Jump to content
The Education Forum

Vietnam Declassified: Kennedy, Johnson,Nixon


Recommended Posts

  • Replies 61
  • Created
  • Last Reply

Top Posters In This Topic

On 6/19/2017 at 1:28 AM, Chris Newton said:

Funny. I remember exactly where I was when I heard on the radio that the draft had ended. I had just turned 16 and it meant that I never had to register, not even later on when they re-instituted that requirement. I was 22 when I enlisted in 1982.

Of all the Nam Vets I served with, SGM Patrick Tadina had the most impact on me. He was nearing retirement and had been assigned to my unit shortly after jumping into Grenada. We were his first Armor unit but he went on to serve in Desert Storm, 6 years after I got out. He had been Americas longest serving and most decorated Army Ranger in Vietnam. He survived 12 tours as a LRRP and he's in the Army Ranger Hall of Fame. He avoided fanfare and when Stars and Stripes Europe wrote an article about him titled "The Real Rambo" he refused to talk about it.

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Last fall I spent the night in Kilgore Texas on personal business in a hotel North of town.  It and a hotel next door were the only business in that area except a tiny liquor store in the parking lot between them which looked much older than either hotel but still well kept.  After the 250 mile drive in somewhat heavy traffic (heavy in the Dallas part) I thought I'm going to have one beer and kick back an hour before I look for something to eat.  I was wearing the cap in my avatar, USS John F. Kennedy, CV-67, the only thing I found worthy of buying the last time I was in the sixth floor Owsald did it by himself museum souvenir shop other than a replica campaign refrigerator magnet.  The place said open but the door didn't.  I saw a man older than I behind the counter get up, heard a buzz and pushed the door open. He was wearing a NAVY cap.  I said "I guess maybe you were really in the Navy, people ask me when I wear this one sometimes if I served on the ship but I have to tell them no, it's a souvenir from the TSBD in Dallas, but I had a couple of cousins in Vietnam, other family in other wars.  As he handed me my change he looked me in the eye and said "I first went there in 1959".  It took me 3-4 seconds to ask "Unacknowledged?".  He told me "They told us if you get caught your on your own, we don't know you".  I forget what I said but he also told me he had a buddy that got out before he did that told him when he was discharged he asked the officer "What about all that time in Asia, why isn't that on my record?  The officer responded "That didn't happen, you weren't there".

Several weeks later I had a thought.  I wonder if JFK was ever fully apprised of what was going on in Vietnam.  He knew about the "non combat" advisors but was he aware of what "his" CIA was doing?  Did Dulles inform him of the full scope of their involvement?  It's pretty well proven Dulles knew the Bay of Pigs was a plan to fail but JFK was led to believe otherwise by him and the Military as another example of their deceptiveness, so, I'd guess not.    

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 

A few comments on the Vietnam war:

Here we are 50 years later and the Vietnamese treat our tourists better and with more friendliness than many other SE ASIAN countries.

They lost 2 to 4 million in that conflict. And their post traumatic stress from all that must have been 10X times worse than ours.

Did we really need to lose and damage all that life and spend 100's of billions ( trillions in today's money ) on the entire war effort ( this includes the massive cost of beefing up our troop count, hardware production and fuel costs there and here at home ) just to reach the peaceful relationship we have now? Can anyone look at this current reality fact and say anything but no?

Can't we gain more support from poorer countries by investing our monies there to "improve their economies" versus dropping more bombs on them than we did during all of WWII? The latter option sure seems like a massive and insanely stupid money wasting investment toward that goal.

Had 6 brothers all serve during that time. All enlisted. 4 Navy ( one retired as a chief ) 2 Air Force. 

All 6 signed up out of financial and career need. We were single mom welfare kids ( father's years of binge drinking finally took him out of the picture ) and there was no meaningful or decent paying work opportunities in this smaller town area and no one could afford college.

2 used their benefits after serving to attend school. One earned his doctorate. 

I was the 7th and last son. Had 1969 draft number 51. The day after I turned 18 I got my letter saying " greetings..."

Was more conscious of political and government discourse and less trusting of our leaders than older brothers. Who wouldn't be after JFK, MLK and then RFK were taken out.

And like so many my age, I sure didn't want to go to Vietnam for many reasons. Least of which was the reading of our high school bulletin every morning where once every 2 to 3 months we'd hear about another of our classmates being reported killed there.

And it was curiously ominous to me that it seemed like all the kids from our school that were being killed in Vietnam or had joined to serve or been drafted were from low income families. Right up my poor kid alley!

Kids from better off families somehow all got out of serving at that time. High draft numbers or for reason's I could never figure ... just never went or had to join the military.

