We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
Our Recent Essays Behind the Front Page
Monday, June 29. 2009
President Obama has received much, well deserved, criticism in the
Robert Kennedy told us: “Few will have the greatness to bend history itself; but each of us can work to change a small portion of events, and in the total of all those acts will be written the history of this generation.” That’s more hopeful and better lesson for President Obama than the course seemingly he’s on as told by Karl Marx: “History repeats itself, first as tragedy, second as farce.”
A core issue in our recollections of
For those who may want to look further about the ARVN, here’s some useful sources:
- A bibliography, slightly dated
- Another overview of the evolution of the ARVN
- A fine book on the ARVN’s “Patton”
- A critical look at the ARVN’s social difficulties, not battle worthiness, review by a professor at the US Air Command and Staff College
- Much valuable writings, photos, and links
- A promising new book on ARVN and US Marines prowess during the Easter Offensive of 1972
- Jules Crittendon adds to this bibliography. Thanks Jules.
Also, I just added in the Comments some emails I received from witnesses to performance of the ARVN.
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This post will knock regular commenter Luther, in light of his two tours in the jungle, for a loop.
Also, re the boat people and others left high and dry, try to catch "Gran Torino" sometime. People think of it as a Clint Eastwood vehicle, or a ref to his character's war, the Korean War, but it's really not --it's about Viet Nam, about the Hmong, the USA-allied mountain people, the people under the Yellow Rain after the Democrats kissed them goodbye.
I wrote about the Hmong here http://www.democracy-project.com/archives/003793.html and here http://www.democracy-project.com/archives/003013.html with links to other posts I wrote about the Hmong.
thanks --got 'em and will read them. Lots of Hmong-Americans spoke up on the net, after the Eastwood film came out --but mostly about the film, nothing much about, well, 'recent history' is i guess the best way to put it.
I worked for the IRS back in the late 70's early 80's. Two of the attorneys I worked with served in Vietnam. One of them had nothing good to say about the ARVN. The other came up to me one day and told me that the one critical of the ARVN served as a desk jockey in Saigon. This one had served with (and sometimes been mistaken for) the ARVN in the field in combat and had high praise for them.
Just a short note to back up Del's commentary - I was there from '67 to '69. When I first got there, the attitude of my fellow Marines towards the ARVN wasn't positive. By the end of my second tour, that attitude had changed - in particular after Hue. They became motivated troops almost in front of my eyes and eventually, we became less concerned by ARVN backup on operations - we came to count on them.
Great post and commentary.
I served with an advisory team to a regiment of the 21st ARVN Division in the Mekong Delta from Oct66 to Mar68. They were good. At times we complaind about their tepid aggression, but when they tangled with the VC, the ARVNs fought hard. They really proved themselves during TET 68.
These days I often wonder what became of the many ARVNs I worked with and civilians I befriended. I believed in the cause and still hate what our politicians did to the GI, the South Vietnamese and the victory we bled for. Is it about to be repeated today in Iraq?
"I believed in the cause and still hate what our politicians did to the GI, the South Vietnamese and the victory we bled for."
Amen, brother, amen. In my experience, that is the feeling of a great majority of Vietnam vets who were in the field, and perhaps most of those who were not. We mostly know what happened after we cut back supplies to the ARVN, how they fought a doomed holding action against the Russian-supplied North with its mandatory draft of a whole generation. And what happened to the whole country after Saigon fell, things got so bad that 2MM people left, from a culture that is tied to the land and the graves of their ancestors. And the antiwar people still hold their fantasy that their actions brought "peace & justice" to the south. They learned nothing from the reality, and hang on to the fantasy, and some of them would do it all again today. Heaven help us.
After years of doing business, my dry cleaner, Mr. Nguyen, told that he had been in the ARVN once. After the fall of the South, he was placed in a labor camp for 14 years. Finally released, he escaped to America to start again. After telling me this, he said "Thank you for your country!"
