15 southernmost provinces (Designated as IVCorps), which was home to 40% of South Vietnam’s population, accounted for just under 5% of US KIA. The remaining19 provinces accounted for16% of US KIA. These statistics are sufficient todismiss the popular American belief that South Vietnam was a flaming inferno of violent revolutionary dissent. Theoverwhelming majority of Americans killed in Vietnam, died in border battles against regular NVA units. The policiesestablished by Johnson and McNamara prevented the American soldiers fromcrossing those borders and destroying their enemies. Expressed in WW II terms,those policies were the functional equivalent of having sent American soldiersto fight in Europe during WW II, but restricting them to FranceBelgiumHollandItaly, etc., and not letting them cross the borders into Germany, the source of the problem. General Curtis LeMay aptly defined Johnson’s war policy in Vietnam by saying that “We are swatting flies in the South when we shouldbe going after the manure pile in Hanoi

Looking back it is now clear that theAmerican military role in “Vietnam” was, in essence, one of defending international borders against aconventional cross-border communist invasion. Exactly as theyhad done in Korea Contrary to popular belief,they turned in an outstanding performance. Again: The military wasnot driven from Vietnam. They left under the terms of the Paris Peace Agreements. Theywere then barred from returning by the US Congress. This same Congress thenturned around and abandoned America’s former ally, South Vietnam. Should America feel shame? Yes! For kowtowing tothe wishes of those craven anti-war / draft dodging voting hoards, and forbugging out and abandoning an ally that America had promised to protect.

Johnson’s Fatal Mistakes

Johnson made two colossal “Vietnam” blunders. First he failed to get a formal Declaration of War,which he could have easily had. The Tonkin Resolution, which LBJ regarded as the “Functional equivalent of a formalDeclaration of War.” was passed unanimously by the House and there were onlytwo dissenting votes cast in the Senate. A formal Declaration of War would havealtered the judicial state of the nation, exactly as the Founding Fathers hadintended.

The Constitution begins with the words“We the people of the United States…” and it spells out what government is, and what it should do andcannot do. The Founding Fathers were mostly all veterans of the RevolutionaryWar, and fully understood how difficult it is to maintain public support duringwartime. At one point 80% of the “American” people were against their war.Intentionally, the Framers of our Constitution crafted the requirement for aCongressional Declaration of War, in a manner which makes it a double-edgedtool. It was designed to insure that America will not go to War without at least the initial support of thePeople’s Representatives, and through the Treason provision, it also createsimpediments to public dissent once the battles are joined. The Constitutionmakes it perfectly clear that Congress shall have the “Power to declare War…”It then specifies that “Treason against these United States shall consist only in levying War against them, or, adhering totheir Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort.” It makes a last reference to thisissue by stating “The Congress shall have the power to declare the Punishmentfor Treason…”

Much modern thinking assumes theConstitution is all about law and government. Not totally.It was written for “We the People…” The government does not fight wars. ThePeople’s Representatives, authorize War, and, the appropriate entities ofgovernment to plan, staff, organize, direct, controland finance them. But, “We the People” do the fighting. And, when those of us“We” types are engaged on the field of battle, then “We” are entitled to everybit of protection that is provided for in Our Constitution.

A formal Declaration of War is an actwhich alters the judicial state of the nation. It not only provides measuresfor control of the press, but also to handle public dissent and dealeffectively with traitors. Declaring War does not mean we have to imposemartial law, reinstate universal conscription orlaunch the nukes. Control of the press in wartime is not for protection of thegovernment. It’s for the protection of our soldiers. Control of the press doesnot mean absolute control. Only their reporting from the Warzone, and their treatment of our enemies. The Constitution guarantees afree press, but not a responsible press. During WW II all news dispatches fromthe battlefields (in fact not only news dispatches but personal letters fromthe soldiers as well) were censored, and, the US media was not allowed topublish the picture of a single dead American GI, until after the Normandyinvasion (D-Day, 1944) was successful.

Johnson’s second blunder was to grantblanket draft deferments to college students. This draft exemption loopholesoon became a system of super loop highways, and the nation’s campuses quicklyfilled to overflowing with students evading the draft. The overwhelmingmajority of these men knew they were acting in a cowardly manner. Subsequently,they took to appeasing their consciences by convincing themselves the war wassomehow immoral. Once this “immoral” concept emerged and became creditable, itspread like wildfire across the nation’s college campuses. In turn thesecampuses became boiling cauldrons of violent raging anti-war descent thatswiftly overflowed onto the main streets of America. Anti-war protests and violent demonstrations became the acceptednorm. Miraculously, acts of cowardice were transformed into respectable acts ofdefiance. However, when one goes back and scrutinizes those anti-wardemonstrations, one promptly finds they were not really against the war. Theywere only against the side fighting the communists! This of course turns out tobe the side which had the army from which the dodgers were dodging. Hmmmm

Media

The following is not meant as anoutright criticism of the media (neither is it intended to excuse theirreprehensible behavior). In spite all the hullabaloo the US media puts outabout freedom of speech and the public’s right to know, US media’s mainmotivation is profits. Period. The media isfirst and foremost a business. The people who own and manage the nation’stelevision and radio networks, electronic forums, its newspapers and the otherprint media publications are in the business of making money. The mediaunderstands only too well what Americans want to see, hear, and perhaps moreimportantly, feel. Those same media folks also very clearly comprehend, thatthe American people, in general, are not driven by intellect, but by emotions.