I didn't evade or burn my card or run off. I went to the draft induction center in Oakland like I was told with 200 other poor looking kids out of Salinas, CA at 5 in the morning on what seemed like 5 or 6 ugly old buses. Went through the whole humiliating induction center process ( they yell at you like you just arrived at boot camp already ) in my underwear holding a basket with my clothes. We would be told to march in order without questions and follow colored lines on the floor. We would arrive at "stations" where they would test or ask you about your eyes or feet or sexual orientation, etc.  At each one of these stations one or more fellows would be pulled out of line.

When I made it to the "feet" station I raised my hand when it was shouted " ANYBODY HERE GOT ANY PROBLEMS WITH THEIR FEET?"

I had bone deformities in both feet! And I had twisted and turned and sprained my ankles so many times as a boy through teen years, my tendons were torn and stretched and I had many bone chips that had calcified into joint movement obstructions.

That was my ticket out.  Went back home on a Greyhound bus the next day oblivious to the fact that I had split the back of my pants the day before. Next few years were rough trying to get on my feet. But I felt lucky not having to go to Vietnam during that time.

Edited by Joe Bauer
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Ron:

its pretty apparent that there were some CIA and military guys in Vietnam that were doing black operations in order to exacerbate the tensions between the north and south.  The 1958 movie of Graham Greene's The Quiet American was based on this, and was adulterated by Ed Lansdale to cover up what many considered his own covert activities in that regard.  The whole Dulles/Eisenhower six years from 1954-60 was simply an exercise in nation building by any possible means--including covert action.  And it was doomed to failure since Lansdale had chosen so poorly in Ngo DInh Diem and his brother, and also Nhu's  nutty wife.  

As those years went on, more and more CIA activity was necessary to prop up Diem.  But it was on a basis of quicksand.  Because Diem could not inspire any allegiance in the countryside.  Therefore more and more people were imprisoned, many of them in the infamous tiger cages.  The estimates on that range up to 50,000 by the time Kennedy was inaugurated. And many of Nhu's security forces were trained in the USA by CIA officers.  By the time Kennedy came in, he was faced with a very bad situation which was getting worse. This is why both Rostow and Lansdale recommended US combat troops in 1961, even before the long two week debate in November.

 

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

7 hours ago, Joe Bauer said:

 

A few comments on the Vietnam war:

Here we are 50 years later and the Vietnamese treat our tourists better and with more friendliness than many other SE ASIAN countries.

They lost 2 to 4 million in that conflict. And their post traumatic stress from all that must have been 10X times worse than ours.

Did we really need to lose and damage all that life and spend 100's of billions ( trillions in today's money ) on the entire war effort ( this includes the massive cost of beefing up our troop count, hardware production and fuel costs there and here at home ) just to reach the peaceful relationship we have now? Can anyone look at this current reality fact and say anything but no?

Can't we gain more support from poorer countries by investing our monies there to "improve their economies" versus dropping more bombs on them than we did during all of WWII? The latter option sure seems like a massive and insanely stupid money wasting investment toward that goal.

Had 6 brothers all serve during that time. All enlisted. 4 Navy ( one retired as a chief ) 2 Air Force. 

All 6 signed up out of financial and career need. We were single mom welfare kids ( father's years of binge drinking finally took him out of the picture ) and there was no meaningful or decent paying work opportunities in this smaller town area and no one could afford college.

2 used their benefits after serving to attend school. One earned his doctorate. 

I was the 7th and last son. Had 1969 draft number 51. The day after I turned 18 I got my letter saying " greetings..."

Was more conscious of political and government discourse and less trusting of our leaders than older brothers. Who wouldn't be after JFK, MLK and then RFK were taken out.

And like so many my age, I sure didn't want to go to Vietnam for many reasons. Least of which was the reading of our high school bulletin every morning where once every 2 to 3 months we'd hear about another of our classmates being reported killed there.

And it was curiously ominous to me that it seemed like all the kids from our school that were being killed in Vietnam or had joined to serve or been drafted were from low income families. Right up my poor kid alley!

Kids from better off families somehow all got out of serving at that time. High draft numbers or for reason's I could never figure ... just never went or had to join the military.

I didn't evade or burn my card or run off. I went to the draft induction center in Oakland like I was told with 200 other poor looking kids out of Salinas, CA at 5 in the morning on what seemed like 5 or 6 ugly old buses. Went through the whole humiliating induction center process ( they yell at you like you just arrived at boot camp already ) in my underwear holding a basket with my clothes. We would be told to march in order without questions and follow colored lines on the floor. We would arrive at "stations" where they would test or ask you about your eyes or feet or sexual orientation, etc.  At each one of these stations one or more fellows would be pulled out of line.

