Adnanced Senior Member
Comments on Vietnam....long but good.
(7/13/01 10:16:21 pm)
| Del All Comments on Vietnam....long but good.
If this is too long...one of the moderators can delete or split or whatever happens in such a case...It's certainly worth the read..../larryD/
> Vietnam Perspective by Retired Lt. Gen. James Link, U.S. Army, former
> commander of Redstone Arsenal, delivered this address at the breakfast
> commemorating the arrival in Huntsville, Alabama of the traveling Vietnam
> Veterans Memorial Wall.
> Thank you, ladies and gentlemen, distinguished guests, fellow veterans,
> especially fellow veterans of the war in Vietnam. It is indeed a
> honor for me to stand before you this morning as we come together to
> fallen comrades, MIAs/POWs and a very important time in our lives. A time
> war, a time of conflict not only in Southeast Asia, but throughout our
> nation. Indeed a time that has shaped our national consciousness, and for
> veterans, a time which forged a sense of self that in many ways defines us
> still today. Lest we forget, how then do we remember? How do we honor
> who did not come home, or came home broken and bent in both body and
> I remember when the architectural design of the Vietnam War Memorial Wall
> first proposed. Many of us recoiled at the thought of a ditch on the
> listing nothing more than the names of those who paid the ultimate
> Surely, this was yet one more insult hurled at those who had answered the
> call to serve their nation rather than serve themselves. But that wall
> transcended all things political and overcome controversy, as it reaches
> to us who served, and even those who did not serve, while deeply touching
> of us who lost comrades, friends, neighbors and loved ones during that
> troubled time. The mystery of the wall is found in its majestic
> Panels of black stone that hold not only the names of those killed, but in
> its mirror-like finish, the faces of all of us who come to witness its
> statement. In that reflection, we are made one with the monument, we join
> its essence, and are consumed by images behind the names. Images of young
> men, their lives cut short, their personal sacrifices often unrecorded,
> selfless service, unflinching courage, and the unique love and caring that
> shared by comrades in arms. It is the wound on our National Mall that
> heals, but it does serve to soothe the deep scars on those of us who carry
> heavy memories, and for some perhaps a little guilt for having been the
> fortunate enough to return to "the world."
> As this Memorial travels around the country it invariably brings with it a
> lot of discussion and perhaps even rekindled old arguments about the
> War. The arrival of the Vietnam Memorial Wall in Huntsville provides an
> opportunity for us to reflect on this important period in our individual
> lives and our nation's history. Of course, there are those who might say
> veterans are still too close to the heat of battle, too burdened by
> experiences to make objective judgments about the Vietnam War. To that, I
> say Bull! I've grown weary of those in the media, academia and the
> entertainment industry, who would purport to speak for us, or to try to
> define us a bunch of hair-trigger psychopaths on the verge of insanity or
> some unspeakable violence. We who were actually there know what we saw,
> we know what we did. Each of us is just one of the millions who proudly
> served, having done our duty with honor. I see little of what I
> reflected in Oliver Stone's movies. I personally think Oliver donated a
> too many of his brain cells to his drug use. In my view, movies like
> "Apocalypse Now" are nothing more than a collection of psychotic
> made up in Hollywood bearing scant resemblance to the reality we
> You and I can certainly recognize the difference between artistic license
> a lie, can't we! America's involvement in Vietnam lasted for thirteen
> plus, from 1959 to 1973-5. Of course the result was not victory at all.
> even a cease-fire or a demilitarized strip of land between North and South
> happened in Korea. Just negotiated terms allowing the United States of
> America to "withdraw with honor." Whatever that meant. So we didn't
> home to victory parades and kisses in Times Square. Most of us were just
> another passenger aboard a chartered airliner (mine was a Braniff Airlines
> Boeing 707) painted a heinous green color.
> What a beautiful sight! Others came home in Air Force cargo planes to be
> dumped at some military base usually in the middle of the night.
