Army Vietnam Studies

Monday, July 24, AD 2017

 

“The internet has changed everything” is a trite saying, but in regard to historical research it is also true.  Travel and expense were often the lot of historians as they chased documents.  Now, so much is available free with a few mouse clicks.  Case in point is the Army series Vietnam Studies, twenty-six volumes that examine the Army’s role in Vietnam.  A feast for historians or those who simply want a detailed look, for example, at Army air mobile operations in Vietnam.  Each volume is now available free in PDF downloads.  Go here to access them.

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November 14-18, 1965: Battle of the Ia Drang

Friday, November 18, AD 2016

The first major battle between the United States Army and the Peoples’ Army of North Vietnam, the battle of the Ia (River) Drang in the Central Highlands of South Vietnam, involved approximately 2500 North Vietnamese troops, the 66th and 33rd regiments, opposing 1,000 troopers of the 1rst Cavalry division.  The American attack on these two regiments was part of the Pleiku campaign from October 26, 1965-November 25, 1965 which ended with the destruction of the three regiment North Vietnamese force occupying the Chu Pong-Ia Drang complex.

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One Response to November 14-18, 1965: Battle of the Ia Drang

  • This seminal battle not only featured the leadership of Col Hal Moore, a devout Catholic (who wrote a fantastic book about this battle, and about the Vietnam war in general and how we won it militarily while losing it politically) but also an amazing character named Rick Rescorla. Rescorla, whose photograph at Ia Drang is often used in accounts of the battle, was an Englishman who spent his early life devoted to fighting Communists wherever he could find them. He fought in Southern Africa against them, and when Vietnam was threatened by them, he volunteered to fight with the Americans, and found himself at Ia Drang. His leadership there, especially on the crucial last day of the battle, was instrumental in the victory. In the lesser known followup to Ia Drang, when American forces were ambushed on their way to LZ Albany and in peril of being overrun and destroyed, Rescorla, who had returned to base after fighting at LZ X-Ray, heard of the ambush at Albany and immediately jumped onto a chopper and literally was dropped into the middle of the firefight, where he rallied the Americans and very likely saved the day for them.
    After the war he became a security specialist and found himself in charge of corporate security for Morgan Stanley… in the South tower of the World Trade Center on 9/11. Because he had trained the employees about emergency evacuation, most of them were able to get out of the tower… Rescorla died while trying to evacuate others from the tower.
    A movie could be made of this amazing man’s life, but it would seem fictional.

Rocky Versace: The Bravest Man You Have Never Heard Of

Sunday, May 29, AD 2016

Captain Versace

(Republishing this from 2014.  I can think of no man whose life better exemplifies Memorial Day than the Rock’s.)

 FOR THE ROCK and the children and sugar people of NamCan

Dedication of the book The Fifteenth Pelican by Marie Teresa Rios Versace

For his entire life Captain Humbert Roque ‘Rocky’ Versace was on a mission.  His first mission was as an Army Ranger.  His second mission was to be a Catholic priest and to work with orphan kids.  He had been accepted to a Maryknoll seminary but then fate intervened.  The son of Colonel Humbert  J. Versace from Puerto Rico and his wife Marie Teresa Rios Versace, a novelist and poet who, among many other books, wrote The Fifteenth Pelican on which the TV series The Flying Nun was based, Rocky was an unforgettable character.  A graduate of West Point in 1959, he was an Army Ranger and a soldier as tough as they come.  He had an intelligence of a high order as demonstrated by his fluency in French and Vietnamese.  He loved to laugh and have a good time.  At the same time he was deeply religious and a fervent Catholic.  In short, he was a complete man.

Volunteering for service in Vietnam, he began his tour as an intelligence advisor on May 12, 1962.

Rocky fell in love with the Vietnamese people, especially the kids.  In his free time he volunteered in a Vietnamese orphanage.  He believed in his mission and regarded it as a crusade to prevent the people he loved living under Communism.  During his tour he received news that his application to attend a Maryknoll seminary had been accepted.  He planned after ordination to return to Vietnam and work with Vietnam orphans as a priest.  He agreed to a six month extension of his tour since that fit in with his plans to attend the seminary.

On October 29, 1963 he was serving as an intelligence advisor with the 5th Special Forces Group (Green Berets).  He accompanied several companies of South Vietnamese Civilian Irregular Defense (militia) that were seeking to remove a Viet Cong command post in the U Minh Forest.  They were ambushed and Rocky gave covering fire to allow the South Vietnamese to retreat and get away.  He was captured.  The Viet Cong murdered him on September 26, 1965.  What happened in between made Rocky a legend.  He was taken to a camp deep in the jungle along with Lieutenant Nick Rowe and Sergeant Dan Pitzer.  After their eventual release they told all and sundry what they witnessed Rocky do.

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My Place Is With Them

Friday, July 31, AD 2015

 

 

 

The video above depicts Father Michael Quealy saying Mass in Vietnam. The video has no sound, but without words we can see the fervor with which the priest is saying Mass.  That was all Father Quealy.  Whatever he did in this world he did 100%.

Born in New York City on September 11, 1929, he dreamed as a boy of being a missionary in Asia.  He would go to Asia, as a priest, but as a Chaplain in the Army.  A graduate of Seaton Hall University and Maryknoll Seminary, he had served as a priest in the diocese of Mobile Alabama, before joining the Army as a chaplain in 1965.  He did so to bring the sacraments to soldiers on the battlefield in Vietnam.  As much as it was in his power, he wanted no soldier to die fighting and go into eternity spiritually unarmed.

