This book is a work of fiction based upon my Army experience and historical events. Certain items in the book were drawn directly from other texts and such items are noted in the End Notes in the book. Such items are included in this document and are preceded by an “*”.
Books listed in the bibliography in the book are referenced by author in this document.
This document provides relevant information about various items in the book. These expanded notes assist readers who are interested in knowing more background about events, individuals, and places mentioned in the text.
Fool’s Errand. A fool’s errand is a task doomed to failure, a pointless undertaking. This is an old English expression often referring to sending a naïve person on a hopeless or nonsensical task. In the context of this book, the naïve fool was the sender who failed to realize he was tasking others to do something that had no hope of success.
Greatest Generation, Baby Boomers. The Greatest Generation is a term used to describe the young men who fought in World War II. Tom Brokaw, a broadcaster with NBC, popularized the term in a book with that title. Certain members of the Greatest Generation went on to become the leaders of the United States government during the Vietnam War.
The Greatest Generation returned from World War II and created an enormous increase in births in the years immediately following. This phenomenon became known as “the Baby Boom.” Those born between 1946 and 1964 are now regarded as Baby Boomers. Men born in this time-period provided the vast majority of troops who served in Vietnam.
Percentage of troops who served in combat. Lair, pg. 25.
“Though the number of combat troops who served in combat is not precisely known, military historians generally accept 10 to 25 percent as an appropriate estimate.”
“In 1967, reports out of Saigon indicated that only 70,000 of 464,000 American soldiers . . . were combat troops.”
“Of 525,000 troops stationed in Vietnam in early 1968, only 40,000 were riflemen.”
I used the estimate of 20 percent combat troops based upon the above and other sources of information. Ken Burns, in his TV series on Vietnam stated that only 20 per cent of men in Vietnam served in combat.
February 19, 1970
John Cameron Swayze was the first broadcaster on what became NBC Nightly News, starting in 1949. He was known for his nightly reporting on the progress of the Korean War. Later he became the spokesman for Timex watches with his famous line, “It takes a licking and keeps on ticking.”
Huntley-Brinkley. Chet Huntley and David Brinkley replaced John Cameron Swayze in October 1956 reporting the nightly news on the Huntley-Brinkley Report. This news program ran until July 1970. Upon their departure, the NBC news program became NBC Nightly News. Huntley and Brinkley reported nightly on the Vietnam War as Swayze had done during the Korean War.
February 20, 1970
Delaying induction seven times. When graduate deferments were eliminated in 1968 by Selective Service, Senator Ted Kennedy announced that 2/3 of graduate students losing their deferment would be drafted and one-half of those drafted would go to Vietnam.
I succeeded in delaying the induction process seven times in 1968 and 1969. I was reclassified by my local draft board, Local Board #76, from 2S, full-time student deferred from induction, to 1A, immediately available for induction, in September 1968. I had 30 days to appeal my reclassification.
(1) I waited until the 30th day, October 25th, drove from Columbus to Toledo, and submitted an appeal of my reclassification in person. The draft board had to schedule an appeal hearing.
(2) I met with the draft board to hear my appeal on November 13th. It was a bunch of guys my father’s age. They looked weary from listening to all the stories they had to hear. I used a simple argument, “I’m 23 years old. I’ve been going to school since I was five. I have one more quarter to go starting January 6, ending in mid-March. If you give me a deferment through March, I’ll receive my master’s degree.” The board members thought this sounded reasonable. One member turned to Sandra Jurco, the lady who ran the board, and said, “His request sounds reasonable to me. Isn’t there anything you can do for him?”
“No. The law is clear, and I have no discretion. I can’t reclassify him back to 2S. There’s no provision for me to do that.” That was the end of the hearing. I accomplished my goal of delaying her from drafting me by almost 60 days. I knew what I was doing and she knew I knew what I was doing.
On November 25, I received the official notice that my appeal of my reclassification to 1A had been denied. I had no further recourse to change my classification.
(3) I submitted a request to move my draft board from Toledo to Columbus. I was 18 and living with my parents in Toledo when I registered with Selective Service. Now I was 23, married, and living with my wife who was teaching in Columbus. This stopped Sandra Jurco from drafting me. She had to send my file to a draft board in Columbus
I did not hear from a draft board in Columbus until early January. By then I was enrolled in Winter Quarter. They informed me that I would be drafted in February.