Once the draft dodging anti-war crowds’numbers started climbing up into the tens of millions, the media and then thepoliticians started pandering to those numbers (with media it is eithercirculation numbers or Nielsen ratings. With politicians it’s votes). Media,unrestrained by a formal Declaration of War, quickly moved to the forefront ofthe anti-Vietnam crusade. Multi-million dollar salaries are not paid to peoplefor reporting the news, in any form, be it written, audioor video. Multi-million dollar salaries (e.g., Cronkite) are paid toentertainers. Stars and super stars. One does not getto be, much less continue to be, a superstar unlessone gives one’s audience what it wants. At the point where those draft dodginganti-war audience numbers reached critical mass, the media had no choice butpander to the wants of those mushrooming masses.

An excellent example of this numberpandering can be found in a 1969 Life magazine feature article in which Life’seditors published the portraits of 250 men that were killed in Vietnam duringone “routine week.” This was supposedly done to demonstrate Life’s concern forthe sanctity of human life; American human life. Andfurthermore, to starkly illustrate the Vietnam tragedy with a dramatic reminder (i.e., the faces staringout of those pages), that those anonymous causality numbers were in fact thesons, brothers and husbands of neighbors. In 1969 theweekly average death toll from highway accidents in the United States was 1,082. If indeed Life’s concern was for the sanctity ofAmerican lives, why not publish the 1,082 portraits of folks who were killed inone “routine week” on the nation’s highways. Then they could have shown notonly the sons, brothers and husbands of neighbors, but could have depicted deaddaughter, mothers, grandmothers, aunts, babies, cripples, foolsand draft dodgers as well. No Way! Life knewfull well where its “numbers” were.

Another excellent illustration ismedia’s portrayal of the infamous “Siege” of . According to Peter Braestrup,a 1968 Newsweek story on the battle of displayed 29 photographs. Eighteen of these photosshowed US Marines huddled under fire, wounded or dead. “None of the photosshowed the Marines firing back, in spite of the fact that marine artilleryfired ten rounds at the enemy for every one received.” So biased was the news coverage that, eventoday is perceivedas a horrendous experience for the United States. This gloomy image persists, notwithstanding the fact that, whenthe fighting was over, the US Marines had lost a total of 205 men killed as opposed to in excess of 15,000 NVA killed.6

For those interested in a detailed, unbiased,factual account of the US Military’s performance in Vietnam, Unheralded Victory (HarperCollinsPublishers)by Mark W. Woodruff, provides exceptional insight.

Television

Quote from Newsweek (10 Oct 83) “At a certain point television became more important that the waritself. That point was the Offensive 1968.” VietnamAmerica’s first television war and the nation didn’t handle it very well.Early on in Vietnam, the media recognized the amazing potential for television toexploit war’s sensationalism. Unrestrained by a formal Declaration of War, andmesmerized by the power they possessed, media quickly spun out of control.Media’s influence exerted power far beyond description, and, eventually alteredthe War’s outcome in favor of the communists. Conventional wisdom has it thatthe Offensive was the “turning point” where theAmerican people lost faith in the war. Television’s coverage of this event hadconvinced them that the War was unwinnable. The singular most important incident in shaping this “turningevent, was the “news dispatch” by Peter Arnett that the communists had capturedthe US Embassy in Saigon This was a totally fictitious report.

The facts: In the early morning hours of1 Feb 68, communist sappers blew a small hole in the outer wall of the USEmbassy in Saigon, entered the embassy grounds and engagedin a brief firefight with embassy guards. They never entered the embassy, andall were doomed. Later, an investigation revealed that these sappers had nomission other than to enter the embassy grounds and make a psychologicalgesture for the benefit of American television. It was a suicide mission aimedat the American psyche. It was a total success. Astounded viewers back in America were being told that the Communist had captured the US Embassy in Saigon. This was a false report, andit mattered not that this false report was later corrected. In the words ofGeneral Dave Palmer, though the communists were to suffer “…thirty thousanddead in the first ten days of the offensive—nonewould achieve as much as the twenty who blew a hole in the embassy wall andsurvived inside for four hours.”

As one observernoted “The Americans might not understand the power of television propaganda,but the enemy sure as hell did.”

Peter Arnett7 also filed the infamousreport supposedly quoting the officer inthe Mekong Delta as saying “We had to destroy the town in order to save it.”This was another sensational fabrication. The full story of Arnett’s deceptivereporting of this incident is covered in depth by B. G. Burkett in his bookStolen Valor.

Media & Dodgers: More Than a DoubleWhammy

When I asked a well known Americanreporter, who had covered the war extensively, why they never reported on thisoutside communist support, his answer was essentially that the North Vietnamesewould not let the reporters into North Vietnam and because “We had no access tothe North during the war…meant there were huge gaps in accurately conveyingwhat was happening north of the DMZ.”

At the peak of the war there were545,000 US Military personnel in Vietnam. However, most of them were logistical / support types. On thebest day ever, there were 43,500 ground troops actually engaged in offensivecombat operations, i.e., out in the boondocks, looking for, or actually incontact with, the enemy. This ratio of support to offensive line troops is alsocomparable to other wars, and helps dispel the notion that every troop in Vietnam was engaged in mortal combat on a daily basis.

The Reason it all, Hangs Like a Pall

There always has been, and always willbe, American opposition to war. The Revolutionary War had the highest,(estimated at 80 percent) and that was because it was fought on home soil.Opposition to WW I was 64 percent. During WW II it peaked at 32 percent. Thenumber for Korea was 62 percent, and 65% opposed Vietnam. What makes Vietnam so different is the dodging anti-war disaster. Of the 2,594,000who served in Vietnam, only about 25 percent, or, 648,000+ were drafted. Compare that tothe 16,000,000+ who dodged and it works out to 25 dodgers for every draftee whowent.