Assigned to the third brigade of the First Infantry Division, the Big Red One, in June 1966, he quickly began hitching rides on medical evacuation choppers.  They would be going to where the fighting was, and as far as Chaplain Quealy was concerned, that was where he needed to be.  He would land, help with the wounded, usually under fire, and give the Last Rites to the dying.  He did not check to see if the dying were Catholics, reasoning that the sacrament would do no harm to non-Catholics, and might do them an infinity of good.  Troops began to talk about this Catholic Chaplain who was fearless.

Eugene Tuttle, a soldier with the Big Red One, recalled Father Quealy:

My battalion was near Father Quealy’s the day he was killed in Tay Ninh province on Nov. 8, 1966. The terrible news reached me the next day, He had heard my confession in Lai Khe about a month earlier. Young men dying was bad enough, but it seemed like a sacrilege for a priest to be killed while providing comfort to the wounded and dying. I had met him months earlier on my first full day in the field, when before boarding our tanks and APCs, to be sent out as “bait” until reinforcements could rescue us, Chaplain Quealy invited the Catholics among us to join him. He told us that reconnaissance had just confirmed the VC were dug in and waiting for us in the bush. He then draped his stole over his shoulders, reminded us that an Act of Contrition could substitute for confession when one was in immediate danger of death. It was an unforgettably dramatic moment, and the chaplain was an unforgettably kind man. I regret just learning of this opportunity now to pay long overdue homage to him. God bless his soul!

On November 8, 1966, Father Quealy heard about fighting near Tay Ninh and rushed to get aboard a medical copter.  A staff officer tried to dissuade him, saying that it was much too dangerous a situation.  Father Quealy did not even slow down, but shouted over his shoulder, “My place is with them!”

The first battalion, twenty-eight infantry was under such intense fire that the helicopter Father Quealy was on board had to circle for an hour before it could land.  When it did, Father Quealey  charged into action.  Here is a report of what happened next:

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9 Responses to My Place Is With Them

  • Exceptional piece Mr.McCleary.

    I love the last entry in his diary because it completes his mission. The heroic virtues of Father Quealy’s inner life define and fuel the fearless servant of God. Then, by providence, he gives his last homily in action, and his last teaching; “forgiveness,” from his final entry.

    I’ve enjoyed this post very much kind sir.
    Thanks again for your faithfulness to serving us.

  • Thank you. God has this way of communicating with me where I get the message I need to hear on any given day. Without fail. Today was no exception. Your post about Father was exactly what I needed to hear. Thank you.

  • Good post. A man with a manly chest, a heart of purest gold and a lion’s courage.

  • I agree Philip. Inspiring. We need these stories.

  • Cthemfly25.

    It’s a good mix of material, the inspiration’s of the contributors of TAC, W/ honorable mention of Don McCleary.

    As a participant in the Spiritual Battle, I take rest and nourishment from the learned that frequent this site. The war is intensifying and calm with prayerful action is my hope to help our Lady to victory. TAC is helpful.
    I pray for calmness since I too easily get stirred up at the craziness of the day.

  • Awesome account. Thanks, Don, for informing us about this exemplary priest of Christ. Comforting to know that as dark as things are, there are saints like this interceding for us, and giving us an example of what sanctity can look like in the modern world.

  • The blood of Fr. Quealy is surely the martyr’s blood that nourishes the church. This heroic priest makes me feel ashamed of my own service in VN as a rear echelon guy who never wanted to be there. I lament still today the loss of over 58,000 guys who were sent to their deaths by faithless and mendacious pols like Lyndon Johnson. Then the Vietnamese people were betrayed and thrown to the wolves by the reprobate Ted Kennedy who cut off their funding when they were attacked by the North communists. A Vietnamese priest visits our parish annually to describe his work there and the persecution by the government which forces him to post look outs and flee ahead of the arresting officers. Our corrupt government has defiled the sacrifice of Fr. Quealy and the soldiers he succored.
    The Demoncrats baby killers and queers are the ascendant force in this lost world of ours.

  • Shawn Marshall.

    Thank you for your important service.
    Ashamed? Please don’t. You didn’t flee to Canada. You did what your Country asked.
    God Bless you Sir.

  • As a child in parochial school, I read the lives of the saints and many were martyrs. Then I was afraid to speak about my faith, afraid God would ask me to make the ultimate sacrifice.

    My brother went to Vietnam in 1968, serving as a hospital corpsman. He came home a shadow of himself, his sacrifice was like so many others– more than he could emotionally or mentally bear. He suffered a psychotic breakdown and is on disability.

    I am sorry my brother did not get to meet this generous, Christ-surrendered, loving priest. Thanks to God that so many were touched by his selfless faith.

The Captain Stephen J. Chaney Story

Monday, November 10, AD 2014

Steve Chaney

The Captain Stephen J. Chaney story reads like a Hollywood script, one starring the likes of John Wayne. However Steve Chaney was a real person who grew up in Marion, Ohio and was killed in action in September of 1969 on a secret mission during the Vietnam War. The Green Beret soldier was only 23.  On May 3, 2013 in a ceremony at the Ohio State House, Lt Governor Mary Taylor and a host of military officials posthumously inducted Steve and nineteen other Ohioans into the Ohio Military Hall of Fame.

Chaney was born in 1946 and graduated from Marion Catholic High School in 1964. A stellar athlete he was heavily recruited by most college football powers. His father was a career army man and sharing the love of the military, it seemed a foregone conclusion that Steve would attend West Point. However, a visit to Notre Dame woke up the echoes for Steve. At South Bend he saw the traditions of his Faith combined with that of the gridiron. Upon returning to Marion his parents were stunned with his desire to attend Notre Dame.

