Skip to comments.A Winnable War. The argument against the orthodox history of Vietnam. [Book review]
Posted on 01/06/2007 8:21:30 AM PST by aculeus
Triumph Forsaken The Vietnam War, 1954-1965 by Mark Moyar Cambridge, 542 pp., $32
In the late summer of 1963, President John Kennedy dispatched two observers to South Vietnam. Their mission was to provide the president an assessment of the regime of Ngo Dinh Diem, the president of the Republic of Vietnam. The first, Major General Victor Krulak, USMC, the special assistant for counterinsurgency for the Joint Chiefs of Staff, visited some ten locations in all four Corps areas of Vietnam. Based on extensive interviews with U.S. advisers to the South Vietnamese army, Krulak concluded that the war was going well.
The second observer was Joseph Mendenhall of the State Department, who had been recommended to the president by Averell Harriman and Roger Hilsman. Mendenhall, like Harriman and Hilsman a longtime advocate of replacing Diem, visited three South Vietnamese cities where he spoke primarily to opponents of the South Vietnamese president. Unsurprisingly, he concluded in his report that if Diem and his brother Ngo Dinh Nhu remained in power, the Diem government was certain to fall to the Viet Cong, or the country would descend into religious civil war.
Both Krulak and Mendenhall briefed Kennedy on September 10. So diametrically opposed were their conclusions that the president quipped, "The two of you did visit the same country, didn't you?"
After reading Mark Moyar's remarkable new book, Triumph Forsaken, readers accustomed to the "orthodox" view of the Vietnam war--entrenched in the academy and the press for decades--will no doubt have the same sort of "Kennedy moment." Could Moyar possibly be writing about the same war that is described (in the orthodox view) as, at best, a strategic error and, at worst, a brutal imperialist war of aggression--in any case, a tragic mistake?
The axioms of the orthodox view concerning the Vietnam war are well known: that Southeast Asia in general, and South Vietnam in particular, were not vital strategic U.S. interests; that the "domino theory"--the belief that the fall of South Vietnam to the Communists would lead to the collapse of other non-Communist regimes in Southeast Asia--was false; that the South Vietnamese government was hopelessly corrupt and did not command the allegiance of the South Vietnamese people; that among the most corrupt was the regime of Diem, who was good at repressing Buddhists (Diem was Catholic) but was losing to the Viet Cong Communists; that Ho Chi Minh was not a true Communist but a nationalist; and that the rejection of certain military options--the mining of Haiphong Harbor, the use of ground troops to interdict the Ho Chi Minh Trail--was proper given the fear of Chinese intervention.
According to the orthodox view, Vietnam was indeed a "quagmire," a war the United States was destined to lose.
Moyar's history takes issue with all of these contentions. A brilliant young scholar with a Cambridge doctorate who is currently teaching at the Marine Corps University in Quantico, Moyar is representative of a small but increasingly influential revisionist school that rejects the fundamental orthodox premise that America's involvement in Vietnam was wrongheaded and unjust.
The primary weakness of the orthodox school, Moyar demonstrates, is its constricted historical horizon. For the most part, orthodox historians have covered the war as if the only important decisions were made in Washington and Saigon. This is an example of what has been called "national narcissism," the idea that history is just about us. Of course, important decisions were also made in Hanoi, Beijing, Moscow, and many other places. Moyar has exhaustively consulted the relevant archives and uses them to demonstrate the very real limitations of the orthodox view. He not only places Vietnam in its proper geopolitical context, but demonstrates the Clausewitzian principle that war is a struggle between two active wills. An action by one side elicits a response from the other that may be unexpected.
Orthodox historians often act as if Hanoi pursued a course of action with little regard for what the United States did. But Moyar demonstrates that the North Vietnamese strategy was greatly affected by U.S. actions.
This point was driven home to me in 1983 when the late Douglas Pike, the foremost American expert on Vietnamese communism and an early proponent of Vietnam revisionism, delivered a paper at a Wilson Center symposium on the war. Pike observed that "the initial reaction of Hanoi's leaders to the strategic bombings and air strikes that began in February 1965--documented later by defectors and other witnesses--was enormous dismay and apprehension. They feared the North was to be visited by intolerable destruction which it simply could not endure." But the air campaign was severely constrained, a fact that became increasingly apparent to Hanoi. As a result, North Vietnamese leaders concluded that the United States lacked the will to bear the cost of the war.