Today, America’s crocks are crammed chock-a-block full of dodgers, with crocks inthe fields of media, entertainment and academia beingmore fully crammed than most. America’s schools, colleges and universities areoverloaded with faculty who either dodged or were members of the anti-warcrowd. To this day the dodgers have a need to rationalize away their acts ofcowardice and a compulsion to malign and belittle the very source of thatguilt, Vietnam. Consequently, many of them devote inordinate amounts of time andenergy to either giving classroom lectures and or speeches, writing articles,position papers or in some cases books, or otherwise carrying on about thetragic and foolish mistakes made by those who actually served in Vietnam

The anti-war movement was akin to anational temper tantrum that eventually engulfed and the afflicted the entirenation with its warped rational. This group, fueledand led by dodgers and their cohorts, were responsible for poisoning theAmerican public’s mind on the subject of Vietnam. Eventually those dodging hoards, and their cronies in the media,influenced the body politic to elect a Congress that stripped the soldiers whofought in Vietnam of their victories, and voted to cut and run in the face ofadversity. To this very day, academia, the media, the politicians, talkingheads, and the draft dodging multitudes continuously feed off one another withtheir preposterous and deceptive hallucinations about “Vietnam.” This is doneat small expense. Only a very small minority of Vietnam Veterans bear the bruntof their vicious absurdities.

The reason “Vietnam” will not go away is because the story the dodging masses andtheir supporters are perpetuating is not true, and it sticks in the craw of thenon-dodging population. Especially the young. If ateacher wrote 1 + 1 = 2 on a blackboard, kids going by would take one look andforget it. However, if 1 + 1 = 6 were there, a certain portion of them wouldstop and question it. Same with Vietnam The supposed “facts” beingtaught or presented just don’t add up.

Recently, a young man asked me “How comeNorth Vietnam, which had a land area smaller than the state of Missouri and apopulation of less than one tenth the size of America’s could defeat the modernarmed forces of the United States?” I answered “Son, they didn’t.” He came backwith “Then why did my teachers tell me that?” My answer was “Son, they aremostly either draft dodgers or wannabes (as in wanted to be a dodger but weretoo young, too old, the wrong sex, or?) theirdescendents, or kin of, or otherwise truck with, the dodgers. Take thisarticle, go show it to your teachers, and then ask for a detailed descriptionof that American military defeat.”

Today they cast sinister shadows over Afghanistan. In WW II, movie actors, sports stars and politicians all readilyvolunteered for military service. During Vietnam the dodging anti-war and anti-military multitudes eventually ledto their stars and politicians taking decisively anti-war, anti military andanti-American positions. As noted earlier, one does not get to be, much lesscontinue to be a star or superstar unless one gives one’s audience what itwants. This spawned a new era in American life. Stars and superstars grabbedtheir anti-war anti-American banners and, in doing so, reached new andenthralling heights of adulation. The fundamental problem with this that the American public tends to look up to, andbestow credence on their stars. Subsequently stars who are merely actors, andin many cases have no real life experience or training, outside of acting orpretending, become looked up to as leaders. Public confusion results in actorsbecoming anointed as leaders who then can exert tremendous influence. During WWII, if movie stars had dodged the draft and openly championed the causes ofHitler and , their careers would have beenobliterated, and they would have formerly been charged with treason. Today,actors who are anti-American and in many instances, pro Islamic terrorist, areheld in high esteem and quoted and re-quoted over and over again.

War is a very serious undertaking. Butstarting with Vietnam and up through today, it is being treated as a new formof video entertainment, intended to create new big name, news mongers, enhancethe images of existing celebrity reporters, generate billions of dollars inadvertising revenues for the US media, and provide unique, but safe, enjoyable,exciting titillation for its viewing audience. In today, when a gang of two-bit thugs kidnap an ordinary citizen andthreatens to execute him, the media immediately confers worldclass status on the thugs. These thugs are miraculously transformed andpresented by media as equals with legitimate world leaders. These thugs thencan bring pressure (at least perceived pressure) on democratic governments. Ahand full of thugs and the life of an ordinary citizen are not world class issues, and should never be viewed as such.

More Misconceptions

The idea that “There were no frontlines” and “The enemy was everywhere all the time” makes good press, and, feedsthe reprehensible needs of a large majority of those 16,000,000 plus Americanswho dodged the draft8 during the Vietnam War. Add eithera mother or a father (only one, not both) and throw in another sympathizer ortwo in the form of either a relative or a friend and you are looking at a groupthat’s something in excess of 50-million Americans. During the entire period ofthe involvement in “Vietnam” only 2,594,000 US Military actually served inside that country.Compare this number with the 50-million plus figure, and you have the answer towhy the American view of its Vietnam experience is so skewed. The bulk of America’s draft dodging multitudes share a common emotion. Guilt. This guilt thing was aptly summarized in a WashingtonPost article, dated April 6, 1980. Arthur T. Hadleywrote “Those who avoided Vietnam through loopholes (or more correctly, loop-highways) in the draft,being in the main honorable men, now feel guilty. They relieve these feelingseither by venomous attacks on all things military, including the draft: orbecome 200 percent American, and make Attila the Hun sound like Mother Goose.”

The most glaring example of the dodger’sguilt syndrome can be found in a statement made by the ranking head dodgerhimself. When asked for his reaction to McNamara’s book In Retrospect, Clinton’s spontaneousresponse was “I feel vindicated.” Clinton is a lawyer andunderstands the English language only too well. For one to “feel” vindicated,as opposed to “being” vindicated, one must first have been, by definition,“feeling” guilty.

