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  #61  
Old 20 September 2017, 19:51
Armitage12 Armitage12 is offline
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If you want to read more, a couple of leads. There has been a tremendous amount written, but I've saved a few references I've caught in the last decade for me to look at later. This might say more about me than about the absolute state of where historians are on the war, but nonetheless these are some of the latest interesting works. Warning: these are scholarly histories, not memoirs (except Finlayson) or popular accounts (except for Herring).

Robert K. Brigham, ARVN: Life and Death in the South Vietnamese Army (U. Press of Kansas - Modern War Studies series). 2006. First in-depth history of the ARVN based on broad analysis of Vietnamese language materials (Brigham has command of the Vietnamese language).

George C. Herring, America's Longest War: The United States and Vietnam, 1950-1975. Buy the latest edition you can find--it is the standard short survey, providing both the diplomatic and the military events in context.

Gregory Daddis, Westmoreland's War: Reassessing American Strategy in Vietnam (Daddis is an advisor to the Burns series).

Jeremy Kuzmarov, The Myth of the Addicted Army: Vietnam and the Modern War on Drugs (Amherst: University of Massachussetts Press, 2009). Challenges the myth that the army was drug-addled in the final years in Vietnam, and show how and why the myth was created.

Ron Milam, Not a Gentleman’s War: An Inside View of Junior Officers in the Vietnam War (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2009). Favorably reviewed analysis of experience of this level of activity, confirming the belief that it was the short rotation that compromised the effectiveness of junior leaders.

John M. Shaw, The Cambodian Campaign: The 1970 Offensive and America’s Vietnam War, (Lawrence, KS 2005). Revisionist addition to the literature in the field that explains why it was militarily necessary to engage the Viet Cong forces and PAVN forces in Cambodia.

Andrew R. Finlayson, Rice Paddy Recon: A Marine Officer’s Second Tour in Vietnam, 1968-1970 (McFarland & Company, 2014). Another valuable memoir about the experience here.

Jonathan Southard, Defend and Befriend: The U.S Marine Corps and Combined Action Platoons in Vietnam (University Press of Kentucky, 2014). Important new work that explains how this worked; favorably reviewed in the JMH; compare with Bing West, The Village, which may remain the best overall memoir about it.
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  #62  
Old 20 September 2017, 20:16
Stretch Stretch is offline
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Agonyea and CAPAUSRET,

Thank you for your service.

All I know about the Vietnam War are your posts and this documentary.

My best friend's father did two tours. His father enlisted in the Marine Corps at 17yo.

It is something his father never talked about too me. I have seen scars of shrapnel he caught, but never anything else.

According to my friend, he still had nightmares early 80s. Again, it was never discussed.

v/r

S
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  #63  
Old 21 September 2017, 00:03
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I am intentionally not watching this series. I watched the series produced in the 80s based on Stanley Karnow's book and was not impressed.

My library has several shelves of VN histories and novels. Some of the earliest books were total shams. IMHO, the best of all VN books were written by Dr. Bernard Fall. I have every one, including the one of his last writings and the transcript of the tape running when he was killed.

For a long time after my ETS, I never discussed VN with anyone who was not another veteran. Many, too many, times I heard other young people laugh about and make fun of vets.

I still have nightmares about my days with the BDQ.
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  #64  
Old 21 September 2017, 00:34
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"It's been forty years; even the Vietnamese veterans, we avoid talking about the war. People sing about victory and liberation. They're wrong. Who won and who lost is not a question. In war no one wins or loses. There is only destruction. Only those who have never fought like to argue about who won and who lost."

Bao Ninh
North Vietnamese Army.


This was the opening of Episode 1.
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  #65  
Old 21 September 2017, 06:22
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It would be rare to hear two Vietnam experiences that are the same. I was lucky, mine involved cold beer.

Every time I hear someone thank me for my service, I am wondering if they are thinking 'another asshole'.

The Vietnam war/conflict did our country no favors.

I'm with lefty on watching, but I have the series on record.
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  #66  
Old 21 September 2017, 11:41
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lefty View Post
I am intentionally not watching this series. I watched the series produced in the 80s based on Stanley Karnow's book and was not impressed.

My library has several shelves of VN histories and novels. Some of the earliest books were total shams. IMHO, the best of all VN books were written by Dr. Bernard Fall. I have every one, including the one of his last writings and the transcript of the tape running when he was killed.

For a long time after my ETS, I never discussed VN with anyone who was not another veteran. Many, too many, times I heard other young people laugh about and make fun of vets.