Pike then made an extraordinary claim by comparing the effects of the constrained air campaign in 1965 and the "Christmas bombing" of 1972. Officially known as Linebacker II, this massive, around-the-clock air campaign far exceeded in intensity anything that had gone before. Hanoi was stunned.
"While conditions had changed vastly in seven years," Pike continued, "the dismaying conclusion to suggest itself from the 1972 Christmas bombing was that had this kind of air assault been launched in February 1965, the Vietnam war as we know it might have been over within a matter of months, even weeks."
Triumph Forsaken is one of the most important books ever written on the Vietnam war. The first of two projected volumes, it focuses on the period from the defeat of the French by the Viet Minh in 1954 to the eve of Lyndon Johnson's commitment of major ground forces in 1965. Moyar's thesis is that the American defeat was not inevitable: The United States had ample opportunities to ensure the survival of South Vietnam, but it failed to develop the proper strategy to do so. And by far our greatest mistake was to acquiesce in the November 1963 coup that deposed and killed Diem, a decision that "forfeited the tremendous gains of the preceding nine years and plunged the country into an extended period of instability and weakness."
Not surprisingly, Vietnamese Communists exploited that post-Diem instability and adopted a more aggressive and ambitious stance. Moyar argues that President Lyndon Johnson rejected several aggressive strategic options available to him, options that would have permitted South Vietnam to continue the war, either without the employment of U.S. ground forces or by a limited deployment of U.S. forces in strategically advantageous positions in the southern part of North Vietnam or in Laos. The rejection of these options meant that Johnson was left with the choice of abandoning South Vietnam, a step fraught with grave international consequences, or fighting a defensive war within South Vietnam at a serious strategic disadvantage.
Nothing illustrates the orthodox/revisionist divide more than their respective treatments of Ngo Dinh Diem. In the orthodox view, Diem was a tyrant losing control of his country, a Catholic running roughshod over a predominantly Buddhist populace. Moyar contends that this is false. In fact, Diem was an effective leader who put down the organized crime empires that had thrived before his rise to power. Nor was he a democrat: His legitimacy, in the eyes of the people, arose from his ability to wield power effectively and provide security for the people who were the target of the Communist insurgency. Indeed, under Diem's leadership, the back of the Communist insurgency had pretty much been broken by 1960.
This is a far cry from the orthodox view, but Moyar has some pretty good witnesses: the Communists themselves. Citing Communist documents, Moyar shows that they were honest enough to acknowledge their lack of success in the period leading up to the 1963 coup, as well as the fact that the Diem government was killing and capturing Communist cadres in unprecedented number, leading many survivors to defect.
So why has Diem been depicted the way he has? First, he was a victim of press bias: No one did more to undermine Diem's reputation in the United States than David Halberstam and Neil Sheehan. Far from providing a balanced picture of the war, they pushed a decidedly anti-Diem view, and their prejudice was so transparent that a 1963 congressional mission described the American journalists as "arrogant, emotional, un-objective, and ill-informed."
But then, these same reporters were themselves influenced by others with axes to grind. Much of the criticism of the Diem regime's military policy was fed to them by the maverick U.S. Army adviser, Lt. Col. John Paul Vann. In addition, many American reporters relied on a Vietnamese journalist named Pham Xuan An, a Reuters stringer later revealed to be a Communist agent whose very mission was to influence the American press. As journalists such as Stanley Karnow later admitted, Pham was very good at his job.
Sheehan and Halberstam, in turn, greatly influenced the new U.S. ambassador to South Vietnam, Henry Cabot Lodge, against Diem. They were especially effective in portraying Buddhists as victims of Diem's repression of non-Catholics. But the militant Buddhist leaders were far from the political innocents described by Halberstam and Sheehan, and the most important of them, Thich Tri Quang, was a brother of the North Vietnamese official in charge of subversion in the south. If Tri Quang was not a Communist himself, he was at least an agent of influence. Moyar provides evidence that many of the "Buddhist" protesters were, in fact, Communist provocateurs.
In fact, Diem's efforts to mollify the Americans by offering concessions to the Buddhists only invited more demands, undercut Diem's authority, and emboldened his enemies, who interpreted his attempts at compromise as weakness. The only man in South Vietnam who could reestablish order was Diem, but Ambassador Lodge insisted on further acts of conciliation, which led to further disorder. Lodge's continued meddling made Diem more intractable, which reinforced Lodge's predisposition to replace him.