This is also the reason no one writesgushy, romantic, nostalgic ridden, historically emotional books such as TomBrokaw’s The Greatest Generation (a best seller featuring WW II veterans) aboutVietnam veterans and their war.

The Government of South Vietnam

Its official name for this governmentwas the Government of the Republic of Vietnam (GRVN). Another series ofendlessly repeated myths portray the GRVN as an illegitimate creation offoreigners that was tyrannically oppressive, incompetent, hopelessly corrupt and plagued by military coups that were practicallythe order of the day. None of these illusions are true. These never ending contemptuous stories of the GRVN were filed byreporters who were in South Vietnam on visas (i.e., written permission to be there) issued by the verygovernment they were so loudly criticizing.

The GRVN came into being as a result ofthe 1954 Geneva Accords, which legally established both North and South Vietnam as independent countries. Neither the United StatesSouth Vietnam signed thoseaccords (Their failure to sign the Geneva Accords, succinctly dispels thenotion that South Vietnam was somehow a creation of the United States). The first president of the GRVN was Ngo Diem. He was overthrown and murdered in November of 1963. The next nineteenmonths saw a series of military coups and leadership changes but the governmentof the GRVN stabilized in June 1965, with Nguyen Ky9 as prime minister. Elections were held in 1967. Nguyen Van Thieu became president with Nguyen as his vice president. Thieu was elected in a democratic election in which nine politicalparties fielded candidates. Thieu won this electionwith only thirty five percent of the vote. He was then immediately and veryloudly condemned by the majority of the US media for “rigging” the election(For the record, I’ve witnessed rigged elections staged by Asian dictators andthe idea of “rigging” a thirty five percent win, is just plain silly).

From the beginning the government in Saigon had much greater legitimacy andinternational recognition than the communist government in Hanoi. In the words ofDr. Bernard Fall “In various test votes in the United Nations on admission ofeither one or both Viet-, South Vietnam alwaysled its northern neighbor by a sizable margin, and garnered more votes thanSouth Korea when the latter’s admission was put to the test.” Eventually South Vietnam sat “As a full fledged member in every United Nations agency fromwhich it cannot be barred by Soviet veto.” In 1957 the UN Security Councilvoted 8 to 1 (the Soviet Union cast the dissenting vote) and the General Assembly voted 49 to 9to admit South Vietnam. Various UN members (excluding the United Sates) sent 39,000troops to fight the communists in South Korea. At the height of the war in Vietnam, various United Nations members (again, excluding the United States) had over 60,000 troops10 in South Vietnam to aid them in their fight against the communists. In all, forty five countries sent men, money or supplies to help South Vietnam defend itself.

The GRVN allowed a free press andliterally thousands of reporters traveled to South Vietnam, and once they arrived, they traveled freely around inside thecountry. When South Vietnam fell, the SouthVietnamese media consisted of 28 Vietnamese daily language newspapers and 11others printed in Chinese, English and French. Inaddition there were weekly, biweekly and monthly publications covering the fullrange of topics to include politics. This was supplemented by 24 radio stationsand three television stations, plus a number of book publishing houses, and allwere competing in a free market. There was also a free flow of foreignpublications available at newsstands and bookstores throughout the country. Theidea of a brutally repressive, corrupt, all powerfuldictatorship operating under the merciless and constant surveillance of anunconstrained media, is just plain fantasy. Perhaps the best illustration wouldbe to ask “If the GRVN was such a contemptible, despicable government why didn’t the South Vietnamese people simply flee tothe north or escape in Boats?” The fact is it tookNorth Vietnamese communist totalitarian domination to drive the Vietnamesepeople from their ancestral homelands.

The South Vietnamese Military

There are many loudly touted, absurdmisperceptions about both the willingness and the ability of the SouthVietnamese to fight. Between January 1965 and October 1972, the SouthVietnamese Army lost 183,528 killed and another 499,026 wounded. Simply stated,during the period when the United States lost roughly 58,000 men, the South Vietnamese suffered 183,000+battle deaths. This, out of a population base averaging fewerthan 16,000,000, which is less than 10% of the average population during that period.America had bled its population at the same rate South Vietnam bled its population, America would have to have sustained 271,000 battle deathsand 730,000+ wounded every year for the entire seven year period that US combattroops were committed in Vietnam. That would have meant 1,875,000 American dead in Vietnam, along with 5,122,000 wounded.

The Americans who actually served inCombat with the South Vietnamese have a different view. Army GeneralH. Norman Schwarzkopf says it most authoritatively. During his first tour ofduty in Vietnam, Schwarzkopf was questioned by a rear echelon American officerabout staying in the field with the South Vietnamese troops. Of that encounterSchwarzkopf writes he responded by saying “I was confident staying with theairborne because I had no doubt about their ability to fight or their concernfor my well being.”

Another item: By the early 1970s theSouth Vietnamese military was capturing such an enormous amount of material andweapons from the North Vietnamese Army, that in conjunction with variousregional US Military Assistance programs, Russian made AK-47s captured from theNVA by the South Vietnamese were being issued to other allied nations in Southeast Asia

media,politicians, dodgers from academia and assorted talking heads (still playing tothose huge draft dodging anti-war numbers) dearly love to pour scorn on andridicule the South Vietnamese military.

 They are continually implying thatsomehow the South Vietnamese just could not, and would not, defend their owncountry. During the Cold War period, the South Koreans, the Taiwaneseand the Western Europeans, all depended on the military might of the United States to preserve their freedom. That militaryshield was deliberately withdrawn from South Vietnam by the United States Congress.