I'm inserting some excerpts from emails I received from other witnesses to the ARVN's performance:
Email from Jack Heslin, US Army helicopter pilot at 1972 Battle of Kontum, keeper of the valuable, informative website about the battle http://www.thebattleofkontum.com/memories/memories.html
I enjoyed the piece and fully support the comments about the “evolution of the ARVN”. As you know, I am close friends with Gen Ly Tong Ba and watched him and his soldiers in action during the Battle of Kontum in ’72. Since then, I have had long conversations with Gen Ba about his memories and the battles he fought….you may not be aware that we have added a number of memories recently to the Memories Book on the Battle of Kontum web site. Many recent ones had to do with the battle for Fire Support Base Charlie that was part of the Battle of Kontum. The entry by Bill Reeder is very interesting and it speaks os how a Vietnamese A-! pilot saved his life while they were POWs.
I missed the 1965-67 period described in the opening paragraph by your friend. By 1968 - arriving in June - things were better - again as he says. I was particularly impressed by ARVN Rangers, but actually served with militia - the lowest of the low. Faced with a battalion assault (I had a USMC type squad – three fire teams of USN sailors - none of whom had seen infantry combat except me - which is why I was petty officer in charge) the Vietnamese were far more interested in their own defense than, say, the Falkland Islanders were in 1981 - and everyone turned to. I reorganized in a way similar to the US Army in the Korean War - forming three Army type binary squads each of which was mixed Viet and American - resulting in every team being able to communicate with others in both languages. Like a commander from the middle ages - I put two units forward - and held the third under direct command as a reserve - which
was not only sound tactically - but was so obviously such it instilled confidence in everyone - and I never did commit the reserve - nor fire a single shot personally. Nominally on the defense - we also had the initiative - because the Viets networked with their neighbors and gave us details of the approaching enemy for days: we could pick the place of battle, and we had prepared the ground. To which add we had an actual plan - use a water barrier - focus on the only crossing point - use electrically controlled mines placed in pairs in case one failed in successive lines along the causeway - and use basic USMC aimed rifle concepts to shoot the officers - defined as "anyone giving orders" - because the Viets had helped us understand the psychology of the enemy. [The boys would go home if there were no officers to report them for desertion] I trusted the Viets and their intel as well as their commitment not to abandon the neighborhood - and they trusted us not to abandon them in turn - and it worked. Lacking officers, we could not qualify for US medals - but Vietnam gave us a Presidential Unit Citation.
"I believed in the cause and still hate what our politicians did to the GI, the South Vietnamese and the victory we bled for. Is it about to be repeated today in Iraq?"
That crushes me to this day.
But I'm afraid we're about to relive that time. We lost our nuts in Korea when we backed down from the paper tiger. Numbers didn't help when they faced Marines. Wouldn't now, 'cept we're pussies. That's when it started, my opinion. It's only gotten worse, since.
Forgive my bravado. Though I don't really renounce it. This has always been a country that could, no matter what, not a country that can't. That rips my guts out.
sixteen months and a couple get-ups, and we get to try again.
Vietnam has nothing to do with Iran's Islamic Republic or Iraq's.
Coalition Force Iraq campaign is a legal incursion to liberate the Iraqi people though it is a dismal failure.
It leaves them ensdlaved to Islam.
See. I knew many such souls in SVN when I was there. We deserted them all when we reneged on our agreements.
I just screwed up. My last comment was meant for 5.2 TimH.
As for you Leag... just shut the fuck up.
Luther, i lost the URL for your unit's website. From that time long ago we coaxed it out of you over on Roger Simon's site. I put it somewhere, i know. Not under 'L' or 'M' though.
In the short time I was there I didn't work directly with many ARVN. It was shortly after Tet '68 and I don't remember many of the guys who'd been there for awhile complaining. I do know that the first time I scored some dope it was from an ARVN, but I figure that he wouldn't have sold it without a market (me) and he also arranged for guys who wanted "boom-boom" so it wasn't a big thing.
Thanks to all those posting here who've served, and welcome home. Hope you'll join me in vowing not to let our current crop of military people be "victimized" the way folks tried to do with us.
Rob J. 11Bravo AlphaCo,4th/47th,9thInfDiv USArmy RVN '68 Mobile Riverine Force