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2018-06-01 Vietnam

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The Official Guide to Rolling Thunder XXXI
HOMEFRONT
Folsom Prison Blues
a hit for Johnny Cash
Dogfight
Enemy on All Sides
Air Evac—the only way out
8W[\_IZ*I\\TMÅMTL
Fighting over MIAs, money and trade
JUNE 2018
HistoryNet.com
JUNE 2018
On the cover
An F-4D Phantom II of the
8th Tactical Fighter Wing
approaches a Boeing KC135A Stratotanker for midair
refueling over Vietnam.
U.S. AIR FORCE; PHOTO ILLUSTRATION
BY BRIAN WALKER; INSET: MICHAEL
OCHS ARCHIVES/GETTY IMAGES
24
THE GREAT
KILL-RATIO DEBATE
Alpha Wolf
Men from Col. Robin Olds’
8th Tactical Fighter Wing,
known as the“Wolf Pack,”
celebrate his final mission in
Vietnam on Sept. 23, 1967. The
Wing had the greatest aerial
combat record of the war.
2
VIETNAM
U.S. AIR FORCE
American fighter pilots lost their air-to-air combat
skills during during the peaceful years after the
Korean War and fared worse than their predecessors,
critics of the Air Force have said. Are they right?
By William A. Sayers
6
8
16
20
Feedback
Today In the News
Voices Keith Harman
Homefront May-June 1968
32
21
22
58
64
Battlefront 50 Years Ago in the War
Arsenal UH-1 Iroquois “Huey” Helicopter
Media Digest
Hall of Valor Mike Novosel
GET EVERYBODY OUT!
In May 1968, more than 1,500
Americans at Kham Duc were
surrounded by an advancing enemy.
By Roger Mulock
40
THE ROCKY ROAD
TO RECONCILIATION
The path to friendly U.S.-Vietnamese relations
was full of diplomatic twists and turns.
By John D. Howard
52
46
COURAGEOUS
WOMEN
The jobs of three
women—a nurse,
a journalist and a
surgeon—put them in
the midst of the brutal
combat of Vietnam.
By Kathryn J. Atwood
KILLER TECH:
THE WATER WAR
From the Gulf of Tonkin to
the Mekong Delta, both sides
launched new waterborne
technologies during the war.
JUNE 2018
3
DISCUSSION
AT VIETNAM
MAG.COM
MICHAEL A. REINSTEIN CHAIRMAN & PUBLISHER
DAVID STEINHAFEL PUBLISHER
ALEX NEILL EDITOR IN CHIEF
JUNE 2018 VOL. 31, NO. 1
CHUCK SPRINGSTON EDITOR
PARAAG SHUKLA SENIOR EDITOR
JERRY MORELOCK SENIOR EDITOR
JON GUTTMAN RESEARCH DIRECTOR
DAVID T. ZABECKI EDITOR EMERITUS
HARRY SUMMERS JR. FOUNDING EDITOR
STEPHEN KAMIFUJI CREATIVE DIRECTOR
BRIAN WALKER GROUP ART DIRECTOR
JON BOCK ART DIRECTOR
GUY ACETO PHOTO EDITOR
ADVISORY BOARD
JOE GALLOWAY, ROBERT H. LARSON, BARRY McCAFFREY,
JAMES R. RECKNER, CARL O. SCHUSTER, EARL H. TILFORD JR.,
SPENCER C. TUCKER, ERIK VILLARD, JAMES H. WILLBANKS
During May 1968, U.S. Air Force and
Army aircraft undertook a massive
and heroic evacuation of some 1,500
XMZ[WVVMT\ZIXXMLIVL]VLMZÅZM
at Kham Duc, described in hour-byhour detail in this issue. For more on
that event, visit HistoryNet.com and
search: “Kham Duc.”
<PZW]OPÅZ[\PIVLIKKW]V\[IVL
stunning photos, our website puts
aW]QV\PMÅMTL_Q\P\PM\ZWWX[_PW
fought in one of America’s most
controversial wars.
Sign up for our FREE monthly e-newsletter
at: historynet.com/newsletters
Let’s connect
Vietnam magazine
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4
VIETNAM
PROUDLY MADE IN THE USA
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AMERICA REMEMBERS PRESENTS
The Vietnam Veterans Tribute Colt .45 Pistol
T
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To those who returned home to a divided United States. To
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For those who served in that faraway country, and for those
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jungles,
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the country, from all walks of life, to fight for freedom
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With This Exclusive Offer
America’s involvement spanned three decades and it’s
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more daunting challenge than those who fought in Southeast
Asia. They didn’t hesitate to put their lives on the line and give
everything in defense of freedom. This Tribute honors their
dedicated service.
This Vietnam Veterans Tribute Colt .45 Pistol is authorized
©AHL, Inc.
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Remembers.
The left side of the slide features four paintings
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military service than the Colt .45. It was a trusted firearm for Tribute pistol through the licensed firearms dealer of your
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those who served in Vietnam, so far from home. The jungles choice. As always, you will receive your Tribute with our
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30-day guarantee of satisfaction.
and fields were brutally hot and humid, the days long and
road, Huey helicopter dropping troops in a
tedious and filled with uncertainty and danger. There wasn’t
Whether you are a veteran who answered the call to duty, or you hot landing zone (a Red LZ), a point man on
much an American soldier or marine could trust there, but he wish to honor your father, husband, brother, friend or other family the lookout as he approaches a river crossing,
could trust his weapon.
member, The Vietnam Veterans Tribute Pistol is sure to become a
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river bank. Near the muzzle end, you’ll find a
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fitting tribute to all those who served our nation in Vietnam.
The right side features: “Another Day at the Office”, “Double Trouble” and “Ringside for a Fast Mover”. You’ll find a helicopter gunner
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The Vietnam Veterans Tribute Pistol is issued by America Remembers® under license agreement with The Army Historical Foundation. Original Vietnam War paintings ©Al Alexander 1999.
Praise for
Pegasus
I loved the April issue. The article on
Operation Pegasus hit home. My D
Company, 2nd Battalion,12th Cavalry
Regiment, was a huge part of the force to
PMTX\PM5IZQVM[I\3PM;IVP2WPV
McGuire captured some painful truths
about how the enemy ran their war. The
^MZaNIK\\PI\\PM6>)_MZMÅZQVOTIZOM
IZ\QTTMZaNZWU4IW[Q[ILQ[OZIKM;IUM
with Cambodian base camps. All of them
should have been taken out. Rules of
engagement were a sad joke. By the way,
most Marines deny that the Army—
especially my 1st Air Cavalry Division—
helped them many times during that very
TWVO_IZ)[\PMIZ\QKTM[PW_[UaW]\Å\
and other 1st Cavalry regiments lost
some good men helping the Marines.
James F. Breen
Blakeslee, Pa.
ENGINEERS’ STRONG TIES
I give my thanks both to Vietnam magazine and Lt. Col W.B. Willard Jr. for
recognizing the hard work of the combat engineers in “The Nam” (“Paving the Way
for America’s Fighting Forces,” April 2018).
1_I[_Q\P\PM!\P-VOQVMMZ+WUXIVa8IVMT*ZQLOMIVL_M_MZMWV\PM=;;
Gordon with then-Capt. Willard and his men. We repaired roads, built latrines,
strung concertina wire and hauled most everything imaginable. I remember on a
very long, hot and humid day shoveling gravel into cement mixers while other
MVOQVMMZ[XW]ZML[TIJ[NWZ\PM \P-^IK]I\QWV0W[XQ\ITUMV\QWVMLJa+WT?QTTIZL
in his story.
<PM!\PPWTL[IaMIZTaZM]VQWVIVL\PQ[aMIZ_M_QTTJMUMM\QVOQV*ZIV[WV
5Q[[W]ZQ;MX\̆ ?MPI^MIOZMI\\QUMIVLPI^MJMKWUM^MZaKTW[M?MIZM
always glad to welcome members we have lost track of. We would be honored to
have any other engineers from the Vietnam era. Old engineers always have great
stories to swap.
I am proud of the time I served as a combat engineer, as my late father did the
[IUM\PZW]OPW]\\PM-]ZWXMIV<PMI\MZL]ZQVO?WZTL?IZ11
Jimmie G. George
Farmersville, Texas
6
VIETNAM
Dropping in
Troops from the 1st
Cavalry Division
(Airmobile) arrive at
a landing zone during
Operation Pegasus to
help drive off North
Vietnamese forces
besieging the Marine
base at Khe Sanh in
April 1968.
Corrections
Because of a reference source error,
the bayonet used
_Q\P\PM5ZQÆM
(“Arsenal,” April
2018) was misstated.
The M6 bayonet was
[XMKQÅKITTaLM[QOVML
for the M14.
Because of an editing
error, a unit designation in the 1st Cavalry Division
(Airmobile) during
Operation Pegasus
was incorrect in the
April 2018 issue. The
correct designation is
[\;Y]ILZWV!\P
Cavalry Regiment.
Send letters
and email:
Vietnam editor
!!/ITTW_[:WIL
;]Q\M>QMVVI>)
22182-4038
Vietnam@HistoryNet.
com
LARRY BURROWS/THE LIFE PICTURE COLLECTION/GETTY IMAGES
The article in the April issue regarding Operation Pegasus (“The
Pegasus Ride Through Hell,” by
John McGuire, April 2018) was
much appreciated by me and my
1st Cavalry brothers who fought
there. Most history venues, print
and video, seem to downplay this
action, if they mention it at all.
I was in Company B (Mongoose
Bravo), 1st Battalion, 5th Cavalry
Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division
(Airmobile), and served under
Capt. Michael Nawrosky, who was
mortally wounded on Landing Zone
Wharton. He was a brave commander, a natural leader and a telling loss to our company. We lost
three more troopers killed in action
that night. By the time I left the
ÅMTLWV)XZQT! _MPIL
eight more Mongoose KIA, and I
can’t recall how many wounded.
Jim Dunnigan
Portland, Ore.
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TODAY
*a8IZIIO;P]STI
Proposed legislation would enable
Vietnam veterans stationed in Thailand
L]ZQVO\PM_IZ\WZMKMQ^MPMIT\PJMVMÅ\[
for exposure to Agent Orange, a defoliant linked to a long list of illnesses and
birth defects.
U.S. Sen. John Boozman and Rep.
Bruce Westerman, both Arkansas
Republicans, intend to introduce legislation to add Thailand to the geographic
bWVMNWZJMVMÅ\MTQOQJQTQ\aIKKWZLQVO\W
TV station KARK, which had reported
the stories of veterans who were exposed to Agent Orange at Thai airbases
J]\_MZMLMVQMLJMVMÅ\[Ja\PM,MXIZ\UMV\WN>M\MZIV[)ЄIQZ[<PMPMZJQKQLM
_I[[XZIaMLNZWUIQZKZIN\\WLM[\ZWa
^MOM\I\QWV\PI\KW]TLPQLMMVMUaNWZKM[
WZJM][MLJa\PMUNWZNWWL
¹1PWXMM^MZaJWLa_QTTOM\JMPQVL][
and help get this legislation pushed
through…to help thousands of veterans,”
said Bill Rhodes, a veteran who served
QV<PIQTIVLIVL[]ЄMZ[NZWUPMIT\PKWVditions linked to exposure to Agent Orange and other herbicides. Some of the
several thousand veterans struggling
_Q\P[QUQTIZQTTVM[[M[PI^MITZMILaLQML
waiting for coverage, he said.
8
VIETNAM
A high cost
American service members
at air bases in Thailand were
exposed to the toxic Agent
Orange herbicide used in
“spray flights” like those
conducted by these UC-123
Providers near Saigon.
DICK SWANSON/THE LIFE IMAGES COLLECTION/GETTY IMAGES
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Hmong Veterans
Seek Burial in
National Cemeteries
Marine to
Receive Medal
of Honor for
Hue Battle
Secretary of Defense James Mattis
has backed a bill to award the Medal
of Honor to Marine John Canley for
his actions in the 1968 Battle of Hue,
according to Military.com. “After giving careful consideration to the nomination, I agree that then-Gunnery
Sergeant Canley’s actions merit the
award of the Medal of Honor,” Mattis
wrote in a December letter to California Democratic Rep. Julia Brownley,
who is the bill’s chief sponsor. Canley
will become the 263rd Vietnam War
recipient of the Medal of Honor.
Canley’s “valorous actions and unwavering dedication to his fellow service members is the reason so many
of the men who support his nomination are alive today to testify on his
behalf,” Brownely said. “His incrediJTMOITTIV\ZaIVL[MTÆM[[VM[[Q[IV
inspiration to us all.”
Canley previously received the
Navy Cross for his actions, but many
veterans who fought alongside him
UW]V\MLĬaMIZMЄWZ\\WPI^M
that decoration upgraded to the
Medal of Honor. “The credit for
this award really should go to all
the young Marines in Vietnam
who inspired me every day,” said
Canley, who retired as a sergeant
major after 28 years of service
and is 80 years old. “Most of
them didn’t receive any recognition, but they were the foundation of every battle in the
Vietnam War.”
10
VIETNAM
Members of the Hmong mountain tribe in northern Laos worked
_Q\P)UMZQKIV[\WÅOP\+WUU]VQ[\[QV\PI\ZMOQWVL]ZQVO\PM
Vietnam War, and now thousands of them are asking Congress to
pass The Hmong Veterans’ Service Recognition Act, a bipartisan
bill that would make Hmong veterans eligible to be interred in
national cemeteries.
The legislation also would provide partial assistance with
J]ZQITKW[\[IVLOZI^MUIQV\MVIVKM2][\I[[QOVQÅKIV\TaQ\Q[I
symbolic gesture to acknowledge the Hmongs’ contributions and
[IKZQÅKML]ZQVO\PM¹[MKZM\_IZºQV4IW[_PMZMIV]VLQ[KTW[ML
U.S. bombing campaign and covert CIA operatives supported
4IW\QIV[QVKT]LQVO0UWVO[WTLQMZ[_PW_MZMÅOP\QVO+WUU]nist forces trying to overthrow the government.
After the Communists were victorious, many Hmong refugees
came to the United States. Peter Vang, executive director of Lao
Veterans of America, told KQED, a San Francisco TV station, that
the adjustment to life in the U.S. was hard: “You came here. You
LWV¼\[XMIS\PMTIVO]IOMAW]LWV¼\SVW_\PMK]T\]ZMAW][]ЄMZ
every day, not to mention all the war trauma you went through.”
The numbers of Hmong veterans are dwindling, and those
living have expressed a strong desire to be recognized for their
wartime service alongside Americans.
An honor long overdue
Hmong veterans of CIA-backed forces
that fought Communists in Laos
want legislation that allows them to
be buried alongside Americans in
national cemeteries.
TOP LEFT: OFFICE OF U.S. REP. JULIA BROWNLEY; BELOW: MARK RALSTON/AFP/GETTY IMAGES; BOTTOM: CHIP SOMODEVILLA/GETTY IMAGES
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TODAY
NEW JERSEY MEMORIAL
HONORS MEDAL OF
HONOR RECIPIENT
Vietnam Struggles in Effort
to ID Remains of Missing
Monumental task
A painted grave
signifying identified
remains, among
hundreds with
unknown remains,
shows how much ID
work Vietnam still
has to do.
12
VIETNAM
.W]ZaMIZ[IOW\PM>QM\VIUM[MOW^MZVUMV\QVQ\QI\MLIUQTTQWVXZWOZIU
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much longer than expected, Philadelphia’s The Inquirer reported.
Once wartime remains are located and exhumed, scientists extract DNA
NZWU\WW\PWZJWVM[IUXTM[\PI\IZMKWUXIZML_Q\P,6)NZWUTQ^QVOZMTI\Q^M[
WNUQ[[QVO[WTLQMZ[J]\WЅKQIT[IZM[\QTTKWUXQTQVOILI\IJI[MWN[IUXTM[NZWU
family members, itself is a time-consuming process.
<PMOWIT_PMV\PMXZWRMK\JMOIVQV_I[\WQLMV\QNa ZMUIQV[Ja
J]\[TW_XZWOZM[[PI[X][PML\PI\V]UJMZW]\WNZMIKP?WTNOIVO
0WMXXVMZKPQMNM`MK]\Q^MWNI/MZUIVUWTMK]TIZOMVM\QK[KWUXIVa\PI\
PMTXML\ZIQV>QM\VIUM[M[KQMV\Q[\[WV,6)QLMV\QÅKI\QWV\MKPVQY]M[[IQL\PM
>QM\VIUM[MOW^MZVUMV\X]ZKPI[ML\PMMY]QXUMV\NWZ\PMRWJJ]\\PM\WWT[
are “packed up somewhere and unused.”
TOP: ROB GREEN, VIA CHRIS BIACHE; MIDDLE: AP PHOTO; BOTTOM: HOANG DINH NAM/AFP/GETTY IMAGES
A fitting tribute
A recording of Fred Zabitosky’s
medal ceremony is among the
features of the new memorial.
The town of Ewing, New Jersey, has dedicated a memorial to Medal of Honor
recipient Sgt. 1st Class Fred Zabitosky, who was awarded the medal for his
TMILMZ[PQXWNI;XMKQIT.WZKM[\MIUL]ZQVOIÅZMÅOP\_PQTMWVIZMKWVVIQ[[IVKM
patrol in Laos on Feb. 19, 1968. The memorial, in the township municipal building, features Vietnam period artifacts, including a 5th Special Forces Group
green beret, unit patches and a re-creation of his decorations. The memorial
IT[WWЄMZ[JQWOZIXPQKITQVNWZUI\QWVIJW]\BIJQ\W[Sa¸_PWLQMLQV2IV]IZa
!!¸I[_MTTI[IVQV\MZIK\Q^M^QLMWXPW\W[IVLIZMKWZLQVOWN\PM!!5MLIT
of Honor ceremony at the White House.
Honor the courage, sacriice and dedication of the
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Helicopter Monument To Be
Dedicated in Arlington Cemetery
Helicopter crewmen and other Vietnam veterans plan
to gather at Arlington National Cemetery on April 18 to
dedicate a national monument honoring those who died
operating rotary-wing aircraft during the war.
Arlington holds the greatest number of helicopter
KI[]IT\QM[NZWU\PM>QM\VIU?IZJ]\)ZUaWЅKQIT[QVQtially declined the monument proposal, citing limited
space in the cemetery. Bipartisan legislation from Democratic Sen. Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin, Republican
Sen. Dan Sullivan of Alaska and Rep. Mark Amodei, a
Nevada Republican, helped secure congressional autho-
rization in March 2017.
“The outcome proved a
win-win for Vietnam Veterans, Gold Star Families and Arlington National Cemetery,” said Bob Hesselbein, legacy committee chairman
of the Vietnam Helicopter Pilots Association.
;WUMPMTQKWX\MZ[ÆM_KWUJI\UQ[[QWV[QV_PI\
was dubbed “the helicopter war,” and more than 5,000
were destroyed. The total number of crew members and
passengers killed exceeds 6,000, “a full 10 percent of
all U.S. fatalities in the Vietnam War,” Hesselbein said.
Billy Graham, a Christian evangelist who preached to millions
around the world and spoke to troops in Vietnam, died Feb. 21 at
age 99 in Montreat, North Carolina. Graham, who began preaching
in 1943, eventually reached vast radio and television audiences. He
met every president from Harry Truman through Barack Obama.
The ardent anti-Communist supported the Vietnam War and visited
troops in 1966 and 1968. In April 1969, he sent a memo to Richard Nixon outlining options if peace talks failed. One called for using
6WZ\P>QM\VIUM[MLMNMK\WZ[\WJWUJLQSM[PWTLQVOJIKSÆWWL_I\MZ[
which would destroy the North’s economy—and kill thousands of
civilians. Graham later moderated his stances on various issues.
Anna Mae Hays\PMUQTQ\IZa¼[ÅZ[\
female general and a veteran of World
War II, Korea and Vietnam, died Jan. 7,
2018. She was 97. After the Japanese
attacked Pearl Harbor in December 1941,
Hays traveled 60 miles by trolley car from
Allentown, Pennsylvania, to Philadelphia
to join the Army Nurse Corps. She deXTWaML\WIÅMTLPW[XQ\ITQVVWZ\PMI[\MZV
India during the war and in 1950 helped
M[\IJTQ[P\PMÅZ[\UQTQ\IZaPW[XQ\ITQV
Inchon, South Korea. Hays was chief of
the Army Nurse Corps from 1967 to 1971
and made several trips to Vietnam. She
became a brigadier general on June 11,
1970, and retired in August 1971.
Marcus Raskin, a vocal opponent of the Vietnam War and co-founder of the progressive
Institute for Policy Studies, died Dec. 24, 2017, in Washington, D.C., at age 83. In 1970,
RAND Corp. analyst Daniel Ellsberg gave partial copies of a study about American political and military involvement in Vietnam to Raskin and a colleague, who passed them to
Neil Sheehan at The New York Times. Those documents are now known as the Pentagon
Papers. Raskin’s name was among those on President Richard Nixon’s “enemies list,” and
the institute was put under FBI surveillance. Raskin’s interests also included nuclear disarmament, economic inequality and civil rights. He wrote more than two dozen books.
14
VIETNAM
TOP: VIETNAM HELICOPTER PILOTS ASSOCIATION; GRAHAM AND RASKIN: AP PHOTO; HAYS; U.S. ARMY
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SCENES FROM INCOUNTRY BASES
• Takhli AB 1964-1970, 110 min.
• Bien Hoa AB 1964-69, 80 min.
• Tuy Hoa AB 1966-1968, 75 min.
• Phan Rang AB 1965-70, 60 min.
• Cu Chi 1967-70, 50 min.
• Phu Bai 1968-71, 60 min.
• NSA Da Nang, Camp Tien Sha 1966-71, 60 min.
‡'RQJ+D%DVH$LU¿HOGPLQ
• Assault on Long Binh Tet 1969, 60 min.
• Tan Son Nhut AB 1965-1968, 60 min.
• Tet Attack on Tan Son Nhut AB, 60 min.
• An Khe, 1965-67, 75 min.
• Long Binh 1967-72, 60 min.
• Chu Lai AB 1965-68, 75 min.
• Camp Eagle 1971, 35 min.
• Phu Cat AB 1966-68, 70 min.
• Cam Ranh Bay AB 1966-68, 70 min.
• Dong Tam Base 1967-1969, 45 min.
• Nakhon Phanom AB 1966-70, 60 min.
• Camp Evans & Op. Delaware 1968, 60 min.
• Nha Trang/Camp McDermott 1965-69, 60 min.
• U-Tapao, Thailand 1967-72, 60 min.
• Korat AB, Thailand 1965-1970, 70 min.
• Camp Carroll & Rock Pile 1967-1970, 30 min. .
• Binh Thuy Naval Base 1968-69, 50 min.
• Lai Khe, Di An & Phu Loi 1966-1970, 80 min.
• Da Nang AB/USMC 1965-1970, 100 min.
• Camp Enari (Dragon Mtn) 1968-1969, 30 min.
• Ubon & Udorn, Thailand 1966-69, 60 min.
‡'DX7LHQJ%DVH$LU¿HOGPLQ
Newer Releases
• 101st Airborne Div: Search/Destroy Missions, 50 min.
• 173rd Airborne Div: Search/Destroy Missions, 55 min.
• Bangkok, Thailand R&R In The 1960s, 50 min.
• National Route 9, A Journey along Route 9 near the DMZ., 60 min.
• “Rocket City”: Attacks On Da Nang AB, 70 min.
• 1st Aviation Brigade In Vietnam with Delta Devils, Innkeepers, 60 min.
• Op. Pershing, 1st Air Cav., May 1967, 60 min.
• Destroyers In Vietnam with Firing Guns, Engine Room, Sonar, 65 min.
• 3rd Brigade 82nd Airborne Vietnam in Combat, 60 min.
• 5th Special Forces Group Vietnam, 55 min.