As Steve arrived at Notre Dame in the summer of 1964 the Gulf of Tonkin Incident which sparked the United States’ heightened involvement in the conflict had just occurred. Before there was Pat Tilman (the football star who left the NFL to join the army and was killed in action in Afghanistan,) there was Steve Chaney. After one year at Notre Dame, Steve against the advice of fellow freshman and future Vietnam vet and Pittsburgh Steeler Rocky Bleier, would leave South Bend and a disappointed new Coach Ara Parseghian to enter the US Army. At that point the small anti-war movement only helped to push Chaney further toward doing what he could for the burgeoning war effort. Chaney entered the Army as an enlisted man and left as a Captain.

After one tour of duty he could have left the army, but Chaney saw the deterioration of the command structure and felt a younger leader like himself might help buttress morale. Because he led from the front, Chaney was popular with his men and the man from Marion felt he knew what it took to lead in those critical times. More than once Chaney had to pull aside a fellow officer and remind him of setting a moral example and living with what he was doing in the field, and the consequences a much Higher Power might inflict upon him at a yet undetermined date.

Chaney even confided in his parents, shortly before his second tour of Vietnam, that he secretly longed to return to Notre Dame and get back on the football team. Sadly that possibility never occurred as Captain Chaney was killed in action during a secret mission to Laos in September 1969. Caught in an ambush and a failed air assault, a critically injured Captain Chaney called in more air support all the while trying to locate all of his men. When helped arrived, he clung to life but only for a short time, he died before the helicopter landed at the nearby field hospital.

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4 Responses to The Captain Stephen J. Chaney Story

  • Thank you for sharing Captain Chaney’s story. I am ever amazed and grateful for the young men who are willing to go and defend us in battle. I am also very thankful for those who contribute to our defense by arming and transporting and caring for these young men as best we can off the battlefield.

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  • Thank you for this story. I lived in Marion from 1955 to 1959, 4 or 5 doors from Marion Catholic, on the corner of Uhler Rd. and Mt. Vernon Ave. I remember a Chaney from St. Mary’s elementary, which I attended, but don’t remember a first name. Based on your dates, my brother was a year older and I was a year younger. My older sister was a freshman at Marion Catholic in 58-59. I hope that they will find it as dear as I do.

  • Thanks Tamsin and Steve. Also, thank you Tito for posting it on Big Pulpit. The Chaney’s were wonderful people. I just tried to do my small part through the years of telling others about the Captain Steve Chaney story.

The Known Unknown

Thursday, August 21, AD 2014

Michael Blassie

“At a moment of great crises in the history of the world, he gave of himself,”

Archbishop Justin Rigali at funeral mass for Michael Blassie

Air Force First Lieutenant Michael Blassie’s life came to an end at age twenty-four on May 11, 1972 when the A-37B Dragonfly that he was flying in support of South Vietnamese troops in An Loc was shot down.  His body could not be recovered because the North Vietnamese had control of the area where his plane was shot down.  The Saint Louis native, a 1970 graduate of the Air Force academy, had a short military career but an illustrious one:  earning a Silver Star, Distinguished Flying Cross, and an Air Medal with four oak leaf clusters.  Thanks to the air support he and his colleagues gave, the North Vietnamese did not take An Loc.

Five months later partial skeletal remains were recovered from the crash site.  Initially identified as being Blassie’s, the remains were later reclassified as being unknown when it was erroneously determined that the height and age of the remains did not match with Blassie.

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2 Responses to The Known Unknown

  • Audie Murphy , the most decorated soldier of World War II said: loosely quoted: “These medals belong to all the men who fought and gave their lives.”… for freedom.
    .
    The Unkown Soldier represents all the brave men who fight for freedom for the home of the brave and the land of the free. Some who have yet to meet their Maker belong to this cult of the Unkown Soldier. Those who fought in Viet Nam and were disparaged when they came home belong to the Unknown Soldier.
    .
    It is through the Unknown Soldier that civilians may pay tribute to all men who sacrficed their lives, risked life and limb to be there for us, no one is excluded.

  • Thank you for posting 1Lt Blassie’s story. Mary Devoe, thank you for your comment. Well put.

Hey, Who Did Win the Vietnam War Anyway?

Wednesday, July 30, AD 2014

 

Vietnam Today

 

History is full of ironies and none more so than the development of Vietnam in the aftermath of the Vietnam War.  Independent journalist Michael Totten, who specializes in covering wars and desperately poor, ill governed countries, gives us refreshing news about Vietnam:

 

The ruling Communist Party knows better than just about anyone that communist economics are a disaster. Vietnam’s economy has been growing at light speed for a while now. I knew that in advance, and yet it still stunned me. The city trembles with industriousness and entrepreneurship. Small and large businesses are everywhere. Half the residents seem to be in business for themselves. Anything and everything you can possibly imagine is for sale, though it’s not all high-end yet. I saw a Louis Vuitton outlet next to a bootleg CD store, an elegant Western-style café next to low-end bar with hard chairs and no air-conditioning, a Body Shop next to a used clothing store with cast-off second-hand T-shirts from the West, and an art gallery next to a store selling old pots and pans.

Market economies are uneven, no doubt, but they sure as hell beat the alternative. I could hardly believe it, but when I was a kid the Vietnamese stood in long lines on the street to exchange ration coupons for handfuls of rice. Today the country is one of the world’s largest exporters of rice.

Japan and South Korea: watch out. If the economy keeps growing and the political system breaks open, Vietnam will be a country to reckon with.

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10 Responses to Hey, Who Did Win the Vietnam War Anyway?

