Comments on Vietnam....long but good.

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    dreamcatcher27371
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    (7/13/01 10:16:21 pm)
    | Del All Comments on Vietnam....long but good.
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    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,
    and
    > especially fellow veterans of the war in Vietnam. It is indeed a
    tremendous
    > honor for me to stand before you this morning as we come together to
    remember
    > fallen comrades, MIAs/POWs and a very important time in our lives. A time
    of
    > 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
    we
    > 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
    those
    > who did not come home, or came home broken and bent in both body and
    spirit?
    > I remember when the architectural design of the Vietnam War Memorial Wall
    was
    > first proposed. Many of us recoiled at the thought of a ditch on the
    Mall,
    > listing nothing more than the names of those who paid the ultimate
    sacrifice.
    > 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
    has
    > transcended all things political and overcome controversy, as it reaches
    out
    > to us who served, and even those who did not serve, while deeply touching
    all
    > of us who lost comrades, friends, neighbors and loved ones during that
    > troubled time. The mystery of the wall is found in its majestic
    simplicity.
    >
    > 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
    solemn
    > 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,
    their
    > selfless service, unflinching courage, and the unique love and caring that
    is
    > shared by comrades in arms. It is the wound on our National Mall that
    never
    > 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
    ones
    > 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
    Vietnam
    > 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
    we
    > veterans are still too close to the heat of battle, too burdened by
    personal
    > 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,
    and
    > 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
    experienced
    > reflected in Oliver Stone's movies. I personally think Oliver donated a
    few
    > 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
    experiences
    > made up in Hollywood bearing scant resemblance to the reality we
    experienced.
    > You and I can certainly recognize the difference between artistic license
    and
    > a lie, can't we! America's involvement in Vietnam lasted for thirteen
    years
    > plus, from 1959 to 1973-5. Of course the result was not victory at all.
    Not
    > even a cease-fire or a demilitarized strip of land between North and South
    as
    > happened in Korea. Just negotiated terms allowing the United States of
    > America to "withdraw with honor." Whatever that meant. So we didn't
    return
    > 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
    were
    > told to quickly get out of our uniforms in order to avoid confrontations
    on
    > city streets. No wonder it has taken so long for many of us to even want
    to
    > talk about the war. But talk we must for we are living witnesses, and if
    we
    > 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
    major
    > military defeat in Vietnam. Our forces were never defeated in terrible
    > battles where our soldiers and Marines suffered awful casualties, like Dak
    To
    > and Hamburger Hill, and our airmen suffered too, many killed and captured
    in
    > the air campaign, but the war was not lost as a result of these battles.
    In
    > 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
    launch
    > another major offensive until 1972. That didn't deter the North
    Vietnamese,
    > since they were willing to lose the war on the battlefield, they were
    after
    > 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
    troops
    > we had in Vietnam at the height of the war. Besides, by 1969, public
    opinion
    > 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
    to
    > 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.
    Marshall
    > 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
    the
    > victory, but told General Weyand he preferred to report on the thousands
    of
    > 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
    bring
    > 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
    Vietnamese
    > 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
    different
    > 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
    stayed
    > 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
    around
    > 25 in World War II where mass conscription prevailed. The enlisted
    soldier
    > in Vietnam was actually better educated: 79 percent had completed high
    school
    > as opposed to just 24 percent in World War II. In Vietnam, 20 percent of
    the
    > enlisted men had college degrees, three times the number in the Second
    World
    > War. In a democracy, even your jeep driver may be better educated than
    you.
    >
    > As far as social representation, studies have shown
    > that blacks and Hispanics were actually slightly underrepresented compared
    to
    > 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
    of
    > 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
    of
    > 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!
    Only
    > about 9,000 cases were actually prosecuted, and very few ever served
    prison
    > 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.
    armed
    > forces, and of those 10,000 served in Vietnam. We all know cowardice in
    the
    > 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
    ethical
    > and moral, while those of us who served were made out to be morally
    inferior,
    > stupid, or just unlucky. The radical left on our campuses had a clear
    goal
    > of transforming the shame of the self-serving and the fearful into the
    guilt
    > of the courageous.
    >
    > A fourth myth is that casualties were disproportionately higher for
    enlisted
    > men than for officers. Actually, while officers killed in action
    accounted
    > for 13.5 percent of those who died in Vietnam, they comprised only 12
    percent
    > of the troop strength. Proportionally, more officers were killed in
    Vietnam
    > than in World War II. In Vietnam, we lost twice as many company
    commanders
    > 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
    myth
    > is that volunteers, not draftees, accounted for the majority (77 percent)
    of
    > combat deaths in Vietnam. How many of those do you think were 18 year
    olds?
    >
    > 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
    to
    > remind you of the humor that accompanied American soldiers in this war, as
    it
    > has all the others. I suspect many of you remember the time honored
    Murphy's
    > 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 >
    down.
    > * 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
    one
    > 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
    theater.
    > Two thirds of those who saw duty in Vietnam were volunteers and 77 percent
    of
    > those who died were volunteers. Our American citizen-soldier performed
    with
    > 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
    someone
    > tries to convince you that Vietnam was "a dirty little war", where Air
    Force
    > and Navy bombs did all the work, you might remind them that this was the
    most
    > 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
    more
    > 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
    say
    > you are all heroes. Heroes who faced the issues of this war, including
    your
    > own possible death, and after weighing those concerns against your
    obligation
    > 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
    obedience
    > to duty, as they understood it." I ask each of you to treat each other
    with
    > 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
    bless
    > this America we love and serve.


    dap22
    Senior Chief Moderator II
    Posts: 861
    (7/14/01 9:24:50 am)
    | Del
    ezSupporter
    Re: Comments on Vietnam....long but good.
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    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.

    Misterstan
    Moderator
    Posts: 396
    (7/14/01 12:40:15 pm)
    | Del Re: Comments on Vietnam....long but good.
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    Dreamcatcher,

    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.

    Stan Lambert
    St. Clair Shores, Michigan

    TShooters
    V.I.P. Member
    Posts: 397
    (7/17/01 1:11:25 am)
    | Del Re: Comments on Vietnam....long but good.
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    Thanks for sharing that, Larry! Excellent comments by Gen. Link!

    Sharon
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