“Get Over It!”

It is the “real” Memorial Day and as a Vietnam veteran I have often wondered why all the films made about that war feature mostly white guys….Blacks came home to worse things than us whites….and no one has ever cared…..

Spike Lee will change that…..finally the story of black Vietnam veterans will be told.

When Dedan Kimathi Ji Jaga returned from combat in Vietnam, he painted his walls black, covered his windows and sat in darkness all day. His injuries and post-traumatic stress were severe, but as with many African American soldiers in 1968, the US government gave him little support.

“They summarily released me back to the streets with no aid,” said the 72-year-old California resident.

Black veterans across America are hoping this painful and enduring legacy will get the attention it deserves in Spike Lee’s new film, Da 5 Bloods, which chronicles the journey of four African American vets who return to Vietnam in search of their fallen squad leader and buried gold.

“The plight of African American service members who served in Vietnam, where they are now, why they are the way they are, this should be brought to light,” said Richard D Kingsberry, a veteran in Charlotte, North Carolina, who began his service in 1972 in the navy. “A lot of African American service members never got cared for properly after they returned, and that is a life-altering impact.”

https://www.theguardian.com/film/2020/may/22/spike-lee-vietnam-da-5-bloods-black-veterans

After so many years their stories can be told…..a bit late but maybe it will help people understand….

Here is a story that will NEVER be told…..

Image

I Read, I Write, You Know

“lego ergo scribo”

Hamburger Hill

Closing Thought–12May20

It’s official designation is Hill 937…..or Ap Bia Mountain…….in the A Shau Valley……

51 years ago this week….the US forces faced the forces of the Army of North Vietnam…..a loss of 400 American soldiers and 600 for the NVA…..the battle was fought over 10 days in 1969.

This battle was a failure in more ways than not…..and helped turn the temperament of the nation against the war…..there was more to this battle than the entertainment of the movies….

Information on the Battle of Hamburger Hill during The Vietnam War, also known as Hill 937. The battle, which was fought on May 10-20, 1969 was a direct assault against a heavily defended and strategically insignificant hill, resulted in over 400 U.S. casualties and caused an outrage back home.

‘Don’t mean nothin’. That was the refrain of the powerful 1987 movie about the battle for Hamburger Hill, more correctly called Ap Bia Mountain or Hill 937. Many veterans of that May 1969 fight would no doubt agree, since the hill was abandoned to the enemy soon after it was taken. But the truth is that it was one of the most significant battles of the war, for it spelled the end of major American ground combat operations in Vietnam.

The Hamburger Hill battle had run afoul of a fundamental war-fighting equation. Master philosopher of war Karl von Clausewitz emphasized almost a century and a half earlier that because war is controlled by its political object, the value of this object must determine the sacrifices to be made for it both in magnitude and also in duration. He went on to say, Once the expenditure of effort exceeds the value of the political object, the object must be renounced. And that’s exactly what happened. The expenditure of effort at Hamburger Hill exceeded the value the American people attached to the war in Vietnam. The public had turned against the war a year and a half earlier, and it was their intense reaction to the cost of that battle in American lives, inflamed by sensationalist media reporting, that forced the Nixon administration to order the end of major tactical ground operations.

Battle Of Hamburger Hill During The Vietnam War

“When will we ever learn?”

I Read, I Write, You Know

“lego ergo scribo”

Kent State–50 Years On

Before the days when cops have a free hand at killing American citizens….there were antiwar protests all over the nation……one particularly deadly encounter was Kent State….

Do you remember this iconic photo from the massacre?

Image

On this day in 1970 Ohioan National Guard open fire on protesting students……with disastrous results….death and maiming……

On May 4, 1970, in Kent, Ohio, 28 National Guardsmen fire their weapons at a group of anti-war demonstrators on the Kent State University campus, killing four students, wounding eight, and permanently paralyzing another. The tragedy was a watershed moment for a nation divided by the conflict in Vietnam, and further galvanized the anti-war movement

Two days earlier, on May 2, National Guard troops were called to Kent to suppress students rioting in protest of the Vietnam War and the U.S. invasion of Cambodia. The next day, scattered protests were dispersed by tear gas, and on May 4 class resumed at Kent State University. By noon that day, despite a ban on rallies, some 2,000 people had assembled on the campus. National Guard troops arrived and ordered the crowd to disperse, fired tear gas, and advanced against the students with bayonets fixed on their rifles. Some of the protesters, refusing to yield, responded by throwing rocks and verbally taunting the troops.

https://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/national-guard-kills-four-at-kent-state

What did those deaths accomplish?

https://www.military.com/daily-news/2020/05/03/day-all-hell-broke-loose-local-lives-lost-forever-changed-kent-state-shooting-50-years-ago.html

As usual nothing happened…other than the deaths of some students….of which some were not part of the protest…..and yet they are dead…..