  • Well, as long as I am on a roll – Vietnam will do what we in the United States refuse to do. The Vietnamese Government understands that a highly technical, industrialized and entrepreneurial society requires access to low cost, plentiful, safe and clean energy. Therefore, enjoy:
    .
    http://www.world-nuclear.org/info/Country-Profiles/Countries-T-Z/Vietnam/
    .
    Sadly, because of the politics of my profession I cannot work on the Russian VVER’s that Vietnam plans to build.

  • This really comes as no surprise.
    I am old enough to have known a number of people who, as administrators, had lived most of their lives in Indochina. They were all convinced that the Viet Minh was a broad-based nationalist movement, with a relatively small Communist cadre that owed its position of leadership to its superior organization. They predicted that, following independence, Vietnam would become a non-aligned country on the Yugoslav model; the mass of the people would no more relish Chinese rule than French, not even the ethnically-Chinese Binh Xuyen, the political wing of the Vietnamese Mafia.
    I have always thought it not without significance that Truong Chinh’s proposals for land reform on the Chinese model were quietly shelved. Even though flushed with victory, the leadership feared a “revolution of folded arms” by an intransigent peasantry.

  • No, the communists under Ho Chi Minh, Nguyễn Sinh Côn, a very early Comintern agent, were complete Communists. After their victory in 1975, and as Ho, who died in 1969, was followed to the grave by the founders of the Communist state, their successors, after a disastrous attempt to collectivize all farms and factories post 1975, swiftly learned that Communism simply did not work in producing a growing economy, leading to the market reforms of 1986. Vietnam remains a one party state with grave human rights violations, but it is clear that the government remains in place only due to force and the success of the economy and that the true believers in Communism in all of Vietnam are fewer in number than the true believers in Marxism at most major American universities.

  • The situation was, undoubtedly complicated by the flight to the South of war-time collaborators, landowners, rentiers, usurers, those who exploited the labour of others for profit generally, criminals and hooligans of all sorts, in the wake of the Geneva Accords. These were determined to do all in their power to keep the country divided and to elude the people’s justice.
    This was precisely the outcome that, in France, Guy Mollet, the future Prime Minister, had predicted, if national elections in Vietnam were postponed. Leader of the French Section of the Workers’ International, Mollet was a fervent anti-Communist, famous for his remark that « Les communistes ne sont pas à gauche… Ils sont à l’Est » – The Communists are not on the left, but in the East, that is, puppets of Moscow.

  • “The situation was, undoubtedly complicated by the flight to the South of war-time collaborators, landowners, rentiers, usurers, those who exploited the labour of others for profit generally, criminals and hooligans of all sorts, in the wake of the Geneva Accords. These were determined to do all in their power to keep the country divided and to elude the people’s justice.”

    What a truly bizarre and ahistoric rant. More than one million Vietnamese fled North Vietnam, many of them Catholics, which considering the massacres imposed by Ho’s regime and the Gulag prison camp system they set up, and the lack of any freedom, was a perfectly rational thing to do.

  • They predicted that, following independence, Vietnam would become a non-aligned country on the Yugoslav model;

    Well, they were wrong.

  • “[M]any of them Catholics”

    Naturally. Most Buddhists supported the policies of the Hoa Hao; anti-colonialist (they had fought valiantly against both the French and Japanese) and a party of national unity. Catholics, by contrast, were suspected, perhaps unfairly, of being lukewarm at best towards the National Liberation Front.

  • “Catholics, by contrast, were suspected, perhaps unfairly, of being lukewarm at best towards the National Liberation Front.”

    Utter rubbish. They were suspected, rightly, of being unwilling to bow their necks to their new would be Communist masters instead of Christ. Some 60% of North Vietnamese Catholics fled to the South. More would have if the North Vietnamese regime had not used military force to hold onto some of their people who wished to get away, always a characteristic of every Communist state.

  • Catholics, by contrast, were suspected, perhaps unfairly, of being lukewarm at best towards the National Liberation Front.

    I just cannot imagine why anyone would be ‘lukewarm’ toward Ho Chih Minh’s minions.

  • With all respect Mr.Patterson-Seymour, considering the enmity between the French (who I presume to be the administrators you speak of) and Americans on post-war Indochina, there was clearly an interest or wish to portray the conflict as something different from the American perspective. Unlike the British who sought to build on a paternalistic post-war, post-imperial identity with their former colonies, France was very interested in continuing her colonial relations. And when those relation proved an economic liability, she sought help from a United States that rebuffed and actively sought the withdrawal of France from Indochina. Was it or was it not a common attitude that the whole Vietnam War was merely a game the Americans were playing to supplant France in the area?

    So it appears awfully convenient in this light for these administrators to downplay the communists and exaggerate the nationalists- left unsaid that the Americans faced a populist uprising because those selfsame administrators were no longer in charge.

Rocky Versace: The Bravest Man You Have Never Heard Of

Monday, March 31, AD 2014

Captain Versace

 FOR THE ROCK and the children and sugar people of NamCan

Dedication of the book The Fifteenth Pelican by Marie Teresa Rios Versace

 

For his entire life Captain Humbert Roque ‘Rocky’ Versace was on a mission.  His first mission was as an Army Ranger.  His second mission was to be a Catholic priest and to work with orphan kids.  He had been accepted to a Maryknoll seminary but then fate intervened.  The son of Colonel Humbert  J. Versace from Puerto Rico and his wife Marie Teresa Rios Versace, a novelist and poet who, among many other books, wrote The Fifteenth Pelican on which the TV series The Flying Nun was based, Rocky was an unforgettable character.  A graduate of West Point in 1959, he was an Army Ranger and a soldier as tough as they come.  He had an intelligence of a high order as demonstrated by his fluency in French and Vietnamese.  He loved to laugh and have a good time.  At the same time he was deeply religious and a fervent Catholic.  In short, he was a complete man.