• African Americans In Vietnam, 60 min.
• Op. MacArthur, 4th Inf. Div. in the Battle Of Dak To 1967, 60 min.
• 1st Air Cavalry, 1965-1967: Fort Benning to An Khe to Combat, 60 min.
• Southern Man: The Road To Vietnam Training at Forts Jackson,
Campbell, & Gordon in the 1960s, 70 min.
1-760-765-1283 With Credit Card
or go online www.MilitaryVideo.com
Navy In Vietnam
• Small Boat Warfare With PBRs, 90 minutes
• USS Oriskany Fire Off Vietnam 1966, 60 min.
• USS Oriskany Off Coast of Vietnam, 40 min.
• USS Forrestal 1967 Fire Off Vietnam, 70 min.
• USS Forrestal (CV-59) 1950s-60s, 90 min.
• USS Enterprise Fire Off Hawaii, 1969, 45 min.
• USS Enterprise (CVAN-65) 1960-70, 90 min.
• USS America (CVA-66) 1965-68, 60 min.
• USS Midway (CVA-41) 1945-70, 60 min.
• USS Kitty Hawk (CV-63) 1961-79, 75 min.
• USS Constellation (CVA-64) 1964-70, 45 min.
• USS Independence (CVA-62) 1960s, 90 min.
• USS Princeton (CV-37) 1950s-60s, 80 min.
• USS Shangri-La (CV-38) 1944-1968, 45 min.
• USS Coral Sea (CVA-43) 1965-70, 50 min.
• USS Intrepid (CV-11) Off Vietnam, 60 min.
• USS Yorktown (CV-10) Vietnam, 45 min.
• USS Bon Homme Richard 1950s-60s, 45 min.
• USS Franklin D. Roosevelt 1960s, 85 min.
• USS Repose & Corpsmen, 60 min.
• USS Ticonderoga, 60 min.
• Coast Guard in Vietnam, 60 min.
• LST Operations in Vietnam, 40 min.
Marines In Vietnam
• Marines 1965/ Ops Starlite/Harvest Moon, 90 min.
• Marines 1966, Ops Macon/Hastings/Prairie, 70 min.
• Marines 1967 with Op Independence, 90 min.
• Marines 1968, Op. Baxter Gardens, 80 min.
• San Diego Boot Camp ‘69 & 73, 45 min.
• Parris Island Boot Camp 1960s, 45 min.
• Marine Staging Battalion, Camp Pendleton, 30 min.
• Khe Sanh Base with 1st Marines, 45 min.
• Con Thien & Op. Buffalo, 60 min.
• Battle for Hue City, 45 min.
• Marine Aviation: 1st MAW, 90 min.
• Siege Khe Sanh & USAF, 45 min.
or Send Check/MO To:
7UDGLWLRQV0LOLWDU\9LGHRV'HSW9
32%R[-XOLDQ&$
Ar my In Vie tna m
• 101st Airborne A Shau Valley 1969-71, 60 min.
• 101st Airborne Div. In Vietnam, 90 min.
• 5th Infantry Div. Vietnam 1968-70, 45 min.
• 1st Inf. Div: Vietnam & Germany, 102 min.
• 196th Light Infantry Brigade, 52 min.
• 198th Light Infantry Brigade, 60 min.
• 173rd Airborne Battle for Dak To, 50 min.
• Military Police (MPs) Vietnam, 70 min.
• 9th Infantry Division In Vietnam, 60 min.
• Huey UH-1: Training to Vietnam, 115 min.
• Army Helicopter Units Vietnam, 90 min.
• 1st Infantry Div. Search/Destroy Missions, 60 min.
• 173rd Airborne Brigade in Vietnam, 60 min.
• Army Artillerymen in Vietnam: Fire Support & FBS, 80 min.
• Army Basic at Fort Ord & Advanced Training 1960s, 90 minutes
• 199th Light Infantry Brigade 1967-70, 60 min.
Hard To Find Videos
• Marine Tankers Vietnam: M-43A3 and M-50A1 Ontos, 60 min.
• Road Warriors: Truckers Vietnam, 60 min.
• American POWs in Vietnam, 60 min.
• USMC Camp Reasoner, Hill 510, 3rd MAF, 45 min.
• Da Nang Outer Limits: Dog Patch, Danang 500, 60 min.
• 1st Air Cav. Div. Battle For Ia Drang Valley, 70 min.
• 25th Inf. Div. Search & Destroy Missions, 45 min.
• 4th Infantry Division Search & Destroy Missions, 45 min.
• 11th Armored Cavalry, Black Horse Regiment, 80 min.
• Army Engineers In Vietnam: Construction & Combat, 110 min.
• Operation Pegasus: Khe Sanh Rescue 1968, 45 min.
• Andersen AFB, Guam 1965-75, 70 min.
• 9th Inf. Division Search & Destroy Missions, 50 min.
• 11th Light Infantry Brigade Vietnam, 60 min.
• Combat Trackers & Their Dogs 45 min.
• Combat Infantry Soldier: Life In Field, 60 min.
• Dogs of the Vietnam War: Scout, Sentry, Patrol, 100 min.
• 23rd Infantry Div. “Americal” In Vietnam, 80 min.
• NVA Easter Offensive Of 1972, 60 min.
• Special Forces With Montagnard Training, 100 min.
• Special Forces in Vietnam: Early Years, 60 min.
Air For c e In Vie tna m
• F-4 Phantom In Combat, 60 min.
• B-57 Canberra at Phan Rang, Bien Hoa, Danang, 60 min.
• C-130 Operations In Vietnam, 81 min.
• C-7 Caribou In Vietnam, 70 min.
• Jolly & Super Jolly Green Giants, 85 min.
• Tactical Air Recon With RF-4, RF-101, 90 min.
• C-47, EC-47 & AC-47 Vietnam, 80 min.
• Close Air Support & Forward Air Controllers, 100 min.
• F-105 Wild Weasel at Korat AB 1966, 20 min.
• F-105 Thunderchief In Combat, 75 min.
• AC-119 Gunships: Shadows, Stingers, 100 min.
• B-52 at Utapao Airbase, 70 min.
The Vietnam War As Filmed By The Unseen Warriors
See and hear the stories and images of the soldiers who fought in Vietnam recorded by the Army Combat Cameramen who witnessed them! This 4-hour, 2-DVD documentary
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Division at Dak To. Many of these stories have never been told, and you ZRQ·WVHHWKHPRQ79
KEITH
HARMAN
We need to get more veterans
in the House and Senate.
16
VIETNAM
What was it like to learn that you had been drafted?
1PILOWVM\W/QЅV2]VQWZ+WTTMOMQV>IV?MZ\7PQWNWZ
two years and then transferred to Kansas State Teachers
College in Emporia. I thought I wanted to be a school
teacher, but after I had been there a while I came to the
realization that whatever I wanted to do, I was going to
go home and marry my high school sweetheart. I let the
draft board know that I was no longer in school and
thought I would immediately get my draft notice.
It never came. I just kept getting questionnaire after
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\PMZM_I[\ITSWNLZIN\QVO!̆aMIZ̆WTL[ÅZ[\1\]ZVML
on the 21st of September [1967]. We got married the 23rd
of September. We got back from the honeymoon. I went
right to the draft board and said, “I’m 21, I’m married.”
In late October, early November, I got my letter from the
government saying you’ve been selected.
How did you become a helicopter crewman? I took my
basic training at Fort Jackson, South Carolina, and then
they sent me to Fort Rucker, Alabama, for aviation training. I was an aircraft mechanic. From there, I was sent to
Fort Campbell, Kentucky, sometime in 1968, to be part of
a new air cavalry unit that was to be formed. It took them
a while to determine what our unit was going to be called.
Finally, they decided we were Alpha Troop, 2nd [Squadron], 17th [Cavalry Regiment]. I did aircraft maintenance.
DAN WILLIAMS
For many years, Vietnam veteran Keith
Harman resisted entreaties to join the Veterans
of Foreign Wars. Today he is the national
commander of the 1.2 million-member
organization, which helps former service
UMUJMZ[WJ\IQV^M\MZIV[JMVMÅ\[TWJJQM[
the government on veterans issues and
WЄMZ[XZWOZIU[[]KPI[MUMZOMVKa
ÅVIVKQITI[[Q[\IVKM\WUQTQ\IZaNIUQTQM[
and scholarships.
After his discharge in November
1969, the former crew chief of a UH-1
“Huey” helicopter in the Army’s 101st
Airborne Division worked at truck-maker
Fruehauf’s factory in Delphos, Ohio. In 1983,
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a try and joined the Delphos post of the
organization, based in Kansas City, Missouri.
Three years later, he was elected post
commander, a position he held until he became
a district commander in 1990-91. Harman was
Ohio’s state commander in 2004-05. He also
_I[\PM^M\MZIV[[MZ^QKM[WЅKMZNWZIV7PQW
county from 1991 until
Born: Sept. 21, 1946,
his retirement in 2011.
Van Wert, Ohio
In July 2017, Harman
Residence: Delphos, Ohio
was elected national
Education: Attended Giffin
commander of the VFW
Junior College and Kansas
State Teachers College
for 2017-18. About half
Military service:
of the organization’s
U.S. Army, December 1967members are Vietnam
November 1969;
highest rank: sergeant
veterans.
In Vietnam: MarchHarman talked with
November 1969; Alpha Troop,
Vietnam
magazine editor
2nd Squadron, 17th Cavalry
Regiment, 101st Airborne
Chuck Springston about
Division
his days as a draftee
Career: Fruehauf Corp.,
manning a machine gun
1967-91; Van Wert County,
Ohio, veteran services officer,
in the door of a Huey and
1991-2011
his service with the VFW
Today: Veterans of Foreign
after the war.
Wars, national commander
VETERANS COMMEMORATIVES INTRODUCES ITS NEWEST MULTI-USE APPAREL
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I wish to order my Vietnam Veteran Men’s Hoodie as follows:
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R10773
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S
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M
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S
1 Item add $12.95 for shipping
2 or more add $19.95 for shipping
M
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Price
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L
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Amount
$44.95
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(In case we have a question about your order)
© ICM 2018
R2071-VTN-0618
What were your responsibilities as a crew chief? Know
every nut and bolt and screw that was on that aircraft,
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left the ground unless I was aboard.
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mind?7PIJ[WT]\MTa<PM^MZaÅZ[\WVM?MPILPW^MZML
down into a big opening in a bunch of trees to insert an
QVNIV\ZaXTI\WWV?MKIUMJIKS]X\W\ISMWЄIVL\PMa
[the enemy] unloaded on us. You could feel the rounds
coming, hitting the aircraft, coming up through the belly
of the aircraft. They missed the center hub on the tail
rudder by about less than an inch. If they’d have hit that,
we would have been down.
0W_UIVaKWUJI\ÆQOP\[LQLaW]UISML]ZQVOaW]Z
time in Vietnam?1LWV¼\SVW_PW_UIVaÆQOP\[J]\
XZWJIJTaPW]Z[ÆQOP\\QUM
You were home from the war almost 15 years before
aW]RWQVML\PM>.?QV! ?Pa\PI\TWVOOIX' My
NI\PMZ_I[I?WZTL?IZ11^M\MZIV0MIVLUaUW\PMZ
_MZMKPIZ\MZUMUJMZ[WN\PM>.?IVL\PM)]`QTQIZaI\
8W[\ QV>IV?MZ\1OZM_]XI[IaW]VOJWaQV\PM
>.??PaLQLQ\\ISM[WUIVaaMIZ[\WRWQV'?PMV1ZMturned home, I went back to work and started a family.
Our two children were in all types of school activities,
including sports, and I wanted to be a part of them growQVO]X?MPILI[UITT\ZI^MT\ZIQTMZIVL_W]TLOWKIUXing as often as possible. But every time my wife’s brother
saw me, he had a membership application, and said, “Go
ÅTT\PQ[W]\º1LQLV¼\)VL\PMVM`\\QUM1¼L[MMPQUPM
_W]TL[Ia¹,QLaW]ÅTTQ\W]\'0MZM¼[IVW\PMZIXXTQKItion.” And then another one and then another. So I just
[IQL¹73aW]¼^M_WZVUMW]\º1ÅTTMLW]\\PMIXXTQKItion and got accepted. I started attending meetings, and
the more I became involved the more I fell in love with
the organization.
18
VIETNAM
Some Vietnam veterans have said
they felt that initially VFW posts
didn’t want them, that some World
?IZ11^M\[[I_\PMUI[X[aKPWTWOQKITTa\ZW]JTMLLZ]OOQM[_PWLQLV¼\
win their war. I did not experience any
of that, but friends that belonged to
>.?[QV\PM[]ZZW]VLQVOKWUU]VQ\QM[
did experience it. I probably didn’t experience it at my post because my brother
QVTI__I[_MTT̆M[\IJTQ[PML\PMZM?M
used to go together quite frequently. The
only incident I had was when I separated [was discharged
from the Army] at the airport in Oakland, California. I’m
standing in line to get my airline ticket, and a lady comes
up to me and says, “Are you just returning from VietVIU'º1[IQL¹AM[ºIVL[PM[IQL¹?Pa'1[IQL¹1LWV¼\
]VLMZ[\IVLº;PM[IQL¹?PaIZMaW]KWUQVOPWUM'5a
son didn’t.” There is no answer for that.
,WaW]\PQVSIVa\PQVOKW]TLPI^MJMMVLWVM\PI\
_W]TLPI^MJZW]OP\IJM\\MZMVLQVO\W\PM_IZ' Keep
the politicians out of it. Let the military do what they do.
?M_W]TLOWW]\WV_PI\\PMaKITTML[VQЄMZUQ[[QWV[
Another company would put in our Huey a machine that
XQKSML]XJWLaWLWZ?M_W]TLI\\IKPÆM`QJTMPW[M[\WQ\
and run them out on the skids. Then we would go to an
IZMI_PMZM\PMa[IQL\PMZM_MZMVWNZQMVLTa\ZWWX[?M
would set the aircraft just above the treetops and follow
the contours, while this machine picked up body odors
[indicating possible enemy locations, information that
would be provided to U.S. commanders].
<PMÅZ[\\QUM1_MV\WVWVMWN\PW[MUQ[[QWV[UaXQTW\
\WTLUM\PI\QN_M\ISMÅZM1_I[VW\XMZUQ\\ML\WZM\]ZV
ÅZM]V\QTPMKITTMLW]Z+7CKWUUIVLQVOWЅKMZE_PW
KITTMLW]ZÆQOP\WXMZI\QWV[_PWKITTML\PMÆQOP\WXMZI\QWV[WN\PM)7CIZMIWNWXMZI\QWV[E_M_MZMÆaQVOQV_PW
called the CO over that AO. I thought he was joking and
TI]OPML0M[IQL¹6W1¼U[MZQW][º1[IQL¹?MTT\PM
stripes that are on my shirt, you might just as well take
them right now because I’m telling you if someone shoots
I\UM1LWV¼\KIZM_PMZM_M¼ZMI\1¼UOWQVO\WZM\]ZVÅZMº
<PM![IVL¼[IZMUIZSMLVW\R][\Ja\PM>QM\nam War but also by the music of the times. Is there a
[WVONZWU\PI\XMZQWL\PI\aW]XIZ\QK]TIZTaZMUMUber?¹?M/W\\I/M\7]\WN<PQ[8TIKMºCJa<PM)VQUIT[QV
summer 1965]. That’s absolutely at the top of the list.
Is there a military or civilian leader you especially admire? Colin Powell. There used to be a number of politicians who were veterans and extremely supportive of
veterans issues. The vast majority of the House and Senate used to be veterans. Very few are today. And we need
to get more veterans in the House, in the Senate, somebody that understands what’s going on in the military. V
COURTESY KEITH HARMAN
After we got to Vietnam, during
the assault on Hamburger Hill in
May of ’69, a friend of mine, Rob
Morris from California, who was a
crew chief, got shot down. Fortunately, nobody in the aircraft was
injured. Two days later he was in a
JZIVL̆VM_IQZKZIN\IVLÅZ[\UQ[sion out the aircraft got shot up
pretty badly. Again, fortunately nobody got injured. He said, “I don’t
want to do this anymore. Somebody
want to trade places with me?” I
said, “I’ll switch.”
My maintenance sergeant, Sgt.
Osborne, told me, “The life expectancy of crew chiefs is
not very long. You’re married, and you’re going to go out
there and get yourself killed.” I said, “Sarge, my heart is
telling me this is something I need to be doing.” I was a
door gunner and crew chief for the rest of my tour.
In-country
Keith Harman spent more than
500 hours in the air as crew
chief door-gunner of a Huey.
May 17 Nine anti-war
activists, including brothers
Daniel and Philip Berrigan,
both priests, enter draft
JWIZLWЅKM[QV+I\WV[^QTTM
5IZaTIVLKWVÅ[KI\MLZIN\
records and burn them
outside with homemade
napalm. All of the
+I\WV[^QTTM6QVM_MZM
sentenced to prison.
MAY-JUNE
1968
May 1 Violent confrontations
between police and students
come to an end at Columbia
University. Students protesting
the Vietnam War and racial
discrimination took control of
several university buildings beginning on April 23. After police
were called in on April 30, more
than 130 students and at least
ILWbMVWЅKMZ[_MZMQVR]ZML
May 2 Basketball greats Bill
Russell and John Havlicek of the
*W[\WV+MT\QK[JMI\N]\]ZM0ITT
of Famers Jerry West and Elgin
Baylor of the Los Angeles Lakers
124-109 in Game 6 of the NBA
Finals, giving Boston its ninth
championship in 10 years.
May 19 It’s a big night at the Emmys for bumbling
secret agent Maxwell Smart, as Get Smart wins the
award for outstanding comedy and star Don Adams
nabs one for best actor in comedy series.
20
VIETNAM
May 25 2WPVVa
+I[P¼[¹.WT[WU
8ZQ[WV*T]M[ºWZQOinally recorded in
1955, makes the
*QTTJWIZL<WX
after its inclusion
on the album At
.WT[WU8ZQ[WV, released earlier in
5IaIVLZMKWZLMLTQ^ML]ZQVOI
2IV]IZaXMZNWZUIVKMI\
\PM+ITQNWZVQIXZQ[WV
May 4 In a follow-up to their mas[Q^M¸IVLNIQTML¸WЄMV[Q^ML]ZQVO\PM
Tet New Year’s celebration, the North
>QM\VIUM[M)ZUaIVL>QM\+WVO
launch attacks that will strike some
\IZOM\[IKZW[[;W]\P>QM\VIU
QVKT]LQVO;IQOWV<PQ[5IaWЄMV[Q^M
IT[WKITTML5QVQ̆<M\WZ4Q\\TM<M\PQ\[
QV\_W_I^M[5IăIVL5Ia
̆5WZM\PIV6>)IVL>+
ÅOP\MZ[IZMSQTTMLKWUXIZML_Q\P
)UMZQKIV[IVL!;W]\P>QM\VIUM[M
\ZWWX[;MM[\WZa8IOM
June 5 Shortly after
midnight, New York Sen.
Robert F. Kennedy, who
had won the California
Democrat primary for
president earlier that
evening, is shot in Los
Angeles at the Ambassador Hotel. Gunman Sirhan Sirhan hit him three
times, once in the head.
Kennedy died on June 6.
June 19 +QVMUI[JMOQV
[PW_QVO<PM/ZMMV*MZM\[
2WPV?IaVMQ[I;XMKQIT
Forces colonel who convinces
a reporter that the Vietnam
?IZQ[IVWJTMKI][M,MZQLML
by many critics, the movie
LQL_MTTI\\PMJW`WЅKMM^MV
\PW]OPX]JTQKWXQVQWVPIL
\]ZVMLIOIQV[\\PM_IZ
June 22 Herb Alpert, who racked
up three No. 1 albums playing
trumpet with the Tijuana Brass,
reaches the top of the singles chart
as a vocalist with “This Guy’s in
Love with You,” written by Burt
Bacharach and Hal David.
May 10-12)5QVQ̆<M\I\\IKSQV
VWZ\PMZV;W]\P>QM\VIUNWZKM[\PM
M^IK]I\QWVWN3PIU,]KI;XMKQIT
Forces camp reinforced by units of the
23rd Infantry Division (Americal) in
7XMZI\QWV/WTLMV>ITTMa5WZM\PIV
\ZWWX[_MZMM^IK]I\ML)QZ
.WZKMXQTW\4\+WT2WM52IKS[WVZMKMQ^ML\PM5MLITWN0WVWZNWZI\ZWWX
ZM\ZQM^ITKWVL]K\ML]VLMZPMI^aÅZM
May 23<PM=;;4WVO*MIKPO]QLML
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June 2-19=VQ\[WNZL=;5IZQVM
Division undertake Operation Robin
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VWZ\P_M[\MZV;W]\P>QM\VIUVMIZ
3PM;IVP<PMWXMZI\QWVSQTT[
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)JW]\5IZQVM[IZMSQTTML
June 10/MV+ZMQOP\WV)JZIU[
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I[\PM\WXOMVMZITQV;W]\P>QM\VIU
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?M[\UWZMTIVLQ[¹SQKSML]X[\IQZ[º\W
JM=;)ZUaKPQMNWN[\IЄ
MAY 1: GETTY IMAGES; MAY 2: DICK RAPHAEL/GETTY IMAGES; MAY 17: GETTY
IMAGES; MAY 19: ©CBS/PHOTOFEST; MAY 25: HISTORYNET ARCHIVES; JUNE
5: BILL EPPRIDGE/LIFE PICTURE COLLECTION/GETTY IMAGES: JUNE 12:
COLLECTION CHRISTOPHEL/ALAMY; JUNE 22: GETTY IMAGES
2=6-
21
Power-packed
Heavy lifter
In the UH-1D version of the Huey and later variants, including
the UH-1H shown here, the blade was lengthened from 44
feet to 48 feet, enabling the chopper to handle heavier loads.
A stronger engine, introduced on
the UH-1H, improved the Huey’s lift,
particularly on days when hot and humid
air could hurt a helicopter’s performance.
On the air
A streamlined blade
antenna, used for radio
communications, reduced
air resistance.
The doors
A sliding door on each
side helped the troops
enter and exit quickly.
Speed checker
A “pitot tube” (named
after inventor Henri
Pitot) takes in air and
measures air pressure,
which is used to
calculate speed.
Armed backup
Onboard
The UH-1D and UH-1H hauled
up to 11 soldiers or six litters
holding wounded troops.
A crewman with an
M60 machine gun
countered enemy fire
during approaches to
landing zones.