Phillip Lafayette Gibbs met Dale Adams when they were in high school, in Ripley, Mississippi, a town best known as the home of William Faulkner’s great-grandfather, who ran a slave plantation, fought in the Mexican-American War, raised troops that joined the Confederate Army, wrote a best-selling mystery about a murder on a steamboat, shot a man to death and got away with it, and was elected to the Mississippi legislature. He was killed before he could take his seat, but that seat would have been two hundred miles away in the state capitol, in Jackson, a city named for Andrew Jackson, who ran a slave plantation, fought in the War of 1812, was famous for killing Indians, shot a man to death and got away with it, and was elected President of the United States. Phillip Gibbs’s father and Dale Adams’s father had both been sharecroppers:  they came from families who had been held as slaves by families like the Jacksons and the Faulkners, by force of arms.

https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2020/05/04/kent-state-and-the-war-that-never-ended

For those that did not read the links….these are the names and wounded at Kent State on 04 May 1970…..

Killed (and approximate distance from the National Guard):

  • Jeffrey Glenn Miller; age 20; 265 ft (81 m) shot through the mouth; killed instantly
  • Allison B. Krause; age 19; 343 ft (105 m) fatal left chest wound; died later that day
  • William Knox Schroeder; age 19; 382 ft (116 m) fatal chest wound; died almost an hour later in a local hospital while undergoing surgery
  • Sandra Lee Scheuer; age 20; 390 ft (120 m) fatal neck wound; died a few minutes later from loss of blood

Wounded (and approximate distance from the National Guard):

  • Joseph Lewis, Jr.; 71 ft (22 m); hit twice in the right abdomen and left lower leg
  • John R. Cleary; 110 ft (34 m); upper left chest wound
  • Thomas Mark Grace; 225 ft (69 m); struck in left ankle
  • Alan Michael Canfora; 225 ft (69 m); hit in his right wrist
  • Dean R. Kahler; 300 ft (91 m); back wound fracturing the vertebrae, permanently paralyzed from the chest down
  • Douglas Alan Wrentmore; 329 ft (100 m); hit in his right knee
  • James Dennis Russell; 375 ft (114 m); hit in his right thigh from a bullet and in the right forehead by birdshot, both wounds minor
  • Robert Follis Stamps; 495 ft (151 m); hit in his right buttock
  • Donald Scott MacKenzie; 750 ft (230 m); neck wound

Least we forget……may they R.I.P.

I Read, I Write, You Know

“Lego ergo scribo”

The “Angels Of Dien Bien Phu”

I wrote a piece for women’s history month and the notes got lost on my desk and it did not make it when intended….

Dien Bien Phu was the battle that took France out of Southeast Asia….a little background is probably needed for Vietnam is quickly becoming a war to forget for most Americans…..

In November 1953, the French, weary of jungle warfare, occupied Dien Bien Phu, a small mountain outpost on the Vietnamese border near Laos. Although the Vietnamese rapidly cut off all roads to the fort, the French were confident that they could be supplied by air. The fort was also out in the open, and the French believed that their superior artillery would keep the position safe. In 1954, the Viet Minh army, under General Vo Nguyen Giap, moved against Dien Bien Phu and in March encircled it with 40,000 Communist troops and heavy artillery.

The first Viet Minh assault against the 13,000 entrenched French troops came on March 12, and despite massive air support, the French held only two square miles by late April. On May 7, after 57 days of siege, the French positions collapsed. Although the defeat brought an end to French colonial efforts in Indochina, the United States soon stepped up to fill the vacuum, increasing military aid to South Vietnam and sending the first U.S. military advisers to the country in 1959.

https://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/french-defeated-at-dien-bien-phu

The “angel”…..Her name was Genevieve de Galard…..