Volunteering for service in Vietnam, he began his tour as an intelligence advisor on May 12, 1962.

Rocky fell in love with the Vietnamese people, especially the kids.  In his free time he volunteered in a Vietnamese orphanage.  He believed in his mission and regarded it as a crusade to prevent the people he loved living under Communism.  During his tour he received news that his application to attend a Maryknoll seminary had been accepted.  He planned after ordination to return to Vietnam and work with Vietnam orphans as a priest.  He agreed to a six month extension of his tour since that fit in with his plans to attend the seminary.

On October 29, 1963 he was serving as an intelligence advisor with the 5th Special Forces Group (Green Berets).  He accompanied several companies of South Vietnamese Civilian Irregular Defense (militia) that were seeking to remove a Viet Cong command post in the U Minh Forest.  They were ambushed and Rocky gave covering fire to allow the South Vietnamese to retreat and get away.  He was captured.  The Viet Cong murdered him on September 26, 1965.  What happened in between made Rocky a legend.  He was taken to a camp deep in the jungle along with Lieutenant Nick Rowe and Sergeant Dan Pitzer.  After their eventual release they told all and sundry what they witnessed Rocky do.

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2 Responses to Rocky Versace: The Bravest Man You Have Never Heard Of

Ho Chi Minh, Obama and History

Saturday, July 27, AD 2013

That President Obama praised dead Communist dictator Ho Chi Minh will come as a surprise only to Americans who haven’t been paying attention, which, alas, is a large segment of the population.  For the benefit of those people, historian Ronald Radosh in The Wall Street Journal gives some background to Ho:

 

During World War II, Vietnam—a French colony—was taken over by Japan, and toward the end of the conflict, with Japan in retreat, a power vacuum developed. Ho Chi Minh, leading the Viet Minh communist guerrilla group, saw a chance to seize power before the French could restore colonial rule. He needed allies and knew that the American president, Franklin Roosevelt, had a reputation for being anti-French and anti-colonial. Thus began Ho’s courtship of the U.S. by citing the Declaration of Independence and appealing to the American ideal of liberty.

His aim, according to Ho’s biographer, William Duiker, was to “induce the United States to support the legitimacy of his government, rather than a return of the French.”

In reality, Ho was a “disciplined Communist, who had “proved time and again his profound loyalty to Communism,” according to the ex-communist German revolutionary Ruth Fischer, writing in Foreign Affairs in 1954. She had known him in Moscow in the 1920s when he was receiving his training.

Ho didn’t get the U.S. support he sought, but he still succeeded in his national takeover, proclaiming himself president of a provisional government in what he called the Vietnam Democratic Republic. In October 1945, just how democratic the republic would be became clear: Ho ordered the slaughter of his political opponents, including 50,000 of the then-powerful Trotskyist communists. During a trip to Paris in late 1945, Ho told the French Socialist leader Daniel Guerin, “All those who do not follow the line which I have laid down will be broken.”

In his own writings during the war, Ho Chi Minh stressed that the revolutionaries had to have a “tactical, flexible attitude towards the national bourgeoisie,” but as for the Trotskyists, “there can be no compromise, no concession.”

Ho’s posturing as a Jefferson-inspired lover of independence failed to dupe the U.S. in the 1940s. Let’s be generous and assume that antiwar protesters in the 1960s and early 1970s didn’t know any better when they bought into his fiction. Let’s give President Obama the same benefit of the doubt. But let’s also retire the idea that Ho Chi Minh had the slightest interest in the Declaration of Independence except as a tool he once deployed hoping to achieve his communist goals.

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5 Responses to Ho Chi Minh, Obama and History

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  • Unless my memory is playing nasty tricks with me, if you find the 1st edition of Gloria Steinem’s Outrageous Acts and Everyday Rebellions you will find therein the sentence fragment “Ho Chih Minh was the George Washington of Asia”, an attitude she says she picked up on a fellowship in India during the years running from 1956 to 1958. The phrase is not present in the second edition, published in 1995. (The first hit the presses in 1984).

    Keep in mind, Gloria Steinem was a personal friend of John Kenneth Galbraith from about 1962 forward (he blurbed an early collection of writings) and certainly congenial with George McGovern and Allard Loewenstein. An agreeable opinion of her was not universal in those circles (Abraham Ribicoff did not want her around), but she was well-connected and not a rebel or an outcast. She was too old for hippie subcultures ca. 1966 (and, in any case, had to earn a living) and not a member of an explicitly and constitutionally pro-Communist organization of the sort that David Dellinger and Tom Hayden ran; she was active in electoral politics, but with Loewenstein’s nexus.

  • As a Vietnam vet, obama’s remarks were offensive.

  • This president also said we have “57 states”. Whatever—these remarks were insensitive and demeaning to so many Vietnam vets and to so many Americans. But he doesn’t have a clue because he does not know anything about history.

  • “That Obama repeats the old bromides of the ‘anti-war’, actually pro-Communist, left of the Sixties that attempted to paint Ho as some sort of Jeffersonian Democrat either betrays immense ignorance or something far, far worse.”

    Something far, far worse.

Lying to Join The Band of Brothers

Wednesday, May 19, AD 2010

I have never served in combat or been in a warzone for which I thank God.  However, many of my friends are veterans of combat in conflicts stretching from World War II to Iraq.  Such an experience marks them.  They tell me that they have some of their best memories from their time in service, along with some of their worst.  It is a crucible that they have passed through which is hard to completely convey to someone like me who has never gone through it.  Usually they do not speak much of it, although often I have seen a quiet pride when they do speak about it:  a knowledge that they were given a test on their passage through life and made it through, mingled with sadness for their friends who were lost.  They belong to the exclusive club of those called upon to put their lives on the line for the rest of us.  They are entitled to respect for their service, whether they are given that respect by the rest of us or not.