(4) I informed the Columbus draft board that I couldn’t be drafted because I was enrolled in Winter Quarter classes at Ohio State which would end in mid-March. Draft boards couldn’t select students in the middle of a quarter. They wrote back and said I would be drafted in April.
I had succeeded in delaying my induction until after I received by master’s degree. I shouldn’t have succeeded, but there was a delay in the transfer process from Toledo to Columbus. The Columbus draft board told me that they could not accept the first transfer request from Toledo because Ms. Jurco had used the wrong form to send the transfer. I will never know if that was a clerical error or a deliberate error by Ms. Jurco to facilitate the wishes of the draft board without having to bend the rules.
I graduated in March and immediately I received my notice to report for induction on April 25th. I took my draft notice to the State Board of Accountancy in downtown Columbus, the capital of Ohio. I showed my notice to the secretary, “I’m going to be drafted on the 25th. I received my master’s degree in accounting from Ohio State last month. I know the deadline has passed. Is there any way I can take the CPA exam in May? If I can take the exam, I can delay my induction until after the exam.” The draft law said I could delay induction until after the next regularly scheduled professional examination if I was qualified to take it.
The secretary took my draft notice. “Excuse me, I’ll ask Mr. Danielson.” J. Danielson was the Chairman of the State Board of Accountancy according to the sign on the door. She disappeared through the door, and I waited. A few seconds later, she reappeared and motioned toward me. Right behind her was a tall broad-shouldered man in a suit. He put out his enormous paw and shook my hand. “I’m Joe Danielson. Here, sit down.” We sat in the two chairs in the reception area.
“They aren’t going to draft you until after you take the exam. Of course, you can take the exam in May.” He was pretty fired up about this. I wasn’t surprised. By now lots of people were fed up with Vietnam. Any time they had a chance to show their opposition, they took it. He says, “Nobody is going to get drafted if I can prevent it.”
(5) I submitted my application to take the May CPA exam and received my admission document. I took the admission document to the Columbus draft board and they revoked my induction notice for April 25th. Within days, they sent me a new notice moving my induction date to May 27th.
From my graduation in March until late May, I worked in the Columbus office of Haskins & Sells. The firm had hired me to join their Los Angeles office audit staff after I returned from the army. I devoted absolutely no time to studying for the CPA exam. Nancy heckled me for not studying and we argued about this constantly. I took the exam because it delayed my induction by a month. “Why bother to try? I could get killed in Vietnam. What are you going to do, put on my tombstone, ‘He’s here, but he passed all four parts?’”
I had one more delaying tactic left. My mom told our family doctor I was going to be drafted. He wrote a letter for me to give the medical examiners explaining that I was not good Army fighting material. I had a stomach condition that resulted in violent painful incapacitating muscle spasms in high stress situations. I had experienced only one attack. He had a point that I should tell the Army about this condition.
(6) I reported for induction on May 27th and went through the whole day of processing including presenting the letter from my doctor. In the afternoon, I was called out of the group and into a small stark room with a metal desk, a small metal guest chair, and an Army doctor in a white coat. I sat down. “We’re going to send you home. We’ll need to investigate this matter,” he said as he casually tossed the letter out on the desk. “You will receive a letter instructing you to see a psychologist. He will make the ultimate determination.”
I was taken aback. The horror stories I’d heard about the Army inducting guys with clubbed feet and other disqualifying conditions made me think my attempt would be greeted with a ceremonial contemptuous brush-off. Instead, the letter was taken seriously, although the doctor didn’t seem to believe its contents.
I was not joining the Army that day. Nancy and I went to the Indy 500 on the 30th to celebrate my continuing freedom. She finished teaching school at Linmoor Junior High in June. By the end of June, I was ordered to see a psychiatrist in July to evaluate me.
I went to see the psychiatrist. He talked with me for about five minutes. There was nothing of substance in the conversation other than my recitation of the details of my stress attack. He leaned back in his chair and said, “You’re not in bad shape. You can serve in the Army. I’m going to approve you. I’ll send my report to the draft board within a week.”
Within two weeks, I received a letter stating that my appeal for reclassification on medical grounds had been denied. I played my last delaying tactic.
(7) The next day I rushed down to the draft board in Columbus and requested that my draft board be moved to Toledo. As my wife had finished teaching in Columbus, and I had finished my education, I told them I was returning to Toledo, my home prior to my enrollment at Ohio State. They weren’t happy, but they had to honor the request.