UH-1 IROQUOIS “HUEY” HELICOPTER
By Carl O. Schuster
22
VIETNAM
Version: UH-1H
Crew: 4
Engine: 1,400 shaft
PWZ[MXW_MZ)^KW
4aKWUQVO<̆4̆
gas turbine
Rotar diameter:
48 feet
Fuselage length:
41 feet
Load: 8-11 troops
M`KT]LQVOKZM_WZ
six stretchers; 4,000
pounds in a sling
Maximum speed:
141 mph
Cruising speed:
126 mph
Range: 236 miles
Armament: One or
\_WLWWZ̆UW]V\ML
M60 machine guns
GREGORY PROCH
At 10:48 a.m. on Nov. 14, 1965, UH-1B helicopters delivered the lead units of the 1st Battalion, 7th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile), to Landing Zone X-Ray
in South Vietnam’s Ia Drang Valley. North Vietnam’s 33rd Regiment attacked, triggering
\PMÅZ[\UIRWZJI\\TMJM\_MMV\PM=;IVL6WZ\P>QM\VIUM[MIZUQM[QUUWZ\ITQbMLQV
the book We Were Soldiers Once.. and YoungIVLQ\[ÅTUILIX\I\QWV
5MLQIKW^MZIOMWN\PMJI\\TMNMI\]ZMLQUIOM[WN_PI\JMKIUM\PM_IZ¼[QKWVQK)UMZQKIV
_MIXWV[\PM5ZQÆMIVL\PM=0̆¹0]MaºPMTQKWX\MZKWUUWVTaKITTMLI¹[TQKSºJMKI][M
VWO]V[_MZMUW]V\MLWVQ\[[QLM[OQ^QVO\PMKPWXXMZI[UWW\P[TQKS[]ZNIKM<PM0]Ma
_I[I\M^MZaUIRWZJI\\TMUISQVO>QM\VIU¹\PMPMTQKWX\MZ_IZº
?PMV\PMIQZKZIN\UILMJa*MTT0MTQKWX\MZ+WMV\MZMLXZWL]K\QWVQV!!Q\_I[WЅKQITTa\PM0=̆1ZWY]WQ[J]\\ZWWX[JMOIVKITTQVOQ\¹0]MaºIXTIaWV\PM0=LM[QOVI\QWV
<PMLM[QOVI\QWV_I[KPIVOML\W=0̆QV!J]\\PMVQKSVIUM[\]KS
<PM)ZUaPILQV\MVLML\W][M0]Ma[I[UMLM^IKPMTQKWX\MZ[*a!PW_M^MZ\PM
emerging air mobility doctrine gave them an expanded mission, including troop lifts to
KWUJI\bWVM[?PMV\PMVM_TaIK\Q^I\ML[\+I^ITZa,Q^Q[QWV)QZUWJQTMMV\MZML>QM\nam in late summer 1965, it possessed 435 helicopters, mostly UH-1s.
<PM0]Ma_I[\W>QM\VIU_PI\\PMRMMX_I[\W?WZTL?IZ11)TTÅ^MUIRWZIZUML
[MZ^QKM[MUXTWaML\PMU0]Ma[ÆM_UQ[[QWV[\PI\QVKT]LML\ZWWXUW^MUMV\[KIZOW
\ZIV[XWZ\[QOVIT[QV\MTTQOMVKMX[aKPWTWOQKIT_IZNIZMZMKWVVIQ[[IVKMMTMK\ZWVQK_IZNIZMKWUUIVLIVLKWV\ZWT[MIZKPIVLZM[K]M¸IVLWNKW]Z[MUMLQKITM^IK]I\QWV<PMa
evacuated more than 120,000 casualties, saving thousands of lives.
*a_IZ¼[MVLUWZM\PIV 0]Ma[PILJMMVJ]QT\_Q\PW^MZW]\Å\\MLI[O]V[PQX[IVL[MZ^MLQV>QM\VIU_PMZM _MZMTW[\<PMÅVIT[QVOTM̆MVOQVM^IZQIV\
_I[\PM=0̆0_PQKP_I[QV\ZWL]KMLQV!IVLJMKIUM\PMUW[\XZWL]KMLUWLMT<PM
TI[\^MZ[QWV\W[MMKWUJI\QV>QM\VIU\PM\_QV̆MVOQVM=0̆6MV\MZMLXZWL]K\QWVQV!
0]Ma[[MZ^ML\PM=;IVLQ\[ITTQM[_MTTQV\W\PM[\KMV\]ZaJ]\\PMa_QTTJMZMUMUbered most for their starring role in the skies over Vietnam. V
“AN OLD FRIEND”
A Vietnam Gunship Pilot &
Chief Test pilot
At Bell Helicopter remembers
THE BATTLE of EASTER SUNDAY
26 March 1967
DVD AVAILABLE AT:
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52
Value
Includes 1 each of: Toraño • HC Series • 5 Vegas • Ramón Bueso
Gran Habano • Black Ops • Alec Bradley • Rocky Patel
Out of the fight
Lt. Phan Tan Duan’s MiG-17 of the
923rd Fighter Regiment takes a fatal
hit from a 20 mm shell fired by a
Gatling-style gun on an F-105D
Thunderchief flown by Air Force
Maj. Ralph Kuster Jr. of the 469th
Squadron, 388th Tactical Fighter
Wing, on June 3, 1967.
24
VIETNAM
The Great
Kill-Ratio
Debate
Data shows that American fighter planes
performed poorly vs. the enemy
early in the war—or does it?
By William A. Sayers
GETTY IMAGES
I
n the early years of the Vietnam War, the perforUIVKM WN )UMZQKIV ÅOP\MZ XQTW\[ QV LWOÅOP\[
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1\[MMUML\PI\)UMZQKIVÅOP\MZXQTW\[PILTW[\ITTSVW_TMLOMWNIQZ̆\W̆IQZKWUJI\QV\PMLMKILMJM\_MMV\PM3WZMIV
IVL>QM\VIU_IZ[IKKWZLQVO\W\PMKWV^MV\QWVIT_Q[LWU<PM
=;6I^aPW_M^MZ_I[IJTM\WZIKS]XJM\\MZ[KWZM[IN\MZ
KZMI\QVO\PM<WXO]V.QOP\MZ?MIXWV[;KPWWTQV5IZKP!!
\PM\PMWZaOWM[_PQTM\PM=;)QZ.WZKMM[KPM_ML\PI\ZW]\M
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PIXXMVML'<PMIV[_MZQ[VWVW\M^MVKTW[M
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WN>QM\VIUIZM]VNIQZKWUXIZQ[WV[NWZIV]UJMZWNZMI[WV[
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NZWUVMIZTa!LMKQ[Q^MKWUJI\[\PW[MZM[]T\QVOQVIVIQZKZIN\TW[[ITIZOMV]UJMZ\PI\[MMUML\WXZW^QLM[\I\Q[\QKIT
^ITQLQ\a\WKWVKT][QWV[LZI_VNZWU\PI\LI\I<PM>QM\VIU
SQTTZI\QW[IZMKWUXQTMLNZWUIU]KP[UITTMZLI\I[M\_PQKP
X]\[KWVKT][QWV[IJW]\SQTTZI\QW[WV\MV]W][OZW]VLM[XMKQITTaNWZ\PM6I^a¼[IQZKWUJI\
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¸QVÅOP\[JM\_MMV\PM=;)QZ.WZKMIVL6WZ\P>QM\VIUM[MIQZNWZKMIVLR][\ QV\PM=;6I^a¼[IQZJI\\TM[_Q\P\PM
6WZ\P>QM\VIUM[M1V\PW[MÅOP\[\PM=;)QZ.WZKMTW[\
IQZKZIN\IVL\PM6I^aTW[\
;MKWVLJMKI][MWN\PMLQЄMZMV\UM\PWL[][ML\WKITK]TI\M
SQTTZI\QW[QV\PM\_W_IZ[IVaI\\MUX\\WXTIKM\PW[MZI\QW[
JUNE 2018
25
side by side is an invalid “apples to oranges” comparison.
The Vietnam War kill ratios were calculated using the
total number of U.S. aircraft lost in air-to-air combat,
ZMOIZLTM[[WN_PM\PMZWZVW\\PMa_MZMÅOP\MZXTIVM[
That meant the count of downed aircraft includes the
unarmed RF-101, a reconnaissance jet; the A-1E Skyraider, a piston-engine plane; the EB-66, a bomber converted into a recon plane; the RC-47, a cargo plane
converted into recon plane; and that “terror of the
skies,” the HH-53 rescue helicopter. The North Vietnamese air force even gave full victory credits to pilots who
shot down unarmed American reconnaissance drones.
In contrast, the Korean War kill ratio considers only
\PM^QK\WZQM[WNW]ZJM[\ÅOP\MZ\PM.̆ _PW[MXQTW\[
_MZMITUW[\M`KT][Q^MTaÆaQVOIOOZM[[Q^MWЄMV[Q^MIQZsuperiority missions. The Vietnam War equivalent is the
MiGCAP mission—“MiG combat air patrols” of F-4 Phan\WU11ÅOP\MZ[_PQKPXZW\MK\MLJWUJKIZZQMZ[NZWU5Q/
attacks during strikes on targets in North Vietnam. A
fair comparison with Korea would be limited to the Vietnam War’s MiGCAP missions.
Geography of the Battlespace
Any comparison between Air Force and Navy kill ratios
[PW]TLKWV[QLMZMIKP[MZ^QKM¼[ÆQOP\ZW]\M[JMKI][MOMWOZIXPaPILI[QOVQÅKIV\QUXIK\WV\IK\QK[IVLW]\KWUM[
26
VIETNAM
Unlike Navy aircraft launched from carriers in the
Gulf of Tonkin, the great majority of Air Force aircraft
WVJWUJQVOZ]V[\WWSWЄNZWUJI[M[QV<PIQTIVLIVL
approached their targets in North Vietnam from the
landward side. Enemy radar picked them up while they
were still in Thai airspace, and MiGs could maneuver
into advantageous positions up to 100 miles from Hanoi.
While the North Vietnamese air force had excellent
ground-controlled intercept radar to direct its planes,
U.S. Air Force radar coverage ranged from spotty to nonexistent over assigned strike routes. Aircrews operated
with little more than their eyes to guide them. Fighters
escorting the bomb-carrying aircraft never knew where
the threat would come from and therefore normally
stayed close to the planes they were protecting so they
wouldn’t be caught out of position during an attack. As
a result, U.S. Air Force aircraft usually entered engagements from a defensive and reactive posture.
On the other hand, the Navy used its carrier-based
operations to maximum advantage. North Vietnamese
ÅOP\MZ[PILTM[[_IZVQVO\QUM\WZMIK\\W\PM=;[\ZQSM[
IVLNIZTM[[WXXWZ\]VQ\a\WUIVM]^MZJMPQVL6I^aÅOP\ers, whose backs were protected by ships in the Gulf of
Tonkin. Additionally, naval air operations over North
Vietnam were completely covered by radar-equipped
ships operating in the Gulf under the code name “Red
U.S. AIR FORCE
Triple ace
Capt. Joseph McConnell
shot down 16 MiG-15s
over Korea in 1953,
making him the top
American ace of
the war.
Super support
Leslie R. Leavoy leads a
formation of F-100 Super
Sabres, the U.S. Air Force’s
primary close air support
jet throughout the war.
TOP, LEFT: U.S. NAVY; TOP, RIGHT: AP PHOTO/EDDIE ADAMS; MIDDLE: U.S. AIR FORCE; BOTTOM: NATIONAL ARCHIVES
Seaborne striker
Phantom IIs, like
this F-4B from USS
Constellation, regularly
flew atack missions.
Korean War fighters
F-86 pilots racked up a lot of
shootdowns, but pilots in Vietnam
flew more complex missions.
Crown.” Navy pilots were mainly assigned targets in coastal
areas where they had good radar warning and control from ships
XI\ZWTTQVOR][\WЄ[PWZM
6I^aÅOP\MZ[_MZM\PMZMNWZMIJTM\W\ISMIUWZMIOOZM[[Q^M
XW[\]ZM\PIV\PMQZ)QZ.WZKMKW]V\MZXIZ\[ÆaQVOWЄMV[Q^MTaWZQMV\MLKWUJI\[WZ\QM[QV[\MILWNLMNMV[Q^MKTW[M̆M[KWZ\UQ[[QWV[
After-action reports found that 65 percent of Air Force losses
_MZM[]ЄMZMLJaIQZKZIN\ÅOP\QVONZWUILMNMV[Q^MXW[\]ZM
_PQKPZMY]QZMLIÅOP\MZ]VLMZI\\IKS\WZM^MZ[MXW[Q\QWV[\WOM\
ISQTTI^MZaLQЅK]T\UIVM]^MZ\WUISM1VKWV\ZI[\WVTa
percent of Navy and Marine Corps losses were aircraft in a defensive posture.
<PMIQZ_IZW^MZ6WZ\P>QM\VIUKIVJMLQ^QLMLQV\W[Q`LQ[\QVK\XMZQWL[W^MZ\PM\_WUIRWZJWUJQVOKIUXIQOV[7XMZI\QWV[
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The North Vietnamese Buildup
,]ZQVO\PQ[XMZQWL\PM6WZ\P>QM\VIUM[MIQZNWZKM_I[J]QTLQVO
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Leading the target
The MiG-17, let, posed a real
threat to strike aircrat like the
F-105D Thunderchief, right.
JUNE 2018
27
Legendary leader
Col. Robin Olds and his 8th Tactical Fighter Wing used
new tactics to turn the tables on the North Vietnamese.
Going Head to Head
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Enemy power
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The MiG-21 excelled
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at ground-controlled
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intercept missions.
6WZ\P>QM\VIUM[MXQTW\[IOIQV
28
VIETNAM
Ambush Tactics
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IOIQV[\\PMPQ\̆IVL̆Z]V\IK\QK[WN\PM5Q/̆[51/+)8
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TOP: U.S. AIR FORCE; BOTTOM: ULLSTEIN BILD VIA GETTY IMAGES
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DON LOGAN
Versatile mount
Originally an airsuperiority jet, the
F-4 Phantom II
assumed multiple
roles, including
ground atack and
reconnaissance.
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JUNE 2018
29
Aerial Combat Scorecard
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)UMZQKIVIQZKZIN\[WUM]VIZUML)UWZMIX\KWUXIZQ[WVNWZ>QM\VIU"MVMUaÅOP\MZ[^[=;ÅOP\MZ[QV
¹KWUJI\IQZXI\ZWT[ºOWQVOWV\PMI\\IKSIOIQV[\6WZ\P>QM\VIUM[M5Q/ÅOP\MZ[¸5Q/+)8UQ[[QWV[1VIV
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KOREAN WAR
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10 to 1
VIETNAM WAR
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!̆
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warning era
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U.S. NAVY
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training era
May 72-Jan. 73
Back to Ambush Tactics
North Vietnam’s change in tactics worked. For a brief
moment in June 1972, MiG-21s gained ascendancy,
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were the result of supersonic MiG-21s attacking unI_IZM\IZOM\[NZWUJMPQVL_PQTMWVMWN\PM=;^QK\WZQM[
tt
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ZM̆M^IT]I\MQ\[\IK\QK[
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from supersonic stern attacks on aircraft unaware they
were in the enemy’s sights. But things were about to
turn around.
The Teaball Era
1V)]O][\!\PM)QZ.WZKMÅVITTaOW\Q\[\MKPVQKITIVswer to the attack warning problem: a control center
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30
VIETNAM
to 1
5.5 to 1
15 to 1
4.7 to 1
to 1
8.7 to 1
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gunners on B-52 bombers, got the other MiG shootdowns).
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the withdrawal of all U.S. forces in January 1973 are
[TQOP\TaUWZM\PIV\PMV]UJMZWN^QK\WZQM[\PM6I^a
IKPQM^MLQVITTWN!SQTT[IVLVMIZTaPITNI[UIVa
I[\PM6I^aZMKWZLW^MZ\PMMV\QZM_IZSQTT[<PM)QZ
Force had a Vietnam War total of 137 kills.
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)QZ.WZKM[¼5Q/+)8.̆[QV>QM\VIUPIL̆SQTTZI\QW
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Korean War results of 10-1.
<PM6I^a¼[SQTTZI\QW[¸QV^WT^QVOIU]KP[UITTMZV]UJMZWNMVOIOMUMV\[¸_MZM̆NWZIQZKZIN\WNITT\aXM[
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GRAPHIC BY JON BOCK
U.S. AIR FORCE
the entire war and 8.7-1 for MiGCAPs in the Topgun era.
Freed up by Teaball to be more aggressive without
fear of ambush, the MiGCAP force did spectacularly well,
shooting down 15 and losing only one. In short, when
\PM)QZ.WZKM_I[IЄWZLMLKWVLQ\QWV[[QUQTIZ\W\PW[M
that helped the Navy, the results of the two services
were very similar.
The War’s Air Power Legacy
TOP: U.S. NAVY; BOTTOM: U.S. AIR FORCE
Postwar analysis showed that 81percent of all U.S. aircraft lost in combat were either unaware of an attack or
became aware too late to defend themselves. The primary
reason for the unsatisfactory kill ratios was clear: Excellent North Vietnamese tactics exploited the Air Force’s
lack of radar warning. While more and better training is
IT_Ia[LM[QZIJTMQ\Q[LQЅK]T\\W]VLMZ[\IVLPW_Q\_W]TL
have overcome that disadvantage.
Four years after the air war over North Vietnam
ended, the Air Force got its true solution to the problem
of surprise: the E-3 Sentry with Airborne Warning and
Control System radar, called AWACS, which can collect
information on the position of enemy aircraft and relay
Q\LQZMK\Ta\W\PMÅOP\MZ[;QVKM\PMVWVTaWVM=;IQZKZIN\
has been lost in air-to-air combat—Lt. Cmdr. Scott Speicher’s F-18 Hornet, shot down on Jan. 17, 1991, by an Iraqi
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Today, the F-35 Lightning II carries an onboard sensor
suite with the potential to give its pilot situational awareVM[[_Q\PW]\WЄ̆JWIZLI[[Q[\IVKMTQSM\PM)?)+;XZWvides. The Lightning II integrates the information it has
gathered and shares it with other aircraft, compiling a
“god’s-eye view” of the battle space that all but eliminates
\PMLIVOMZWNJMQVOKI]OP\]VI_IZMJaIVMVMUaÅOP\MZ
0W_ LQЄMZMV\ _W]TL \PM _IZ W^MZ >QM\VIU PI^M
TWWSMLQN\PM=;PILÅMTLMLIQZKZIN\\PI\VW\WVTa_MZM
almost impossible to surprise but also could stealthily
turn the tables on the enemy attackers? Surely the North
Vietnamese would have opted for force preservation and
_Q\PPMTL\PMQZÅOP\MZ[NZWUKWUJI\R][\I[)UMZQKI¼[
enemies learned to do three decades later. V
William A. Sayers received an Air Force commission
after graduating from Texas Tech in 1981. He has
master’s degrees in military studies and strategic
studies from Marine Corps University. He spent 28
aMIZ[I[IUQTQ\IZaIVITa[\I\\PM,MNMV[M1V\MTTQOMVKM
Agency, National Counterterrorism Center and CIA.
Lessons learned
Experiences in Vietnam spurred the
creation of the Navy Fighter Weapons
School (Topgun), upper right, and the
need for air-control superiority, which
the E-3 Sentry’s radar provides.
AJPURNI E
L 2018
31
Awaiting evacuation
Troops of the 70th Engineer
Batalion wait near Kham Duc’s
airfield for a helicopter during
the May 12 evacuation of the
Special Forces camp.
32
VIETNAM
WILLIAM SCHROPE
GET
EVERYBODY
OUT!
In May 1968, more than 1,500 were surrounded
by an advancing enemy at Kham Duc
By Roger Mulock
JUNE 2018
33
A
DEMILITARIZED
ZONE
Heavy haulers
Air Force C-130
transport planes,
like the one
shown here at
Khe Sanh, were
big players in the
evacuation of
Kham Duc.
VIETNAM
SOUTH
VIETNAM
LAOS
OP 5
OP 2
Da Nang
SOUTH
V I E TNAM
OP 7
Kham
Duc
)QZÅMTL
OP 1
OP 6
Ngok
Tavak
MILES
0
20
Chu Lai
To Cam
Ranh Bay
Maydays
The North Vietnamese atacked Ngok Tavak on May 10,
1968, forcing the soldiers there to move to Kham Duc,
which also came under atack. U.S. troops and South
Vietnamese militia forces were stationed at five
observation posts around the airfield. All were overrun
on May 12. And then an evacuation was ordered.
1VI5IZKPILLZM[[8ZM[QLMV\4aVLWV*2WPV[WV
called for peace talks. The NVA and VC hoped the May
7ЄMV[Q^M\PMa_MZMXTIVVQVO_W]TL_MIZLW_V=;IVL
South Vietnamese forces, further dampen support for
the war and enhance their position at the Paris Peace
<ITS[[KPML]TML\WJMOQV5Ia)ÅTUKZM__I[OWQVO
to record what the NVA believed would be the “devastating defeat of American forces at Kham Duc” and a propaganda boon ahead of the talks, according to a North
Vietnamese cameraman in a 1995 interview with U.S.
Defense Department researchers in Ho Chi Minh City.
American commanders were still uncertain about the
2nd NVA Division’s exact location. In mid-March, the
11th Mobile Strike Force of the 5th Special Forces Group
was ordered to Ngok Tavak, an abandoned French fort 4
A ticket out
Army CH-47 Chinook
helicopters started the
evacuation of troops in
the early morning hours
of May 12.
LEFT: AP PHOTO; BELOW: WILLIAM SCHROPE; OPPOSITE PAGE: WILLIAM SCHROPE (ALL)
fter Communist forces took a
JMI\QVOL]ZQVO\PMQZ<M\7ЄMVsive that raged across South
Vietnam in early 1968, the battered North Vietnamese
Army and Viet Cong regrouped in the spring to try again
with another series of widespread assaults. The NVA and
>+PQ\IJW]\[Q\M[QV\PM5Ia7ЄMV[Q^MWZ5QVQ̆<M\
Two of those targets were the U.S. Army Special Forces
camp at Kham Duc and the nearby outpost of Ngok
Tavak, in the highlands of northern South Vietnam.
The Green Berets and their local allies at the bases
were surrounded and badly outnumbered. Courage,
obstinacy, treachery by allies and luck—good and bad—
XTIaMLIZWTMQV\PMMЄWZ\\W[I^M)UMZQKIV\ZWWX[
during the May 10-12 battles.
By early March 1968, the most intense battles of the
<M\7ЄMV[Q^M_PQKPJMOIVWV2IVPILMVLML)ZW]VL
the same time, however, intelligence indicated increased
NVA activity in the area near Kham Duc, about 60 miles
southwest of Da Nang and 10 miles from Laos. Kham Duc
housed a Special Forces camp established in 1963 next
\WIVIQZÅMTL[]ZZW]VLMLJaR]VOTM̆KW^MZMLPQOPOZW]VL
The camp was also a base for the clandestine operations
of elite American units, which conducted reconnaissance
UQ[[QWV[IVLKWUUIVLW̆[\aTMIK\QWV[\WLQ[Z]X\\PMÆW_
of enemy troops and supplies down the Ho Chi Minh Trail.
After Tet, elements of 2nd NVA Division around Kham
Duc were strengthened as troops traveled down the Ho
+PQ5QVP<ZIQT_Q\PMY]QXUMV\\PI\QVKT]LMLÆIUM\PZW_ers, tear gas and anti-aircraft weapons. Kham Duc, po[Q\QWVMLJM\_MMV\PM\ZIQTIVLUIRWZ=;QV[\ITTI\QWV[
from Da Nang to Chu Lai, was a natural target—and a
[MMUQVOTaMI[aWVMOQ^MV\PM[]ZZW]VLQVOR]VOTM̆KW^ered high ground and absence of supporting artillery.
To beef up security at the camp, the 5th Special Forces
Group in Da Nang sent the 12th Mobile Strike Force, or
Mike Force, a company of about 260 local Vietnamese of
Chinese descent led by a Special Forces team, to Kham
Duc in early March. Mike Forces were better trained and
equipped units of Civilian Irregular Defense Groups, militias set up to protect villages from Viet Cong attacks.
More support would arrive in April when 125 engineers
in A Company, 70th Engineer Battalion, 937th Engineer
Group, were deployed to Kham Du. Their work included
extending the runway, providing all-weather navigation
capabilities, clearing underbrush that could hide the
enemy and forming a perimeter defense.
34
Enlarged
Area
Khe Sanh
miles south of Kham Duc, to conduct recon patrols in the
area. The Mike Force comprised 122 ethnic Chinese,
three U.S. and three South Vietnamese Special Forces
\ZWWX[\PZMMQV\MZXZM\MZ[IVL\PZMMWЅKMZ[QVIV)][tralian team led by Capt. John White.