Born into a storied family, Geneviève de Galard was shaped by its patriotic spirit and even as a youth felt a need to prove herself worthy of its heritage. Only 14 at the outset of World War II, she faced the horrors and hardships of Nazi occupation in her most formative years. Completing her education after liberation, she eschewed a life of privilege to pursue a path of giving through nursing. Fueled by patriotism and intrigued by the raging colonial conflict in Indochina, she became a flight nurse for the French airforce and made her first tour to Vietnam in April 1953 as the war against the Viet Minh grew more desperate. Based in Hanoi, in January 1954 she began working on evacuation flights from Dien Bien Phu, the isolated outpost that quickly became the focus of the war as some 11,000 French soldiers came under siege. By March 28, de Galard had flown dozens of evacuation missions to and from the outpost and had no reason to fear the flight that day would be her last—and that over the next 56 days, as the only woman at the base, she would become a worldwide icon of hope and compassion.

An Angel in Dien Bien Phu’s Hell

I will be writing more on the debacle of Dien Bien Phu later…..

I apolgize for not posting this when the interest would have been high…..none the less this fascinating women deserves all the accolades she has received.

Learn Stuff!

Class Dismissed!

I Read, I Write, You Know

“lego ergo scribo”

 

Closing Thought–30Apr20–#2

This day means something to me as a veteran of the Vietnam War….

Flashback: The Fall of Saigon

(photo from NBC News)

On this day in 1975 Saigon fell to the North Vietnamese…..

The day after the North Vietnamese took Saigon, the city was woken by triumphal song. During the night the engineers of the victorious army had rigged up loudspeakers, and from about 5am the same tinny liberation melodies were incessantly played. It was 30 April 1975, and sharp early sunlight illuminated Saigon’s largely empty streets, at a time when the city’s frenetic traffic would normally have already begun to buzz. But hardly anybody knew what to do – whether to go to work or not, whether there would be anything to buy in the market, whether there would be petrol, or whether new fighting might break out. It was, of course, not just Saigon’s daily routine that had been utterly disrupted. Its established role as the capital of non-communist Vietnam had vanished overnight, its soldiers had disappeared, and many of its generals, politicians and civil servants were at that moment bobbing up and down on the decks of warships in the South China Sea, with US Navy blankets pulled round their shoulders.

https://www.theguardian.com/news/2015/apr/21/40-years-on-from-fall-of-saigon-witnessing-end-of-vietnam-war

CBS offers up photos of the day Saigon fell to the Advancing North Vietnamese…..https://www.cbsnews.com/pictures/fall-of-saigon-vietnam-anniversary/

This is how the North viewed this day….

Forty years ago, on April 30, 1975, Nguyen Dang Phat experienced the happiest day of his life.

That morning, as communist troops swept into the South Vietnamese capital of Saigon and forced the U.S.-backed government to surrender, the North Vietnamese Army soldier marked the end of the war along with a crowd of people in Hanoi. The city was about to become the capital of a unified Vietnam. “All the roads were flooded by people holding flags,” Nguyen, now 65, told me recently. “There were no bombs or airplane sounds or screaming. The happy moment was indescribable.”

https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2015/04/the-vietnam-war-as-seen-by-the-north-vietnamese/390627/

This happened 4 years after I returned to the US…I was working as a warehouse manager working nights.

Learn Stuff!

I Read, I Write, You Know

“lego ergo scribo”

Closing Thought–17Mar20

52 years ago yesterday one of the first massacres in American war history happened…..I am talking about the deaths of about 500 Vietnamese men, women and children at the hands of US soldiers.

Fifty-two years ago today, in one of the most heinous and grisly acts against civilians during wartime, as many as 500 unarmed men, women, children, and the elderly — nearly the entire population of the South Vietnamese hamlet of My Lai — were slaughtered, raped, and brutally tortured by United States troops.

As the U.S. military continues to deploy boots on the ground in additional nations — and as specters of totalitarianism and even greater militarism materialize as if pulled from a century ago — the lessons of My Lai should not be relegated to history’s ignominious dust bin.

History, after all, doesn’t repeat itself — ill-fated actions are carried out like déjà vu, by those who refuse to examine past mistakes as if they are sleepwalking through life.