Therefore I take a very dim view of anyone who seeks entry into their ranks under false pretences.  The New York Times has revealed that Richard Blumenthal, Democrat Attorney General of Connecticut and candidate for the Democrat nomination for the US Senate is one such person:

At a ceremony honoring veterans and senior citizens who sent presents to soldiers overseas, Attorney General Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut rose and spoke of an earlier time in his life.

We have learned something important since the days that I served in Vietnam,” Mr. Blumenthal said to the group gathered in Norwalk in March 2008. “And you exemplify it. Whatever we think about the war, whatever we call it — Afghanistan or Iraq — we owe our military men and women unconditional support.”

There was one problem: Mr. Blumenthal, a Democrat now running for the United States Senate, never served in Vietnam. He obtained at least five military deferments from 1965 to 1970 and took repeated steps that enabled him to avoid going to war, according to records.

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22 Responses to Lying to Join The Band of Brothers

  • What’s the difference between a couple of attention-seeking hard lefties like Richard Blumenthal and Jane Fonda?

    Jane Fonda actually went to Vietnam.

  • Lying is dishonorable. As is adultery. Over and over we have evidence that there is one aspect of human frailty both the Left and the Right share in equal measure. Sin.

    I would have more respect for a person who opposed the war on moral or ethical principles and accepted the consequences of that. But American politics is certainly not poverty-stricken for examples of individuals who dodged overseas military service, either legally, financially, or otherwise. The previous two presidents, and three of the last four, certainly.

    I will note that the first President Bush served with honor. The man didn’t need to make a big thing of it in his political life.

  • What? Isn’t Blumenthal sufficiently liberal for the NYT?

    Mr. Blumenstein misspoke. He meant to say, he did not spit on any Vietnam veteran as did Bill and Hillary Clinton, Jimmeh Carter (pardoned draft dodgers), and every VC sympathizer-Obama appointee of that age.

  • The previous two presidents, and three of the last four, certainly.

    About 1.9 million men were posted to Indo-China during the period running from 1965 to 1973. There were some 18 million men born during the years running from 1943 through 1952. Roughly 30% of the military of that era were vocational soldiers (e.g. John McCain). The probability of a randomly selected individual from those age cohorts serving in VietNam as a consequence of conscription or an enlistment for a discrete term was about one-tenth.

    As we speak, about 70% of the Armed Forces are stationed in the United States. That proportion has varied over the years, but at no time since 1945 have the majority of American servicemen been stationed ‘overseas’.

    There is no documentary evidence and there are no disinterested witnesses who can cast apersions on the military service of George W. Bush, which is why Mary Mapes was scamming around with forgeries.

  • I have not a clue why you are casting aspersions on Ronald Reagan’s service either. Except that that’s what you do.

  • Well … Ronald Reagan served stateside. So did my dad. He admitted he was fortunate not to draw overseas duty as his younger brother did. Mr Reagan was not beyond padding his military record in casual conversation. But I have no problem with an actor making military films stateside. He was about my dad’s age, and my father (as he reports it) was considered too old to be a first choice for overseas duty.

    But I see: you objected to my used of the verb, to dodge, because it is used in connection with those who illegally avoided military service.

    Mr Shaw, aside from your need to learn to spell, do you have proof of spitting, or are you just engaging in a blumenthalism here?

  • Ronald Reagan had an older brother; no younger brother. I object to the use of the term ‘dodge’ because you were insinuating a scheme on the part of the two men in question, and there was no scheme. George W. Bush, Patrick J. Buchanan, Hubert Humphrey, Dan Quayle, and Richard Cheney all had the disagreeable experience of being smeared over their service record. Their service records were perfectly in order (if unimpressive) and they availed themselves of no privileges that were not available to tens-of-millions of other similarly situated.

    I do not think you would have to look very far in the press corps to find folk employed therein who were happy to overlook genuinely hinky service records (e.g. B. Clinton’s) or impugn the motives of Mekong Delta veterans fed up with John Kerry. The whole discourse is disgusting.

  • I spent my “combat time” fighting the report shuffle wars and the battle of PowerPoint, or in pulling long watches “just in case” the order was given and the birds of death were to fly.

    I use terms like “served during” not “served in” although technically I “could” say “in” I was never during “active combat operations” in harms’ way. The standing guard on the Southern Watch, a little different. But that, like being in Korea, was a “cease fire” not combat actions.

    Had Mr. Blumenthal been “honest” he too would have used “served during” not “served in.”

    I had a supervisor that was stationed in the Philippines that was not “credited” for serving in Viet Nam, although she spent 3 days out of every 10 there (medical tech on Air Evacuation missions) and was under fire many times.

    She had EVERY RIGHT to say “served in Viet Nam” but didn’t because her base of assignment was NOT in Viet Nam.

    A couple points that the author got correct. We that served, DO CONSIDER IT AN HONOR. As well as many of the real heroes, did not make it home intact, and that is a burden that we carry. What we do, like Pvt. Ryan in the movie “Band of Brothers,” hope we live our remaining lives to bring honor and respect to those we served with.

  • Art, you’re not reading accurately, and I didn’t express myself accurately. My father indeed had a younger brother. Two, in fact; the other served with him stateside during WWII.