<PZW]OPW]\)XZQT?PQ\M¼[XI\ZWT[MVKW]V\MZMLIVL
JI\\TML6>)]VQ\[1VWVMÅZMÅOP\+1,/[WTLQMZ[TMN\
\PMQZ)][\ZITQIVIL^Q[MZ[\WNMVLNWZ\PMU[MT^M[ZIQ[QVO
LW]J\[IJW]\\PMTWKITNWZKM¼[ZMTQIJQTQ\aI[IVITTa7V
5IaIKIX\]ZML6WZ\P>QM\VIUM[M[WTLQMZKWVÅZUML
\PI\\PMVL6>),Q^Q[QWV_I[XZMXIZQVONWZIVI\\IKS¸
IVLPILQVÅT\ZI\ML\PM+1,/I\3PIU,]K
?PQ\MXTIVVML\WM^IK]I\M\PM[UITTOIZZQ[WVI\6OWS
<I^IS[QVKMPQ[\ZWWX[PILKTMIZTaIKPQM^ML\PMQZUQ[[QWV
IVL¹NW]VLº\PM6>)_PQKPVW_IT[WSVM_PQ[TWKI\QWV
*]\\PMKIX\IQVOW\I[]ZXZQ[MQVMIZTa5Ia_PMV\PMVL
5IZQVM,Q^Q[QWV¼[\P5IZQVM:MOQUMV\[MV\QV an artilTMZaXTI\WWVWN5IZQVM[IVLI6I^aPW[XQ\ITKWZX[UIV
NZWU,*I\\MZa7V5Ia!\PM5IZQVM[T]OOMLIXIQZWN
UUPW_Q\bMZ[QV\WXW[Q\QWV<PMIZZQ^ITWNIZ\QTTMZa\WXZW\MK\3PIU,]KUILM6OWS<I^IS\PM6>)¼[ÅZ[\\IZOM\
Tense days
Troops defend the perimeter of Kham Duc
during the May 12 evacuation.
Inset: A CH-53 helicopter resupplies Ngok Tavak.
Top: The Special Forces camp at Kham Duc, in
quieter times here, was subject to barrage ater
barrage of mortar atacks during May 10-12.
Above: A Chinook piloted by Capt. Joe
Sturdevant was the first aircrat shot down by
North Vietnamese guns during the evacuation.
2=6-
Friday, May 10
As the moon set at 3 a.m., the NVA unleashed
a mortar barrage on Ngok Tavak. One CIDG unit
that White kept outside the perimeter, because
its allegiance was suspect, came to the entrance.
“Don’t shoot, friendly,” they called out, but then
\PZM_M`XTW[Q^M̆ÅTTML[I\KPMT[SQTTQVO[M^MZIT5Irines inside the gar rison and knocking
\PMPW_Q\bMZ[W]\WNKWUUQ[[QWV6>)ÆIUM\PZW_MZ[[]ZOMLNWZ_IZLIVLTQ\I^MPQKTMWVÅZM
At 4:20 a.m., an AC-47 “Spooky” gunship arrived
W^MZPMILIVLÅZMLQ\[\PZMMU]T\Q̆JIZZMTUU
machine guns on the attackers. NVA troops tried to
use tear gas, but the wind blew it back onto their own
positions. Half the attackers then shifted north to assault Kham Duc, leaving only a Viet Cong force to deal
with Ngok Tavak’s remaining defenders.
Marine helicopters from Kham Duc brought reinforcements, but rocket-propelled grenades hit two of them on the
landing zone, rendering the helos and the landing zone unusable.
White had 70 wounded that his men could not carry out on foot, so
he called for a medevac helicopter. Maj. Pat Brady made multiple
ÆQOP\[NZWU3PIU,]K\WUW^M\PM_W]VLML
Despite the precarious situation, 5th Special Forces headquarters
ordered White to hold for reinforcements, but he knew that was impossible. The enemy had destroyed the landing zone and blocked the
road to Kham Duc. Water and ammunition were running short.
To clear an escape route, White called for napalm strikes down the
pathway of the main attack and then led his surviving troops—83
+1,/\PZMM)][\ZITQIVÅ^M;XMKQIT.WZKM[IVL5IZQVM[¸ITWVO\PM
burning pathway. Marine helicopters picked up the escapees and
landed them at Kham Duc by 6:30 p.m.
<PMI\\IKSWV6OWS<I^ISSQTTML)UMZQKIV[IVL_W]VLML
The CIDG tally was 30 killed or wounded and 64 missing, including
those who deserted.
Soon after the North Vietnamese attacks began, the 23rd Infantry Division (Americal) initiated Operation Golden Valley to reinNWZKM3PIU,]K<PM=;)QZ.WZKMXZW^QLML+̆\ZIV[XWZ\XTIVM[
\WUW^MUMVIVLMY]QXUMV\\W\PMKIUXWN\MV]VLMZUWZ\IZÅZM
<PM)QZ.WZKMTIVLMLI¹KWUJI\KWV\ZWT\MIUºIK\QVOI[IQZ\ZIЅK
controllers to coordinate the increasing number of arrivals and deXIZ\]ZM[5IR2WPV/ITTIOPMZI+̆XQTW\_I[QVKPIZOMWN\PM
team, which consisted of Tech. Sgts. Norton Freedman and James
4]VLaIVLITQIQ[WVWЅKMZ\WKWWZLQVI\M\PMIQZWXMZI\QWV[_Q\P\PM
infantry at Kham Duc.
<ZWWX[NZWU)UMZQKIT¼[)+WUXIVa[\*I\\ITQWV\P1VNIV\Za
:MOQUMV\! \P4QOP\1VNIV\Za*ZQOILMTIVLMLJa"IUIVL
established defensive positions. Seven observation posts had previously been positioned around Kham Duc. Two were no longer in use.
;Y]IL[NZWU)+WUXIVa_MV\\WWJ[MZ^I\QWVXW[\[IVL+1,/
forces occupied the remaining two.
*a\PMMVLWN\PMLIa\PM)QZ.WZKMPILIT[WÆW_VQVUMVWN
\PMLQ^Q[QWV¼[VL*I\\ITQWV[\1VNIV\Za:MOQUMV\IVLUMVWN
Battery A, 3rd Battalion, 82nd Field Artillery Regiment, which came
with two howitzers. The 2nd Battalion commander, Lt. Col. Robert
Nelson, positioned troops along the perimeter and had engineers bullLWbM\ZMVKPM[NWZIZ\QTTMZaÅZQVOXW[Q\QWV[IVL\PMJI\\ITQWVKWUUIVL
post. Three more howitzers would arrive the next day.
36
VIETNAM
Not much left
A C-130 shot down during takeof
at Kham Duc is just a pile of rubble.
More tragedies
A destroyed C-130 and the
engine of an A-1 Skyraider,
above, scar the landscape
around Kham Duc.
TOP, CENTER: U.S. ARMY; BOTTOM: CHRISTOPHER JENSEN/GETTY IMAGES; OPPOSITE: BETTMANN/GETTY IMAGES
Saturday, May 11
At dawn, the troops went to work strengthening Kham
,]K¼[LMNMV[M[IVL6MT[WVUW^MLVL4\.ZMLMZQKS
Ransbottom’s E Company, 2nd Battalion, 1st Infantry, to
observation posts 1, 2 and 5, relieving the squads of A
Company, 1st Battalion, 46th Infantry.
Thirty B-52 bombers struck probable NVA positions
around the camp, but the enemy mortar attacks continued. When the American artillery responded, the howitbMZ[¼U]bbTMÆI[PM[ZM^MITML\PMQZXW[Q\QWV\W\PM6>)
which then scored a direct hit on one of the howitzers,
killing two and wounding 35.
5MIV_PQTMUIVaWN\PM\WXKWUUIVLMZ[QV>QM\VIU
worked on a strategy to deal with the attack. The discus[QWV[QVKT]LML5IR/MV;IU]MT?3W[\MZWN\PM)UMZQKIT,Q^Q[QWV4\/MV:WJMZ\-+][PUIVWN\PMZL
5IZQVM)UXPQJQW][.WZKM+WT 2WVI\PIV.4ILL WN
=; ;XMKQIT .WZKM[ IVL /MV +ZMQOP\WV )JZIU[ WN
5QTQ\IZa )[[Q[\IVKM +WUUIVL >QM\VIU <PMa [MV\
/MV?QTTQIU?M[\UWZMTIVL\PMW^MZITT)UMZQKIVKWUmander in Vietnam, a recommendation, which he accepted, to “relocate” the camp because of its poor
defensive position.
The evacuation would occur over three days, according
to the plan. But it took nearly a day to communicate the
LMKQ[QWV\WITT\PMMTMUMV\[[]XXWZ\QVO3PIU,]K*a\PM
end of Saturday, more than 1,500 troops and 300 civilian
LMXMVLMV\[_MZMQV3IU,]K<PMUQTQ\IZa]VQ\[QVKT]LML
=;;XMKQIT.WZKM[M\PVQK+PQVM[M+1,/UQTQ\QIUMVKWUJI\MVOQVMMZ[)QZ.WZKMIQZ\ZIЅKKWV\ZWTTMZ[QVNIV\Za
and artillerymen.
Sunday May 12
Going back
U.S. troops return to Kham
Duc in 1970 to clear away
wreckage and set up a new
combat base.
Around 3 a.m. the NVA began new assaults on the observation posts.
At OP 2, Ransbottom reported he was killing the North Vietnamese as
fast as they were entering—but then went silent. Nelson ordered everyone at the observation posts to pull back, but as the sun rose, all the
observation posts had been overrun. Survivors at OP 2 withdrew toward
the airstrip.
As the NVA advanced on OP 1, Spc. 4 Bill Wright, a radio telephone
operator, grabbed an incapacitated Sgt. Orlando Vasquez and began
dragging him back to the camp. He also established radio contact with
\PMJI\\ITQWVM`MK]\Q^MWЅKMZ5IR,WV*]KP_ITLIVLLQZMK\MLIQZstrikes to cover their withdrawal. When he spotted a North Vietnamese
company moving through the high sawgrass toward the camp, Wright
directed napalm strikes that stopped the NVA troops.
From another bunker at OP 1, Spc. 4 Julius Long and Sgt. Joseph
Simpson began their 350-meter scramble to the camp. Simpson was
killed 100 meters from the bunker, and NVA troops blocked Long’s path,
forcing him out of sight to avoid discovery.
)\IIUJZQMÅVO6MT[WVIVVW]VKML\PI\\PM\PZMM̆LIaM^IK]I\QWV
plan had been discarded and everybody was to be extracted that day.
<PMXZQWZQ\aWZLMZ_W]TLJM"MVOQVMMZ[+1,/NIUQTQM[;XMKQIT.WZKM[
IZ\QTTMZaUMVQVNIV\ZaIVL+1,/\ZWWX[<PMa_W]TL\ISMW]\WVTaPIVLheld weapons and destroy all other equipment.
At 5:20 a.m., Air Force Capt. William Spier, a forward air controller
QVI7̆;SaUI[\MZLQZMK\ML.̆8PIV\WU11ÅOP\MZ̆JWUJMZ[\WI\\IKS
advancing NVA units. When an impenetrable ground fog blocked Spier’s
^QM_;XMKQIT.WZKM[\ZWWX[ILR][\ML\PMIQZ[\ZQSM[JI[MLWV\PM[W]VL
of the impacts. The fog lifted around 7:30 am, but Spier was running low
on fuel and passed his airstrike control duties to Capt. Paul Judge.
)ÆQOP\WN+0̆+PQVWWSPMTQKWX\MZ[IZZQ^ML\WJMOQV\PMM^IK]I\QWV
+IX\2WM;\]ZLM^IV\_I[ÆaQVOXI[\78VMIZ\PMZ]V_Ia¼[VWZ\PMVL
when the NVA’s 12.7 mm guns opened up. The Chinook faltered and
KZI[PMLJ]\\PMKZM_M[KIXML<PMW\PMZ+PQVWWS[ÆM_\W+P]4IQ\W
take on additional gun crews before returning.
The burning wreckage of Sturdevant’s Chinook blocked the runway,
and engineers began clearing it away. Because they had disassembled
their bulldozer for the evacuation, the engineers tried to use a bucket
TWILMZ*]\Q\[\QZM[KI]OP\ÅZMNZWUJ]ZVQVOPMTQKWX\MZN]MT<PMaPIL
\WZMI[[MUJTM\PMJ]TTLWbMZIVLJZI^MUWZ\IZÅZMNWZIVPW]Z_PQTM
clearing the airstrip.
Shortly after 8 a.m., NVA anti-aircraft guns placed on the overrun
JUNE 2018
37
38
VIETNAM
U.S. AIR FORCE (ALL)
OP 1 shot down Air Force Maj. James
Swain’s A-1E Skyraider attack plane,
which was providing air support for the
evacuation. He parachuted and landed
outside the perimeter. A Huey piloted by
?IZZIV\7ЅKMZ-L.Q\b[QUUWV[XQKSML
up Swain while two other Hueys provided
[]XXZM[[QVOÅZM)QZ[\ZQSM[WV\PMMVMUăPMTLWJ[MZ^I\QWVXW[\[[QTMVKML\PMIZ\QTTMZaÅZMJ]\
only until the NVA replaced the killed crews.
The Air Force sent in a C-130 airborne command center,
which worked with Nelson on the ground and forward air
KWV\ZWTTMZ[QV\PM[Sa\WWZOIVQbMIJW]\\IK\QKITIQZstrikes. The command center also coordinated the Air
Force transports and the aerial refueling operations with
a KC-135 tanker.
By 10 a.m., the engineers had almost cleared the runway when Lt. Col. Daryl Cole landed a C-130 full of supplies. In the confusion, he was unaware the mission had
changed from “reinforcement” to “emergency evacua\QWVº5WZ\IZÅZMLIUIOML+WTM¼[_QVON]MT\IVS[IVLJTM_
out a tire. But when the C-130 rolled to a stop, local CIDG
NIUQTQM[Z][PMLIJWIZL+WTM\ZQML\W\ISMWЄJ]\KW]TLV¼\
gain enough speed because of the cargo, passengers and
blown tire. He aborted and shut down the engines. The
NIUQTQM[OW\WЄ\PMXTIVM
During that time, the Air Force decided that it was “completely unfeasible” to carry out evacuations with C-130s,
and passed the word to Gallagher, the pilot in charge of
the combat control team. The team members got aboard
+WTM¼[ZMXIQZMLIQZKZIN\5WZ\IZÅZMJTM_W]\\PMKWKSXQ\
_QVLW_[L]ZQVO\ISMWЄJ]\\PM+̆UILMQ\\W+IU
Ranh Bay.
)\"IU5IR:Ia;PMT\WVTIVLMLPQ[+̆\ZIV[port plane and boarded 44 engineers and some civilians.
“He was rolling as I jumped on,” recalled James Beer, a
[]Z^MaWZ_Q\P\PM\P-VOQVMMZ*I\\ITQWV<ISQVOWЄ
;PMT\WVZMXWZ\MLOZW]VLÅZMNZWU¹M^MZaY]ILZIV\º
Capt. Phillip Smotherman, a forward air controller in
IV7̆;SaUI[\MZPILPQ[_QVO[PW\WЄIVLKZI[P̆TIVLML
WV\PMIQZ[\ZQX0M_I[VW_\PMWVTa)QZ.WZKMWЅKMZWV
\PMOZW]VLIVLIXXWQV\ML\PMIQZTQIQ[WVWЅKMZ4\+WT
Ray Carson, commander of Americal’s 14th Combat Aviation Battalion, circled overhead to coordinate the Army’s
aviation units. Medevac Hueys made many trips for the
seriously wounded, and Chinooks continued the evacuation, but progress was slow. At 1 p.m., there was an order
\WZM[]UM+̆ÆQOP\[\W[XMML]X\PMM^IK]I\QWV[
At Cam Ranh Bay, Air Force Maj. Jay Van Cleef had a
load of supplies he was going to airdrop at Kham Duc be-
Famed plane
Col. Joe Jackson
flew this C-123
during a daring
rescue of the last
men at Kham Duc.
cause it was too dangerous to land. But instead he was
ordered to return the combat control team to Kham Duc.
Gallagher objected: There was no evacuation to control.
6WVM\PMTM[[>IV+TMMN[M\WЄNWZ3PIU,]K_Q\P/ITTIgher, Lundy and Freedman onboard.
Two Huey gunships accompanying a medevac copter at
Kham Duc were shot down at 1:50 p.m. but managed to
TIVLWVMI\\PMIQZÅMTL5QV]\M[TI\MZ?IZZIV\7ЅKMZ
Larry Kemp’s Chinook full of troops from A Company, 1st
Battalion, 46th Infantry, was shot down as it was climbing
W]\,M[XQ\MIPIZLTIVLQVONZWUNMM\IVLIÅZMM^eryone escaped except Pvt. Richard Sands, killed by a
UUZW]VL3MUX_I[IJTM\W[\IZ\\PM[PW\̆]XPMTQcopter and left Kham Duc.
+̆ÆQOP\[ZM[]UMLIZW]VLXU_Q\PIVIQZKZIN\
ÆW_VJa5IR*MZVIZL*]KPMZ0M\WWSWЄ_Q\PKQ^QTians and Special Forces Capt. Warren Orr, but previously
[QTMVKMLIV\Q̆IQZKZIN\O]V[WV78WXMVMLÅZMIVLLW_VML
Bucher’s plane. There were no survivors. Soon U.S. air[\ZQSM[IOIQVPIT\ML\PMMVMUaÅZM
While approaching Kham Duc, C-130 pilot Lt. Col. William Boyd saw tracers hammering Bucher’s aircraft. He
TIVLMLIP]VLZML\ZWWX[Y]QKSTaJWIZLMLIVLPM\WWSWЄ
\PZW]OPUWZ\IZZWKSM\IVL[UITT̆IZU[ÅZM)N\MZ\PM
ÆQOP\*WaLKW]V\MLUWZM\PIVJ]TTM\PWTM[QVPQ[
plane and dubbed it the “Lucky Duc.”
<PZMMW\PMZ+̆[TIVLML\PZW]OPUWZ\IZÅZMIVL
evacuated a total of nearly 370 people. As Hueys and Chinooks completed their 41st mission, taking out an additional 900, ground troops set demolition charges on the
ZMUIQVQVOMY]QXUMV\IVLJ]VSMZ[5IR2IUM[?ITTIKM¼[
C-130 evacuated the last personnel on the ground: the
Americal command group, Special Forces members and
;UW\PMZUIV\PMVM_IQZTQIQ[WVWЅKMZ
Moments later, Van Cleef, following his earlier orders,
returned to Kham Duc with the combat control team. Gallagher, Lundy and Freedman headed to the Special Forces
J]VSMZ[VW_IÆIUM\PMV_MV\\W\PM)UMZQKITPMILY]IZ\MZ[ITZMILaIJIVLWVML?Q\PUWZ\IZÅZMKZMMXQVOKTW[MZ
\W\PM+̆>IV+TMMN\WWSWЄIVLZMXWZ\ML\PI\PMPIL
landed the combat control team. Now there were more
men to evacuate.
4\+WT)TNZML2MIVW\\M¼[+̆ÆM_QV\WZM\ZQM^M\PM
team, whose exact location was not known. After the aircraft landed, the team moved toward it, but the crew
LQLV¼\[MM\PMUMV2MIVW\\M\ISQVOPMI^aÅZMÆM_W]\
During the climb one of his crew spotted the team and
OI^M\PMTWKI\QWV\W\PMVM`\+̆QV\PM[\IKSXQTW\MLJa
Lt. Col. Joe Jackson.
Jackson made a steep descent and landed under ex\ZMUMTaLQЅK]T\KWVLQ\QWV[)[\PMKWUJI\KWV\ZWT\MIU
JWIZLMLIUUZWKSM\ÅZMLNZWU\PMVWZ\PMZVZQLOMline, skidded down the runway toward the aircraft and
stopped 30 feet short of the nose wheel. Jackson turned
\PM+̆IVL\WWSWЄ0Q[KW]ZIOM_I[TI\MZZMKWOVQbML
_Q\P\PM5MLITWN0WVWZ<PMIQZM^IK]I\QWVWV5Ia
was complete, just as a rainstorm closed the runway to
IVaN]Z\PMZIQZ\ZIЅK
)LLQ\QWVIT*̆[\ZQSM[W^MZ\PMVM`\\PZMMLIa[[Mverely punished the massed NVA forces.
In a rare photo
that shows a
Medal of Honor
action in
progress, Lt. Col.
Joe Jackson’s
C-123, circled, is
turning around
ater retrieving a
stranded Air Force
team and about
to head down
the runway for
takeof.
Damaged planes
from earlier
crashes are strewn
along the runway.
Requiem
The casualty count for the
Americans at Kham Dcu was
27 killed, more than 100
wounded and one captured.
Long, who had gotten out
of OP 1 but had his route to
the camp blocked by the
NVA, evaded the enemy
until he saw an American
jeep on May 16. He approached the vehicle, only
to discover it had been commandeered by NVA soldiers.
Long spent three years in
hellish prisoner of war
camps around Kham Duc
before being marched to
Hanoi. He was released with
other American POWs in
March 1973, after the peace
agreement ending the war.
Also, on May 16, a Marine
helicopter with gunship
escorts rescued three
wounded soldiers who had
escaped from OP 2—Sgt. Ed
Sassenberger, Pvt. John
Colonna and Spc. 4 William
Foreman—after their “PICK US
UP” sign was spotted at the
MI[\MZVMVLWN\PMIQZÅMTL
Troops from the 2nd
Battalion, 1st Infantry
Regiment, and South Vietnamese units returned to
Kham Duc in July and
August 1970 and recovered
some remains of the Americans killed in the observation posts. Returning from
a search mission, one aircraft was shot down near
its landing zone, killing all
26 on board and one on
the ground.
After the war, former Marine Lance Cpl. Tim Brown,
who had been evacuated
from Ngok Tavak on May 8
for medical reasons, worked
with the Vietnamese for
many years to search
the site for remains. The
American bodies were
recovered in 2005 and interred in Arlington National
Cemetery
In March 2006, the
remains of Ransbottom
and his radioman, “Skip”
;SQ^QVO\WV_MZMQLMV\QÅML
in their OP 2 bunker.
The remains of Bucher’s
C-130 crew and Orr, the
Special Forces captain, were
recovered in 2008 and interred at Arlington. V
:WOMZ5]TWKS_I[IÅZ[\
lieutenant in the headquarters of the 2nd Battalion,
1st Infantry Regiment,
196th Light Infantry Brigade, Americal Division,
from April to September
! ,]ZQVO\PMÅOP\QVOI\
Kham Duc, Lt. Col. Robert
Nelson ordered him to “get a
radio, go out and report on
what you see.” He has.
JUNE 2018
39
The Rocky Road
to Reconciliation
Moves to establish friendly relations
between the U.S. and postwar Vietnam were marked
by 20 years of diplomatic twists and turns
By John D. Howard
40
VIETNAM
O
Ready to hit the road
On March 12, 1977, President
Jimmy Carter discusses with a new
commission its upcoming trip to
Hanoi to seek improved relations.
The commission was headed by
United Auto Workers President
Leonard Woodcock, at Carter’s
let. Secretary of State Cyrus Vance
is at the president’s right. Next to
Woodcock is national security
adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski.
AP PHOTO/PETER BREGG
n April 30, 1975, North Vietnamese tanks burst through the gates
of Saigon’s Presidential Palace,
bringing an end to the Republic of Vietnam. Halfway
around the world, ralliers in New York’s Central Park
celebrated the fall of South Vietnam as a victory for
national liberation and the defeat of American imperialism. They waved placards embossed with “VIETNAM
IS FREE,” and self-congratulations were the order of
the day. Hardcore radicals and the Old Left protest
movement were present—including Dr. Benjamin Spock
and priests/brothers Daniel and Philip Berrigan. Yet
\PQ[OI\PMZQVO_I[LQЄMZMV\NZWU\PMIV\Q̆_IZXZW\M[\[
of the 1960s and early 1970s. There was a paucity of
students, academics and, most important, moderate
politicians who supported legislation limiting U.S. assistance to South Vietnam.
