35 yrs. Later and Still in Denial

(noon. – promoted by ek hornbeck)

We never came to terms with those years leading up to April 30th 1975, one of the reasons we’ve had the recent past decade, will we come to terms with that, doubt it, but it will just add to what the coming generations will face and their presents and future.

Thanks to the “This week in History” from the Peace Buttons site for the following:

The U.S. presence in Vietnam ended as U.S. Marines and Air Force helicopters, flying from aircraft carriers offshore, begin a massive airlift, Operation Frequent Wind. In all, 682 flights went out – 360 at night. 5,000 people were evacuated by helicopter from the military compound near Saigon’s Tan Son Nhut airport; about 2500 from the U.S. Embassy (1000 Americans total, the rest Vietnamese).

That morning, two U.S. Marines, Darwin Judge and Charles McMahon Jr., Marine security guards, were killed in a rocket attack at the airport.

They were the last Americans to die in the Vietnam War. At dawn, the last Marines guarding the U.S. embassy lifted off.

The war in Vietnam ended as the government in Saigon (then the southern capital, now Ho Chi Minh City) announced its unconditional surrender to the North Vietnamese Army (NVA). Vietnam was reunited after 21 years of U.S. domination and 100 years of French colonial rule. In 15 years, nearly a million NVA and Vietcong troops and a quarter of a million South Vietnamese soldiers had died. Hundreds of thousands of civilians had been killed.

Will these two occupations of our recent past and present, as they continue, end like Vietnam did, doubt it. Though how Afghanistan comes about is anyones guess, as it for one stopped being about what happened on 9/11 as soon as they started beating the drums of wars of choice towards Iraq and we’re not fighting that ghost enemy ‘al Qaeda’ there as it’s spread to many parts of the world in these nine plus years., thanks to the rise of the hatreds we’ve bred.

Will we ever leave, completely, from either country? That to is an unknown, for our policy history seeks to place bases where we can manage easier our long term policies in area’s of this planet. One of the reasons I’ve always thought we were even in Vietnam in the first was setting long term bases at China’s door and being closer to the once Soviet Union on the southern flank.

These two occupations though will reap, and already have, many differing long term results for those we’ve sent into the battle. For most they’ve served at least two tours In Theater and many have done service in both, many others have even served much more then two, meaning years in combat theaters at combat ready, not just one.

Not long after Vietnam, and without this technology, one would be shocked, but not really to surprised and as to shocked only mildly, if one walked into our schools and saw just how little was being taught or even discussed as to our most recent, many years of, past then, as deadly and destructive, not here, as it was. Some Vietnam veterans were going into schools, if they could get the help of teachers and the ok from the schools principles etc., for classroom discussions or assemblies, and these kids mostly seemed to know very little about that whole time, even after the way it split this nation.

Will that be repeated now, probably, as it’s more than a task to get the country to pony up for what they owe the veterans of, especially the wounded, physically and mentally, much less want to talk about or learn from, but boy do many become instant experts of and reap a good living giving their opinions, while those who really understand keep trying to get the real messages and lessons out.

AIR DATE: April 28, 2010

Looking Back at the Vietnam War with Author, Veteran Tim O’Brien

SUMMARY

Thirty five years after the conclusion of the Vietnam War, Tim O’Brien’s collection of stories about an American platoon, “The Things They Carried” is being reissued as it celebrates its own 20th anniversary. Jeffrey Brown talks to the author about the experiences that led him to write the book. Transcript

Snip

JEFFREY BROWN: Twenty years later, what is it that you hope that they and others take from the book?

TIM O’BRIEN: To move beyond platitude, to move beyond the mythology we carry about ourselves and our country, to move beyond the — sort of the notion, I suppose, that, through physical violence, we’re going — we can always accomplish what we want.

Sometimes — sometimes, things like wars can do precisely the reverse of what you want with a policy. You can manufacture enemies, as I was telling the class, that a bullet can kill the enemy, but a bullet can also produce an enemy, depending on whom that bullet strikes.

If it strikes some little boy, a 3-year-old, you have got a very angry mom and a very angry dad and a bunch of neighbors who are not happy. That isn’t to say I’m arguing against all war. And — but it is to say that I think young people, in particular, need to understand the complications and the ambiguities of these things, and to hear it from someone who has not only gone to a war, but devoted a lifetime to suffering from it. –>–>–>

Bob Brewin, who writes “Whats Brewin” for Nextgov mostly on military and veterans issues, has a great short piece at that site about the Zumwalt family.

Brother Enemy

Left to right: Elmo Zumwalt III, James “Jim” Zumwalt, and Elmo Zumwalt Jr. at a patrol boat base in Vietnam 1969. Credit: Zumwalt family photo.