    Your point seems biased in your last post. Politicians of both left and right have served with honor, both as combat veterans and otherwise. Some of them, as I said, “dodged” dangerous service either by dodgy means or, as my older brother did, by serving before the Vietnam years.

    It is also true that politicians of both the right and left have attacked the service records of their opponents. Please don’t try to excuse Karl Rove and others of his ilk in the GOP. Republicans have not hesitated to malign the service records of Dems when it suited their purpose.

    I may be a pacifist, but I can respect the prudential judgments made by those who believe military service is honorable. What is less than honorable is to sin against truth by telling as it is not: and I would place my condemnation equally against a person who shares my ideology and those who do not.

    Mr Blumenthal is wrong for giving a false impression. Mr Reagan’s sin struck me as more of a kindly guy making embellishment for the sake of telling a story. His record wasn’t a key point in his political campaigning.

  • Todd,
    I acknowledge that your assertion that Reagan padded his military record may not constitute the sin of detraction since it does seem germane to the discussion. Whether it constitutes the sin of defamation cannot be so easily dismissed. It seems only appropriate that you provide some evidence to back up such an assertion. If you claim that you cannot because such instances occured only in casual conversations, please do explain how you know so much about such casual conversations. Thanks.

  • Let go of my leg. You made use of the term ‘dodge’ to impugn the character of two politicians who did not merit it.

    I made no partisan points, Todd. I remembered the names of several public figures who have been sliced up by their opponents (Humphrey) or by the press (Quayle) or by the combox chatterati (Cheney). If you can think of three additional Democrats who have received this treatment to balance the roster to your satisfaction, that is fine with me.

    Bill Clinton welshed on his ROTC service obligations. If acknowledgement of that bothers you, tough.

    You have repeatedly made a point of chuffering about the military service of Ronald Reagan, who hardly spoke of it.

    Mr. Rove is not responsible for John Kerry’s troubles. Kerry’s detractors are other Navy veterans who served in the Mekong Delta ca. 1970, one of whom has been a public nemesis of Kerry since Karl Rove was an undergraduate. Assessing Kerry’s service record is a more complex task because it involves granular knowledge of naval operations; memories decades after the fact; the degree to which a facially fine service record is blemished by the disdain of one’s peers, manifest tall tales, gamesmanship, and one’s troublesome public career after discharge. It really does not belong in a discussion of these other cases.

  • Here is a good overview of Reagan’s military service.

    http://www.reagan.utexas.edu/archives/reference/military.html

    I find it significant that Reagan held a reserve commission in the Army well before World War II, and apparently obtained it purely on his own initiative after he graduated from college. His eyesight prevented him from serving overseas, and he made films for the Army which was his assigned duty. As far as I know, he never claimed otherwise. Reagan of course clearly understood who the real heroes of the War were:

  • The spitting (and bags of crap) happened all the time.

    And, the anti-war demonstrations were not about pacifism. They were about the communists winning the war in which my buddies were fighting and dying; and about weed and sex.

    I was in the USAF from 1972 to 1976. I served with SAC (B-52’s/nukes) in California and with USAFE in West Germany.

    Re: Kerry. If the USMC (part of the Navy) in Vietnam applied the same three purple heart that Kerry used, no marine would have been in country more than three weeks. In the Army, you never got a purple heart unless you were med-evacked/hospitalized.

  • My apologies. The story that came to mind was that Mr Reagan recounted a movie plot as an actual story of heroism at some veterans’ event in 1983. I do recollect the famous account he gave of losing a football feed as a radio announcer and having to “invent” a game for the audience.

    The point is that fibbing like this is more akin to telling tall tales. Some of us wouldn’t do it. A few of us would. Personally, I don’t think Mr Reagan’s exaggerations are terribly harmful. And it was because of his nearsightedness that he was declined for overseas duty. He worked as an active duty officer making films in Hollywood for much of the period 1942-45.

    I think we’re all in agreement that Mr Blumenthal’s exaggerations are dishonorable. I think we can also agree that a person’s military service or lack of it is often a target, and often unfair. Former Georgia Senator Max Cleland strikes me as a guy who got a raw deal from the GOP. Senator McCain (among other Republicans) thought the dirty politics of Senator Chambliss “worse than disgraceful, it’s reprehensible.”

    As for Mr Kerry, my recollection is that he told his own campaign that Bush’s service record was not going to be part of his political strategy. Officers who did attack the senator during the campaign, if indeed one, as you report, Art, did have more of a personal vendetta against the man, seems to line up as well in the category of dishonor.

    These men were serving in their twenties, for the most part. Young men. Placed in extremely difficult circumstances. With their own flaws and immaturity.

    In judging a person of 40, 50, or older, I’m disinclined to criticize the events of young adulthood. Mature citizens, even the Kerry slowboaters, should be also. Even so, the president should have clamped down on that from the start. Letting out-of-control guys with personal issues get off leash is an indicator of his own lack of leadership. Or his approval.

    The fact is that the Right has no moral high road on this. Today Mr Blumenthal. Tomorrow somebody else.

  • Thanks for the clarification, Todd, but I’m not satisfied. I’ll let others decide whether the episode described below is comparable to “padding his military record” or even “inventing a game”, let alone whether the mysteriously plural “exaggerations” that are “not very harmful” isn’t just rich.