North Vietnam’s Politburo members, always keen
observers of activities in the United States, viewed the
rally in New York and a similar one in Berkeley, California, as an indicator that Vietnam remained center
[\IOMQV)UMZQKIVKWV[KQW][VM[[IVL_W]TLÅO]ZM
prominently in U.S. foreign policy. They believed
anti-war groups remained an important political force
that would pressure Congress to authorize a large aid
package for their war-torn country.
However, the aging revolutionaries in Hanoi grossly
misread the mood of the American public, the attitude
in Congress and the diminishing ranks of their supporters in the United States. These miscalculations,
combined with changing national interests in America,
_W]TLLMTIaNWZVMIZTaaMIZ[\PMWЅKQIT¹VWZUITization of relations”—a process that allows embassies
to be established, businesses to engage in trade and
citizens to travel between the two nations.
“The U.S. government will contribute to the postwar
reconstruction in North Vietnam without any political
considerations whatsoever,” President Richard Nixon
wrote in a secret letter to Prime Minister Pham Van
Dong in February 1973. “U.S. preliminary studies show
that programs appropriate for a U.S. contribution to
the aforementioned postwar reconstruction will amount
to about $3.25 billion in nonrefundable aid.” But there
was a caveat: Any reconstruction aid would require
KWVOZM[[QWVITIXXZW^IT1UXTQKQ\QV\PMWЄMZ_I[0IVWQ¼[
adherence to the Paris Peace Accords, signed on
Jan. 25, 1973, which provided for the withdrawal of
=;\ZWWX[IVLZM]VQÅKI\QWVWN6WZ\PIVL;W]\P>QM\nam through a peaceful solution.
The North Vietnamese, however, contended that
6Q`WV¼[IQLWЄMZLQLVW\ZMY]QZM\PMU\WIJQLMJa\PM
peace agreement. They took it as a solid commitment
and integrated the $3.25 billion in their postwar plans—
M^MVI[\PMaQVQ\QI\ML\PMUQTQ\IZaWЄMV[Q^M\PI\_W]TL
blatantly violate the accords and topple South Vietnam.
JUNE 2018
41
Flush with the euphoria of their April 1975 victory,
Vietnam’s Communists were not prepared for a belligerent response from the United States. Gerald Ford, who
became president after Nixon’s resignation on Aug. 9,
1974, immediately imposed a trade embargo, set aside
any possibility of assistance, froze Vietnamese assets in
\PM=VQ\ML;\I\M[IVLKWVÅZUML\PI\)UMZQKI_W]TL^M\W
Vietnam’s request to join the United Nations. The U.S. also
restricted travel to Vietnam, cut telephone and postal
connections and banned transmissions of money from
)UMZQKI\W>QM\VIU<PM=;OW^MZVUMV\N]Z\PMZÆM`ML
its economic muscle by blocking loans from the World
Bank, Asian Development Bank and the International
Monetary Fund. Japan and other allies were pressured
to follow America’s lead; most complied.
Without access to Western capital, Vietnam turned to
its wartime benefactors, the Soviet Union and China. Neither was willing to bolster the Socialist Republic of Vietnam,
\PMKW]V\Za¼[XW[\̆]VQÅKI\QWVVIUM_Q\PI5IZ`Q[\^MZ[QWV
of the Marshall Plan, which used American money to rebuild Europe after World War II. Instead, the Soviet Union
WЄMZMLTWIV[][]ITTa_Q\P[\ZQVOMV\ZMXIaUMV\XZW^Q[QWV[
and European governments under Soviet control, led by
-I[\/MZUIVa_MZM[QUQTIZTa\QOP\̆Å[\ML*]\\PMJQOOM[\
disappointment was China. Once a dependable ally, its
contribution was perceived as a pittance.
<PM]VQÅML>QM\VIU_I[WXMZI\QVOQV]VNIUQTQIZ\MZritory. During the war, North Vietnam was not required
to manage its economy. Nearly everything—weapons,
clothing, medicine and food—came from outside sources,
and Vietnamese authorities served merely as distributors
of goods. There were few experienced economists, and
those in the government rigidly adhered to the Soviet
model: tight state controls, centralized decision-making
and rapid industrialization.
<PMZMTI\Q^MTa[UITTKI[PQVÆ]`_I[[XMV\M`KT][Q^MTa
in the North on sophisticated enterprises rather than on
improved housing and basic infrastructure. Steel plants,
a high-tech paper mill and a modern hospital were among
the ill-chosen reconstruction projects that languished
because the managers and operators were unable to main\IQV\PMU<PMMKWVWUaJMOIV\WÆW]VLMZ
Cadres from the old North Vietnam took over all gov42
VIETNAM
Hanoi watched the 1976 presidential election with great
anticipation. The Democratic candidate, former Georgia
Gov. Jimmy Carter, campaigned on a promise to bind the
wounds of war and obtain a full accounting of American
servicemen missing in action. He was particularly critical
of Ford’s intractability in dealings with Vietnam’s leaders,
citing it as the reason there was no movement on the MIA
issue. Carter’s victory in November was not a sweeping
mandate, 50.1 percent of the popular vote, but it was
music to the ears of the Vietnamese government.
Not long after his inauguration in January 1977, Car\MZM[\IJTQ[PMLIÅ^M̆UIVKWUUQ[[QWVPMILMLJa4MWVIZL
Woodcock, president of United Auto Workers and a critic
of U.S. involvement in Vietnam, to begin the rapprochement. Alongside Woodcock were three vocal opponents
of the war and U.S. Rep. G.V. “Sonny” Montgomery, a
conservative Mississippi Democrat who chaired the House
select committee on Americans missing in action. The
group traveled to Hanoi in March 1977.
The delegation had hardly settled in the capital city
when the foreign minister, Nguyen Duy Trinh, called an
unscheduled meeting and announced that the United
States was under a legal and moral obligation to provide
$3.25 billion in reconstruction aid. In their view, the U.S.
was refusing to recognize Vietnam as the victor in a long,
costly war and reneging on a commitment to pay reparations. This attitude set the tone for three days of talks.
Woodcock repeatedly stressed that no American, regardless of the person’s political views, would agree to
pay reparations as economic aid or to “buy back” the remains of missing servicemen. Vietnamese negotiators
disregarded Woodcock’s explanation that “reparations”
carried a pejorative ring in the United States. As a result,
little was accomplished. Upon conclusion of the meetings,
the Vietnamese government handed over what was thought
to be the remains of 12 Americans. One was later determined to be a Vietnamese male.
Prime Minister Dong, in a letter given to Woodcock for
Carter, dangled the possibility of an accommodation in
the near future. He proposed a May 1977 meeting in Paris,
AP PHOTO
Dramatic shift
Ater the Watergate scandal forced President Richard Nixon
to resign in August 1974, Vietnamese Communists were
shocked by the hard-line stance of his successor, Gerald Ford,
shown here in October 1973, as the vice presidential nominee,
with Secretary of State Henry Kissinger.
ernance of the defeated south. Hanoi’s Communist guerrilla allies in the South, the Viet
Cong, were either treated like second-class
revolutionaries or completely shoved aside.
The Politburo also opted for punitive measures
to “reform” the South, sending former military
and government personnel to re-education
camps, collectivizing agriculture and shuttling
city dwellers to inhospitable regions called
“new economic zones,” where they worked on
previously uncultivated or unproductive land.
When they could, people returned to their former homes or tried to leave the country. The
international trade embargo added to the litany
of woes. American-built manufacturing plants
shut down because they lacked spare parts. Visions of a
socialist utopia were not coming to fruition.
and Carter immediately accepted. The quick response port, and any other assistance to shore up South Vietnam’s
convinced Dong and his associates that the new admin- defenses. In 1977, congressional denial of the Vietnamese
istration was malleable and would ultimately agree to aid. Communists’ demands did not generate any meaningful
They saw it as an indicator that Vietnam was still at the backlash. Public statements of anti-war groups were lucky
epicenter of U.S. concerns and Ford’s tough approach was to make the back pages of national newspapers.
0WTJZWWSMUILMINZM[PWЄMZ"<PM\_WKW]V\ZQM[_W]TL
a thing of the past.
In the meantime, Nhan Dan\PMWЅKQITXIZ\aVM_[- establish liaison missions in Washington and Hanoi, a
paper, broke the story of the heretofore secret Nixon move that could lead to full recognition. The Vietnamese
letter, hoping to create a sense of guilt in the United States rejected it out of hand. Hien proposed that a secret aid
and energize public opinion to support compensation. The agreement be signed without congressional knowledge.
revelation, however, had little impact on America’s He was apprised that such deals were impossible, and
now-dormant anti-war movement and even less on the discussions ended soon thereafter.
+IZ\MZ¼[!>QM\VIULQXTWUI\QKWЄMV[Q^MMVLMLQV
majority of its citizens, who wanted to put the Vietnam
experience behind them. Since the war and draft ended abject failure. His administration changed course and
in January 1973, college campuses had quieted down and looked for ways to improve ties with China, whose strong
[\]LMV\QV\MZM[\QV>QM\VIUM[MIЄIQZ[PILNILML+MTMJ- support for Vietnam during the war was no longer an
rities like Jane Fonda and Muhammad Ali, whose outrage obstacle to better relations with the United States. Addihad grabbed attention when U.S. servicemen
were coming home in caskets, had gone silent.
The support Hanoi had come to count on was
Initial overtures
no longer a potent force.
Kissinger and North Vietnamese Prime Minister Pham Van Dong
AP PHOTO
meet in Hanoi on Feb. 15, 1973. Nixon, in a secret leter to the
Carter’s envoy at the Paris talks was 36prime minister, ofered financial aid for postwar reconstruction.
year-old Richard Holbrooke, assistant secre\IZaWN[\I\MNWZ-I[\)[QIVIVL8IKQÅKIЄIQZ[
a wunderkind in Democratic policy circles
who had begun his State Department career
I[INWZMQOV[MZ^QKMWЅKMZQV>QM\VIUNZWU
1963 to 1966. His boss, Secretary of State
Cyrus Vance, was convinced an agreement
would ensure stability in Southeast Asia. Like
the president, Vance believed that discord
caused by the war would continue to fester
as long as Vietnam was ostracized. Thus, Holbrooke was committed to reaching an agreement in Paris.
The Vietnamese delegation was led by Phan
Hien, the deputy foreign minister, whose
marching orders were to secure the $3.25
JQTTQWVZMKWV[\Z]K\QWVXIKSIOM0WTJZWWSMWЄMZML\W[]X- tionally, China was increasingly at odds with its former
port Vietnam’s admission to the United Nations, lift the ally over matters such as Vietnam’s hostility toward the
trade embargo and normalize relations, but Hien countered Chinese-backed regime in Cambodia and the persecution
that nothing was possible without U.S. dollars. He then of ethnic Chinese, particularly merchants in Cholon, the
abruptly left the meeting to hold a press conference, where commercial hub of Saigon, which had been renamed Ho
he read aloud Nixon’s 1973 letter. Hien announced that Chi Minh City in 1976.
aid was a requirement for any future discussions; it was
a serious mistake. Americans wanted an accounting of Being put on hold by the United States was a new, uncomthose still missing, but no one would condone giving their fortable paradigm for the aging warriors in Hanoi. They
had been successful by waiting out their enemies, but their
former enemy billions of dollars to start the process.
Reaction on Capitol Hill was immediate. Two pieces of traditional patience was not a viable strategy in the postlegislation were passed with overwhelming support. The war world. Vietnam’s economy was sinking rapidly from
ÅZ[\XZWPQJQ\ML\PM+IZ\MZILUQVQ[\ZI\QWVNZWU¹VMOW\Q- mismanagement, draconian reformation policies, meager
ating reparations, aid or any other form of payment to assistance from Communist allies and the cost of main>QM\VIUº<PM[MKWVLZMVW]VKML6Q`WV¼[WЄMZWNZMKWV- taining the largest army in Southeast Asia.
Vietnamese troops were regularly engaged in battles
struction aid.
The Vietnamese Communists were not facing the same along the Cambodian border as they fought with their
Congress that authorized the 1973 Chase-Church Amend- onetime Communist comrades, the Khmer Rouge, which
ment, prohibiting U.S. military action, including air sup- had overthrown Cambodia’s pro-West government on
JUNE 2018
43
Tense talks
U.S. diplomat Richard Holbrooke welcomes Vietnamese
Deputy Foreign Minister Phan Hien to the U.S. Embassy in
Paris on June 2, 1977. Vietnam’s demand for $3.25 billion from
the U.S. doomed negotiations for normalized relations.
April 17, 1975—even before the North Vietnamese Army
KIX\]ZML;IQOWV7VKM>QM\VIU_I[]VQÅML+IUJWLQI
experienced a resurgence of the old tensions between
VI\Q^M+IUJWLQIV[IVLM\PVQK>QM\VIUM[MTQ^QVO\PMZM
The Khmer Rouge, led by the despot Pol Pot, claimed that
Vietnam was occupying enclaves that had belonged to
+IUJWLQIJMNWZM\PM.ZMVKPKWTWVQITMZI:IQL[IVLKW]Vterattacks into these disputed territories on the border
became commonplace.
5MIV_PQTM[\WZQM[WN+WUU]VQ[\JZ]\ITQ\a
in Vietnam’s punitive re-education camps were
ÅT\MZQVOW]\WN\PMKW]V\Za<PI\QVNWZUI\QWV
IVL\PMXTQOP\WNUI[[M[WNZMN]OMM[[\QTTÆMMQVO
the country, years after the war ended, were
front-page news. The world saw images of “boat
people,” crowded into unsafe vessels, trying to
escape oppression and hardship. More often,
those who survived storms and pirates were
destined for squalid refugee camps. No more
was Vietnam seen as David battling the American Goliath. The Vietnamese who were once
TI]LMLI[NZMMLWUÅOP\MZ[_MZMVW_XWZ\ZIaML
in the Western press as bullies who beat up on
their own citizens and threatened neighbors.
Wounded pride and bruised egos aside, Vietnam’s leadership did realize that some normalization with the United States was more important
\PIVM^MZ*M\\MZZMTI\QWV[_Q\P\PM=;_W]TLWЄ[M\QVKZMI[QVO[\ZIQV[_Q\P+PQVI_PW[MIQL\W8WT8W\ILLML
to Vietnam’s problems.
But Washington seemed to be pushing Vietnam to the
periphery of its interests while shifting its attention to
Moving against Cambodia
Territorial disputes and ethnic
tensions between Vietnam and
Cambodia escalated into a fullscale war by the end of 1978.
+PQVI.]Z\PMZQVO\PI\XMZKMX\QWV_I[+IZ\MZ¼[VI\QWVIT
security adviser, Zbigniew Brzezinski, who put full diploUI\QKZMKWOVQ\QWVWN+PQVIWV\PMNI[\\ZIKS,]ZQVO!
Hanoi’s Politburo had clearly overplayed its hand.
Desperate to restart talks with the U.S., the VietnamM[M[MV\IUM[[IOM\W\PM+IZ\MZILUQVQ[\ZI\QWVQV2]Ta
1978, stating a willingness to negotiate without any preconditions. But this time, the administration was in no
hurry to respond. Any accord with the Vietnamese would
PQVLMZ)UMZQKI¼[QUXZW^MLZMTI\QWV[_Q\P+PQVIIVL
Hanoi’s bargaining position was further eroded by intelligence indicating that Vietnam was massing its military
NWZKM[ITWVO\PM+IUJWLQIVJWZLMZ<PM
U.S. government informed the Vietnam- Allies no more
M[M.WZMQOV5QVQ[\Za\PI\\PMZMKW]TLJM Chinese troops
who crossed
a private session during the September
into Vietnam
1978 meeting of the United Nations General Assembly in New York, a venue that are captured in
March 1979.
MV[]ZMLITW_̆SMaIЄIQZ
Again Holbrooke was thrown into the breach. Across
\PM\IJTM_I[6O]aMV+W<PIKPIZQ[QVOLQXTWUI\_PW
would become foreign minister in 1980. Thach opened
the session by asking how much aid the United States was
XZMXIZML\WWЄMZ)L]UNW]VLML0WTJZWWSMZMUQVLMLPQ[
counterpart they were meeting because that particular
issue had been tabled. As the U.S. envoy packed his
briefcase and prepared to leave, Thach did an aboutface, saying that both parties could sign an immediate agreement without any reference to monetary
assistance. Holbrooke said he did not have the authority to sign a normalization document but would
take the request to the State Department.
Thach stayed in New York awaiting an answer;
none was forthcoming. Stonewalling the United
States was a favorite North Vietnamese tactic during
the war. In a turnabout, Vietnam was now getting
that treatment. After a month of waiting, Thach
returned to Hanoi.
Not long afterward>QM\VIUM[M+WUU]VQ[\8IZ\a
Secretary Le Duan journeyed to Moscow and signed
44
VIETNAM
AP PHOTO/DAVID GUTTENFELDER; OPPOSITE PAGE: AP PHOTO/JEAN JACQUES LEVY; MIDDLE: SOVFOTO/UIG VIA GETTY IMAGES; BOTTOM: JEAN CLAUDE LABBE/GAMMA-RAPHO VIA GETTY IMAGES
Strong supporters
U.S. Sen. John McCain, right, tortured as a
prisoner of war, helped President Bill Clinton
garner support for normalization of relations
with Vietnam in 1995. Another POW, Pete Peterson,
let, became the first U.S. ambassador to Vietnam.
a 25-year friendship treaty with the Soviet Union. This
de facto military alliance cast Vietnam’s lot squarely with
the Soviet Union. It also gave the Vietnamese a green light
to deal with the Khmer Rouge. On Dec. 25, 1978, Vietnam
invaded Cambodia, overthrew the Pol Pot regime, and
occupied a large section of the country. The overt aggres[QWV[WTQLQÅML>QM\VIU¼[[\I\][I[IVQV\MZVI\QWVITXIZQIP
On Feb. 17, 1979, China, intent on “teaching a lesson,”
crossed Vietnam’s mountainous northern border with
eight army divisions—100,000 regular troops supported
by 150,000 militia soldiers. The Chinese force made sigVQÅKIV\\MZZQ\WZQITOIQV[KIX\]ZQVO[M^MZITXZW^QVKQIT
capitals. Vietnam’s sole ally, the Soviet Union, protested
J]\\WWSVWUQTQ\IZaIK\QWV*W\P[QLM[[]ЄMZML\PW][IVL[
WNKI[]IT\QM[)N\MZIUWV\PWNÅOP\QVO\PMTI[\+PQVM[M
troops withdrew from Vietnam on March 15, leaving
[QOVQÅKIV\LM[\Z]K\QWVQV\PMQZ_ISM
,M[XQ\MI\IKQ\KMI[M̆ÅZMM`\ZIWZLQVIZa\MV[QWV[ZMmained between the two nations. China posed an ever-present threat, and a Khmer Rouge insurgency against the
Vietnamese-installed government kept Vietnam on a war
footing, further straining the country’s moribund economy.
The post-invasion period became known in Vietnam
as the Dark Years. Repression and poverty increased;
[WUMIZMI[M`XMZQMVKMLNIUQVM)¹JZIQVLZIQVºWKK]ZZML
I[XMWXTMKWV\QV]ML\WÆMM>QM\VIUIVLUWZM]ZJIVNIUilies were forcibly resettled in outlying economic zones.
¹:M̆ML]KI\MLºNWZUMZOW^MZVUMV\WЅKQIT[UIVaWN\PMU
capable administrators, were denied meaningful employment. Foreign aid decreased because the Soviet Union
was having its own economic headaches. Some Russian
advisers were recalled, creating technical voids and leavQVOUIRWZXZWRMK\[]VÅVQ[PML)[\PM! [JMOIV>QM\VIU
was close to being a failed state.
The country was saved by the departure of much of
the old guard in Hanoi. Younger men with new ideas and
fresh perspectives gained power as the dour hardliners
XI[[MLNZWU\PM[KMVMUW[\[QOVQÅKIV\Ta\PMQZWV̆Å[\ML
Le Duan, who died on July 10, 1986. Much of the new
generation realized the Soviet Union had serious internal
problems and was not a dependable partner. Vietnam
implemented market economy initiatives and withdrew
its army from Cambodia by September 1989. In the late
! [VM_WЅKQIT[ZMIKPMLW]\\W\PM=VQ\ML;\I\M[WNNMZQVON]TTKWWXMZI\QWVQVMЄWZ\[\WIKKW]V\NWZ)UMZQKIV
MIAs—with no strings attached.
With that change in attitude,)UMZQKIVMЄWZ\[\WTQN\\PM
trade embargo and restore normal relations got strong
support from Vietnam War veterans in the Senate:
Republican John McCain of Arizona and Democrats John
Kerry of Massachusetts, Chuck Robb of Virginia and Medal
of Honor recipient Bob Kerrey of Nebraska. Their service
helped dampen some of the anti-Vietnamese sentiment
in the United States.
McCain’s voice resonated with the American public
JMKI][MPMPILMVL]ZMLJZ]\IT\WZ\]ZML]ZQVOÅ^M̆XT][
years of incarceration. McCain had once told Robert Muller,
a Marine lieutenant paralyzed from the chest down and
founder of Vietnam Veterans of America, who had recently
visited Vietnam, “Goddamn it, Bobby, what are you going
back and talking to the enemy for?”
But over time, McCain’s attitude softened, although he
[\QTTZMNMZZML\WPQ[\WZ\]ZMZ[I[¹OWWS[º)[PMM`WZKQ[ML
his wartime demons, McCain became the leading advocate
for reaching out to the Vietnamese. His stance, and those
of his Senate colleagues, provided political cover for Democratic President Bill Clinton, another proponent of improved
ZMTI\QWV[_PW_I[[_WZVQV\WWЅKMQV2IV]IZa!!
On July 11, 1995, Clinton removed all sanctions against
the Socialist Republic of Vietnam and established full
LQXTWUI\QK\QM[<PMXMZ[WVPMKPW[MI[\PMÅZ[\=;IUbassador to Vietnam was former prisoner of war and retired
Air Force Col. Pete Peterson, a Florida Democrat in the
House of Representatives. Ironically, two decades after
the fall of Saigon, the road to reconciliation was paved by
men who fought in the war and opened by a man who
manipulated draft deferments to avoid it. V
John Howard was in the U.S. Army for 28 years,
retiring as a brigadier general. He served two tours in
Vietnam as a combat infantryman.
JUNE 2018
45
46
VIETNAM
RAYMOND BOYD/MICHAEL OCHS ARCHIVES/GETTY IMAGES
Courageous
Women
The experiences of women on the front lines
illuminate their roles in the war
By Kathryn J. Atwood
W
.hen women participate in a war, they exhibit a particular kind of courage, to face
not only the dangers of battle but also the negative opinions—perhaps even their
W_V¸WN\PW[M_PWLWV¼\JMTQM^M\PMaIZMKIXIJTMWNMVL]ZQVO_IZ¼[OZ]MTQVOLQЅK]Tties. In Courageous Women of the Vietnam War,I]\PWZ3I\PZaV2)\_WWLXZWÅTM[_WUMV
who served as medics, journalists, resisters and revolutionaries. Here are the stories of an
American nurse, a North Vietnamese surgeon and an Australian correspondent.
Lynda Van Devanter
—U.S. Army Nurse
out the window. She could see explosions. “If
there had ever been any cockiness in me before this trip began, there sure wasn’t any
Lynda Van Devanter was in her last year of
now,” she wrote later. “In its place was a cold,
nursing school in Baltimore when the war in
hard realization: I could die here.”
Vietnam began to press into her consciousVan Devanter’s destination was the 71st
ness. “If our boys were being blown apart,
Evacuation Hospital in Pleiku province, near
then somebody better be over there putting
the Cambodian border, an area of heavy comthem back together again,” she later wrote.