For Jim, the years following the war turned out worse than the combat.

Snip

Crewman on those patrol boats experienced a high casualty rate because they operated on narrow waterways where the banks were lush with vegetation, giving the Viet Cong ample cover to ambush crews.

Zumwalt Jr., who became the youngest chief of Naval operations in 1970, decided to eliminate this natural cover by ordering the spraying of the chemical defoliant Agent Orange on the river banks patrolled by the boats of the “brown water Navy,” including the one commanded by his namesake son.

That tactical decision unleashed a chemical time bomb on the Zumwalt family. Agent Orange contained carcinogens, and in 1983, Zumwalt III was diagnosed with lymphatic cancer, a result of his exposure to Agent Orange, he later wrote.

Zumwalt III died in 1988, but not before he co-authored with his father the book “My Father, My Son”, a tale of generational military service that dates back to the American Revolution and courage in the face of adversity.

Today, Jim Zumwalt has weighed in with his own book, “Bare Feet, Iron Will  Stories from the Other Side of Vietnam’s Battlefields”, a courageous story of our enemies in Vietnam. The book will have its formal launch at noon on April 26 at the Navy Memorial in Washington. (The Navy Memorial has a bas-relief that features PCF-35, the patrol boat commanded in Vietnam by Zumwalt III.)

Inland Engagements – U. S. Navy River Operations – Vietnam

I write courageous because it treats the enemy we faced in Vietnam with understanding and sympathy, a take Jim told me that he feared would arouse the wrath of some Vietnam veterans who have yet to come to terms with the war.

But, as Jim told me and as he relates in his book, by meeting his enemy, he started the process of healing his anger and grief, especially over the loss of his brother.

In 1994, Jim accompanied his father on a trip to Hanoi to provide Vietnamese veterans of the war with artificial limbs and wheelchairs. On that trip, Jim watched his 73-year-old father lift and then place a legless Vietnamese veteran in a wheelchair. At that moment, Jim realized that his father had “an immense compassion . . . for those who were less fortunate, whether friend or foe.” –>–>–>

Many of our brothers who served in country, and many others who say they did or say they even served, have not come to terms with the realities and we’ll see same from our present.

Vietnam Agent Orange Relief & Responsibility Campaign

Dow Chemical Accused of Greenwashing by Agent Orange Victims

April 20, 2010 Activists took to Exposition Park yesterday morning to confront and protest Dow Chemical’s sponsorship of the Live Earth Run for Water. Organized by the Vietnam Agent Orange Responsibility and Relief Campaign, the corporation was accused of “greenwashing” its reputation through the event which was aimed at confronting the water crisis. –>–>–>

Vietnamese upbeat about future

HANOI, Vietnam April 29 2010 – Thirty-five years after the end of the Vietnam War, the people of this country are optimistic about the future, bullish about the free market and rarely think about a conflict that still ignites political passions in America.

A new Associated Press-GfK Poll, one of the most exhaustive surveys to date of contemporary Vietnamese attitudes, underscores how rapidly life has changed in Vietnam. Under a single-party Communist government, the country has embraced market-oriented reforms and lifted tens of millions out of poverty.

Eighty-five percent said the economy is stronger than it was five years ago, and 87 percent said they expect it to be even stronger in another five years. Eighty-one percent said the country is moving in the right direction.

Their optimism stands in stark contrast to the widespread pessimism in the United States, where recent polls show many Americans believe their nation is on the wrong track. –>–>–>

Whats different about thirty five years ago and today, many things, but as related to our occupation then the Vietnamese wanted us out of their country, just as they did the French who occupied them for decades, they wouldn’t seek retribution nor blowback for all the deaths and damage done, they do want us to compensate for the lingering devastation that has lasted all these years, the long term wmd’s of war, but to do so as our responsibility as we look the other way and pay them little heed.

There’s a huge difference today. Both countries occupied now, and those that surround them, want us out as well. But we’re in one because of some from that region started carrying out criminal terror attacks against our business, political and personal interests in other countries leading up to the attacks on our country, because of our long time policies in their regions. These two conflicts and long time occupations have only grown the hatreds for us, not just our government anymore. They have also increased the criminal terror attacks against our business, political and personal interests in many area’s of the world and grown memberships in the ghost enemies we and they label with many names but especially one that gets instant stature as to propaganda, al Qaeda, we gave the originators of that all they sought and the blowback from all this will last for the coming decades!