By this point, my reputation as a serial induction delayer was well cemented in the minds of draft boards across Ohio. My transfer took no time and the draft board in Toledo sent me a notice I was scheduled for induction on August 25th.
Civilians in army uniforms. Lair, Page 184, “Having been coerced into service by the draft—were essentially civilians passing through the military.” Page 220, “Men who were essentially civilians ensnared by the draft played soldier when required.”
April 28, 1970
Everett Dirksen was a senator from Illinois well-known for his flamboyant oratory among other things. He served as Senate Minority Leader from 1959 until his death in 1969. One of his most famous quotes was, “A billion here a billion there and pretty soon you’re talking about real money.”
April 29, 1970
Cambodia incursion. ARVN and US forces invaded a small area of southern Cambodia starting on April 29, 1970. It was well-known that the NVA and VC forces used the area for ordnance and supplies storage, massing of forces, and a headquarters for operations in southern Vietnam. The operation destroyed an enormous amount of ordnance and supplies greatly diminishing NVA/VC operations during the following year.
The Cambodia incursion was an entry into a neutral country that was not preventing North Vietnam from using it as a logistical staging area.
Summers, Page 106
“The Hague Convention of 1907 which states, ’A neutral country has the obligation not to allow its territory to be used by a belligerent. If the neutral country is unwilling or unable to prevent this, the other belligerent has the right to take appropriate counteraction.’”
Pope Paul. Pope Paul VI served as pope from 1963 until his death in 1978.
May 1, 1970
Fear of attack on arrival. Lair, page 103, “A U.S. Army greeter at the Bien Hoa air terminal told the New York Times, ‘Ninety-nine and two thirds of the time these guys are scared to death and don’t know what’s going on.’ Another added, ‘Most of them expect to jump off the plane and into a foxhole with bullets flying.’”
May 5, 1970
Long Binh Post. Lair, page 31. “Construction of Long Binh Post began twenty miles north of Saigon in the mid-1960s as part of Project MOOSE, which stood for ‘Move Out Of Saigon Expeditiously.’”
Lair, page 32. “At its inception, Long Binh cost around $130 million to build and was slated to house 35,000 American military personnel. Construction costs eventually exceeded that sum, and up to 60,000 Americans at once were stationed there in the late 1960s. Size estimates of the base vary from 27 square miles to 80 square miles to 145 square miles. The discrepancy is accounted for by the expanding nature of the base and by different definitions of its perimeter, which included fenced-in, densely populated compounds, an enormous supply depot, an ammunition dump, airstrips and helipads, firing ranges, and a lot of wide-open space. From the air, Long Binh was a massive but organized city composed of 3,500 buildings connected by 180 miles of roads. The base was so big—by the Army’s estimate, comparable in area to Cleveland, Ohio—that one colonel joked, ‘If we ever really got attacked, the V.C. would have to use the scheduled bus service to get around the base.’”
May 7, 1970
Kent State. The Cambodia incursion triggered protests across the United States by anti-war groups believing the incursion represented the expansion of the war into another country. (See the comments above on April 29, 1970 as the legal basis for the Cambodia incursion.)
College campuses experienced numerous protests including the burning or bombing of ROTC buildings on 30 campuses including Kent State. The Ohio National Guard was dispatched to Kent State to quell the rioting. In a confrontation with students on June 4, 1970, National Guardsmen fired upon protesting students killing four of them.
*May 7, 1970
Summers, page 88, “Our new ‘strategy’ of counterinsurgency blinded us to the fact that guerrilla war was tactical not strategic.”
Summers, page 89, “Our so-called strategy (counterinsurgency) was never a strategy at all. At best, it could be called a kind of grand tactics.”
Summers, page 91, “Our counterinsurgency operations could only be tactical, no matter what we called them.”
June 11, 1970
Patrols by observers in Cambodia and Laos were performed by members of MACV SOG. Their missions were authorized by the President.
August 15, 1970
Preston Park PX. The main PX on Long Binh Post was possibly the best general merchandise store on a military base in Vietnam.