> Remember, we came home to antipathy and in many cases to antagonism. We
> told to quickly get out of our uniforms in order to avoid confrontations
> city streets. No wonder it has taken so long for many of us to even want
> talk about the war. But talk we must for we are living witnesses, and if
> are silent others will continue to spin a version of the truth that best
> suits their personal agenda. We must dispel the myths that have grown up
> around the War, and there are so many. Those of us who served must debunk
> these myths at every opportunity, and today is one of those.
> The first myth is that the armed forces of the United States suffered a
> military defeat in Vietnam. Our forces were never defeated in terrible
> battles where our soldiers and Marines suffered awful casualties, like Dak
> and Hamburger Hill, and our airmen suffered too, many killed and captured
> the air campaign, but the war was not lost as a result of these battles.
> fact, where we found the enemy we defeated him.
> After the Tet Offensive in 1968, the Vietcong and the North Vietnamese
> operating in the south, were so soundly defeated that they could not
> another major offensive until 1972. That didn't deter the North
> since they were willing to lose the war on the battlefield, they were
> victory in the minds of the American people. Perhaps we could have won a
> military victory, but it would have taken many more than the 500,000
> we had in Vietnam at the height of the war. Besides, by 1969, public
> in the United States wanted us out of Vietnam. The role of the media in
> deciding this issue has been the subject of many books and articles, so I
> won't go into that here. I will say I don't believe the media caused us
> lose the war, although some in the press were trying their best to make it
> so. Those of you who attended the AUSA Conference in Washington this year
> will recall General Weyand's remarks while accepting the George C.
> Award. Following Tet 1968, he was interviewed by Walter Cronkite in the
> Mekong Delta following the resounding defeat of enemy forces there by the
> U.S. military, including U.S. Navy Riverine Forces. Walter acknowledged
> victory, but told General Weyand he preferred to report on the thousands
> Vietnamese he had seen being put in mass graves in Hue after Tet.
> In reporting this rather than any American victory, he said he hoped to
> a quicker end to the war. It didn't seem to bother Mr. Cronkite that the
> bodies were those of South Vietnamese brutally killed by the North
> during Tet. Nor did it seem to bother him that he had compromised his own
> objectivity and integrity in reporting the war. Of course, we who have
> dedicated our lives defending the Constitution against all enemies foreign
> and domestic certainly support all its provisions to include the First
> Amendment. I just hope what we saw in the press in Vietnam and still see
> today isn't as good as it gets. Our nation deserves better.
> The second myth is that somehow the soldiers in Vietnam were very
> from those who served in World War II. The myth purports that the Vietnam
> soldier was much younger, poorly educated, forced to go to war against his
> will. It is often claimed that they disproportionately came from minority
> groups, while their better-off social superiors dodged the draft and
> safe at home out of harm's way. The truth is, of course, different. The
> average age of the soldiers in Vietnam was just under 23 compared to
> 25 in World War II where mass conscription prevailed. The enlisted
> in Vietnam was actually better educated: 79 percent had completed high
> as opposed to just 24 percent in World War II. In Vietnam, 20 percent of
> enlisted men had college degrees, three times the number in the Second
> War. In a democracy, even your jeep driver may be better educated than
> As far as social representation, studies have shown
> that blacks and Hispanics were actually slightly underrepresented compared
> their percentage of the total population. For instance, African-Americans
> comprised 13.1 percent of the age group subject to the military, they
> comprised 12.6 percent of the armed forces, and represented 12.2 percent
> the casualties. In 1992 a study looked at the 58,000 Americans killed in
> Vietnam and found that 30 percent came from families in the lowest third
> the income range while 26 percent came from the highest. Not much of a
> disparity when you look at the facts.
> A third myth is that draft evasion was rampant during the Vietnam era and
> higher than in World War II. Not so. During the Vietnam War about half a
> million men were draft dodgers, and I bet you know some of their names!
> about 9,000 cases were actually prosecuted, and very few ever served
> time. In World War II, 350,000 were prosecuted for draft evasion and many
> went to prison. It is interesting to note that during Vietnam 10,000
> Americans went to Canada, but up to 30,000 Canadians joined the U.S.