AMERICAN EXPERIENCE: My Lai

Film premiere date April 26, 2010

Introduction

What drove a company of American soldiers — ordinary young men from around the country — to commit the worst atrocity in American military history? Were they “just following orders” as some later declared? Or, did they break under the pressure of a vicious war in which the line between enemy soldier and civilian had been intentionally blurred? AMERICAN EXPERIENCE focuses on the 1968 My Lai massacre, its subsequent cover-up, and the heroic efforts of the soldiers who broke ranks to try to halt the atrocities, and then bring them to light.

On the morning of March 16, 1968, a company of American soldiers entered the village of My Lai, located in Quang Ngai Province in central Vietnam. Frustrated by their inability to directly engage the enemy and emotionally devastated by the ongoing casualties their unit had sustained, the men had been told that this was their chance to finally meet the Viet Cong head on. By the end of the day, they had shot and killed between 300 and 507 unarmed and unresisting men, women and children, none of them apparently members of the enemy forces. –>–>–>

There are other links in the left side bar at site page as well as a short promo video.

Watch Online if missed, some 83 min long, with links related to this presentation!

Vietnam shares experience in recovering from war

Apr 29,2010 Vietnam ‘s experiences in recovery in the aftermath of war were shared at a talk in Hanoi on April 28 in anticipation of the 35th anniversary of the liberation of South Vietnam.

The talk, held by the Vietnam Union of Friendship Associations (VUFO), drew the participation of international friends from the United Kingdom , Egypt , India , Brazil , Poland , Germany , Hungary , France , Switzerland , Sweden , Japan , Sri Lanka , China , Venezuela , Russia and Ukraine .

At the talk, foreign delegates expressed their impressions on the country’s socio-economic development and international economic integration. They said they wished to learn from Vietnam ‘s experiences and policies that helped the country turn from a food importer into an exporter of rice ranking second in the world.

The participants were also interested in bio-agricultural development, the environment in the urbanisation process, and the impact of Vietnam joining the World Trade Organisation on farmers and agricultural products. –>–>–>

Funds needed to clear bombs

HANOI – VIETNAM Apr 29, 2010  will seek international funding to help it clear unexploded wartime ordnance from hundreds of thousands of hectares of land, a government decision received Thursday says.

The 15-year National Mine Action Plan was approved last week by Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung. AFP received a copy of the document Thursday as the country’s leaders marked 35 years since the end of the Vietnam War on April 30, 1975.

Vietnamese officials have estimated they need more than 34 trillion dong (S$2.4 billion dollars) for the removal of unexploded ordnance under the plan, covering 2010-2025. It aims to clear about 1.3 million hectares (3.2 million acres), or 20 per cent of the nation’s land contaminated by wartime munitions that failed to explode. –>–>–>

Vietnam War Correspondents Gather for Saigon Reunion

28 April 2010 Many foreign journalists who covered the Vietnam War are gathering in Ho Chi Minh City, the former Saigon, this week to observe the anniversary of the city’s capture by communist North Vietnam’s soldiers in 1975.  The correspondents talked about the fall of Saigon 35 years ago.

Tim Page fell in love with Vietnam so deeply that he has returned to the southeast Asian nation nearly 60 times since the end of the long war in April 1975.

Page, formerly a photojournalist for Time magazine, comes back to teach the post-war generation of Vietnamese photographers.  He shares with them his experiences in Vietnam during the war, which he says had a great impact on his life.

“I think it was one of the nicest places I ever lived,” said Tim Page. “It was the most exciting story I ever covered.  I took some of the best pictures I ever made [in Vietnam] and I made some of the longest-lasting friends I ever have had.”  –>–>–>

Author Examines Life After Operation Babylift


April 14, 2010  In 1975, the U.S. government airlifted nearly 3,000 displaced children out of wartime Vietnam. “Operation Babylift,” had the best of intentions, but it also had profound consequences.

To begin with, many of the children were too ill to survive the flight, and one of the planes crashed, killing nearly 80 children. Also, the documentation on most of the children was sketchy at best, and at times, falsified. Some of the children were not actually orphans.

In The “The Life We Were Given”, Dana Sachs explores the legacy of the evacuations. She focuses on the actions of three adoption agencies that were responsible for evacuating more than half the children. And she tells the stories of the children and their adoptive American parents.

Many of the Babylift adoptees are both grateful to their American families, and saddened by the murky — or altogether missing — details of their early lives. Many don’t know their real birth dates, or their original names or the names of their Vietnamese family members. Excerpt: ‘The Life We Were Given’

The Life We Were Given: Operation Babylift, International Adoption, and the Children of War in Vietnam

We as a Country still need to come to terms with Vietnam as well as to those sent, our brothers and sisters, and now we’d better come to terms with the recent past decade, and still ongoing, failed policies as they will be much more devastating to our whole country, and citizens of, then that thirty five years ago other!