Lair, page 151, “The Preston Park PX on Long Binh Post was a sizeable facility—10,000 square feet of retail space, following a 1970 renovation—that offered ‘added conveniences in a more modern atmosphere.’ In addition to the usual consumer products, the new complex housed a variety of specialty stores, including two foreign gift shops, a leatherware shop, an optician, and a custom furniture builder. Even though troop withdrawals had been proceeding for over a year, P.X. officials continued to develop the Preston Park P.X., adding a 4,000-square-foot warehouse and a 6,700-square-foot annex to the main store later that year.
This PX was named after SP5 Thomas Rey Preston, a member of the 56th Army Postal Unit who died in Vietnam.
September 20, 1970
This scene presents the roles of participants in the war in psychological terms. It is based upon Myers-Briggs, a system of personality and temperament typing based upon the work of Carl Jung. People are classified into four temperaments defined, among other things, by their preferred actions: to do, to organize, to achieve and to find meaning in their life.
October 19, 1970
The standard assault rifle used in combat throughout Vietnam in 1970-71 was the M-16. For unexplained reasons (the Two Rules), troops assigned to HQ USARV Special Troops were issued M-14 rifles. We didn’t possess them. They were locked in an arms room.
October 26, 1970
Constructively drafted. Lair, page 89. “Concerns about the efficacy, urgency, and morality of the Vietnam War deeply affected the generation asked to serve. In the 1960s and early 1970s, hundreds of thousands of young men expressed their doubts by refusing, fleeing, or manipulating the Selective Service system. Though a majority of Americans who fulfilled military service in the Vietnam era volunteered, their motives often involved some subtle form of coercion, rather than support for U.S. policy. Of the 2.5 million Americans who did go to Vietnam, about one-third were drafted and another third enlisted when conscription appeared imminent, embracing “choice not chance,” in the words of military recruiters. The proportion of draftees and draft-motivated volunteers increased over time, and by 1971, draftees and draft-motivated volunteers accounted for about half of the Army’s overall strength.”
In VOMA, all troop E-5 and below were draftees except for Davenport who was constructively drafted for reasons explained above.
November 17, 1970
Great Society Legislation. In his 1964 State of the Union address, President Johnson outlined a legislative agenda designed to eliminate poverty and inequality in America. Of 252 legislative requests, 226 were passed including the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Social Security acts creating Medicare and Medicaid.
No strategy to win. Summers, page 103, quoting von Clausewitz:
”No one starts a war—or rather, no one in his senses ought to do so—without first being clear in his mind what he intends to achieve by that war and how he intends to conduct it.”
Summers, page 103. “One thing we did not ‘intend to achieve’ was victory. . . . our doctrine specifically excluded it as an aim in war. Testifying before Congress in 1966, General Maxwell Taylor said that we were not trying to ‘defeat’ North Vietnam, only ‘to cause them to mend their ways.’”
November 21, 1970
Michigan football radio play-by-play announcer. Bob Ufer was the play-by-play announcer for Michigan football for 35 years. He broadcast games with great enthusiasm and biased passion making him a hero to Michigan fans and loathed by Ohio State fans.
December 5, 1970
Bob Hope Show. Starting in 1941, Bob Hope performed on USO tours entertaining troops for over 50 years. He visited Vietnam performing a Christmas tour from 1964 to 1972. Highlights of his tours were later shown on national television in the U.S.
Long Binh Post had an amphitheater, Curry Amphitheater, carved into the side of a hill, facing the perimeter. The Bob Hope USO Show appeared there on Friday, December 25, 1970 playing to a crowd of over 22,000.
Collapse of Communism. The Berlin Wall fell on November 9, 1989 signaling the beginning of the collapse of the Communist empire led by the Soviet Union.
January 5, 1971
Presence of VC in the Mekong Delta. Halberstam addressed the issue of the reporting of the presence of VC in Mekong Delta provinces from personal experience. Page 297.
(In November 1963) “I went to the 7th Division area below Saigon in the Mekong Delta; there a new general, Pham Van Dong, was conducting an operation. General Dong was talking about the misreporting and pointed to a district chief, said that the district chief had been an old aide of his and would tell the truth. ‘How many villages are there in your district?’ the general asked him.
’Twenty-four,’ answered the official.
‘And how many do you control?’ asked Dong.
‘Eight,’ answered the official.
‘And how many,’ said Dong with a grin, ‘did you tell Saigon you controlled?’
‘Twenty-four,’ said the official somewhat sheepish.”