Battle of Loc; Mar 17 – Apr 17, 1975

Loc was the last major battle for South Vietnam. This town sits astride Q. L. (National Road) #1, some 40 odd miles to the northeast of Saigon (on the road to Thiet) and was the capitolof South Vietnam’s Long Khanh province. The NorthVietnamese Army (NVA) attack fell on the Army Republic of Vietnam (ARVN) 18thDivision.12

March 17th, 1975 the NVA 6th& 7th Divisions attacked Loc but wererepulsed by the ARVN 18th. On April 9th the NVA 341st Division joined theattack. After a four thousand round artillery bombardment, these threedivisions massed, and spearheaded by Russian tanks and other armored vehicles,mounted a second assault on Loc. But again, theARVN 18th held its ground. The NVA reinforced with their 325th Division andbegan moving their 10th & 304th Divisions into position. Eventually, in aclassic example of the art of “Mass and Maneuver” the NVA massed 40,000 men andoverran Loc.

During this fight, the ARVN 18th had5,000 men at Loc. These men managed to virtuallydestroy 3 NVA divisions, but on April 17th, 1975 they wereoverwhelmed by the sheer numbers and the weight of the “Mass.” Before overrunning Loc the NVA had committed six full divisions,plus a host of various support troops.

In the Sorrow of War, authorand NVA veteran writes of this battle “Remember when we chased Division 18 southern soldiersall over Loc? My tank tracks were choked up withskin and hair and blood. And the bloody maggots. Andthe fucking flies. Had to drive through a river to get thestuff out of my tracks.” He also writes “After a while I could tell thedifference between mud and bodies, logs and bodies. They were like sacks ofwater. They’d pop open when I ran over them. Pop! Pop!”

The Communist Government of North Vietnam

There are various versions of a widelyheld belief (which resonates particularly well with those draft dodginganti-war hoards) that the communist government of North Vietnam was popular, perhaps even revered. The 1954 Geneva Accords, that legally brought into being both the North and theSouth Vietnamese governments, called for free elections to be held in1956. Conventional wisdom has it that if the South Vietnamese and theirAmerican ally had agreed to those country-wide free electionsin 1956, then the South Vietnamese people would have overwhelmingly elected toJoin communist government. This is purenonsense. To this day (May 2004) the Vietnamese communists have never held atruly free and fair election. In 1956 Ho and his communist government were inthe midst of their land reforms and in the process were murdering tens ofthousands of their own people. Even peasant farmers with as little as one acreof land were being executed for having a “Landlord mentality.” According tohistorian Edgar O’Ballance, in 1956, these masskillings stirred such resentment in the North Vietnamese that it triggered a“real crisis” for government. “Anxiously, Hostepped in to prevent a national insurrection.” Over Radio Hanoi, Ho read outan apologetic letter to the people, released some 12,000 people who werewaiting to be executed and declared the 50,000 people that had been killedresisting land reform to have been “executed by mistake” and proclaimed“national heroes” of the revolution.13 Anybody who, in fact, believes that freeelections could have been carried out simultaneously with mass executions, issimply not playing with a full deck.

The North Vietnamese Military

This organization officially came intobeing on 22 December 1944 as an armedpropaganda unit! Its main priority has always been, first and foremost,propaganda. Initially, this propaganda was directed primarily towards thesoldiers themselves in the form of indoctrination. For example: “The collectivemasses are opposed to individualism and its role in history. The individualsoldier is a worthless as a grain of sand, and to be crushed underfoot.” Aquote from General Giap speaking of his ownsoldiers, offers insight into this communist canon: “Every minute, hundreds ofthousands of people die on this earth. The life or death of a hundred, athousand, tens of thousands of human beings, even our compatriots, meanslittle.” (Quote from Stanley Karnow’s VIETNAM a History)

Secondly, this propaganda effort wasfocused on the Vietnamese population both North and South. And last but mostimportantly, it was directed toward the world at large,and in particular on its American audience.

Recommended Reading

Works by , the author of The Sorrow of War. He tells of being drafted in the North Vietnamese Army in 1968 andfighting for nearly seven years. His unit lost over 80% of its men, to battledeaths, sickness and desertion. On the later he wrote“Desertion was rife throughout the regiment, as though soldiers were beingvomited out, emptying the insides of whole platoons.”

; More Myth

The Chinese account of dispels moreVietnamese communist myths surrounding General .Research on Chinese Communist Party achieves, conducted by Qiang, a China-born American scholar, provides interesting insight. According to these records,when the French decided to fortify and expand their base at , Chinese General Guoqing was quick torecognize this as an exceptional opportunity. “This was the blunder General Guoqing, Chinese ‘advisor’ to the Vietminh, had beenpatiently waiting for. , the titular Vietnamesecommander, wanted to attack the French in the Red River delta, a plan withno hope of success. overruled with the support of Mao himself.” The Chinese then committed “An army oflaborers, a thousand trucks and, most important the updated 17th-century siegetactics they had perfected in Korea.” to the battle for

The Irony

It’s ironic that in spite of all themedia hype and hullabaloo about the “Viet Cong” and the “American Soldiers”both were absent from the final battles for South Vietnam. During the “” battles of 1968, theso-called “Viet Cong” had been literally bludgeoned to death on the streets ofthe cities, towns, and hamlets of South Vietnam. The Americans had left under the terms of the Paris PeaceAgreements, and were then barred by the US Congress, from ever returning. Theend came in the form of a cross border invasion. Two conventional armies foughtit out using strategies and tactics as old as warfare itself.