“The My Lai hamlet, part of the village of Son My, was located in Quang Ngai province, which was believed to be a stronghold of the National Liberation Front (NLF) or Viet Cong (VC) and was a frequent target of U.S. and South Vietnamese bombing attacks,” History.com explains. “In March 1968, Charlie Company [or, C Company] of the Americal Division’s 11th Infantry Brigade received word that VC guerrillas had taken control of Son My. Led by Lieutenant William L. Calley, the unit was sent to the village on a search-and-destroy mission on March 16.”

Never Forget, 52 Years Ago the US Slaughtered 500 Unarmed Men, Women, & Children

A Horrible chapter in the history of Americans at war….but that is NO reason to write it out of our conflict histories….

Learn Stuff!

I Read, I Write, You Know

“lego ergo scribo”

Was It Sean Flynn?

Saturday and I wander off my traditional path for some FYI or humor or history…..this day it is the war that I try to forget and cannot…..

Sean Flynn…..Sean Flynn could have done anything he wanted. For a while he tried to be an actor like his swashbuckling father, Errol. But the passion that drove him was to work as a photographer covering America’s deadly wars in Indochina.

The dangerous, chaotic assignment brought him excitement and fame, but it also led him to his death. Forty years ago next week, Flynn and another journalist, Dana Stone, disappeared without trace after encountering a hostile checkpoint south-east of Phnom Penh.

Flynn and Stone disappeared in April 1970 while riding motorcycles together to cover the battlefront in Cambodia. According to the Defense Intelligence Agency, they were captured by Viet Cong and then turned over to the Khmer Rouge, who executed them.At the time, Page was still recovering after he had been severely wounded a year earlier when shrapnel from a land mine pierced his skull, resulting in serious brain injuries.

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/asia/how-errol-flynns-son-was-lost-in-cambodia-ndash-all-but-a-pile-of-bones-1931662.html

Flynn was a photojournalist during the Vietnam War….what got me to thinking about this person was a story I read about the bodies of photojournalists from that war had been turned over for burial…

The legendary Life magazine photojournalist patted the empty seat next to him in the back of the South Vietnamese UH-1 Huey army helicopter. Then he invited Marine Cpl. Sergio Ortiz, a 23-year-old combat photographer, to climb aboard.

“See? There’s room,” said Larry Burrows, who had spent nine years covering the Vietnam War. “Come along if you want.”

Ortiz was tempted. The reporters on that helicopter on Feb. 10, 1971, would be the first to follow South Vietnamese troops on their invasion of Laos, then in its third day. Anyone in the Saigon press corps would have wanted to go.

But Ortiz had a separate assignment to finish for his Marine Corps editors — plus, explicit orders to stay on the Vietnam side of the border.

https://www.omaha.com/news/military/remains-of-vietnam-war-photojournalists-killed-in-copter-crash-wait/article_399e1d68-95cc-5a7e-88d3-d922ce824279.html

Sadly Sean Flynn’s remains were not included he is still listed as missing presumed dead…

May the families of these fallen Americans now get the closure they need…..

May they rest in peace.

“lego ergo scribo”

Tet–1968

Closing Thought–31Jan20

On this day 52 years ago the US troops were ass deep in the NVA’s offensive which began on 30Jan….the Tet Offensive……

On Jan. 30, 1968, Vietnamese communists attacked the American embassy in Saigon. For several hours they held the embassy grounds, inflicting injury and damage and trapping a small group of U.S. military and diplomatic personnel within the embassy. The assailants failed ever to enter the building, and all of them ultimately were killed or captured. This was part of the broader Tet offensive, a military campaign that carried the Vietnam War from the countryside into cities and towns.

In strictly military terms the assault on the embassy, and indeed the broader offensive failed. The attackers occupied the embassy compound and caused considerable damage but never succeeded in entering the building itself. All of the attackers were killed or captured. But the Vietnam War never was entirely military. Americans had been told — and many then still believed — that the war was being won. How, then, could a supposedly ragtag guerrilla army suddenly assault the citadel and symbol of America’s presence in Vietnam, the very building from which the daily war- progress reports flowed?