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    • jimstaro on April 30, 2010 at 12:02 pm
      Author

    The Vietnam War in pictures

    • dennis on April 30, 2010 at 1:22 pm

    I’m rolling back another five years to look at the events of May, 1970–the invasion of Cambodia, the eruption of the nation’s campuses, the killings at Kent State and Jackson State–to keep the memory of that important time green. Do you recall your own response to all of that at the time?  

  1. Maybe if we followed Vietnam’s lead and reduced our Defense spending to 2.5% we would feel as upbeat about the our future as the Vietnamese do about theirs.

    81% of Vietnamese optimistic about direction of country.

    • jimstaro on April 30, 2010 at 6:21 pm
      Author

    At 7th Anniversary of ‘Photo Op’: Mission Still NOT Accomplished

    Saturday marks the 7th anniversary of Mission Accomplished Day, or as it might better be known, Mission Accomplished (NOT) Day. Coming on a weekend, there will be even fewer mentions of this in the national media than last year, and Keith Olbermann, whose show does not air on Saturdays, will not be around to update the usual close to his telecast when he marks exactly how many days since Bush declared victory.

    In my favorite antiwar song of this war, “Shock and Awe,” Neil Young moaned: “Back in the days of Mission Accomplished/ our chief was landing on the deck/ The sun was setting/ behind a golden photo op.” But as Neil added elsewhere: “History is a cruel judge of overconfidence.” –>–>–>

    • jimstaro on April 30, 2010 at 6:38 pm
      Author

    Posted in replies from truong son traveler on another site in posting the 35years of the fall of Saigon.

    I went back with two vet buddies for the recent lunar new year holidays. For a glimpse of what life is like in Hanoi, Da Nang, Hue and HCM City and the countryside here is a video from our trip. The Vietnamese have reason to be upbeat.

    Video is in HD and full screen viewing is possible if your system will support it.

    Viet Nam – The Lunar New Year 2010 in HD from Tea Phrakanong  on Vimeo.

    • jimstaro on April 30, 2010 at 10:44 pm
      Author

    Witness to the End, Photographer Reflects on Vietnam

    April 30, 2010 Thirty-five years ago, White House photographer David Hume Kennerly knew he was on the verge of capturing a historic moment. President Gerald Ford had convened an emergency meeting of the National Security Council in the Roosevelt Room and was poised to end America’s military presence in Vietnam.

    “It was a steady drumbeat of bad news coming into the White House,” Kennerly said. “It was a very tense, dramatic time.” –>–>–>

  2. of North Vietnamese and Viet Cong veterans

    Book Examines Vietnam War from Viet Cong’s Point of View

    AIR DATE: April 30, 2010

    SUMMARY

    On the 35th anniversary of the fall of Saigon, Ray Suarez talks to retired Marine Corps Lt. Col. James Zumwalt about his new book on the Vietnam War, as seen through the eyes of North Vietnamese and Viet Cong veterans.

    RAY SUAREZ: So, give us some examples of the kind of techniques and tactics the North Vietnamese used successfully against a much-better-armed, much-better-equipped enemy.

    LT. COL. JAMES ZUMWALT: Well, one that stands out in my mind is the — what they did along the Ho Chi Minh Trail.

    The Ho Chi Minh Trail, as you know, was a logistical supply line that brought men and materiel from the north down to the south. Obviously, they had to cross rivers at certain points. And the only way you cross a river is with a bridge. They would build bridges for the specific purpose of having as a target — having a target that we would go after.

    They — what they would do then is, upstream or downstream of that bridge, they would come up with very clever ways of hiding bridges. Well, how do you hide a bridge? One is a concept known as a submarine bridge, where they actually built a bridge platform underneath the low watermark.

    And, for those who served in Vietnam, they know that the — the water is basically brown, so you cannot see from the air if there was anything under the water. But these submarine bridges were very effectively used.

    As convoys would cross them, they would have guides standing on either side of the bridge platform guiding them as to where the edges of the platform were. These existed for the duration of the war, and we never knew about them.

    Snip

    LT. COL. JAMES ZUMWALT: This was a people who, again, going back to their DNA, would not tolerate being invaded.

    Could we have won the war? We had the military power, and we never lost a battle in Vietnam. We — if we committed ground forces in the North, we could have driven them out of the cities, but all that would have done was delayed the inevitable, which was that they would keep eating away and eating away, and drawing the war out for as long as it took for us to get out. Rest of Transcript

    “Bare Feet, Iron Will  Stories from the Other Side of Vietnam’s Battlefields”

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