    “One of Reagan’s responsibilities was to give accounts of Chicago Cubs baseball games via telegraph. During one game between the Cubs and their arch rivals the St. Louis Cardinals that was tied 0-0 in the 9th inning, the telegraph went dead: An often repeated tale of Reagan’s radio days recounts how he delivered “play-by-play broadcasts” of Chicago Cubs baseball games he had never seen. His flawless recitations were based solely on telegraph accounts of games in progress. http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/presidents/40_reagan/reagan_early.html

    “Once in 1934, during the ninth inning of a Cubs – St. Louis Cardinals game, the wire went dead. Reagan smoothly improvised a fictional play-by-play (in which hitters on both teams gained a superhuman ability to foul off pitches) until the wire was restored. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ronald_Reagan

    “Reagan says: “There were several other stations broadcasting that game and I knew I’d lose my audience if I told them we’d lost our telegraph connections so I took a chance. I had (Billy) Jurges hit another foul. Then I had him foul one that only missed being a homerun by a foot. I had him foul one back in the stands and took up some time describing the two lads that got in a fight over the ball. I kept on having him foul balls until I was setting a record for a ballplayer hitting successive foul balls and I was getting more than a little scared. Just then my operator started typing. When he passed me the paper I started to giggle – it said: ‘Jurges popped out on the first ball pitched.’” http://www.intellectualconservative.com/article3120.html

  • “My apologies.”

    Of course you’re not satisfied, Mike. Enjoy the day.

  • Polls showing Dodd’s seat just went from a safe Democratic seat to a tossup. And the story is only two days old. Gotta love the NY Times.

  • Former Georgia Senator Max Cleland strikes me as a guy who got a raw deal from the GOP.

    The political mythology machine just runs on and on. Here’s the bloody ad attacking Max Cleland’s Senate votes.

    As for Mr Kerry, my recollection is that he told his own campaign that Bush’s service record was not going to be part of his political strategy.

    1. There was nothing to attack;

    2. His political strategy was expressed in using his boat mates as campaign props.

    Officers who did attack the senator during the campaign, if indeed one, as you report, Art, did have more of a personal vendetta against the man, seems to line up as well in the category of dishonor.

    No, it does not. It is only dishonorable if they self-consciously manufactured a false narrative. It is a matter of record that Kerry had been dining off his military service for more than 30 years; that he was awarded a Purple Heart for an injury to his rear end that left him in the hospital for thirty six hours, a Purple Heart for a superficial injury that required no inpatient care, and a Maj. Frank Burns style Purple Heart for a trivial injury that may have been inadvertantly self-inflicted; that he had made repeated incredible claims to having been sent on intelligence missions to Cambodia; that he also claimed to have been an ear-witness to military operations involving the Khmer Rouges at a time what the Khmer Rouges were a trivial force operating hundreds of miles away from the Mekong Delta; that he claimed to have listened to a mendacious speech by his commander-in-chief concerning American incursions into Cambodia when no such incursion were undertaken until a year after he had been shipped home….

  • Some really good points and words by Art Deco, DRM and T. Shaw.
    For my part, I served twenty years between two services (Navy and Army). While I have ventured into harm’s way no less than four times, to include deployment to Operation Desert Shield/Storm, I cannot say with a straight face that I am a combat veteran. For most of my career in the Army, I was authorized to wear a “combat patch” (wearing on your right shoulder the shoulder insignia of the unit with which you deployed to a combat zone for 30+ days). But even the patch that I wore gave evidence that I was a card-carrying rear-echelon puke.
    I am trying to paint the picture that I had long service and some (very little) fairly risky service. That said, I would never intimate that I am a veteran of close-quarters combat. When anyone asks if I have ever killed an enemy, I say “Praise God, I have never had the opportunity!”

    Mr. Blumenthal sought and received five deferrments, then managed to wrangle an assignment to the USMCR to avoid any remaining risk of deployment to Vietnam. It was his right to do all of these things. Unless further examination of the facts were to indicate that he behaved in similar fashion to Slick Willie Clinton, you can call him a coward if you want to, but cowardice is not illegal.

    But he seems to present a pattern of attempting to associate himself with those who served on active duty during, or even fought, that war. This is not accidental. A lawyer who has risen to the position of a State AG (necessitating proficiency in both the written and spoken word) cannot then claim to be unaware of the effects of his carefully chosen words upon his listeners.

    So let me state, with absolute disgust toward the Con (yes, I think that’s the best way to spell it in this case) AG, that his conduct here and now, not forty years ago, demeans any military service he might have rendered.

    Given then opportunity, I would spit in his face in any airport, anytime.

  • “In judging a person of 40, 50, or older, I’m disinclined to criticize the events of young adulthood.”

    Todd, really? So explain your back-stab at GWB again…

    “Even so, the president should have clamped down on that from the start.”

    Sorry, but McCain-Feingold created the runaway special purpose group phenomenon. So the mechanism of direct control was simply not there. Bush distanced himself from the swift-boaters, who were not saying their piece on his behalf.
    Oh, and then there’s this almost extinct, clearly arcane Constitutional notion of freedom of political speech.

    “Letting out-of-control guys with personal issues get off leash is an indicator of his own lack of leadership. Or his approval.”

    Personal issues? Try Winter Soldier on for size- that was your boy Kerry’s baby. He testified to it before Congress by way of launching his political career. It was all lies.
    As for approval, do you believe that some level of veracity is to be expected of elected officials? If so, you should approve of flashlights focused on their paths. Shine the light on everything. Let the voters decide what is damning and what is not.

  • AD,
    Thanks for reminding everyone what a masterful job the Dems did at manipulating the public’s memory of that ad. By repeatedly accusing the rather unremarkable ad as questioning Cleland’s patriotism, they managed to manufacture a myth. Truly masterful.

  • Todd,
    Your apology was diminished by your subsequent dissembling. What exactly were the “exaggerations” that you were referring to? Of the two examples you seem to rely on the first seems more a case of harmless confusion and the second was at most a harmless fib; neither was an exaggeration.