This issue continued throughout the Vietnam War. Military personnel, knowing they needed to provide glowing reports of success to achieve career advancement, reported information superiors wanted to read rather than the truth about facts on the ground. Halberstam’s book is replete with examples of this behavior and misguided decisions made based upon inaccurate information.
January 11, 1971
World War II Memorial. The National World War II Memorial is located on The Mall in Washington, DC immediately west of the Washington Monument. It was approved by congress in 1994, 49 years after the end of World War II. It was dedicated by President George W. Bush on May 29, 2004. The memorial contains a center fountain with 28 soaring white columns on both the north and south sides of the memorial plaza symbolizing the 48 states and 8 other jurisdictions of the United States of America from which American combatants came to serve in World War II.
Vietnam Memorial. The Vietnam Veterans Memorial is located in an area known as Constitution Gardens immediately north of The Mall, east of the Lincoln Memorial between the Reflecting Pool and Constitution Avenue in Washington, DC. In 1979, a non-profit organization began raising funds for the memorial. Congress approved the memorial in 1980, five years after the fall of Saigon ending the Vietnam War. The memorial was dedicated on November 13, 1982.
The memorial honors service members who served in the Vietnam War, supposedly; service members who died in service in Vietnam/Southeast Asia; those who are missing in action from the war.
The memorial is a black granite V-shaped wall, set in the ground, facing south. The wall is not visible from Constitution Avenue, north of the memorial. The names of over 58,000 individuals who died in the war are inscribed on the wall. In response to criticism of the design, certain additional statues and monuments have been added near the wall.
Fighting Communist aggression in Southeast Asia. This phrase was, in my estimation, the most parroted and overused description of our mission during the war.
Summers, page 101, describes this mission.
“. . . the mission statement for the Military Assistance Command, Vietnam (MACV). According to General Westmoreland, MACV’s objective was:
To assist the Government of Vietnam and its armed forces to defeat externally directed and supported communist subversion and aggression and attain an independent South Vietnam functioning in a secure environment.”
There was NO mission statement about defeating an enemy or winning militarily. We were the official pest exterminators of the Republic of Vietnam. If we found a Commie, we killed him if he was inside the Republic of Vietnam. We didn’t fight to win. We fought the Commies wherever they reared their ugly heads.
January 13, 1971
Consequences of Tet 68 on the Viet Cong. The NVA/VC uprising during Tet in 1968 was a strategic success for them because it shocked the American people who did not believe the enemy had the ability to mount such an offensive. Lost in this shock and awe was the fact that the Viet Cong had risen en masse and a majority of them were killed as a result.
Summers, page 129. “The proof that the Viet Cong guerrillas were not the center of gravity was demonstrated during Tet68, when, even though they were virtually destroyed, the war continued unabated.
January 30, 1971
North Vietnam war deaths. Ho Chi Minh was interviewed shortly before his death in 1969 and was asked, “You have lost over one million people killed in this war. How many more deaths can you tolerate.” Ho replied, “We may lose another million, but we will win.” This is paraphrasing from my memory.
January 31, 1971
Effect of Hue massacre on South Vietnam in 1975. The story on this date recounts the events of the Hue massacre. What has gone almost unreported is the effect this event had on the citizens of South Vietnam. It revealed to them the possible events that would take place all across South Vietnam if and when the North Vietnamese conquered the south. Specifically, anyone who was part of the government, worked for Americans, or was educated, would be targeted and killed.
When South Vietnam lost the war at the end of April 1975, residents of South Vietnam fled the country by any means possible, often in absolute panic. News reports from that date forward completely missed the point that those with most fear were those who knew what had happened in Hue. They fled because they feared the North Vietnamese would kill them once the soldiers from the north realized who they were.
February 3, 1971
North Vietnamese view of the war. The typical citizen of North Vietnam who served in the military viewed their death in the war as an inevitability. There was a cultural acceptance that many had to die for the common good of the country and those who survived.
One manifestation of this was the result of an American propaganda campaign. American planes dropped leaflets on North Vietnam telling the residents that, if they joined the military and went down the Ho Chi Minh trail, they would die. The leaflets said words like, “You were born in the north. You will die in the south.” A few months later, American forces started finding dead NVA soldiers with tattoos saying, “Born in the north, died in the south.” They viewed the risks not as a threat but an inevitability.