When I made it to the "feet" station I raised my hand when it was shouted " ANYBODY HERE GOT ANY PROBLEMS WITH THEIR FEET?"

I had bone deformities in both feet! And I had twisted and turned and sprained my ankles so many times as a boy through teen years, my tendons were torn and stretched and I had many bone chips that had calcified into joint movement obstructions.

That was my ticket out.  Went back home on a Greyhound bus the next day oblivious to the fact that I had split the back of my pants the day before. Next few years were rough trying to get on my feet. But I felt lucky not having to go to Vietnam during that time.

Joe You're draft story reminds me of my own in a way. I think I'm a little older. My draft number was 45, and like you I went to Oakland for my exam, probably in 1970. I passed the physical, but before I went for my psyche exam I put a 'get out of Vietnam' sticker, which someone there was handing out, on my papers. I did have a letter from a Quaker org that supplied psyche exams for draftees. I ended up getting a psychological deferment. My examining psychologist told me he agree with my anti war sentiment!!!!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

12 hours ago, Paul Brancato said:

Joe You're draft story reminds me of my own in a way. I think I'm a little older. My draft number was 45, and like you I went to Oakland for my exam, probably in 1970. I passed the physical, but before I went for my psyche exam I put a 'get out of Vietnam' sticker, which someone there was handing out, on my papers. I did have a letter from a Quaker org that supplied psyche exams for draftees. I ended up getting a psychological deferment. My examining psychologist told me he agree with my anti war sentiment!!!!

Paul, we didn't have to go. That was good.  However, I will always remember seeing those huge lines at the final processing counters where hundreds of young fellows who weren't so lucky were having their papers stamped "1-A" and told they could sign up now or take 30 days to get their personal affairs in order. Remember, these young men were being drafted. They weren't joining out of choice.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Yes, I was lucky. But I would never have gone. I was on my way to Canada but got waylaid in Berkeley, a place long hairs like me felt welcomed. Eventually my parents convinced me to get some help from the Quakers and face the draft board. The song 'Universal Soldier' affected me. Also Alice's Restaurant. Btw I just revisited Stockbridge Mass. when I was 16 I snuck out of music camp nearby and went to Alice's. Of course this was before there was a song. The Guthrie family was part of that music camp. I met Arlo many years later. 

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

My father got the orders to go to Vietnam before I was born. He didn't talk about his tour there much, but told me some things years later when I was older. 

He told me a story about a bullet flying a mere couple of inches from his head. He said he never forgot that sound.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Just a horrible war.  From every aspect.

There was simply never any good reason to send combat troops there.  And to think Nixon wanted to do that in 1954!  And that Foster Dulles wanted to use atomic weapons there, when in fact, there were no Americans on the ground there at the time.  That shows you how crazy this Cold War staff was back then.

BTW, in the long piece I am working on which traces the destruction of Kennedy's policies through Johnson and Nixon, Nixon and Kissinger are such dyed in the wool Cold Warriors, its almost funny--if it were not tragic for their victims.  Nixon was actually comparing Vietnam to World War II !  Does that mean Ho Chi Minh was the equivalent of Adolf HItler?  And the Hanoi war machine was going to roll over the entire continent with their equivalent of the Blitzkrieg?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

"..... Macarthur told the President, "Anyone wanting to commit American ground forces to the mainland of Asia should have his head examined". Kennedy cited Macarthur's judgement to his own generals for the duration of his presidency. To put U.S. combat troops into Laos or Vietnam was a line he adamantly refused to cross for the rest of his life. General Maxwell Taylor said General Macarthur's statement made "a hell of an impression on the President.... so that whenever he'd get his advice from the Joint Chiefs or from anyone else, he'd say, "Well now, you gentlemen, you go back and convince General MacArthur, then I'll be convinced"

(from JFK and the Unspeakable)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

And to show you how divisive and simplistic this sloganism about stopping the Reds in Vietnam was, I am embarrassed to say that way back in the sixties I actually made a speech about the subject.  

In junior high school, I think it was the 8th or 9th grade, I was in a speech class.  I made a speech about why we had to win in Vietnam.  I recall reciting all that warmed over, jingoism about, "Our legacy is on the line in Vietnam", to this day I cringe when I recall the episode.  But that is how hard up most young people were for information as to why we were there. And that is the crap Nixon was selling with his Silent Majority, "pitiful helpless giant" baloney in 1969.  When, in fact, as I showed in my PP, he knew the war could not be won at that time.

Just an utter and complete debacle, that did untold damage to the social and economic underpinnings of the USA. Let alone Vietnam.

Edited by James DiEugenio
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Please sign in to comment

You will be able to leave a comment after signing in



Sign In Now
 Share

×
×
  • Create New...