JI\;PM_W]TLZMUMUJMZPMZÅZ[\LIa[QV
“I started to think that maybe that somethe operating room as a “blur of wounded
body should be me.”
soldiers, introductions to new colleagues,
When an Army recruiter came to the
Abridged and
and almost constant surgery” during 12nursing school in January 1968, Van
adapted from Couhour shifts. A week later, she experienced a
Devanter signed up. After graduation, she
rageous Women of
UI[[̆KITNWZ\PMÅZ[\\QUM
drove to Fort Sam Houston, Texas, for basic
the Vietnam War:
Describing it later, she wrote: “The moans
training. The recruits repeatedly practiced
Medics, Journaland screams of so many wounded were
what to do in a “mass-cal” (mass casualty)
ists, Survivors, and
mixed up with the shouted orders of doctors
situation, when a hospital would be suddenly
More by Kathryn J.
and nurses. One soldier vomited on my
overwhelmed with wounded men.
Atwood, with perfatigues while I was inserting an IV needle
During a mass-cal, nurses would have to
mission from Chiinto his arm. Another grabbed my hand and
triage casualties, quickly assessing each
cago Review Press.
refused to let go. A blond infantry lieutenant
wounded man and taking one of three acCopyright 2018. All
begged me to give him enough morphine to
tions: send him immediately to surgery; have
Rights Reserved.
kill him so he wouldn’t feel any more pain. A
less-serious cases wait for surgery; or ease
black sergeant went into a seizure and died while we were
his pain before allowing the inevitable to happen.
“Essentially, we were deciding who would live and who examining his small frag wound.”
As she spent more time at the hospital, Van Devanter
would die,” Van Devanter _ZW\MTI\MZ1\_I[ILQЅK]T\
concept for her. She had become a nurse to save lives. But had to work harder to remind herself that she was in
her instructors made it clear that if precious time was Vietnam “to save people who were threatened by tyrspent on one hopeless case, those with survivable wounds IVVaº*]\[PMNW]VL\PI\JMTQMNQVKZMI[QVOTaLQЅK]T\\W
maintain as she heard stories of “corrupt South Vietnammight lose their chances.
In June 1969, the aircraft carrying Van Devanter and M[MWЅKQIT[=;)ZUaI\ZWKQ\QM[IVLIXWX]TI\QWV_PW
350 men began its descent into wanted nothing more than to be left alone so they could
South Vietnam. When the plane return to farming their land.”
Overdue recognition
In letters home, Van Devanter began to express her
The Vietnam Women’s began “jerking wildly,” luggage
fell from the overhead racks. doubts about how the United States was handling the war.
Memorial honors the
<MZZQÅML>IV,M^IV\MZ looked “It would be a lot easier if our government would just
265,000 women who
served during the war.
JUNE 2018
47
Veterans’ advocate
Ater returning home,
Lynda Van Devanter
remained active in
women veterans’ issues.
make up its mind,” she wrote. “We should either pull out
of Vietnam or hit the hell out of the NVA [North Vietnamese Army]. This business of pussyfooting around is doing
nothing but harm. It’s hurting our GIs, the people back
home, and our image abroad.”
Yet she was also proud of her work: “I don’t think there
are many other places where you can feel as needed in
V]Z[QVO°.WZ\PMÅZ[\\QUMQVUaTQNM1NMMTTQSM1PI^M\W
SMMXOWQVOWZXMWXTMUQOP\VW\[]Z^Q^Mº
In June 1970, when her yearlong tour was up, Van
,M^IV\MZ JWIZLMLPMZ¹NZMMLWUÆQOP\ºW]\WN>QM\VIU
¹)[\PMRM\\WWSWЄ1_I[ÅTTML_Q\P\PMUW[\M`PQTIZI\QVO
sensation of my life…like the weight of a million years had
been suddenly lifted from my shoulders,” she said.
*]\_PMV\PMIQZXWZ\J][LZWXXML>IV,M^IV\MZ and
W\PMZ[WЄI\\PM7ISTIVL)ZUa<MZUQVITI\IU\PMa
had no way of immediately reaching San Francisco InterVI\QWVIT)QZXWZ\UQTM[I_Ia>IV,M^IV\MZ decided
to hitchhike. Dressed in her uniform, she watched car
IN\MZKIZ_PQbJa;WUMWN\PMLZQ^MZ[[KZMIUMLWJ[KMVQ\QM[I\PMZ#W\PMZ[\PZM_OIZJIOM7VMÅVITTa\WWSXQ\a
WVPMZ-^MV\]ITTa[PMUILMQ\PWUM\W>QZOQVQI
7VPMZÅZ[\VQOP\JIKS>IV,M^IV\MZ showed to her
family a slide show of Vietnam photos. When she came to
photos of the operating room, her uncomfortable parents
asked if she could show them something “less gruesome.”
>IV,M^IV\MZ hid the slides in the back of her closet. “I
had learned quickly,” she wrote later. “Vietnam would
VM^MZJM[WKQITTaIKKMX\IJTMº
AMIZ[XI[[MLIVL>IV,M^IV\MZ continued working
QVV]Z[QVO*]\[PM[]ЄMZMLQV\MV[MMUW\QWVITXIQV[PM
KW]TLV¼\[PISMWЄWZJMOQV\WKWUXZMPMVL;PMM^MV\]ally married a close friend who created a radio documentary called Coming Home, Again, which related Vietnam
^M\MZIV[¼M`XMZQMVKM[7VMWN\PMUMV
QV^WT^ML QV \PM XZWRMK\ I[SML >IV China Beach
,M^IV\MZ \WJMQV\MZ^QM_MLNWZ\PMLWK- Inspired by Van
umentary. Then he asked her to create Devanter’s memoir,
a women’s organization with Vietnam the TV series starred
Dana Delaney in a
Veterans of America.
>IV,M^IV\MZ also began studying role based on several
post-traumatic stress disorder and real- real wartime nurses.
ized it had been part of her life for years.
5IVaNMUITM^M\MZIV[_MZMIT[W[]ЄMZQVONZWU\ZI]UI
IVL\PM>>)¼[_WUMV^M\MZIV[XZWRMK\OI^M\PMUI^WQKM
and helped them realize they were not alone. Van
,M^IV\MZ _I[\PMÅZ[\)UMZQKIVUQTQ\IZaV]Z[M\WX]Jlish a widely read Vietnam memoir, titled Home Before
Morning. The book helped inspire the creation of China
BeachIVI_IZL̆_QVVQVO! ̆!\MTM^Q[QWV[MZQM[IJW]\
IV)UMZQKIVM^IK]I\QWVPW[XQ\ITQV,I6IVOL]ZQVO\PM M^WKI\Q^MIVLQVÆ]MV\QIT>QM\VIU?IZUMUWQZ[º_ZW\M
>QM\VIU?IZ>>)PWVWZML>IV,M^IV\MZ _Q\PQ\[-`KMT- Marc Leepson, the arts editor of the VVA’s national publence in the Arts award in 1982 and its Commendation TQKI\QWVQVIVWJQ\]IZaNWZ>IV,M^IV\MZ¹Home Before
Medal in 2002.
Morning changed people’s attitudes about the women
1VPMZTI\MZaMIZ[>IV,M^IV\MZ []ЄMZMLNZWUI^I[- _PW[MZ^MLQV\PM>QM\VIU?IZM[XMKQITTa\PMV]Z[M[_PW
K]TIZLQ[MI[M[PMJMTQM^ML_I[ZMTI\ML\WPMZM`XW[]ZM\W NIKML\PMJZ]\ITQ\aWN\PM_IZM^MZaLIaIVL_PW[M[MZ)OMV\7ZIVOM;PMLQMLI\IOMWV6W^
^QKM_I[ITTJ]\QOVWZMLL]ZQVO\PM_IZIVLQV\PMaMIZ[
“Lynda’s book stands as one of the most powerful, immediately after.”
48
VIETNAM
Commited to her cause
Dr. Dang Thuy Tram wrote
in her diary that if she were
ever hit during combat, she
would “hold my medical bag
firmly, regardless.”
OPPOSITE, TOP: COURTESY VAN DEVANTER FAMILY; OPPOSITE, BOTTOM: ABC PHOTO ARCHIVES/GETTY IMAGES;
TOP: FREDERIC WHITEHURST COLLECTION, THE VIETNAM CENTER AND ARCHIVE, TEXAS TECH UNIVERSITY
Dang Thuy Tram
—Communist Field Surgeon
On Jan. 1, 1969, Dr. Dang Thuy Tram recorded in her
LQIZaIUM[[IOM0W+PQ5QVPPIL[MV\\W\PW[MÅOP\QVO
for the Communist cause: “This year greater victories
are assured at the battlefront. For independence—for
NZMMLWU.QOP\]V\QT\PM)UMZQKIV[TMI^MÅOP\]V\QT\PM
puppets fall. Advance soldiers, compatriots. North and
;W]\PZM]VQÅMLVWW\PMZ[XZQVOUWZMRWaW][º
Tram had thought of little else since Dec. 23, 1966,
when she left her family in Hanoi and began the arduous, dangerous trek down the Ho Chi Minh Trail. Three
months later, Tram reached Duc Pho, a district in the
south-central Quang Ngai province. The people there
had heavily resisted the French during the First IndoKPQVI?IZIVL_MZMVW_ÅOP\QVO\PM)UMZQKIV[IVL
;W]\P>QM\VIUM[MNWZKM[<ZIU_I[I[[QOVML\PMRWJWN
chief surgeon in a Duc Pho clinic, working to save Viet
Cong and NVA soldiers.
While Tram derived great satisfaction from her work,
she was troubled by her thwarted attempts to be accepted into the Communist Party. Tram believed that
JMQVOIXIZ\aUMUJMZ_W]TLITTW_PMZ\WUWZMMЄMKtively serve the Communist cause. To her great frustration and sorrow, Tram’s educated background branded
her as bourgeois—that is, middle class and materialistic—and therefore unworthy of membership in the Communist Party.
Tram’s dedicated medical work and obvious devotion
to the cause, however, eventually gained the respect of
local Communist Party leaders. On Sept 28, 1968, she
_I[ÅVITTaIKKMX\ML_ZQ\QVOQVPMZLQIZa¹5aKTMIZM[\
feeling today is that I must struggle to deserve the title
WN»KWUU]VQ[\¼º
,]ZQVOPMZ[MZ^QKM<ZIUNW]VLQ\LQЅK]T\\WVW\JMNZQMVL\PMaW]VOUMVÅOP\QVONWZ>QM\VIU¼[]VQ\a¹1
have a physician’s responsibilities and should maintain
[WUMLMOZMMWNWJRMK\Q^Q\aº[PM_ZW\M¹J]\1KIVVW\SMMX
my professional compassion for my patients from beKWUQVO IЄMK\QWV° ;WUM\PQVO \QM[ \PMU \W UM IVL
UISM[\PMUNMMT^MZaKTW[M\WUMº
In late March 1969, she transferred to a clinic that
treated civilian and military cases. Americans considMZML\PMIZMII¹NZMM̆ÅZMbWVMºIVIZMI_Q\P[]XXW[MLTa
no friendly civilians, so anyone remaining was considMZML\PMMVMUaIVLKW]TLJMÅZML]XWV?PMVM^MZ
)UMZQKIV]VQ\[IXXZWIKPMLKTQVQKXMZ[WVVMTPIL\WÆMM
They were never really safe, and throughout the summer, the medics and their wounded were constantly on
\PMUW^MI[\PMQV\MV[MÅOP\QVOOZM_KTW[MZ
On July 16 Tram witnessed a nearby airstrike:
¹?PMZMMIKPJWUJ[\ZQSM[ÅZMIVL[UWSMÆIZM]X#\PM
VIXITUJWUJÆI[PM[\PMVM`XTWLM[QVIZMLJITTWNÅZM
TMI^QVOLIZS\PQKS[UWSM\PI\KTQUJ[QV\W\PM[Saº
During such raids, Tram worried about the people she
knew and loved. “From a position nearby, I sit with silent
N]ZaQVUaPMIZ\º[PM_ZW\M¹?PWQ[J]ZVMLQV\PI\ÅZM
IVL[UWSM'1V\PW[MPMI^MV̆[PISQVOM`XTW[QWV[_PW[M
bodies are annihilated in the bomb craters? Oh, my heZWQKXMWXTMXMZPIX[VWWVMWVMIZ\PPI[[]ЄMZMLUWZM
\PIVaW]º
JUNE 2018
49
From underground shelters and bunkers, Tram had
heard American troops but never encountered them
face-to-face. Sent on a nighttime emergency mission, she
once walked through hostile territory with an armed
guard. “Perhaps I will meet the enemy, and perhaps I
_QTTNITTJ]\1PWTLUaUMLQKITJIOÅZUTaZMOIZLTM[[º
she wrote in her diary.
On June 2, 1970, Tram’s clinic took a direct hit, which
SQTTMLÅ^MXI\QMV\[<MVLIa[TI\MZ)UMZQKIV\ZWWX[I\\IKSML\PMUMLQK[I\ILQЄMZMV\TWKI\QWV6WWVM_I[
injured, but the medics had to move again.
A few days later, Tram and two Vietnamese civilians
were walking on a trail with a soldier when she came
face-to-face with a group of Americans. Local villagers
later found her body; she had been shot in the head.
Tram’s diaries fell into the hands of Fred Whitehurst,
an American working with a military intelligence unit.
Assigned to destroy enemy documents, Whitehurst was
IJW]\ \W \PZW_ \PM LQIZQM[ QV I ÅZM _PMV PQ[ ;W]\P
Vietnamese interpreter, Sgt. Nguyen Trung Hieu,
[\WXXMLPQU¹,WV¼\J]ZV\PQ[WVM.ZMLºPM[IQL¹1\PI[
ÅZMQVQ\ITZMILaº0QM]ZMILITW]L\PMMV\ZQM[\W?PQ\Mhurst, who was moved and kept the diaries when he left
Vietnam in 1972.
In 2005, Whitehurst located Tram’s family and gave
them the diaries. Later that year, they were published
in Hanoi as one volume, which became a best-seller.
Young Vietnamese readers, who had learned about the
war only from textbooks or overly formal diaries, were
taken by Tram’s unpretentious voice, describing a
warm, intelligent and occasionally self-doubting young
person caught up in the horror of war. In 2007, Tram’s
diary was translated into English and published under
the title, Last Night I Dreamed of Peace.
In March 1967, Kate Webb left her newsroom job in
Sydney, Australia, and headed for Vietnam. “It was simXTa\PMJQOOM[\[\WZaOWQVOIVL1LQLV¼\]VLMZ[\IVLQ\º
the 23-year-old New Zealand-born journalist wrote.
After a few weeks of writing articles for Vietnamese
newspapers, Webb got a freelance job with a GI newspaper. This widened her options, giving her formal accreditation with the Military Assistance Command, Vietnam
(MACV, which oversaw all U.S. combat forces in South
Vietnam), an extended visa, access to daily military
JZQMÅVO[IVL\PMZQOP\\WIKKWUXIVaUMVQV\WJI\\TM
On Jan. 30, 1968, Webb rushed to the besieged U.S.
-UJI[[aQV;IQOWV\WKW^MZ\PM+WUU]VQ[\[¼<M\7ЄMV[Q^MJMKWUQVO\PMÅZ[\_QZMKWZZM[XWVLMV\\WLW[W0MZ
articles appeared in The New York Times, Newsweek
and Time. Webb discovered that she possessed a crucial
trait for a war correspondent: the ability to “function
IVL_ZQ\MIUQL\PMSVQNM̆MLOMNMIZWNJI\\TMº
Webb’s curiosity eventually led her to Cambodia,
where the U.S. Air Force was covertly bombing North
Vietnamese and Viet Cong sanctuaries. On March 18,
50
VIETNAM
1970, Cambodian Prime Minister Lon Nol deposed
Prince Norodom Sihanouk and allied himself with the
United States. But Lon Nol had to contend with an enemy
within the country—the Khmer Rouge, Cambodian Communists led by the brutal Pol Pot.
On the night of April 6, 1971, Chea Ho, a Cambodian
freelance reporter, told Webb that Cambodian paratroopers were likely to clash with North Vietnamese soldiers
along Highway 4 the following day. Taking with her a
BETTMANN/GETTY IMAGES
Kate Webb
—Captive Journalist
Resilient reporter
Kate Webb was one
of the few female
journalists to report
from the front lines.
Cambodian translator, Chhim
Sarath, Webb drove to the rear
lines and continued on foot, hoping
\WZMXWZ\ÅZ[\PIVL[\WZQM[NZWU
\PMNZWV\)PITN̆PW]ZTI\MZO]VÅZM
seemed to “burst from all sides,”
forcing Webb and Chhim Sarath to
seek cover in a roadside ditch.
They huddled there alongside four
other noncombatants.
7VKM \PM ÅOP\ _I[ W^MZ \PM
civilians tried to quickly move
I_IaNZWU\PMIZMI*]\TI\MZ\PI\
morning, they came face-to-face
_Q\P\_WaW]VO6WZ\P>QM\VIUM[M
[WTLQMZ[_PWUW\QWVMLNWZ\PMU\W
LZWXM^MZa\PQVO<MZZQÅML\PMQZ
hands in the air, the civilians all
cried out, “6PIJIW” (journalist),
and “6]WKº_I\MZ
The soldiers stripped the civilians of their belongings, tied their
PIVL[ JMPQVL \PMU _Q\P JITQVO
_QZM\PI\K]\QV\W\PMQZ[SQVTQVSML
\PMUQV\W\_WOZW]X[WN\PZMMIVL
moved them into a dark bunker.
?MJJNMIZMLITQ^MOZMVILM_W]TL
NWTTW_
*]\QV[\MIL\PM[WTLQMZ[NWZKML
the group to march. “I tasted it—
the feeling of being a prisoner—underneath the burning thirst, the
VM_TWVMTQVM[[QVUMº?MJJ_ZW\M
And although she felt certain they
_W]TLJMSQTTML[PMKW]TLV¼\ZM[Q[\
PMZZMXWZ\MZ¼[¹KWUX]T[Q^MLWK]menting of every detail” of her experience.
After a blurred number of days
and nights on foot, the prisoners
and their captors stopped in a
clearing. One by one, the soldiers
[QVOTMLW]\MIKPXZQ[WVMZNWZ_PI\
\PMa[IQL_MZMQV\MZ^QM_[<PMa\WWS?MJJ\WIUQTQ\IZa
UIV_PW_I[QVPQ[[;Q\\QVOJMNWZMPQUPMZPIVL[
[PWWS_Q\PNMIZ
“Do not be afraid,” the interpreter said. “You are in
the hands of the Liberation Armed Forces (the army of
\PM;W]\PMZV>QM\VIUM[M+WUU]VQ[\[º0M\WTL?MJJ
\W[XMIS[TW_Ta[WPMKW]TL]VLMZ[\IVLPMZ-VOTQ[P
¹)VWLL\PQVOPIXXMVMLI[Y]M[\QWVNWTTW_MLY]M[\QWV
and the young interpreter struggled to translate from
-VOTQ[Pº[PM_ZW\MTI\MZ¹1NW]VLUa[MTN\PQVSQVOWN\PM
[MVQWZWЅKMZQV\MZZWOI\QVOUMI[IXZWNM[[QWVIT[WTLQMZ
<PMÆQX[QLMWN\PI\_I[\PI\1[\WXXMLNMMTQVOTQSMIÅT\Pa
scared prisoner…and like a professional reporter in[\MIL0M_I[\ISQVO_PI\\PM_IZLMIT\W]\\WPQUIVL
1_I[\ISQVO_PI\\PM_IZLMIT\W]\\WUMº
)N\MZ[M^MZITLIa[_Q\PTQ\\TMZM[\IVLNWWL\PMXZQ[WVMZ[ _MZM QV XWWZ PMIT\P <PMa PIL TW[\ \WW U]KP
_MQOP\IVL?MJJ_I[M`XMZQMVKQVO[M^MZM[aUX\WU["
^WUQ\QVOLQIZZPMINM^MZIVL[PQ^MZQVO*]\[PMNMT\
more disturbed by her mental state. Living inside “the
OZIaTQUJWWN\PMXZQ[WVMZ°_Q\PVWTQVS[\W\PMTQ^QVO
_WZTLºUILMPMZNMIZ[PM_I[Y]QKSTaLM[KMVLQVOQV\WI
dark place.
.QVITTaNWTTW_QVOI¹\MV[MVM_ZW]VLWNQV\MZZWOItions” at the same location, the soldiers told the prisonMZ[\PMa_MZMJMQVOZMTMI[ML?MJJLQLV¼\ITTW_PMZ[MTN
\WJMTQM^MQ\¹0WXM_MPILNI[\TMIZVML_I[I[\ZMIKPerous as an oasis mirage, and as cruel,” she said.
The soldiers took the prisoners to the command hut,
[MI\QVO\PMUWV_WWLMVJMVKPM[QVI[MUQKQZKTMIZW]VL
I\IJTM)VWЅKMZ[\WWLJMPQVL\PM\IJTMIVLJMOIV\W
ZMILNZWUIVWЅKQITLWK]UMV\?MJJNMT\[WQTT\PI\[PM
PIL\ZW]JTMKWVKMV\ZI\QVOWVPQ[M`IK\_WZL[J]\PM
appeared to be announcing their release. Six guards
\PMV\WWS\PMUI_Ia
)N\MZ\_WLIa[?MJJ_WSMQV\PMUQLLTMWN\PMVQOP\
IVL[I_\PMW\PMZ[[KZIUJTQVO\WOI\PMZ\PMQZ\PQVO[
Amid hasty goodbye handshakes, the guards left their
prisoners “alone in the dark on a roadside in noUIV¼[TIVLº
<MZZQÅML\PMaJMOIV_ITSQVOIVL[WWV[I_IOZW]X
WN4WV6WT¼[[WTLQMZ[?MJJ_I^MLI_PQ\MKTW\PIVL\PMa
all repeatedly yelled, “Kassat” (press).
They had been in captivity for 23 days.
)[?MJJZMKW^MZMLNZWU\_W\aXM[WNUITIZQIPMZ
\ZIV[Q\QWVNZWUKIX\Q^Q\a\WNZMMLWU_I[XMZPIX[\PM
[\ZIVOM[\IVLQV[WUM_Ia[\PMUW[\LQЅK]T\I[XMK\WN
her experience.
She found quite disturbing the deeply divided AmeriKIVXZM[[?MJJ_I[[PWKSML_PMV[XMISQVO\W\PMUMUJMZ[WN\PM?I[PQVO\WV8ZM[[+T]J[PM_I[\WTL\PI\I
ÅMTLZMXWZ\MZ_I[¹UWZITTaJW]VLº\W\ISMIXZW̆_IZWZ
XZW̆XMIKM[\IVL?MJJIZO]ML\PI\IÅMTLZMXWZ\MZ¼[RWJ
_I[VW\\WKPWW[M[QLM[J]\WVTa\WZMXWZ\_PI\_I[PIXXMVQVOIVL_PI\XMWXTM_MZM[IaQVONMMTQVOIVLLWQVOWV
the ground. “Without that hard, unbiased input,” she said,
\PMZM_I[¹VW\PQVO\WWXQVQWVI\MWZ[\IVLWVº
7V5Ia?MJJLQMLNZWUKIVKMZQV;aLVMa
I\IOM0MZ6M_AWZS<QUM[WJQ\]IZaY]W\MLINMTTW_
>QM\VIUZMXWZ\MZ8]TQ\bMZ8ZQbM·_QVVQVO8M\MZ)ZVM\\
_PWPWVWZML?MJJI[I¹NMIZTM[[IK\QWVZMXWZ\MZºIVL
¹WVMWN\PMMIZTQM[\¸IVLJM[\¸_WUMVKWZZM[XWVLMV\[
WN\PM>QM\VIU?IZºV
3I\PZaV2)\_WWLQ[IT[W\PMI]\PWZWN?WUMV0Mroes of World War I, ?WUMV0MZWM[WN?WZTL?IZ11 and
?WUMV0MZWM[WN?WZTL?IZ11"<PM8IKQÅK<PMI\MZ.