> forces, and of those 10,000 served in Vietnam. We all know cowardice in
> face of the draft is not a new phenomenon, but during Vietnam it became an
> art form. More importantly, draft dodgers made themselves out to be
> and moral, while those of us who served were made out to be morally
> stupid, or just unlucky. The radical left on our campuses had a clear
> of transforming the shame of the self-serving and the fearful into the
> of the courageous.
> A fourth myth is that casualties were disproportionately higher for
> men than for officers. Actually, while officers killed in action
> for 13.5 percent of those who died in Vietnam, they comprised only 12
> of the troop strength. Proportionally, more officers were killed in
> than in World War II. In Vietnam, we lost twice as many company
> as we did platoon leaders, confirming in the Vietnam War that leaders led
> from the front. Another interesting fact you can use to debunk a popular
> is that volunteers, not draftees, accounted for the majority (77 percent)
> combat deaths in Vietnam. How many of those do you think were 18 year
> Just 101, or less than one tenth of one percent of all those killed.
> Well, there are many other myths we could talk about, but instead I'd like
> remind you of the humor that accompanied American soldiers in this war, as
> has all the others. I suspect many of you remember the time honored
> Laws of Combat:
> * Don't look conspicuous . . . it draws fire.
> * If it's stupid, but it works, it's not stupid.
> * If your attack is going really well, it's an ambush.
> * When you have secured an area, don't forget to tell the enemy.
> * Friendly fire . . . isn't.
> * Anything you do can get you shot, including doing nothing.
> * Never share a foxhole with someone braver than you are.
> * A sucking chest wound is just nature's way of telling you to slow >
> * The buddy system is key to your survival . . . it gives the enemy
> someone else to shoot at.
> * It's not the one with your name on it you need to worry about, it's the
> addressed: "To whom it may concern."
> Remember, nine million men and women served in the military during the 13
> years of the war, and three million of those served in the Vietnam
> Two thirds of those who saw duty in Vietnam were volunteers and 77 percent
> those who died were volunteers. Our American citizen-soldier performed
> a tenacity and quality that may never be fully appreciated or truly
> understood. Should anyone think the war was conducted in an incompetent
> manner, should look at the numbers:
> Hanoi admits to 1.4 million of its soldiers killed on the battlefield
> compared to our 58,000+, and about 250,000 South Vietnamese. And if
> tries to convince you that Vietnam was "a dirty little war", where Air
> and Navy bombs did all the work, you might remind them that this was the
> costly war the grunts of the U.S. Marines Corps ever fought-five times as
> many dead as in World War I, three times as many dead as in Korea, and
> total killed and wounded that in all of World War II. To the Vietnam
> veterans here today, and to all those whose name appears on the Wall, I
> you are all heroes. Heroes who faced the issues of this war, including
> own possible death, and after weighing those concerns against your
> to your country, you decided to serve with honor. In the words of a
> timeless phrase found on the Confederate Memorial in Arlington Cemetery,
> "not for fame or reward, not for place or for rank, but in simple
> to duty, as they understood it." I ask each of you to treat each other
> the dignity and respect you have earned. Reach out and welcome a fellow
> Vietnam veteran home. God bless each of you, and may God continue to
> this America we love and serve.
Senior Chief Moderator II
(7/14/01 9:24:50 am)
Re: Comments on Vietnam....long but good.
Most excellent comments by Gen Link. I particularly appreciate the statistics concerning Vietnam vets since there are "surveys" that seem to state otherwise. Well worth reading his words.
(7/14/01 12:40:15 pm)
| Del Re: Comments on Vietnam....long but good.
Excellent post! Thanks for sharing it with us.
This board is the best place I know of that allows us to treat each other with the dignity and respect that we have all earned as veterans of the Vietnam war.
St. Clair Shores, Michigan
(7/17/01 1:11:25 am)
| Del Re: Comments on Vietnam....long but good.
Thanks for sharing that, Larry! Excellent comments by Gen. Link!