If there is a villain in Moyar's account, it is Lodge. Influenced by American journalists, he saw Diem as an intransigent opponent of reform. But it was Lodge who proved to be heavy-handed and closed-minded, vices that led him to support the ouster of Diem as part of a personal vendetta. Moyar describes Lodge's duplicity: He told the president that he was unable stop the anti-Diem coup, but it was Lodge who instigated it in the first place, in defiance of Kennedy's wishes. In that sense, Kennedy was hoist on his own petard: He had sought to neutralize Lodge, a likely 1964 Republican presidential candidate, by sending him to Saigon; but when evidence of Lodge's dupli city became clear, Kennedy did not replace him for fear that Lodge would turn his ouster into a campaign issue.
It is generally accepted, even by orthodox chroniclers, that the coup and the subsequent assassination of Diem and Nhu were mistakes of the greatest magnitude. Ho Chi Minh understood the coup's import immediately: "I can scarcely believe that the Americans could be so stupid," he remarked. The Hanoi Politburo recognized the opportunity that the coup had provided the Communists: "Diem was one of the strongest individuals resisting the people and Communists. Everything that could be done in an attempt to crush the revolution was carried out by Diem. Diem was one of the most competent lackeys of the U.S. imperialists." And indeed, the coup provided the incentive for the Communists to push for a quick victory against the weak South Vietnamese government before the United States intervened.
Conditions continued to deteriorate, forcing Kennedy's successor, Lyndon Johnson, to consider an American escalation of the war to save South Vietnam. He did not, as many have argued, use the August 1964 Gulf of Tonkin incident as an excuse to escalate U.S. involvement. That claim is belied by the fact that Johnson saw intervention only as a last resort to avoid the defeat of South Vietnam and what he thought would be the subsequent toppling of the Southeast Asian dominoes. Indeed, most observers at the time criticized Johnson for not responding forcefully enough to the Tonkin Gulf incident, and major U.S. ground intervention did not begin until nearly a year later.
Moyar contends that Johnson had viable military options that could have enabled South Vietnam to survive while avoiding the massive commitment of U.S. ground troops that began in 1965. I happen to agree, but I don't think Moyar sufficiently appreciates the immense pressure on U.S. political leaders to consider military options for Vietnam in the context of nuclear deterrence. When Johnson was weighing his options in Vietnam the United States was only three years removed from the Cuban Missile Crisis.
Indeed, we cannot understand U.S. strategic decisions in Vietnam without reference to nuclear deterrence. Many policymakers had come to believe that strategy in the traditional sense was no longer possible in the nuclear age. Rather than focusing on the choice of the proper means to achieve national goals, as strategy demands, policymakers saw Vietnam and similar cases as "crises" in need of control. The goal was to prevent a crisis from spinning out of control, leading to uncontrolled escalation, possibly to nuclear war.
Moyar does acknowledge the role of the academic theory of limited war, which was developed precisely to prevent a crisis from escalating. Most often associated with the Harvard political scientist Thomas Schelling, limited war theory emphasized using military force in a controlled way to "signal" one's opponent. The central idea was that rational actors on both sides would limit the steps they took in order to avoid the escalation of a crisis.
Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara was a proponent of Schelling's theory, but the uniformed military and former President Eisenhower were skeptical. Limited war theory was the very negation of strategy, but McNamara and others wrongly saw the Cuban Missile Crisis as its validation. Unfortunately, the attempt to use limited war theory to shape U.S. policy and strategy for Vietnam proved especially counterproductive, if for no other reason than the "value of the object" for the North Vietnamese was greater than that of the Soviets in Cuba.
One of Johnson's fears was that, if the United States invaded North Vietnam or Laos to interdict the Ho Chi Minh Trail, China would intervene. But contemporary Chinese documents make it clear that no such response was contemplated. Moyar shows that our actions in Vietnam were based on bad intelligence in the service of a flawed theory of war. This contention is supported by the fact that, in 1972-73, Richard Nixon employed many of the same options available to Johnson in late 1964, and these steps would most likely have preserved the independence of South Vietnam had it not been for the action of Congress in 1974-75 to completely cut off all military support to our ally.
No review can do full justice to this critically important book. Triumph Forsaken is meticulously documented and bold in its interpretation of the record. Even orthodox historians will be forced to acknowledge the magnitude of Moyar's scholarly achievement. It should, at the least, reopen the debate about America's Vietnam enterprise, reminding us that countries are not destined to win or lose wars. Victory or defeat depends on decisions actually made and strategies actually implemented.
Mackubin Thomas Owens is professor of national security at the Naval War College.