JUNE 2018
51
KILLER TECH
Blue Water Navy
The U.S. 7th Fleet sent carrier planes
to support American forces in South
Vietnam and to atack designated
targets in North Vietnam. Fleet
warships supporting operations near
the coast occasionally used their big
guns. The largest gun, shown here on
the batleship New Jersey in October
1968, fired 16-inch shells. The war’s
most notable naval gun was the
technologically advanced 5-inch/.54caliber Mark 42, introduced in 1953.
The enemy seldom endangered
American warships; however, on
April 19, 1972, two MiG-17s atacked
the fleet. Pilot Nguyen Van Bay
dropped two bombs that nearly hit
the light cruiser Oklahoma City,
causing slight damage, while Le Xuan
Di dropped one bomb on destroyer
Higbee, knocking out a 5-inch gun
turret and wounding four men. The
destroyer Sterret claimed to have
downed one of the MiGs with an
air-to-air missile, but, in fact, both
Vietnamese pilots returned
unscathed.
52
VIETNAM
THE WATER WAR
From the Gulf of Tonkin to the Mekong Delta,
new technologies were launched during the Vietnam War
by Jon Guttman
V
ietnam has hundreds of miles of
irregular coastline, along which the
enemy spirited boatloads of men and
supplies to supplement troops moving
overland on the Ho Chi Minh Trail.
Meanwhile, Viet Cong vessels plied the
Mekong Delta, where they encountered U.S. and South
Vietnamese riverine forces patrolling the delta.
8MZPIX[\PMUW[\[QOVQÅKIV\TMOIKaWN\PMVI^IT_IZ
was the creation of U.S. Navy SEAL (sea-air-land)
teams in January 1962. Using members of underwater
demolition teams, the SEALs expanded the UDT’s comJI\ZWTM[IVLPWVML\PMQZ[SQTT[\W\PMÅVMMLOM\PI\
NEIL LEIFER/SPORTS ILLUSTRATED/GETTY IMAGES
they have demonstrated ever since.
The Viet Cong occasionally conducted their own
waterborne commando operations. In May 1966, they
laid a mine to sink the supply ship Eastern Mariner in
Nha Be anchorage and in August used a remotely detonated mine to severely damage Baton Rouge Victory
in the Long Tau River, both near Saigon.
In Operation Pocket Money, launched on May 9,
1972, the 7th Fleet laid 11,000 mines to block the North
Vietnamese from maritime trade. After the signing of
the Paris Peace Accords on Jan. 27, 1973, the Navy
[XMV\Å^MUWV\P[KTMIZQVO\PW[M[PQXXQVOTIVM[QV
Operation End Sweep.
JUNE 2018
53
KILLER TECH
Brown Water Navy
In 1965, the U.S. Navy,
U.S. Coast Guard and
South Vietnamese navy
launched Operation
Market Time, a
concerted efort to
disrupt Communist
coastal and riverine
traffic. Vietnam’s many
rivers and swamps
spurred the rapid
development of
specialized small water
crat, including the
nimble “patrol boat,
river,” at right, on the
Mekong River in
October 1969; the
“patrol crat, fast” or
“swit boat,” below; the
radical “patrol air
cushion crat,” with
almost amphibious
capabilities at speeds of
45-60 mph, opposite
page, top, and the
“SEAL team assault
boat,” opposite, botom,
in January 1969. SEAL
teams emerged from
the war as one of the
most elite units of the
U.S. military.
54
VIETNAM
JUNE 2018
55
OPPOSITE, TOP: U.S. NAVY; OPPOSITE, BOTTOM: GETTY IMAGES; TOP: GETTY IMAGES; BOTTOM: U.S. NAVY
KILLER TECH
TOP: SPUTNIK/ALAMY; BOTTOM: GETTY IMAGES
Communist craft
The primary role of North
Vietnam’s navy was
guarding the coast to
counter South Vietnamese
commando raids, but in a
more aggressive move
three of its Sovietdesigned, Chinese-built P4
class torpedo boats, like
those at right, atacked the
U.S. destroyer Maddox in
the Gulf of Tonkin on
Aug. 2, 1964. The Maddox
and F-8 Crusaders from
carrier USS Ticonderoga
damaged and drove of
the assailants. The clash
revealed the inadequacies
of North Vietnam’s
torpedo boats, and the
U.S. used the incident to
expand its military
presence in the country.
The backbone of Viet Cong
riverine operations was
the simple sampan, below,
which relied on stealth
rather than technology in
hostile waters.
56
VIETNAM
A Majestic
Statement
of Pride
Light of Freedom
Masterpiece Lamp
•Showcases award-winning
artist Ted Blaylock’s uplifting
artwork and the American
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rocky terrain is hand-painted
in true-to-life detail
•Impressive 19½-inch size
makes a powerful statement
in any décor
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and golden trim on the
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Exceptional value;
satisfaction guaranteed
Order the “Light of Freedom” Masterpiece
Lamp now at four convenient installments of
IRUDWRWDORI,WLVEDFNHG
E\RXUXQFRQGLWLRQDOGD\PRQH\EDFN
guarantee, so there’s no risk. The edition
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wait! Send no money now. Just return the
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All rights reserved.
©2017 BGE 01-26731-001-BI
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Withdrawal:
Reassessing America’s
Final Years in Vietnam
By Gregory A. Daddis,
Oxford University Press,
2017
Close on strategy
After taking over as the
top American commander
in South Vietnam in 1968,
Gen. Creighton Abrams, left,
largely followed the game
plan of his predecessor,
Gen. William Westmoreland,
right. They are shown here in
Saigon on May 4, 1967.
58
VIETNAM
Modest in number yet extraordinarily
influential, proponents of the “better
war” narrative maintain that Gen.
Creighton Abrams, who became the top
commander of U.S. forces in South Vietnam in June 1968, jettisoned the failing
strategy of his predecessor, Gen. William
Westmoreland, and achieved a military
victory, only to have it squandered by
feckless politicians in Washington.
Withdrawal, the latest from esteemed
Vietnam scholar Greg Daddis, nimbly addresses the “better war” narrative and
the limits of American military strategy
in the post-World War II era.
According to “better war” theorists,
Westmoreland was hopelessly wedded
to conventional warfare and pursued
IÆI_MLI\\ZQ\QWV̆JI[ML[\ZI\MOaXZMLicated on big-unit search-and-destroy
operations at the expense of “pacification” programs that brought improved
security, economic development projects and social services to rural villages.
Abrams supposedly reversed course
after taking charge of Military Assistance
Command, Vietnam. Daddis, however,
astutely observes that Westmoreland
recognized the dual nature of the Communist threat and employed an approach
\PI\QVKT]LMLJW\P[]XXWZ\NWZXIKQÅKItion and a strong military response to the
enemy’s conventional forces.
While Abrams embraced civic action
programs as a means of pacifying the
restive South Vietnamese countryside,
the World War II tank commander did
so with the understanding that security
PIL\WJMM[\IJTQ[PMLÅZ[\¸][QVOIOOZM[sive military force. “Security remained
at the core of Abe’s ‘one-war’ approach,”
Daddis writes. “Thus, despite ‘better war’
claims that the new MACV commander
approached the political-military problem in South Vietnam with a more restrained, even enlightened, outlook, the
process of ‘pacifying’ a war-torn country
remained as violent as ever.”
Daddis, a retired Army colonel who
served in the Iraq War and taught history at West Point, contends that there
was far more strategic continuity be-
AP PHOTO
ABRAMS NOT MUCH
DIFFERENT FROM
WESTMORELAND?
U.S. AIR FORCE
tween Westmoreland and Abrams than
advocates of the “better war” theory
are willing to admit. A thorough examination of the historical record supports
that conclusion. Abrams, much like
Westmoreland, believed that the U.S. milQ\IZa_I[]VQY]MTaY]ITQÅML\WXZW^QLM
\PM[PQMTLJMPQVL_PQKPXIKQÅKI\QWVIVL
IVMЄMK\Q^MOZI[[̆ZWW\[^QTTIOMOW^MZVment could succeed.
Both men embraced large search-anddestroy operations to push enemy units
away from the local population. The
American-South Vietnamese Combined
+IUXIQOV8TIVNWZ!!\PMÅZ[\]VLMZ
)JZIU[I\5)+>LQLVW\LQЄMZQVIVa
meaningful way from the 1968 strategy.
Abrams acknowledged in March 1968
that when he assumed command in June
he intended to “avoid any implication of
‘great change,’ ‘new strategy’.”
An argument can be made for a more
optimistic interpretation of the war in
the early 1970s because of the heavy
losses that Communist forces had suffered. Yet, as Daddis makes abundantly
clear, at no point did the allies “win” the
war in Vietnam, contrary to the claims
of the “better war” theorists. The North
Vietnamese Army remained very much
intact, and Viet Cong guerrillas continued to operate in the villages of South
Vietnam. More important, the timetable
for President Richard Nixon’s “Vietnamization” program—designed to turn the
war over to the South Vietnamese and
M`XMLQ\M\PMÅVIT_Q\PLZI_ITWN)UMZQcan forces—appeared overly ambitious.
Withdrawal, though, is more than a
sharp riposte to the “better war” narrative. Nixon, Daddis argues, hoped to fundamentally reshape American Cold War
foreign policy, particularly with respect
to China and the Soviet Union, but could
VW\LW[WMЄMK\Q^MTa_Q\PW]\ÅZ[\M`\ZQcating the United States from the war in
Southeast Asia. Abrams, consequently,
was obliged to fight a war Washington and the American public no longer
seemed interested in winning.
Brilliantly building on the success
of Westmoreland’s War, Daddis’ Withdrawal is at once a superb re-examination of MACV in the later years of the
war and a cautionary tale of what happens when military strategy and grand
strategy do not coincide.
—Warren Wilkins
Rolling Thunder 1965-68:
Johnson’s air war over Vietnam
By Richard P. Hallion,
Osprey Publishing, 2018
Officially approved by President Lyndon B.
2WPV[WVWV.MJ!IVLWЅKQITTaMVLML
on Nov. 1, 1968, Operation Rolling Thunder beKIUM\PMUW[\QVÆ]MV\QITIVL[\]LQML)UMZQKIVIQZWЄMV[Q^MWN\PMTI\M\PKMV\]Za[Ia[
U.S. Air Force historian Richard P. Hallion
in the third of Osprey’s new “Air Campaign”
series. The operation’s continuing value, he
maintains, derives from the many lessons
Rolling Thunder presents on how not to run
an air campaign.
Frustrated by a series of Communist successes as well as a South Vietnamese government faltering in the wake of the military coup
that overthrew and murdered President Ngo
Dinh Diem on Nov. 1, 1963, the Johnson administration hoped Rolling Thunder’s bombs
_W]TL[QOVQÅKIV\TaZML]KM\PMÆW_WN_MIXWV[
materiel and troops into the South and persuade Hanoi to end its support for the insurgents there. That didn’t happen.
“As executed,” Hallion explains, “Rolling
Thunder was more of a series of individual
WXMZI\QWV[KWVL]K\MLQVÅ\[IVL[\IZ\[\PIVI
KWPMZMV\IQZKIUXIQOVIVLQ\[]ЄMZMLIKKWZLingly.” Additionally, civilians and ultimately
Going north
An F-105D Thunderchief,
on its way to a bomb
drop over North Vietnam,
refuels en route.
JUNE 2018
59
VIETNAM WAR
1968—50TH
ANNIVERSARIES
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the president himself commandeered
control of the operation from the senior military leadership, which hampered the development of a cohesive
overall strategy.
Constrained by constantly changing objectives, American air crews
in Vietnam, Thailand and the Gulf of
Tonkin protested, but did their best
to carry out each mission with professionalism and a growing tactical
expertise acquired at often heartbreaking cost. The same could be said
of the North Vietnamese, who applied
their Soviet and Chinese weaponry
IVL\ZIQVQVO\W\PM[XMKQÅK[WN\PMQZ
own air defense, which evolved into
the most formidable faced by U.S.
forces since World War II.
Rolling Thunder 1965-68 sums up
the air campaign, the strengths and
weaknesses of both sides’ weaponry,
and the external forces at play. Hallion
notes that North Vietnam’s comprehensive strategy for countering the
bombing included the encouragement
of worldwide anti-war movements,
which bred some success, and the torture of prisoners of war, which largely
JIKSÅZML
Supplementing the narrative
are maps, charts, two illustrations
by Adam Tooby and sidebars on the
less-than-auspicious debut and subsequent success of the General Dynamics F-111 attack aircraft. Hallion also
compares Rolling Thunder with President Richard Nixon’s air operations,
Linebacker I and II.
—Jon Guttman
2 Tour Vietnam Vet 1967, 1971-72
Thirty-one original, gut-wrenching
songs written and sung by
John Black from the heart.
FEATURING
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The M3 “Grease Gun”
By Leroy Thompson, Osprey
Publishing, 2016
,M^MTWXML\W[I\Q[NaI![XMKQÅKItion for a submachine gun that would
be less expensive and less labor-intensive to manufacture than the .45-caliber Thompson submachine gun, the
M3—nicknamed the “Grease Gun”
because of its uncanny resemblance
to the auto mechanic’s tool—proved
\WJMMЄMK\Q^MM`\MV[Q^MTa][MLIVL
long-lived. In World War II, the weapon’s compact size made it a favorite
with tank crews as well as operatives
WN\PM7ЅKMWN;\ZI\MOQK;MZ^QKM[IVL
\PMZM[Q[\IVKMÅOP\MZ[\PMaIQLMLJM-
The greaser
A U.S. Marine,
near the remains
of a downed
helicopter, is
armed with an
M3 submachine
gun in Ba Gia,
South Vietnam
on July 5, 1965.
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Vietnam War
AP PHOTO
50th Anniversary Coin
hind enemy lines. Those traits would
keep it desirable in the Vietnam War
and in the years thereafter.
In his latest entry in Osprey’s
“Weapon” series, Leroy Thompson assembled firsthand testimony on the
Grease Gun’s virtues, vices and comparison with contemporary submachine guns like the German MP40 and
the Soviet PPS-43—including some
from his own collection, after having
WKKI[QWV\WÅZM\PMUPQU[MTN
5IVaWN\PMÅZ[\PIVLIKKW]V\[IZM
in the pages devoted to the weapon’s
use in Vietnam, where it was often the
weapon of choice for U.S. Army Special
Forces and the Studies and Observation Group, an elite covert force that
included Special Forces, Navy SEALs,
Marine reconnaissance units and Air
Force special operations squadrons
that disrupted Communist movements on the Ho Chi Minh Trail.
Though the M3A1 model was
stamped and mass-produced, the guns
used in Vietnam sometimes had custom touches like chrome-lined barrels
to prevent corrosion or specially made
noise suppressors that nearly doubled
the weapon’s length.
All in all, this is another worthy
[]Z^MaWNIPWUMTaJ]\MЅKQMV\ÅZMarm and its 50-plus-year career.
—Jon Guttman
P
reserve history with this
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Dirty Work Inside Look at a Combat Engineer’s Tour
HOMEFRONT
A Space Odyssey
explores the future
‘Godforsaken
Place’
5]ZLMZW][ÅZMPQ\[[\+I^
on march to Khe Sahn
Escape From Cambodia
A former CIA pilot’s ordeal
Deadlier Firepower
APRIL 2018
HistoryNet.com
New tech makes artillery more lethal
VIEP-180400-COVER-DIGITAL.indd 1
1/5/18 11:36 AM
N is for Never
Forget: POW-MIA ·
A to Z
Written by Nancy
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by Paul Dillon
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62
VIETNAM
Aerial gunfighters
U.S. Navy F-8 Crusaders
consistently won duels
with North Vietnam’s
MiG-17 fighters, inset.
F-8 Crusader vs MiG-17
Vietnam 1965-72
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U.S. NAVY (ALL)
Ranger: A
Soldier’s Life
By Col. Ralph
Puckett
Ralph Puckett had
an exemplary career
that included battleÅMTLPMZWQK[I[IV
Army Ranger in the
Korean War and
command of a battalion in Vietnam. He
IT[W\ZIQVML?M[\
8WQV\KILM\[IVLWZOIVQbML\PMIZUa¼[
KW]V\MZQV[]ZOMVKa
[KPWWTQV+WTWUJQI
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,Q[\QVO]Q[PML;MZ^QKM+ZW[[M[WVMNWZ
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An American Military Brat comes of age in 1960’s Vietnam
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Your 50th
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Bomber-turned-medevac pilot
saved more than 5,000 lives
By Doug Sterner
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UWZVQVOJMNWZM\PMa[\IVLIVL\PMJWLaKWUXZM[[M[
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64
VIETNAM
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ROLLING
THUNDER
XXXI
WELCOME TO
ROLLING THUNDER XXXI
ROB WILKINS
What makes the Rolling Thunder Run special
When I was asked to write the welcome leter for this year’s Rolling Thunder guide,
I found myself at a loss for words. I have never been in a war, on a batlefield, held
as a prisoner of war or listed as missing in action. I haven’t sufered the hardships
that most veterans have endured. Then I remembered a day in the 1980s when I
was at the Iron Horse Saloon in Ormond Beach, Florida, listening to biker veterans
talking intently about a rally in Washington, D.C.
The bikers had been called to the nation’s capital by other Vietnam veterans who
wanted Americans to understand that the fate of many MIAs was still not known
and to pressure the government to “account for” those let behind. They were
determined to ride all the way to D.C. despite limited means and sometimes
unreliable bikes. At that time, I didn’t know they were responding to a plea from
Ray Manzo, a former Marine who came up with the idea of motorcycle run that
would include thousands of riders from across the county to make sure the voices
of Vietnam veterans were heard. The first Rolling Thunder run occurred on
Memorial Day in 1988.
Fast-forward to 2008. I am in Washington for my first Rolling Thunder ride.
The initial rally of about 3,000 bikers had grown into hundreds of thousands. I join
them at the Pentagon parking lot for the start of the run and ride across the
Memorial Bridge. Spectators in big crowds are waving the riders on and holding
signs saying THANK YOU and WELCOME HOME. I cannot stop the tears from
falling. There are so many overwhelming emotions: pride, patriotism, brotherhood,
loss, hope.
My experience was not unique. It has been echoed millions of times by people
from all walks of life and from all over the world. That’s what makes the Rolling
Thunder Run and Ride for Freedom so special and why it is still going strong in its
31st year.
Litle did I know in 1988 that I would be blessed to meet or work with many of
the veterans who made the Rolling Thunder run one of the most exciting—and
important—events of Memorial Day weekend. Some of these legendary men have
passed: John “Tops” Holland, Ted Sampley, Larry Darkow and the unforgetable
“Unaccounted for is Unacceptable” Art Foss. But some of them are still hard at
work: my husband, Walt Sides, Artie Muller, Ted Shpak, Mike DePaulo, Patrick J.
Hughes and, of course, Ray Manzo, who said in our 2015 welcome leter: “Rolling
Thunder [is not going] away. Now millions of bikers and veterans around the world
are demanding respect, honor, accountability and proper care for disabled veterans
and those with post-traumatic stress disorder.”
It is because of these men that my eyes—and the eyes of many—have been
opened. I have witnessed the dedication and commitment of the Vietnam veterans
who are ensuring that no one is forgoten. Because of them, I have a deeper
appreciation for the sacrifices made by the men and women who defend our
freedom. It is with complete humility and enormous respect for our veterans,
current members of the military and first responders that I say: “Thank you. Happy
Memorial Day and welcome to Rolling Thunder XXXI.”
Laura Sides, ready for the
2016 Rolling Thunder run,
is at the Pentagon parking
lot, where the ride begins.
Laura Sides
Chairman of the board,
Rolling Thunder Washington, D.C. Inc.
RT3
ROLLING
THUNDER
XXXI
EVENT MAP
FRIDAY, MAY 25
9 p.m. Candlelight Vigil, Vietnam Veterans Memorial.
SATURDAY, MAY 26
9 a.m.- 5 p.m. Thunder Alley open. The official vendor
site for Rolling Thunder XXXI is on 22nd Street and
Constitution Avenue Northwest. Rolling Thunder
patches, pins, T-shirts and leather goods are on
sale, along with food and drink. Featured speakers will
also be at Thunder Alley.
9 a.m.- 5 p.m. Barbecue at Harley-Davidson of
Washington, 9407 Livingston Road, Fort Washington,
Maryland.
RT4
SUNDAY, MAY 27
6 a.m. Reveille wake-up call for
all riders taking part in the Rolling
Thunder XXXI First Amendment
Demonstration Run. Bikers rally
in the North and South Pentagon
parking lots at 7 a.m. for a noon
departure.
9 a.m. Thunder Alley opens.
12 noon Rolling Thunder XXXI First
Amendment Demonstration Run.
Bikes leave the North Pentagon
parking lot to begin their run
through the National Mall area.
Ater the run, police will direct
riders to West Potomac Park, where
they will pay tribute to their fallen
brothers and sisters.
1:30 p.m. Rolling Thunder XXXI
speakers program and musical
tribute to veterans, Reflecting Pool,
Lincoln Memorial.
8 p.m. Memorial Day Concert at
the Capitol.
MAP SOURCE: NATIONAL PARK SERVICE; COVER: MLADEN ANTONOV/AFP/GETTY IMAGES
MONDAY, MAY 28-Memorial Day
9 a.m.- 5 p.m. Thunder Alley open.
11 a.m. Wreath-laying ceremony,
Tomb of the Unknown Soldier,
Arlington National Cemetery.
2 p.m. National Memorial Day
Parade, marching bands and
veterans units from 50 states.
Begins at the corner of Constitution
Avenue and 7th Street Northwest.
3 p.m. National Moment of
Remembrance.
Go to www.RollingThunderRun.com for the latest news and updates.
ROLLING
THUNDER
XXXI
GALLERY
r
Rolling Thunder XXX
Rain pounded the pavement during much of the 30th
anniversary Rolling Thunder run on Sunday, May
28, 2017, but it didn’t dampen the enthusiasm of the
riders or spectators. Crowds along the streets loudly
cheered the Vietnam veterans who came to ride, and
many quietly gathered at the Vietnam Veterans
Memorial to honor those who never came home.
Photos by Guy Aceto and Jennifer E. Berry
RT6
RT7
ROLLING
THUNDER
XXXI
ACCOUNTED FOR
Honoring the Vietnam servicemen whose
remains were identified in 2017
For a full listing of all POWs/MIAs, consult the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency website at www.dpaa.mil.
Chief Master Sgt. Donald J. Hall, Air Force, 29,
of Stroud, Oklahoma. Lost Feb. 6, 1967, ater his
HH-3E “Jolly Green Giant” helicopter was hit on a
rescue and recovery mission over North Vietnam.
Wall Panel 14E, Line 129
Col. Martin R. Scott, Air Force, 34, of
Jenks, Oklahoma. Lost March 15, 1966,
ater his F-4C Phantom II aircrat strafed
enemy trucks in North Vietnam.
Wall Panel 6E, Row 12
1st Lt. David T. Dinan III, Air Force Reserve, 25,
of Nutley, New Jersey. Lost March 17, 1969, ater
parachuting from his downed F-105D Thunderchief on a strike mission over northern Laos.
Wall Panel 29W, Line 62
Maj. James B. White, Air Force, 27, of St. Petersburg, Florida. Lost Nov. 24, 1969, when his F-105D
Thunderchief was atacking enemy troops in Laos.
Wall Panel 16W, Line 119
Capt. Robert E. Holton, Air Force, 27, of
Bute, Montana. Lost Jan. 29, 1969, on an
armed reconnaissance mission over southern Laos in his F-4D Phantom II aircrat.