The dream. This dream I had (nightmare) represents a manifestation of post-traumatic stress disorder(PTSD). One study estimates that over 30% of Vietnam veterans have some form of PTSD. Two of the common symptoms are “startle reflex”, the instinct to jump or flinch in response of a sudden noise or events; and hypervigilance, an acute awareness of one’s surroundings including behavior intended to ensure awareness of potential threats.
Another form of PTSD is repeated dreams reliving past events. A guy I served with told me, “I still have nightmares but not about Vietnam. I have nightmares that they come and draft me again. Isn’t that crazy?” MY response was, “No. I have the same nightmares.”
Startle reflex, hypervigilance and nightmares for me and many other veterans are a minor nuisance and inconvenience in our lives. For some, PTSD is a severe and debilitating condition that robs them of the ability to function effectively in society. We should never forget them for they acquired this condition in service to their country.
February 6, 1971
Was that dog? For the record, this book is fiction and this story element featuring my question, “Was that dog?” did not happen in Vietnam. I have borrowed and adapted an event that involved two business associates. It occurred in a different country, decades after I returned from Vietnam. The story became legendary in my company and the response became the lowest rating travelers in our company would give a restaurant anywhere in the world.
February 10, 1971
Invasion of Laos. ARVN forces invaded Laos on February 8, 1971 in an operation known as Lam Son 719. The operation lasted until March 25, 1971. US forces provided combat and logistical support but did not enter Laos.
February 20, 1971
R&R sites. R&R and leave trips were to designated sites outside Vietnam. During 1970 and 1971, the sites were Bangkok, Thailand; Sydney, Australia; Hong Kong; Taipei, Taiwan; and Honolulu as I recall.
Married troops often went to Honolulu where they taken to Fort DeRussy on the beach at Waikiki to meet their wives. Bangkok and Sydney were the next most popular sites.
Troops going on R&R reported to Camp Alpha located at Tan Son Nhut Air Base in Saigon where charter transports took them to their destinations. Troops were given priority in electing their R&R location based upon their time in country. Troops going on leave reported to Camp Alpha and selected a destination based upon remaining seats available on flights the day they arrived. The Army arranged for hotel accommodations at the R&R locations and tourist activities at some locations.
March 2, 1971
McGeorge Bundy. Goldstein, page 221. “His private notes of March 21, 1965—in which he identified the ‘cardinal’ principle for the United States in Vietnam as ‘not to be a Paper Tiger’—demonstrate that Bundy was fixated not on prevailing militarily but on maintaining America’s credibility in the Cold War. The American combat troop commitment did not have to advance a compelling strategy or have a real prospect of success. It simply needed to dramatize the proposition that the United States was prepared to pay a real cost in blood and treasure to maintain its position of global leadership. ‘For if we visibly do enough in the South (whatever that may be), any failure will be, in that sense, beyond our control,’ Bundy wrote. Even losing the war after committing one hundred thousand troops would be a better outcome for ‘U.S. politics’ than not having deployed any combat troops at all.”
Of course these were private notes. If President Johnson had announced one night that he was sending troops to Vietnam and the U.S. might lose, members of Congress would have threatened to impeach him the next morning. Losing is not a military option understood by the American people who elect their leaders.
In addition, I doubt that Bundy, as a former President of Harvard, consciously thought of any of these troops as anyone remotely associated with anyone who had ever set foot on the grounds of Harvard University. The notion that these one hundred thousand men might include involuntarily conscripted draftees was probably completely beyond his conscious grasp. In other words, Bundy would not have been offended if American troops lost because, after all, he was sending some unknown them, not real men of whom he had any conscious knowledge.
March 5, 1971
Draft in World War II. At the beginning of World War II, immediately after Pearl Harbor Day (December 7, 1941) so many men appeared at military recruiting offices that the recruiters could not accept them all. There were not sufficient training facilities and personnel to process all the ready and willing potential volunteers. As a result, many men were directed to go home and await orders to report when we were drafted. As a result, an estimated approximately 80% of all men drafted would have volunteered. In World War II, 66 per cent of all personnel were draftees. This contributed to the common perception during World War II that if one was drafted, one served proudly. It was one’s patriotic duty.
During the Vietnam War, no one who wanted to volunteer, and met military standards, was turned away. Draftees were individuals who had no desire to serve in the military but were compelled to in accordance with Selective Service Regulations.