© Copyright 2006, News Corporation, Weekly Standard, All Rights Reserved.
Bookmark (no pun intended)
This is not a limited war and until the US government acknowledges that fact - and attacks Iran and Syria - this war will play out like Viet Nam.
When the fight began, the US President was clear: if you are on the side of crazed mullahs of Islam, you are the enemy and you will be attacked.
After Iran and Syria are disposed of, it's time to send the illegitimate b_st_rds of the Saud line back to the sand they came from.
There can be no sanctuaries for these tyrants.
This is only "revisionist" history because in the case of Vietnam the revisionist historians got in there first.
When The New York Times published the stolen Pentagon Papers, as a very large supplement to the paper, they were a cause celebre but evidently hardly anyone actually read them. All they knew was that the proved that Nixon and the Pentagon were guilty of all sorts of crimes, and that was good enough for them. If they bought the paperback version, it was to set out as a coffee table book to prove they were with it.
I read the whole thing. The only big surprise was the fact that John F. Kennedy ordered the assassination of Ngo Dhin Diem, which did indeed, unsurprisingly, cause the war effort to collapse and never really recover. From that point on the South Vietnamese were not much help, and we had to send in our own troops to fight in their place. Really, really dumb, as well as plain plum evil, assassinating your ally because he was a Catholic and unpopular in the leftist press.
There's one new detail here that I hadn't seen before. Joseph Mendenhall of the State Department, and Roger Hilsman. I remember Hilsman. A real loser. So, these were the Joe Wilson and Valerie Plame of that era. And Kennedy, who was an incompetent president, fresh off the Bay of Pigs, was dumb enough to listen to them.
Then, of course, Nixon was finally left to pick up the pieces, which he did very well until the liars in the press nailed him and left our allies in Southeast Asia to the tender mercies of Pol Pot and Ho Chi Minh.
Never forget that in the last days of Vietnam hillary clinton was right in there, helping with the nailing, while her husband-to-be was over in London dodging the draft, organizing peace marches, and betraying his country. And John F'n Kerry was in Paris, helping to advice the North Vietnamese how to win the struggle.
Hubby was also visiting Moscow or Prague or some other communist country (the MSM buried the tale so successfully that even us news buffs don't remember exactly), our only future President to ever behave so despicably while the country was at war.
The murder of Diem has always been proof enough for me that the Kennedys are thugs - and have been for over 100 years.
that is the truth
*Bumpmark* -- sounds like an important book.
"...Hubby was also visiting Moscow or Prague or some other communist country..."
Prague. I can't remember my source, but that's the one. He was at some "event" with a female Czech ex-communist (not that they are ever "ex-" communists in fact) who was several years older than him. He pandered to her so bad it was nauseating. I wonder what happened on his trip.
Yes, some of the details are in Ambrose Evans-Pritchard's extremely important book on Clinton.
Bill clinton managed to make a tourist visit right across the Soviet Union, at a time when all westerners were kept out. There is some speculation that at the time he was already some sort of KGB agent.
He became a Rhodes Scholar courtest of Senator Proxmire. Although he was only a college-age kid, he had important political and mob connections even back then.
"...hardly anyone actually read them."
I did too. One thing that struck me was that DoD did *not* seem to think Kennedy had made his mind up on troop pullouts, contrary to received wisdom. He appeared to be keeping his options open.
I will buy this book, but it will not be received well in the MSM. The Vietnam war is one of their touchstones of faith, and the party line is not to be trifled with. I saw Frances FitzGerald and, I believe, Dan Rather (?) on a Vietnam panel on Book TV the other day and it was the same old drivel.
The sad part is that when history is distorted the way the history of the Vietnam war has been, future generations have no reference point from which to make decisions.
I have an older cousin who was also a Special Forces officer and probably a contemporary of your Dad's. He sees it the same way. He told me once that Johnson's announcement of major ground forces into South Vietnam made them all realize that it was lost.
Not only was Viet Nam winnable, we won it. Twice, at least. HaNoi was preparing to sue for peace after losing so badly in Tet '68 and again after the Christmas Bombing in '72, but Washington had other ideas.
Mark Moyar is a superlative scholar and historian, and also a very nice and unassuming fellow, especially considering his awesome academic credentials. It's a shame there aren't about 500 more of him...