Wall Panel 33W, Line 14
ALL IMAGES COURTESY VIETNAM VETERAN MEMORIAL FUND
Capt. James R. Bauder, Navy, 35, of Los Angeles,
California. Lost Sept. 21, 1966, when his F-4B
Phantom II aircrat did not return from a night
reconnaissance mission over North Vietnam.
Wall Panel 10E, Row 126
ROLLING
THUNDER
XXXI
Col. Roosevelt Hestle Jr., Air Force, 38, of Orlando,
Florida. Lost July 6, 1966, when his F-105D Thunderchief took evasive action during a strike against
surface-to-air missile sites in North Vietnam.
Wall Panel 8E, Line 134
Cmdr. Charles B. Goodwin, Navy Reserve, 25, of
Haskell, Texas. Lost Sept. 8, 1965, when his RF8A Crusader aircrat encountered thunderstorms
on a combat photo mission over North Vietnam.
Wall Panel 2E, Line 78
Capt. Joseph S. Smith, Air Force Reserve, 25,
of Assumption, Illinois. Lost April 4, 1971, when
his F-100D Super Sabre aircrat crashed during
a combat mission over Cambodia.
Wall Panel 4W, Line 106
Lance Cpl. John D. Killen III, Marine Corps, 18,
of Des Moines, Iowa. Lost June 30, 1967, in an
aircrat crash in Thua Thien, South Vietnam.
Wall Panel 22E, Line 88
Cpl. Glyn L. Runnels Jr., Marine Corps, 21, of
Birmingham, Alabama. Lost June 30, 1967, in an
aircrat crash in Thua Thien, South Vietnam.
Wall Panel 22E, Line 90
Capt. John A House II, Marine Corps, 28, of
Pelham, New York. Lost June 30, 1967, in an
aircrat crash in Thua Thien, South Vietnam.
Wall Panel 22E, Line 87
Capt. Daniel W. Thomas, Air Force Reserve, 24,
of Danbury, Iowa. Lost July 6, 1971, while supporting a Special Forces reconnaissance team in
his OV-10A Bronco aircrat over central Laos.
Wall Panel 3W, Line 102
Capt. Robert R. Barnett, Air Force, 32, of
Gladewater, Texas. Lost April 7, 1966, during a
dive-bomb atack in his B-57B Canberra aircrat
on a mission over Laos.
Wall Panel 6E, Line 91
1st Lt. William C. Ryan, Marine Corps Reserve,
25, of Hoboken, New Jersey. Lost May 11, 1969,
while serving as radar intercept officer on an F-4B
Phantom II aircrat hit by enemy fire in Laos.
Wall Panel 25W, Line 54
ROLLING
THUNDER
XXXI
‘Nobody in My Family Had
Ever Been in the Marines’
So William Ryan became one—a highly decorated one,
wounded multiple times
Where did you grow up? I was born and raised in
Bufalo, New York, one of 12 children from an Irish,
Democratic family. In high school I worked part time in
the Bethlehem steel mills. I started by shoveling
slag from the blast furnaces. I got the job because my
uncle was the director for public safety at the mill. Back
then, there were 27,000 jobs in the steel mills around
RT12
Bufalo. Not a single one of those
jobs is there today.
Why did you join the Marines?
I went to John Carroll University in
Ohio on a football scholarship. There
was no opportunities for me if I went
back to Bufalo, so the military
seemed like a good course of action.
Everybody at that time in 1967 was
going into the military, or else they
were a drat dodger. My oldest brother
Joe served in Vietnam as a hardhat diver— a UDT [underwater
demolition team]—down in the Delta.
My brother Pat, second oldest in the
family, went into the Army and was
stationed at Fort Eustis in Virginia. My younger brother
Dan was a columnist for Stars and Stripes in Vietnam. I
had three brothers-in-law who were in the Air Force,
stationed in the Philippines and elsewhere. I decided to
join the Marines because nobody in my family had ever
been in the Marines.
When did you go to Vietnam? I went down to Camp
Lejeune, expecting to get my orders to Vietnam, but the
administrative clerk turned out to be this guy named
Walker I had known from OCS [Officer Candidates
School]. I said, “Where are my orders?” Walker said,
“Where do you want to go?” He told me there was a BLT
[batalion landing team] going to the Caribbean in two
weeks and another going to the Mediterranean in six. He
thought I should go to the Caribbean because it was
leaving sooner. People would start asking questions if I
hung around for six weeks. “Sure, what the hell,” I said,
“I’ll go!” I got assigned to Delta Company, 1st Batalion,
6th Marines and was one of the few persons in that
company who hadn’t been to Vietnam. I really learned a
lot from those guys. When I got back to Camp Lejeune in
November 1968, I got my orders to go to Vietnam.
What happened when you got to Vietnam? I went over
in November 1968. At Da Nang, they assigned me to
Bravo Company, 1st Batalion, 3d Marines [3d Marine
Division], which was located somewhere near the DMZ.
To get there, I was told to hitchhike on a convoy heading
COURTESY WILLIAM F. RYAN
William F. Ryan received the Silver Star
and Navy Commendation Medal for
valorous actions while serving as a
Marine first lieutenant in Vietnam, and
ater the war he has served as a strong
advocate for all veterans.
Ryan was member of the Louisiana
Veterans Afairs Commission and
represented the state at the dedication
of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in
Washington, D.C. He also was
chairman of the Louisiana Vietnam
Veterans Leadership Program, an
initiative of President Ronald Reagan,
and chairman of Louisiana
Vietnam Veterans Memorial at the
Superdome in New Orleans. Ryan has
been an atorney in Louisiana since 1975. He sits on the
boards of the Visiting Commitee of Loyola University
Business School (where he has been an adjunct
professor), Unity of New Orleans (which assists the
homeless) and other nonprofits. He has twice been
honored by the Small Business Administration as
Veterans Advocate of the Year.
He was awarded the Silver Star Medal for bravery on
May 24, 1969, when he darted through enemy fire to
treat the wounded, distribute ammunition and
encourage his men. The Commendation Medal
recognizes his disregard for personal safety on May 18,
1969, when he saw a grenade drop near one of his
Marines and knocked the man out of the way.
Ryan doesn’t like to talk about his medals. “I don’t tell
stories of my own heroism,” he says. But the veteran had
other dramatic experiences in Vietnam that he shared
with Erik Villard, a digital military historian at the U.S.
Army Center of Military History and author of Staying
the Course, October 1967 to September 1968: U.S. Army
Combat Operations in Vietnam.
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ROLLING
THUNDER
XXXI
What was it like at An Hoa? When I finally get to the
An Hoa Combat Base, it was starting to get dark, so the
helicopter drops me of at the landing zone and heads
back to Da Nang. I still don’t have a weapon, a helmet or
a flak jacket. And right then the VC [Viet Cong] start to
mortar the base. I dive into a bunker with some guys and
stayed there until morning. As soon as I report in to my
unit—Bravo Company, 1st Batalion, 3rd Marines—my
new commander, Capt. Gerald H. Sampson, gave me a
mission. He said that a company from the 3rd Batalion,
5th Marines, had just been hit by their own artillery the
previous night, and I need to take a reinforced platoon
out there to assist them right away. When we got to the
Marine company, everyone there was on edge. Sure
enough, the enemy atacked us that night. It was the first
combat I’d been involved in. Fortunately, we handled
that situation and got that company out the next
morning. My own company ended up spending the next
45 days in the field.
What was it like spending so much time in the field?
At the end of those 45 days, I looked nothing like I did
when I had goten there. I had a beard, a green bandana
wrapped around my head, only a T-shirt underneath my
flak jacket, and I was wearing one boot and one “Ho Chi
Minh” sandal. I didn’t carry a rifle because I preferred
the M79 grenade launcher, which I used to mark targets
for air support. In other words, I didn’t look like an
officer. I was walking down this hill, heading for the
helicopter that would take me and my company back to
An Hoa, when this captain comes toward me wearing a
clean uniform and brand-new gear. He barks, “Hey,
Marine! Where is your commanding officer?” Now, I was
the last person from my company on that hill. I looked
like uter hell and didn’t want to get chewed out by this
guy, so I pointed back toward the top of the hill and said,
“He’s up there!” Later I found out that this captain had
been Charlie Krulak, the son of the legendary Lt. Gen.
RT14
Victor “Brute” Krulak, and someone
who went on to become the 31st
commandant of the Marine Corps.
Did you meet anyone else notable
when you were in Vietnam? Ater
the An Hoa Valley, our unit went
north to operate in the Khe Sanh
area. We had these “fougasse”
[homemade napalm] drums on our
perimeter which would send out a
massive burst of flame when we
triggered them. We heard movement
on the perimeter one night and fired
of the drums. We didn’t find any
NVA sappers [North Vietnamese
Army commandos] the next day, so I reported killing
four rock apes! [Rock apes were mythical creatures, the
Bigfoot of Vietnam] Later that day a helicopter lands and
out steps Maj. Gen. Ray Davis, commander of the 3rd
Marine Division. I had gone to officer school with his
son Miles. Gen. Davis comes over to me and says, “Hey
Lieutenant Ryan, how are you doing?” I said, “Fine,
General!” Davis says, “So you’ve got four confirmed rock
apes?” Ater a pause, he says, “That’s not good.” I agreed.
Hoping to change the subject, I asked, “How is Miles
doing?” The general says “Fine, he’s with the 9th Marines
in the A Shau Valley.” I responded, “Great! Tell him hi
when you see him!” Davis said he would and got back on
his helicopter. [laughs]
Were you wounded in Vietnam? Several times. The first
time, we were geting back from a patrol one day when
my platoon sergeant dropped a grenade and it went of.
The blast set of a bunch of other grenades, and I was
blown sky-high. Punctured my lung, had fragments in
my back and legs—really messed me up. I woke up on
the hospital ship Repose. My doctor told me that the
company corpsmen had performed an emergency
procedure on me to save my life—stuck a Bic pen in my
chest and taped it in place so I could breathe without
drowning in my own blood. When I was healthy enough,
they sent me back into the field because they were short
on officers. I returned to action at the end of March 1969,
this time with Charlie Company [1st Batalion, 3rd
Marines], and I was still using a cane to walk when I
reported for duty.
What is one of the lessons we ought to learn from the
war? The greatest disservice our country did to us
Vietnam veterans was to send us over there by
ourselves, not with a unit [ater 1966]. Also, by 1969 and
1970, they were sending over some guys who weren’t
really fit to be in a combat zone. Guys with Coke-botle
glasses and physical problems, for example. You’d see
these guys geting of a chopper to join your unit, and
you’d think, “Geez, I’m not sure if these guys are going to
make it.” RT
COURTESY WILLIAM F. RYAN
to Dong Ha [a distance of almost 125
miles by road]. Now, I’m new incountry. I don’t know where anything
is, I don’t have a weapon, a helmet or a
flak jacket. So I jump on this convoy
heading north, and the trucks roll out.
I’m looking around at the water bufalo
and the people, thinking, “What if we
get ambushed? I don’t have a weapon.
This is crazy!” But I get up to Dong Ha
OK, and when I report in, the first
sergeant there says to me, “Lt. Ryan,
we’ve been waiting for you. Your unit
has gone back south. Why don’t you
hitch a ride back to Da Nang, get on a
helicopter at Marble Mountain, and fly
out to the unit [which was in the An Hoa Valley,
southwest of Da Nang.]?” And I’m saying to myself, “You
have got to be kidding.”
RT16
XXXXXXXXXXXXX
GUY ACETO
ROLLING
THUNDER
XXXI
THE SACRED
NAMES
Before the Wall could be
completed, a big question
had to answered: Whose
names would go on it?
By Robert W. Doubek
RT17
ROLLING
THUNDER
XXXI
The winning design for
the Vietnam Veterans
Memorial featured a
wall with two wings
of engraved names
honoring the dead
and missing. It was
displayed at a press
conference on May 6,
1981, by Jan Scruggs,
let, who originated
the idea; Maya Lin,
the designer; and
Robert Doubek, a cofounder and leader of
the Vietnam Veterans
Memorial Fund.
The inscription of the names of the dead and unaccounted
for was one of the basic criteria set up by the Vietnam
Veterans Memorial Fund for the design of the memorial.
While its purpose was to honor all who served, these names
would appear as a special tribute. The Department of
Defense had compiled a list of the 58,000 casualties, but
initially we had no idea how to engrave these names into
stone. Questions included accuracy, cost and time. It was
uncharted territory, and we had only 16 months to get it
done, from the time we assembled our design and construction team in July 1981 to our planned dedication of the
memorial in November 1982.
The designer, Maya Lin, had suggested that the names be
engraved by hand, but that was estimated to take 132 people
RT18
working for a year and cost at least $2.5 million. Clearly, we
would have to use a sandblasting process, but then the
problem was making the stencil. A rubber stencil had been
cut to engrave the 4,609 names on the World War II East
Coast Memorial in Batery Park in New York City, but we
had more than 10 times that number of names and so the
risk of mistakes was great.
In August 1981, however, a young man in Cleveland,
Larry Century, called to say that he had invented a process
that might help us inscribe the names. We sent a sample of
granite along with a geometric design, and he sent the
sample back with the design perfectly engraved. So we
brought him to Washington to demonstrate the process. He
had invented a photosensitive emulsion that could be
BETTMANN/CORBIS
Vietnam veteran Jan Scruggs, who had been wounded during a 1969 ambush while serving in the
199th Light Infantry Brigade, had begun urging Congress in 1977, through his writings and testimony,
to create a national memorial honoring those who served in the war. But nothing happened. In early
1979 he decided to take on the project himself and announced his intentions at a meeting that veterans
had convened in Washington, D.C., on April 9, 1979, to discuss ways to create publicity for their needs.
One of the men at that meeting was Robert W. Doubek, who had served in Vietnam in 1969 as an Air
Force intelligence officer and, ater the war, earned a law degree at Georgetown University. Doubek
told Scruggs the memorial idea was a good one and proposed seting up a nonprofit corporation to
get it done. The Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund was incorporated on April 27, 1979. And on Nov. 13,
1982, Scruggs, Doubek and other leaders of the memorial efort saw their dreams become reality with
the dedication of a memorial that listed the names of thousands of service members who were killed or
missing in action in the Vietnam War.
ROLLING
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spread on a surface. Ater the emulsion dried, it could still
be washed of with water—as long as it had not been
exposed to light. Ater exposure, the substance was no
longer was water soluble and formed a tough surface
coating, but it could be removed with household bleach.
To demonstrate, he laid a sheet of clear plastic film with a
design in black ink on the coated surface and exposed it to
light. The places on the coated surface that had been
covered by the black design were still water soluble, but the
emulsion under the clear plastic could no longer be washed
of because it had been exposed to light. Moreover, the
areas exposed to light now had a coating tough enough to
withstand sandblasting. He then rinsed the exposed sample
under a faucet. The coating peeled of from every area that
was to be sandblasted with an engraved leter. The areas to
remain smooth were covered by the coating. It was an
instant stencil.
Thus, the names to be engraved on the memorial could be
could be printed on a sheet of otherwise clear plastic. The
granite surface of the Wall would be coated with the
emulsion and the plastic sheet positioned on the surface
where the names would go. The entire surface would then be
exposed to light. Only the portions covered by the letering
would be water soluble and ater washing would provide an
outline of the names to be engraved by sandblasting.
To inscribe 58,000 names on 3,000 square feet of granite
surface, we would need a company capable of handling the
production of heavy and fragile pieces. Binswanger Glass in
Memphis, Tennessee, the largest fabricator of heavy glass
table tops in the country, filled that need.
The completeness and accuracy of the list were paramount. During and ater the war, the Department of
Defense compiled the list in accordance with criteria set in
an Executive Order and a DOD Instruction. Executive
Order No. 11216, signed April 24, 1965, designated North and
South Vietnam and adjacent coastal waters, within specified geographical coordinates, extending approximately 100
miles ofshore, as a combat zone.
DOD Instruction 7730.22, “Statistical Report of U.S. Casualties in Southeast Asia,” Jan. 20, 1967, and March 20, 1973,
provided that the casualties to be reported were all those
occurring in Southeast Asia and those deaths occurring
anywhere as the result or atermath of an initial casualty in
a combat area. “Southeast Asia” included North Vietnam,
South Vietnam, Cambodia, China, Laos, Thailand and the
adjacent waters specified in Executive Order 11216.
The DOD computer tape that we obtained from the
National Archives in early 1982 contained 57,707 names,
including those known or presumed to have died, those still
officially missing in action (approximately 10) and those still
officially prisoners of war (one). The 57,707 included
casualties from batles and from other causes. The source
documents for the DOD list had been the DD Forms 1300
(military death certificates) forwarded by the casualty offices
of the service branches. We arranged with the Records
Center in St. Louis to check the spelling of all the names on
the DOD list, but its inclusivity couldn’t be verified there.
To cross-check for possible omissions, I contacted the
service branch casualty offices for lists that may have been
compiled independently. The Air Force, Army, Marine
Corps and Coast Guard had such lists. All seven of the
Coast Guard names were on the DOD list, and ater
laboriously cross-checking the list against copies of DD
Forms 1300, the Marine Corps casualty office forwarded 60
names of Marines in the Far East during the war that did
not appear on the DOD listing. Seven of those, who either
died in the war zone or as a result of wounds sustained in
the war zone, appeared to meet the criteria set in the
Executive Order and DOD Instruction, so I added them.
Doubek visits the construction site
March 19, 1982, as work begins on
the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.
RT20
KAREN BIGELOW
XXXI
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ROLLING
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XXXI
As the Wall rises on the
National Mall in this
June 1982 photo, the
shape and scale of the
memorial become clear.
RT22
however, we found that some of them had survived, so the
names of some living veterans were inscribed on the Wall.
The DOD list began arbitrarily with Jan. 1, 1961, but we
had identified an Air Force man who died in 1960 and
learned of an even earlier incident. On July 8, 1959, Master
Sgt. Chester M. Ovnand and Maj. Dale R. Buis were killed in
a Viet Cong atack at Bien Hoa. Alternatively, at the request
of next of kin, we did not engrave on the Wall two names
that were on the DOD list.
From the outset we had determined that the names would
be listed in chronological order. And we stipulated that
every name must be legible, so the leters had to be about a
half-inch high. The surface of the Wall would consist of
panels, each about 4 feet wide, that would be like pages in a
book, beginning with the first panel east of the apex.
Each wing of the memorial would have 74 panels, 70 of
which would contain names. Each line on a panel would
have five names.
The formating of the names became a major challenge.
On the DOD computer tape each name appeared with
surname first followed by the first name, the middle name
and, if applicable, the generational suffix (Jr, III, etc.).
Between each part of the name and suffix was a single
space. Our computer contractor created a program to
reformat the names to read: first name, middle initial,
surname and generational suffix, all in capital leters, as we
wished to show them on the Wall.
Yet the first test run showed dozens of names that
couldn’t be right, such as “ROCHERS J B DES” and “CLAIR
C H ST Jr.” As it happened, these names came out wrong
because they had prefixes. The names actually were
“JAMES B DES ROCHERS” and “CLARENCE H ST CLAIR
ROBERT DOUBEK
Some 200 Air Force names weren’t on the DOD list. The
names included casualties on isolated outposts in Laos that
were within the area specified by the DOD instruction. I
added them.
There appeared also the names of the men who died in
the efort to rescue the crew of the American container ship
SS Mayaguez, which had been captured by the Khmer
Rouge of the Cambodian coast in mid-May 1975. That was
the last batle of the Vietnam War. It technically happened
outside the war zone, but I added those names as well. They
became the last ones on the memorial.
The greatest discrepancy came from casualties in
Thailand. Some appeared on the DOD list, but most didn’t.
The notes beside a name might indicate a death in Thailand
due to hostile fire, but officially Thailand wasn’t in the war
zone. However, Air Force crews flew from there to Vietnam
and Laos, and it was likely that planes had gone down in
Thailand because of batle damage in the war zone.
Furthermore, Thailand was included in the area defined by
the DOD instruction. I therefore added the names of those
indicated to have died in Thailand due to flight operations—
approximately 160. Finally, I added the names of eight
crewmen on an Air Force bomber that exploded in the
Pacific on a combat mission coming from Guam.
Ater cross-checking the Army’s list, we found 53 deaths
that weren’t on the DOD list. The St. Louis center had no
record of them, but at the National Records Center in
Suitland, Maryland, I found most of the 53 men listed on the
actual casualty reports from the war zone detailing the
extent of injuries for each. Where the daily log indicated that
the man had died or had severe injuries or else no record
could be found, I added the name to the list, a total of 40. I
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ROLLING
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XXXI
Jr,” but the computer program couldn’t discern that.
With all the ethnic groups in America, there were many
prefixed names. National groups with such names included
Dutch (De, Van, Vander, Van Der), English (St), French (La,
Le, Du, Des, D’, De), German (Von, Zu), Irish (Mc), Italian (D’,
Da, De, Del, Della, Di, Li, Lo), Portuguese (Da, Dal, Dos),
Scotish (Mac) and Spanish (De La, De Los, Las, San, Santa).
Each time I reviewed the list, I found a new problem.
Along with having prefixed surnames, some men had
prefixed given names. Others, like “Harry S Truman,” had no
names behind the initials. If a man’s name was “B Nelson
Jones,” it wouldn’t be right to inscribe it as “B N Jones.” All
deserved at least one given name to be spelled out.
Then then were the “Billy Bobs” and “Danny Genes,” a
naming tradition common in the South. “Billy Bob” was not
a first and middle name, but a compound first name, so it
had to be spelled out.
Next were the Hispanic names. Sometimes in Hispanic
culture, a man carried the surnames of his father and his
mother. In Puerto Rico, all the surnames were hyphenated
compounds, “Eugene Oscar Morales-Gonzalez,” which made
it easy. Yet some family’s identity might be lost by virtue of
the way an Army clerk had writen a name. I decided to
include the full middle name of Hispanics if it could possibly
be a family name. All this happened before personal
computers, so eight times I read the entire list of 58,000
names and, at some points, despaired of geting it right.
Another sensitive mater was the names of the “unaccounted for.” The war ended with about 1,200 confirmed
casualties whose bodies had not been recovered, but there
remained about 1,350 who were “unaccounted for.” As of the
end of 1980, all but 17 of the unaccounted for (16 MIA and
one POW) had been officially declared dead through a DOD
process known as the “presumed finding of death,” or PFOD.
The families of the unaccounted for preferred that the
names of the missing be listed separately from the confirmed
deaths, but our architects strongly emphasized the philosophical importance of a single chronological listing to make
the memorial a time capsule, reflecting the enormity of the
RT24
lives sacrificed during the passage of time. We therefore
included the names of the unaccounted in the common
listing, but diferentiated them by a symbol, to indicate one of
four categories: died, missing, missing but later confirmed as
died, and missing but later found alive. Moreover, for the
unaccounted, we would use the date that they were declared
missing or captured, rather than the PFOD date.
Once the engraving process was started, Binswanger
Glass was able to inscribe up to 18 panels per week. On
Sept. 30, 1982, the company finished the last two panels,
which were installed on the Wall by the first week in
October. Stone carver John Benson came from Rhode
Island to engrave by hand the dates “1959” and “1975” at the
apex. The Wall was complete.
Maya Lin was asked why the memorial seemed to have
such a strong grip, such a deep emotional impact, on
people. “It’s the names,” she replied. “The names are the
memorial. No edifice or structure can bring people to mind
as powerfully as their names.” RT
This article is adapted from Creating the Vietnam
Veterans Memorial - The Inside Story by Robert W.
Doubek, published in 2015 by McFarland & Co.
TOP LEFT: WILLIAM LECKY; OTHERS: ROBERT DOUBEK (BOTH)
In July 1982 workers rinse emulsion of parts of a granite
panel exposed to light and in the process create a stencil
for sandblasting names. In September, granite panels are
put in place, and John Benson carves the date 1959.
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