I still have nightmares about my days with the BDQ.
I have the series from Amazon...Nancy and I will watch it together, and share out thoughts.

Without Nancy, I probably would not watch it. I will undoubtedly be shedding tears.
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  #67  
Old 21 September 2017, 13:41
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Interesting response from Bing West

Quote:
Missing from Ken Burns’ ‘Vietnam’: The patriotism and pride of those who fought
By Bing West
September 19, 2017 New York Post

To understand Ken Burns’ 18-hour Vietnam documentary, listen to the music. The haunting score tells you: This will be a tale of misery. And indeed, Burns and his co-author Geoffrey C. Ward conclude their script by writing, “The Vietnam War was a tragedy, immeasurable and irredeemable. But meaning can be found in the individual stories . . .”

The film is meticulous in the veracity of the hundreds of factoids that were selected. Everything depicted on the American side actually happened. But that the chosen facts are accurate doesn’t mean the film gets everything right. Indeed, the brave American veterans are portrayed with a keen sense of regret and embarrassment about the war, a distortion that must not go unanswered. And the film implies an (absolutely) unearned moral equivalence between antiwar protesters and those who fought.

Burns’ theme is clear: A resolute North Vietnam was predestined to defeat a delusional America that heedlessly sacrificed its soldiers. The film follows a chronological progression, beginning in the ’40s. Right from the start, harrowing combat footage from the ’60s is inserted to remind the audience that a blinkered America is doomed to repeat the mistakes of the French colonialists. The main focus of the documentary is the period of fierce fighting from late 1965 to 1972.

Against a gripping assortment of close-up photos and combat video, dozens of American and Vietnamese voices offer snippets of personal insights about history, geopolitics, families, ideologies, politics, battles, casualties and, above all, frustrations.

Most of the interviewees talk in the lugubrious tones of the defeated. We all know the story ends badly. But when it’s over, we aren’t told why we lost. The music is more memorable than the pictures, and the pictures are more compelling than the narration. We are deluged by sights and sounds but not enlightened as to cause and effect.

An American lieutenant who fought there in 1965 is quoted at the end of the film saying, “We have learned a lesson . . . that we just can’t impose our will on others.” While that summarizes the documentary, the opposite is true. Wars are fought to impose your will upon the enemy. If you don’t intend to win, don’t fight.

Our civilian and military leaders were grossly irresponsible. At the height of the war in 1968, Secretary of Defense Clark Clifford is quoted as telling President Lyndon Johnson, “We’re not out to win the war. We’re out to win the peace.”

Our senior leadership granted the enemy ground sanctuaries in Cambodia, Laos and North Vietnam and bombing was severely restricted.

The film points out that we grunts called the DMZ (Demilitarized Zone) the Dead Marine Zone because we were pounded from North Vietnam and forbidden to attack. The real lesson: Never fight on the enemy’s terms.

The documentary includes a modi$#@! of footage about the South Vietnamese military. The South Vietnamese soldiers I fought alongside were brave and determined. Yet in 1973, sick of the war, Congress forbade any further bombing in Southeast Asia. Military aid to South Vietnam was slashed, while Soviet-built tanks and Chinese-made artillery poured into North Vietnam.

It is moot whether South Vietnam could have survived had our aid continued. The video of our panicked final pull-out in 1975 is flat-out depressing.

The film casts the antiwar movement in a moderately favorable light. Air Force pilot Merrill McPeak is quoted as saying, “the antiwar movement itself, the whole movement towards racial equality, the environment, the role of women . . . produced the America we have today, and we are better for it.” (What do you expect from an AF guy???)

Are the protesters the real heroes here? What about the valiant US soldiers, 75 percent of whom were volunteers?

This documentary succeeds in vividly evoking sadness and frustration. But that is not all there was to the story. “The Vietnam War” strives for a moral equivalence where there is none. The veterans seem sad and detached for their experience, yet 90 percent of Vietnam War veterans are proud to have served. So, there’s a large gap between what we see and the attitude of the vast majority of veterans.

Their sense of pride — so vital for national unity — is absent from the documentary. And that’s a glaring omission. - Bing West served as a Marine infantry officer in Vietnam. He is the author of “The Village,” which has been on the Marine Commandant’s reading list for 45 years.

Maj. Lynn Lowder, Silver Star, Marine Force Recon / A following thought on Bing West's review below of Burn's Vietnam piece.

West is pro-vet for sure and I think he's spot-on. Were I able, I would still go back and do it all again...even knowing how it ended. That year defined us...we are warriors. I'll never be a full-fledged civilian nor do I want to be one...ever. Warrior tribe defines us...those like us...Foreign Legion, Caesar's legions, on and on; THAT is whom we are and where we belong, IMHO.