As a veteran of the Vietnam War from August of 1969 to January of 1971, serving as an infantry squad leader in a mechanized infantry company, and with another unit as a tank commander on an M48A3 tank; I am keenly interested in the distortions, lies, and half truths perpetuated about the Vietnam war by many of those who helped to undermine the US effort there. Much of the conventional understanding of the US involvement in the South East Asian conflict indicates a general disapproval of the United States war effort, and an acceptance of the oft regurgitated leftist conventional wisdom as to it's historical course and outcome. That is painting the American war effort in Vietnam as misguided at best and an imperialistic effort to establish SE Asian capitalistic hegemony at worst. The antiwar left is portrayed as being noble and idealistic rather than populated by a hard core that actively hoped and worked for a US defeat, the US government as destructive of basic civil liberties in its attempt to monitor their activities, and the North Vietnamese and Vietcong as nationalists who wished to preserve their unique culture against an imperialistic onslaught. The South Vietnamese government's struggle to survive a ruthless Communist assault while engaging in an unwarranted assault on human rights .while ignoring the numerous genocidal atrocities of the Vietcong (VC) and North Vietnamese Army (NVA) is also part of this narrative. The deceptive reporting of the Tet Offensive, the Communist's worse defeat among numberless hundreds of others was probably the most grievous deceit perpetuated by the Press .
The reason that the United States opposed nationwide elections that were to be held in accordance with the 1954 Geneva accords was due to the murder and intimidation campaigns carried out by Ho Chi Minh. This fact is in Professor R. J. Runnel's book Death by Government, in which he cites a low estimate of 15,000 and a high figure of 500,000 people in the murder by quota campaign directed by the North Vietnamese Communist Party Politburo that would have made the election a corrupt mockery. This campaign stipulated that 5% of the people living in each village and hamlet had to be liquidated, preferably those identified as members of the "ruling class." All told says Runnel, between 1953 and 1956 it is likely that the Communists killed 195,000 to 865,000 North Vietnamese. These were non combatant men, women, and children, and hardly represent evidence of the moral high ground claimed by many in the antiwar movement. In 1956, high Communist official Nguyen Manh Tuong admitted that "while destroying the landowning class, we condemned numberless old people and children to a horrible death." The same genocidal pattern became the Communists standard operating procedure in the South too. This was unequivocally demonstrated by the Hue Massacre, which the press did a great deal to downplay in its reporting of the Tet Offensive of 1968.
The National Liberation Front was the creation of the North Vietnamese Third Party Congress of September 1960, completely directed from North Vietnam. The Tet Offensive of 1968 was a disastrous military defeat for the North Vietnamese and that the VC were almost wiped out by the fighting, and that it took the NVA until 1971 to reestablish a presence using North Vietnamese troops as local guerrillas. The North Vietnam military senior commanders repeatedly said that they counted on the U.S. antiwar movement to give them the confidence to persevere in the face of their staggering battlefield personnel losses and defeats. The antiwar movement prevented the feckless President Lyndon Johnson from granting General Westmoreland's request to enter Laos and cut the Ho Chi Minh Trail or end his policies of publicly announced gradualist escalation. The North Vietnamese knew cutting this trail would severely damage their ability to prosecute the war. Since the North Vietnamese could continue to use the Ho Chi Minh Trail lifeline, the war was needlessly prolonged for the U.S. and contributed significantly to the collapse of South Vietnam. The casualties sustained by the NVA and VC were horrendous, (1.5 million dead) and accorded well with Gen. Ngyuen Giaps publicly professed disdain for the lives of individuals sacrificed for the greater cause of Communist victory. They were as thoroughly beaten as a military force can be given the absence of an invasion and occupation of their nation. The Soviets and Chinese recognized this, and they put pressure on their North Vietnamese allies to accept this reality and settle up at the Paris peace talks. Hanoi's party newspaper Nhan Dan angrily denounced the Chinese and Soviets for "throwing a life bouy to a drowning pirate" and for being "mired on the dark and muddy road of unprincipled compromise." The North Viets intransigent attitude toward negotiation was reversed after their air defenses were badly shattered in the wake of the devastating B-52 Linebacker II assault on North Vietnam, after which they were totally defenseless against American air attack.
To this day the anti-war movement as a whole refuses to acknowledge its part in the deaths of millions in Laos and Cambodia and in the subsequent exodus from South East Asia as people fled Communism, nor the imprisonment of thousands in Communist re-education camps and gulags.