The change in world view of draftees was not understood by the average American. The resistance of draft eligible men was seen as unpatriotic because of the carryover of the World War II understanding that the draft was a mechanism to induct willing participants into military service.
*March 6, 1971
Harry G. Summers, Jr., page 53.
Stonewall Jackson, “Never take counsel of your fears.”
March 23, 1971
Non-combat deaths. Within South Vietnam, 2,594,000 men participated in the war. As I stated in the Introduction, an estimated 20 per cent served in combat. 58,200 participants died during the war. Assuming non-combat causes of death were distributed between combat and non-combat personnel on an 20/80 basis, approximately 48,700 combat personnel died in Vietnam and approximately 9,500 non-combat personnel died in Vietnam representing 16 per cent of all deaths.
March 24, 1971
Withdrawal with Honor. During his campaign for president, Richard Nixon promised he would achieve Peace with Honor. He was elected on this platform that was based upon a principle of turning over responsibility for combat operations to the government of South Vietnam. American GIs in Vietnam corrupted his campaign slogan into the term Withdrawal with Honor.
Nixon became president in January 1969 at a time when the U.S, had over 500,000 men in Vietnam. The Withdrawal with Honor took so long that, by the end of 1970, there was a frantic effort to reach a target of 335,000 men in Vietnam. This represented only a 30 percent reduction from the troop total at the end of 1969. As a result, GIs in Vietnam also referred to this program as the “Withdrawal Taking Forever.” Troop reductions accelerated (finally) in 1971. The troop total at the end of 1971 was 157,000, an over 50 per cent reduction from the end of 1970.
*April 3, 1971
Harry G. Summers, Jr., page 5.
A discussion on the triangular relationship between the people, the government and the military.
A quote from page 5. “The task of the military theorist, Clausewitz said, is to develop a theory that maintains a balance between what he calls the trinity of war—the people, the government and the Army. ‘These three tendencies are like three different codes of law, deep-rooted in their subject and yet variable in relationship to one another,’ he says. ‘A theory that ignores any one of them or seeks to fix an arbitrary relationship between them would conflict with reality to such an extent that for this reason alone it would be totally useless.’”
In the United states, the government is elected by the people. The people trust that, when they supply citizens to the military, the government will use such forces in a way that meets the expectations of the people. Meeting this expectation is The Implicit Promise the government makes to the people.
In the 1960s, over 80 percent of the people trusted their government. Now, over 80 per cent of the people do not trust the government. When The Implicit Promise was broken, the American people began to lose faith and trust in their government. The actions of the government in managing the Vietnam War were the causes of this loss of faith in government.
Theory of Limited War. Limited War, as a U.S. military strategy was developed by civilian military planners embraced by the Pentagon in response to the notion that conventional wars would no longer be fought in a nuclear age. Limited War is a concept founded in diplomacy using the military to affect diplomatic aims.
Under the concept of Limited War, the U.S. would apply increasing pressure using military resources until the enemy realizes that it is incapable of winning militarily and will cease hostilities. Such concept relies upon the existence of a rational enemy who dispassionately assesses its options.
North Vietnam was passionately committed to the reunification of Vietnam after the 1954 partition. The North Vietnamese were indifferent to the casualties it suffered viewing them as a necessity on the path to victory. Above all, the leadership of North Vietnam believed that the U.S. would lose interest and public support for an open-ended commitment of increasing forces applied in the hope the North Vietnamese would rationally give up the fight.
In the end, the American people abandoned the pursuit of victory because victory did not appear to be in sight. That was caused by the fact that, under the theory of Limited War, victory is not even a goal.
*April 7, 1971
Band of brothers. William Shakespeare’s play, Henry V, contains a famous speech delivered by Henry V before the Battle of Agincourt on St. Crispin’s Day. Fishburne uses a paraphrase of this line from the play,
“From this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be remembered-
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers,
For he today that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne’er so vile.”
Those who have served together in war feel a bond for the rest of their lives stronger than anyone’s words can express, except for Shakespeare.
April 8, 1971
Mortar attack on 90th Replacement Battalion. The mortar attack portrayed in the book actually occurred, probably in March 1971. VOMA personnel I know believe we learned of the attack from newly arrived men who were at the 90th when it happened.
The sign. Many scenes in this book are plausible fictional events. The mortar attack my first morning at the 90th, and this last scene are two of my absolute best efforts to tell you, the reader, nothing but the facts of those events.
* * *