One more point...remember the Killing Fields, Pol Pot, the Vietnamese boat people flowing out to see, the Montagnard purge, the re-education camps, etc.? Where was the moral outrage within academia, Hollywood and our high-moral civilian brethren counterparts in America on those situations?

Well, none of that will be deeply explored in this series and all of that supports the notion that bad things were going on in that area of the world, geopolitical influences of communism were of high concern and our political leadership failed miserably. If you go to battle, bring maximum violence and strike decisively to win. In the end, the credit goes to the warriors in the arena. Not with the 20-20 hindsight folks decades past that period. I have infinite respect for the NVA.

In fact, I contrast that with the disdain I still hold for our political leadership, our spineless flag grade officers who knew better but wimped out and those of our generation who feigned a position of the war being immoral when most were driven by simple rank self-preservation...those same people who then heaped scorn on warriors who reminded them of whom they were not and never will – or could - be...us. SF
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  #68  
Old 21 September 2017, 18:05
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No sense going into the many reasons we went to Vietnam, the bottom line was that there was an incoherent policy from the start, at the highest levels, and even those who were convinced that there was no viable option for truly prevailing in the long run kept signing off on that same incoherent policy, right up until the end. Proudly serving and fighting bravely is certainly important, the esprit de corps. But in the end it isn't enough without a sound policy put forth for why we are there, anywhere, to begin with.

Hell, even Nixon, who came into office vowing to end the war, and took his time doing so for purely political reasons that had nothing to do with an honorable peace. He wanted to keep alive the fallacy that through the process of Vietnamization we could leave the country and they would still have a fighting chance, which was ludicrous. When you think of unreliable allies, especially those who you are supporting with aid and troops, South Vietnam tops the list. I'm sure there were plenty of honorable S. Vietnamese who were fighting the good fight, but that country's government and leadership was rotten to the core. There was no way they could survive our pullout.

I always thought this scene from The Wire sums up a lot of endeavors, mainly military but it could be just about anything somebody or some nation sets its sights on. Slim Charles, we'll call him the Sec Def, explaining the facts to Avon Barksdale, the POTUS (President of the United Shitheads).

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oOQCuRdWt-A

"Don't matter who did what to who at this point. Fact is, we went to war, and now there ain't no going back. I mean, shit, it's what war is, you know? Once you in it, you in it. If it's a lie, then we fight on that lie. But we gotta fight."

Wars tend to gather steam and take on a life of their own, like living, breathing growing organisms. US policy and actions should have been fully grown from the start, none of this incremental buildup. Not to mention rotating individuals instead of cohesive units, failing to fully include the NG and Reserve, and especially cancelling all deferments for military duty.

So having other priorities or anal warts wouldn't have kept you from getting an invitation from Uncle Sam.
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  #69  
Old 21 September 2017, 19:33
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Originally Posted by leopardprey View Post
You Vietnam veterans on this site: take heart in knowing that for many of us that later joined the service in the later 70s, 80s, and 90s - you were our heroes and role models. The footsteps we wished to follow, whose exploits and bravery we obsessed over while growing up. So for those who it mattered, who had the same inner warrior ethos waiting to get finally unleashed when we were old enough or young lower enlisted studs, you set the standard we tried to live up to.
Very well put.
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Old 21 September 2017, 20:03
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Episode 4-near the of the episode a picture of several Marines looking at a body; the Marine in the middle with the M-14,sleeveless,and flak jacket is Sgt Melton later retired as LT Col Melton;okc, ok
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  #71  
Old 21 September 2017, 20:40
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I've been watching the series (and DVR'ing it) and its interesting to see the policy decisions that were being made behind the scenes.

I've read books on Vietnam but those were mostly about battles and memoirs, nothing really related to the horrible decisions that turned it all into the mess it was.

Have always respected those that fought there and as was said before, those of us that joined in the '80s were following in your footsteps.
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  #72  
Old 21 September 2017, 21:43
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Haven't sorted them all out yet, but I kept finding threads-forward to Afghanistan as I watched last night. The warrior ethos and standards LP mentioned hit me in the face (not for the first time): noted and revered. Will keep watching and thinking...
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  #73  
Old 22 September 2017, 08:15
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Frankly, other than the political decisions, I think the series portrays the VC as hardcore, talented fighters and the US mil as bungling, lucky to have survivied innocents.