A brief word about the SouthVietnamese government lacking support from the people, and the supposed“popular support” for the communists. During the 1968 Offensive the communists attacked 155 cities, towns and hamlets in South Vietnam. In not one instance did the people rise up to support thecommunists. The people did rise, but in revulsion and resistance to theinvaders. The general uprising, envisioned by the communists, was a completeillusion. At the end of thirty days, not one single communist flag was flyingover any of those 155 cities, towns and hamlets. Thecitizens of South Vietnam, no matter how apathetic they may have appeared toward their owngovernment, turned out to be overwhelmingly anti-communist. In the end they hadto be conquered by conventional divisions, supported by conventional tanks andartillery that was being maneuvered in accordance with the ancient principlesof warfare. But then, as with mathematics, certain rules apply in war, andmilitary victories are not won by violating military principles.

General Dung’s Great Spring Victory wasspearheaded by a total of 700 (maneuverable) Soviet tanks, i.e., Soviet tanks,burning Soviet fuel and firing Soviet ammunition. By comparison, the SouthVietnamese had only 352 US supplied tanks and theywere committed to guarding the entire country’s borders with CambodiaNorth Vietnam. However, becauseof Congressional action, the ARVN were critically short of fuel, ammunition and spare parts with which to maintain andsupport these tanks.

Vietnam: Divided by a wall in the 1630s

Another widely held myth is that Vietnam was really one country but had been artificially divided byblundering foreign governments. Fact: Shortly after ousting the Chinese in thefifteenth century, the southern Nguyen and the northern Trinh became engaged ina series of bitter bloody struggles that lasted for nearly 200 years. In the1630s, the southern Nguyen officially divided Vietnam into two countries byconstructing two huge walls (not unlike the Great Wall of China) across thenarrow waist of Vietnam near Dong Ha (In approximately the same location as theboundary between North and South Vietnam, established by the 1954 GenevaAccords), and the Northern and Southern Vietnamese continued to battle on forthe next 150 years. It is true that there are language similarities between theNorth and South Vietnamese. However, this does not give the North the right torule the South, any more than the English language gives Canada the right to rule the United States

After the Communist Takeover

The facts speak clearly. If things wereso bad for the South Vietnamese people when the South Vietnamese government wasin power and the Americans were supporting them, how come no one fled, i.e.,there were no “boat people”? But, as soon as the communist takeover wascomplete the Vietnamese fled by the millions, a first in the 4,000 year historyof the country.15 Once the communist grip on the Vietnamese people wascomplete, they showed their true colors and conditions got so bad that not onlythe people from the south fled by the millions, but they were soon joined bynortherners who fled as well. No one ever says that the South Koreans wouldlike to be ruled by the communist North Koreans, or the Taiwanese would like tobe ruled by the mainland communists, or the West Germans would have liked tohave been ruled by the communist East Germans or that Western Europe would liketo have been ruled by the communist Soviet Union. However, for some strangereason, almost every western writer who addresses this subject, along withpoliticians and the great majority of media’s talking heads seem to actuallybelieve that the South Vietnamese really wanted to be ruled by the communistNorth Vietnamese.

Related Comments

Vietnam was another battle in the Cold War. This war officially started(Its actual origins date back to 1917 when the communists came to power inRussia) on 9 Feb 1946 when Soviet DictatorJoseph Stalin declared “War” on the West. This definitively divided the worldinto two main opponents. The Free World led by the United States and the Communist World led by the Soviets. The worldwide Cold Warlasted until the Berlin Wall came down in November 1989. It was by far thelongest and most costly War the has everengaged in. Definitively speaking, this war is not well recognized, and it’seven less clearly understood. Mainly because of the length of time, the areascovered, the extraordinary diversity of the participants, plus the ever changing nature and locations of the battles. In brief;the Cold War16 death toll far exceeded that of WW II. Exact figures are notavailable. Reliable estimates put the number of dead well above 80,000,000 (Thevast majority of the dead were killed by the communists and were citizens ofthe country in which they were killed). Costs are also difficult to calculate.A good place to start would be to add up the defensebudgets for the years from 1946 through 1990. The bulk of those expenditureswere directly related to the Cold War.

The early “official” Cold War battleswere in Europe. Fighting in GreeceBerlin Blockade, etc. The first bigbloody battle was Korea encouraged the Korean War in much the same way it later encouragedVietnam. In January 1950 Dean Acheson,President Truman’s Secretary of State, gave a speech to the National Press Clubin Washington, D. C., declaring that Korea was outside America’s sphere of interest. Five months later, in June 1950, thecommunist response to this speech was an all out armed invasion of South Korea. A conventional cross-border, frontal attack.The Truman Administration’s unfortunate choice of words, had led to the USbecoming involved in the Korean War in much the same manner that, 14 yearslater, President Johnson’s irresponsible campaign rhetoric would result inAmerica having to commit combat troops in Vietnam. Contrary to popular myth,the situation in South Vietnam during the early1960s was not going well for the communists. By early 1964 communistkidnappings were wide spread. Heavy handed taxcollection techniques, brutal recruiting methods, along with widespread andoften indiscriminate assassination campaigns, against not only village officials,but also teachers, civil servants and ordinary citizens, had pretty much soureda considerable portion of the population on communism. Years of struggle hadexacted its toll on the ranks of the southern communist cadre. People who hadbeen taken north, indoctrinated, trained andinfiltrated back into South Vietnam. Deaths through combat and natural attrition, along with thefurther loss of men through disease and desertion, had thinned the communistranks to alarmingly low levels.