South Vietnam was NOT defeated by a local popular insurgency. The final victorious North Vietnamese offensive was a multidivisional, combined arms effort lavishly equipped with Soviet and Chinese supplied tanks, self-propelled artillery, and aircraft. It was the type of blitzkrieg that Panzer General Heinz Guederian would have easily recognized. I didn't recall seeing any barefoot, pajama-clad guerrillas jumping out of those tanks in the newsreel footage that showed them crashing through the gates of the presidential palace in Saigon. This spectacle was prompted by the pusillanimous withdrawal of Congressional support for the South Vietnamese government in the wake of the Watergate scandal, which particularly undermined this aspect of President Nixons foreign policy. It should be noted that a similar Communist offensive in the spring of 1972 was smashed, largely by US air power; with relatively few US ground troops in place. At the Paris Accords in 1973, the Soviet Union had agreed to reduce aid in offensive arms to North Vietnam in exchange for trade concessions from the US, effectively ending North Vietnams hopes for a military victory in the south. With the return of cold war hostilities in the wake of the Yom Kippur war after Congress revoked the Soviet's MFN trading status, the Reds poured money and offensive military equipment into North Vietnam. South Vietnam would still be a viable nation today were it not for this nation's refusal to live up to it's treaty obligations to the South Vietnamese, most important to reintervene should they invade South Vietnam.
There is one primary similarity to Vietnam. A seditious near traitorous core of anti-war protesters is trying to undermine U.S. efforts there with half-truths, lies, and distortions. In that respect, the war in Iraq and the war in Vietnam are very similar. A significant difference is that thus far the current anti-war movement has not succeeded in manifesting contempt for the American military on the part of the general U.S. public as it did in the Vietnam era.
When I was in Vietnam, I recall many discussions with my fellow soldiers about the course of the war in Vietnam and their feelings about it. Many, if not most felt that "We Gotta Get Outta this Place," to cite a popular song of the time by Eric Burden and the Animals, but for the most part they felt we should do it by fighting the war in a manner calculated to win it. I do not recall anyone ever saying that they felt the North Vietnamese could possibly defeat us on the battlefield, but to a man they were mystified by the U.S. Governments refusal to fight in a manner that would assure military victory. Even though there was much resentment for the antiwar movement, and some (resentment) toward career professional soldiers, I never saw anyone who did not do his basic duty and many did FAR MORE THAN THAT as a soldier. Nineteen of my friends have their names on the Vietnam War Memorial Wall in Washington DC. They deserve to have the full truth told about the effort for which they gave their young lives. The U.S. public is not well served by half-truths and lies by omission about such a significant period in our history, particularly with their relevance toward our present fight in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Peter Braestrup, who quit his job at the NY Times to write a book on the Tet Offensive, pointed out fairly early that we won that battle, contrary to what the news reporters said at the time.
As it happens, I went to school with Peter when I was growing up, although later on I lost track of him. He was one of the few decent war reporters in Vietnam, and he loved what he was doing. He earlier reported for the Times on the Algerian War, and I'm sure he'd have liked to continue his career, but he evidently found that he just couldn't toe the Communist party line any longer.
Glad to hear a sequel's in the works! Was it at that Vietnam conference that was held recently that you met him? I'm especially interested in what he mentions about Mendenhall's link to Harriman and Hilsman, as I've been researching the Harriman and Hilsman clique's influence on JFK and LBJ's Vietnam policy and how some of their proteges later influenced Carter's Iran policy. I'll be very interested to see what else Moyar discovers.
No, I met him at the official book launch for "Triumph Forsaken."
Bump for later read
Thanks for the ping!
I seem to remember reading in "We Were Soldiers Once, and Young", about the men riding in to the I Drang valley in the helicopters during the battle. They saw what they believed were Chinese soldiers on the ground with the North Vietnamese, helping direct the fighting. They thought they were Chinese, because they were noticeablely larger than the North Vietnamese, and they later found out that radio operators on the ground reported hearing chatter in Mandarin Chinese from the Vietnamese side.
Am I remembering that correctly from the book, Aloha Ronnie?
You are 100% Correct, SuziQ.
Thank you for remembering so vividly what was the defining moment of my life in a Valley of Death known as then Free South Vietnam's IA DRANG Valley of November 1965.
T'was my 1st 9/11 Lesson, seeing first hand that there really is such a thing as Hate in this world and that there really are people out there who do Hate us for being Free.
One us came back to save 1,000's of lives on 9/11, giving up all that he had in the process:
NEVER ever FORGET
I was sad to learn on 9/11 that Rick Rescorla had died at the WTC, but it didn't surprise me in the least that he saved so many people that day.
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