Facts show, that for the most part, the VC/North forces got their asses handed to them in most encounters with us. Their ability to jump across arbitrary no fire lines or boundaries and inept senior US leaders is the only thing that enabled them to survive.
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  #74  
Old 22 September 2017, 10:06
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Frankly, other than the political decisions, I think the series portrays the VC as hardcore, talented fighters and the US mil as bungling, lucky to have survivied innocents.

Facts show, that for the most part, the VC/North forces got their asses handed to them in most encounters with us. Their ability to jump across arbitrary no fire lines or boundaries and inept senior US leaders is the only thing that enabled them to survive.
I get the same impression. I'm not impressed with Burns in this project as he is following a narrative and is not sticking with the facts or demonstrating even the slightest bit of objectively. Case in point, what did you learn about Col. Hank Emerson ("Gunfighter") in this "documentary." Briefly you caught a picture of him and then it switched almost immediately to a US soldier standing over the severed head of what appeared to be a Vietnamese male. Peter Coyota then tells us that Emerson requested the severed heads of the VC and NVA. That's it, nothing more. What impression does that leave you with one of the best and most influential battle field commanders of his generation? Then you toss in a press interview with Charley Beckwith right after Plei Me. He tells the reporter that the VC were the best troops he's ever been around. There you go, the story is set.

I'm waiting for Burns to get around to the stories that are told here: http://www.history.army.mil/moh/vietnam-a-l.html, I'll be sure not to hold my breath as these stories don't quite conform to his concept of how US forces conducted themselves in Vietnam because according to this documentary they were too busy committing war crimes or being overwhelmed by the military awesomeness of the VC and NVA.
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  #75  
Old 23 September 2017, 22:58
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This is fucking depressing. I'm on episode three. All during the first three episodes, I am sitting her realizing they are going to use the same voiceover when they do the Afghanistan War Documentary in 20 years. And that makes me sad. What an unnecessary, stupid fucking waste. The hubris of our country to think we can do the same thing over and over and see any different results....what a waste of our best.
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  #76  
Old 24 September 2017, 07:24
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Originally Posted by leopardprey View Post
You Vietnam veterans on this site: take heart in knowing that for many of us that later joined the service in the later 70s, 80s, and 90s - you were our heroes and role models. The footsteps we wished to follow, whose exploits and bravery we obsessed over while growing up. So for those who it mattered, who had the same inner warrior ethos waiting to get finally unleashed when we were old enough or young lower enlisted studs, you set the standard we tried to live up to.
Damn right.

All of my NCOs in the 82d wore CIBs from Vietnam. 42 years later, I still find anecdotes from their stories that still apply today.
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  #77  
Old 24 September 2017, 07:48
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Originally Posted by Silverbullet View Post
Frankly, other than the political decisions, I think the series portrays the VC as hardcore, talented fighters and the US mil as bungling, lucky to have survived innocents.

Facts show, that for the most part, the VC/North forces got their asses handed to them in most encounters with us. Their ability to jump across arbitrary no fire lines or boundaries and inept senior US leaders is the only thing that enabled them to survive.
I read a study long ago, that US forces won over 95% of the tactical engagements with the VC/NVA. Despite the strategic and tactical surprise during the Tet Offensive, the North Vietnamese were crushed within a week. The Viet Cong ceased to exist, and the NVA regulars had to pick up the slack from 1968 to 1972. We didn't do that with drug addicts, scared teenagers or hippies.
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  #78  
Old 24 September 2017, 08:19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by leopardprey View Post
You Vietnam veterans on this site: take heart in knowing that for many of us that later joined the service in the later 70s, 80s, and 90s - you were our heroes and role models. The footsteps we wished to follow, whose exploits and bravery we obsessed over while growing up. So for those who it mattered, who had the same inner warrior ethos waiting to get finally unleashed when we were old enough or young lower enlisted studs, you set the standard we tried to live up to.
Too True.

And thanks to SM being able to connect with our first-tour VN Vet NCO's to tell them how their influence and guidance paved our way into manhood has been priceless.
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  #79  
Old 24 September 2017, 10:37
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Hell in a Very Small Place should be required reading. Outstanding.
Outstanding book!
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Old 24 September 2017, 13:10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by leopardprey View Post
You Vietnam veterans on this site: take heart in knowing that for many of us that later joined the service in the later 70s, 80s, and 90s - you were our heroes and role models. The footsteps we wished to follow, whose exploits and bravery we obsessed over while growing up. So for those who it mattered, who had the same inner warrior ethos waiting to get finally unleashed when we were old enough or young lower enlisted studs, you set the standard we tried to live up to.

Absolutely.
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