Campaigning in 1964, Johnson pledgedover and over again that he would “Not send American boys to do what Asian boysshould do for themselves.18 Unfortunately, thismessage was not lost on the North Vietnamese communists. They took Johnson athis word and in late 1964 began their military invasion of South Vietnam In thewords of US Army General Dave Palmer “Just as the North Koreans, listening toAmerican pronouncements in 1950, had become convinced that the United Stateswould not make a stand in Korea, so was North Vietnam convinced fourteen yearslater that America would not fight in Vietnam. Of such miscalculations are warsmade.”

Communist North Vietnam itself had comeinto being as a direct result of the Cold War and the worldwide communistmovement. After the communist take over of China19 in 1949, they had offeredthe North Vietnamese sanctuaries, weapons, war materialsand training. The communist victory at was made possibleby the ending of hostilities on the Korean peninsular in June 1953. The end ofthe Korean War made it possible for the communists to start shipping enormousamounts of weapons and other war materials to the communist forces in Vietnam. By late 1953 ( fell on 7 May 54) the flow of communist war materials (both Soviet and Chinese)into Vietnam reached upwards of 6,000 tons per month. This support included 220heavy artillery pieces (including Soviet made heavy rocket launchers) whichfired in excess of 210,000 rounds into the French positions. In addition, asboth a threat and a military distraction to the French, the Chinese communistsmassed a 225,000 man army on Vietnam’s borders in the areas near . That this battle isstill portrayed to the world as a Vietnamese guerrilla victory over the French,is yet another tribute to their formidable propaganda skills.20

For those who still believe Vietnam was strictly a civil war, the following should be of interest.With the collapse of communism and the Soviet Union, along with theopening up of China, records are now becoming available on the type and amount ofsupport North Vietnam received from China21 and the Soviet Block. For example:

China has opened its records (at least partially) on the number ofuninformed Chinese troops sent to aid their communist friends in Hanoi. In all, China sent 327,000 uniformed troops, and severalhundred thousand “expert workers” to North Vietnam. Chinese historian Chen wrote“Although Beijing’s support may have fallen short of Hanoi’s expectations,without the support, the history, even the outcome, of the Vietnam War mighthave been different.” A quote on the Chinese advisory effort, from NVA ColonelBui Tin, provides illumination. He explains that as outside communist supportgrew “Larger numbers of Chinese advisors arrived and were attached to everyunit at all levels.”

In addition, at the height of the War,the Soviet Union had some 55,000 “Advisors” in North Vietnam. They were installing air defense systems, building, operating andmaintaining SAM (Surface to Air Missiles) 22 sites, plus they provided trainingand logistical support for the North Vietnamese military

When I asked a well known Americanreporter, who had covered the war extensively, why they never reported on thisoutside communist support, his answer was essentially that the North Vietnamesewould not let the reporters into North Vietnam and because “We had no access tothe North during the war…meant there were huge gaps in accurately conveyingwhat was happening north of the DMZ.”

At the peak of the war there were545,000 US Military personnel in Vietnam. However, most of them were logistical / support types. On thebest day ever, there were 43,500 ground troops actually engaged in offensivecombat operations, i.e., out in the boondocks, looking for, or actually incontact with, the enemy. This ratio of support to offensive line troops is alsocomparable to other wars, and helps dispel the notion that every troop in Vietnam was engaged in mortal combat on a daily basis.

1 In WW II the US Army included the USArmy Air Corps which today has become the US Airforce.

2 These so-called “Southern communist”organization fronts were created by Hanoi. They were notlegitimate vehicles of popular dissent, and after Northern Communist conquestof South Vietnam, none of them had any subsequent representative role in Vietnam’s communist government.

3 This Act gives real meaning to thatold Maine Yankee saying “No man’s Life or Property is safe when the Congress isin session.”

4 General von Clausewitz(German military officer, 1780 – 1831) is the author of On War which isconsidered a, if not the, classical textbook on all aspects of War. He is saidto have distilled Napoleon into theory. An analogy has further been made that Clausewitz is to War what Adam Smith (The Wealth ofNations) is to economics, or, what Machiavelli (The Prince) is to politics.

5 Assuming one yeartours for the men, over a five and a half year period, approximately 90,000+men would have served with this Division.

6 Another interesting point: All during“Vietnam media again and again accused the military ofoverestimating and over reporting enemy casualties. Today, the North Vietnameseopenly admit to losing many more men than was reported by the Americanmilitary. The fact is, the military being conservative by nature, consistentlyunderreported enemy casualties.

7 Arnett was later fired by CNN forfalse reporting of the Tailwind incident in which he purported that the military in Vietnam supposedly gassed their own men. After that, in 2003, he was firedby both NBC and National Geographic for his Anti-American and prejudicedcoverage of the US Military operations in

8 From first hand experience I knowthere are civilizations on this planet where such acts as begging, thievery,rape, sodomy, murder, head hunting and even cannibalism (some time ago I spentthree years in the virgin jungles of West Irian , which was formerly Dutch New Guinea) are consideredpraiseworthy pursuits. The are however, two humantraits which are universally despised; treason and cowardice. During Vietnam, 16-million-plus American men dodged the draft. The term “dodged”includes avoided, ducked, bobbed, weaved & wiggled, sneaked away, cut out,ran away from, and or got deferments from the draft. This 16-million-plusnumber covers the full array of dodgers, from those who sought studentdeferments, to those who faked egg allergies, showed up for their draftphysicals with panty hose on, to those who fled the country. At the end of theday, draft dodging is an act of cowardice, and no man worth his salt is proudof being a coward. Those dodgers, whose grandfathers had marched off to WW I,whose fathers had won WW II, and whose younger uncles and older brothers hadfought in Korea, when their turn came, they took to hiding out on campus, inCanada, Sweden, under their mommy’s bed or wherever. They were all acting cowardly and many committed acts of treason bymarching around on campus or down the main streets of America under enemy flags. A good portion of these folks also took toidolizing the likes of Jane Fonda, and using words like “love” and “peace” toobscure their cowardice.