“Viet Cong Invade American Embassy” — The 1968 Tet Offensive

And with this anniversary we have yet another film about the Vietnam Ear….movies I never watch because of Hollywood’s treatment of the war as some sort of noble endeavor…it was not!

For instance there are several things that were part of that war that are seldom if ever portrayed in film.

Every soldier’s favorite detail…..Shit Burning

Yeah, the military still has this detail. But whenever you hear the telltale sounds of Hueys over the music of Creedence Clearwater’s “Fortunate Son,” the newly deploying troops are always headed to some very green, very loud base filled with troops who are grilling out and kitting up to go on a search and destroy mission.

These new privates are given their marching orders to go out on a combat patrol immediately, even though they’re still green. When (if) they get back, they get time to sit in the bunks and chatter.

No. While they were gone, the REMF NCOs made quick use of that grilled food. It’s time to do the private’s work. Here’s your diesel fuel, Tom Cruise. A lot of Vietnam vets say that’s the newcomer’s first work detail.

Next are those Body Counts that were reported back home in the evening news…..

After an operation the dead were laid out to be counted and that included humans, pigs, monkeys chickens, anything that was dead was counted.

And that is how they got the high body count for the news.

Finally there was the Body Bag Detail…..

I will not go into that because this was so disturbing that I still have vision of the results…..a smell I will NEVER forget.

I just had to vent on this day of remembrance…..at least for me.

I Read, I Write, You Know

“lego ergo scribo”

50 Years Ago

“It was 50 years ago today
Sergeant Pepper taught the band to play,
They’ve been going in and out of style,
But they’re guaranteed to raise the smile,
So may I introduce to you,”

Sorry I digress….a short trip down Memory Lane….

But speaking of protests as I did earlier….a little history……

As a young man I was an antiwar activist…I had witnessed war first hand and wanted to see the whole concept disappear…..I have heard people say that protests do very little in the grand scheme of things……I dis agree….

Ergo 50 years ago this Autumn……

“Demonstrations don’t work.” Next time you hear someone (or yourself) say that, you might consider the Moratorium and Mobilization demonstrations in the fall of 1969 — both commemorating their 50th anniversaries this year.

On Oct.15, 1969, more than two million citizens took part in the Moratorium — a one-day national strike against the war. In hundreds of cities, towns and campuses throughout the country, people from all walks of life took the day off to march, rally, vigil or engage in teach-ins. Until the Women’s March of 2017, the Moratorium held the title as the biggest nationwide demonstration in American history.

Exactly a month later, on Nov. 15, more than a half-million war opponents flooded the nation’s capital for the Mobilization. That was more than double the number of marchers who participated in the famous 1963 March on Washington led by Martin Luther King, Jr. More than 100,000 rallied in a simultaneous antiwar demonstration in San Francisco.

How anti-Vietnam War protests thwarted Nixon’s plans and saved lives

Do not let them (whoever them are) tell you protests do not work….they do and the American people need to remember that and act accordingly.

In closing a bit of protest musical interlude……

I Read, I Wrote, You Know

“Lego Ergo Scribo”

Closing Thought–15Oct19 #2

50 years ago today…..15 October 1969…….

Moratorium Day involved mass protests across the US. Religious services, rallies and meetings were held, aiming to bring the war to an end.

By this point, US troops had been fighting the Communist Viet Cong in Vietnam since 1965. About 45,000 Americans had been killed in action by the end of 1969.

In the frigid fall of 1969, more than 500,000 people marched on Washington to protest U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War. It remains the largest political rally in the nation’s history. While President Richard Nixon was said to have spent the day watching college football inside the White House, to the rest of the world, the protests successfully proved that the antiwar movements comprised more than just politicized youth. The November rallies were part of a string of demonstrations that took place around the world in 1969, with groups from San Francisco to Boston and London petitioning for peace. Despite their cries, the war toiled on for six more years, ending with the fall of Saigon on April 30, 1975.

(Time)

Check out the Great photos from this antiwar protest……

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-49893239

Or for those that cannot read…..

See photos of the history of the peace symbol.

This was when the nation had a soul…..and the deaths of so many Americans for no reason was unacceptable….I miss those days.

And now for Country Joe……

Be Smart!

Learn Stuff!

Class Dismissed!

I Read, I Wrote, You Know

“Lego Ergo Scribo”