9 is not only originally from North Vietnam, but a Buddhist as well. So much for the mythabout the South Vietnamese government being completely dominated by Catholics.

10 Note: Unlike Korea, the UN member troops were not under the UN flag.

11 I lived in Vietnam, as a civilian, amongst the Vietnamese people from May 1965through April 1975, and can attest to the fact that the GRVN was not atotalitarian government. And, contrary to popular belief (at least among thosewho did not live there) it was neither brutal, oppressive,evil nor excessively corrupt.

12 At one time I served (as a civilianengineer) with MACV (US Military Assistance Command, Vietnam) Advisory Team#87; which provided advisors to this Division. During the 1972 EastertideOffensive when 12 NVA divisions attacked An Loc, Kontum& Quang Tri (Note: the NVA lost all three battlesand over 100,000 men in these engagements), the 18th was sent to An Loc (upQ.L. 13 near the Cambodian Border) and they drove the NVA out of An Loc andback into their sanctuaries in the Cambodian border areas.

13 Even those popular American writerswho pay great homage to image (They make hugeprofits from writing bad things about the South Vietnamese and the Americans,but saying great things about the North Vietnamese communists in general and Hoin particular), acknowledge these murders. For example; in his book After the Warwas Over Neil Sheehan admits that “thousands died” during the communist landreforms, but goes on to offer an excuse for atrocities by writing “Ho apologized for the crimes, abolished the tribunalsand ordered the release of thousands who had been imprisoned.” Sheehan’s use ofthe words “thousands died” is in itself despicably misleading. He is panderingto his readers wants. The fact is those “Thousands” didn’t just “die” they weremurdered in cold blood.

14 In the andinternational media, is widely held to be amilitary genius. Determined yes. Geniusno. The North Vietnamese now openly admit they suffered close to1,300,000 military deaths in their fight for South Vietnam. In terms of percentages of population (Based on figures from theUnited Nations Demographic Yearbook 1974) this is the equivalent of theAmericans losing over 12,000,000 men killed in Vietnam. If any American general had lost over 12,000,000 of his menkilled, he would most certainly not be considered a genius.

15 Crucial question: Not long after thecommunist takeover, starving, wretched, Vietnamese refugees, from both Northand South Vietnam, were washing up on shores everywhere in JapanIndonesia. What was their number one destination choice for resettlement? United States of America If the Vietnamese had beenoppressed, maltreated, maimed and indiscriminatelymurdered by the Americans, why would their number one choice of a new homelandbe the

16 The Cold War and the worldwidecommunist movement were inextricably entwined.

17 At a conference in Moscow16 Dec 1949, Ho had sought Stalin’s formal approval of, and increasedcommunist military support for, intensifying the war against FranceVietnam. At a later conference meeting, on the evening of 14 Feb 1950, Stalin, Mao Zedong and Ho formalized the agreement for thissupport, and Stalin directed Mao to increase support for Ho. The communistvictory in China, the previous year, had cleared the way for aggressive communistexpansion in . However, Dean Acheson’s unexpected January speech triggered thecommunist invasion of South Korea and full communist support for the war in Vietnam was delayed until the cessation of hostilities on the Koreanpeninsular in Jun 1953.

18 Barbara Tuchman in her book The Marchof Folly writes of Johnson “Long accustomed to normal political lying, heforgot that his office made a difference.”

China shared common borders with both the Soviet UnionVietnam, which in effect turned both countries in to large strategicmilitary and logistical support bases for North Vietnam

20 Tom Wolfe once summed up theignorance and gullibility of the US media types covering Vietnam with a commentabout Harrison Salisbury of the New York Times.…itseemed as if the North Vietnamese were playing Harrison Salisbury of the NewYork Times like an ocarina, as if they were blowing smoke up his pipe and thefinger work was just right and the song was coming forth better than they couldhave played it themselves.”

21 North Vietnamese Colonel Bui Tinspeaks to this Chinese support for the NVA and the effectiveness of thecommunist propaganda “But I have to admit that all my equipment from top tobottom, from my solar topee to my rubber sandals,even my underpants—in fact everything I was equipped with was made in China. Wewere quick to condemn the regime in the South for relying on the Americans asforeign interventionists. What we did not realize in the North was that theChinese and Soviets were also foreigners. We always considered them asfraternal comrades helping us in the spirit of goodwill. All we could see a puppet regime in the South relying on imperialistsupport whereas we in the North regarded ourselves as fully sovereign andindependent in concert with the progressive world trend.”

22 This opens up another interestingaspect of the much touted “horrors” of the 1972Christmas bombing of Hanoi. In response to this bombing, the North Vietnamese and theirSoviet “advisors” fired 1,242 Soviet made at theAmerican war planes. Twenty sixAmerican planes were hit by . The other 1,216 , with warheads in tact, fell back to earth in the HanoiPhong area. Has anyone everheard of, seen or read a report that describes the damage and deaths caused bythese self-inflicted missile strikes?

Reprint with permissionof Ron Leonard – 25th Aviation Battalion – http://25thaviation.org/

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