Tag: Vietnam War

Somewhere Along the Way

He’s fifty, he lost his job three years ago, he won’t ever have a job again because American companies don’t hire the long-term unemployed parasites.  He wakes up Sunday mornings now, with no way to hold his head that doesn’t hurt.  And the beer he has for breakfast isn’t bad, so he has one more for dessert.  Then he fumbles through his closet for his clothes, and finds his cleanest dirty shirt, and stumbles down the stairs to meet the day.

Meet the day, parasite.  Welcome to the Brave New World of the Wall Street Gods, welcome to the Shock Doctrine Century, welcome to hunger games and drones in the sky and batshit ten feet deep in the halls of Congress.  Get ready to dodge bullets when you walk out the door, the NRA has turned America into a free fire zone, remember to salute the Job Creators and the police, bring three forms of photo ID if you’re going to cross the street.  Bring some courage along if you have any left, but leave your dignity behind, you won’t need it out here, hardly anyone in this shit storm that used to be America even remembers what it is anymore.

Unfinished Business: The Wake of Agent Orange

The Cleveland Plain Dealer staff , has published a six part series of reports in the Cleveland Plain Dealer on the still lasting effects of the defoliants we used in our destruction of Vietnam. Reports from Vietnam as well as about the daughter of a brother Vietnam Veteran.  

Ellsberg Afraid US May Kill Wikileak’s Assange Over Iraq Leaks

This was previously blogged this afternoon over at FDL much better than I could do it, so I’m going to direct you over to there and Jane Hamsher and Jim White:

Transcript:  Daniel Ellsberg Says He Fears US Might Assassinate Wikileaks Founder


Wikileaks founder Julian Assange released the Iraq War video “Collateral Murder” this past April, which is shot from the viewpoint of the US Apache Helicopter crew who murdered 2 Reuters journalists in 2007.   The person who leaked the video to Wikileaks, Spc Bradley Manning, was arrested May 26th 2010 in Iraq.

My previous diary 6/7/10  “Wikileaks source arrested, hacker snitched”


Diary on the video, 4/5/10,   “Wikileaks: Reuters and kids as collateral damage”


For you younger folk, Daniel Ellsberg was the reason we finally began to get out of the Vietnam War, because he leaked the Pentagon Papers in 1971.  

Ellsberg wiki:


He attended Harvard University, graduating with a Ph.D. (summa cum laude) in Economics in 1962 in which he described a paradox in decision theory now known as the Ellsberg paradox. He graduated first in a class of almost 1,100 lieutenants at the Marine Corps Basic School in Quantico, Virginia, and served as an officer in the Marine Corps for two years. After his discharge, he became an analyst at the RAND Corporation.

Ellsberg served in the Pentagon from August 1964[1] under Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara (and, in fact, was on duty on the evening of the Gulf of Tonkin incident, reporting the incident to McNamara). He then served for two years in Vietnam working for General Edward Lansdale as a civilian in the State Department.

After returning from Vietnam, Ellsberg went back to work at the RAND Corporation. In 1967, he contributed to a top-secret study of classified documents regarding the conduct of the Vietnam War that had been commissioned by Defense Secretary McNamara.[2] These documents, completed in 1968, later became known collectively as the Pentagon Papers. Because he held an extremely high-level security clearance, Ellsberg was one of very few individuals who had access to the complete set of documents.[3] They revealed that the government had knowledge all along that the war would not likely be won, and that continuing the war would lead to many times more casualties than was ever admitted publicly.[4] Further, the papers showed that high-ranking officials had a deep cynicism toward the public, as well as disregard for the loss of life and injury suffered by soldiers and civilians.[4]

Pentagon Papers wiki


The Pentagon Papers, officially titled United States-Vietnam Relations, 1945-1967: A Study Prepared by the Department of Defense, was a top-secret United States Department of Defense history of the United States’ political-military involvement in Vietnam from 1945 to 1967. Commissioned by United States Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara in 1967, the study was completed in 1968. The papers were first brought to the attention of the public on the front page of the New York Times in 1971.[1]

Daniel Ellsberg quote, years later:

Well, I had been consulting for the government, and this is now ’64, for about six years at that point, since ’58, in particular since ’59: Eisenhower, Kennedy, and now Johnson. And I had seen a lot of classified material by this time-I mean, tens of thousands of pages-and had been in a position to compare it with what was being said to the public. The public is lied to every day by the President, by his spokespeople, by his officers. If you can’t handle the thought that the President lies to the public for all kinds of reasons, you couldn’t stay in the government at that level, or you’re made aware of it, a week. …..   The fact is Presidents rarely say the whole truth-essentially, never say the whole truth-of what they expect and what they’re doing and what they believe and why they’re doing it and rarely refrain from lying, actually, about these matters.[26]


Agent Orange devastates generations of Vietnamese

During the Vietnam War, the U.S. dropped millions of gallons of Agent Orange, a toxic defoliant, on Vietnam in an attempt to remove the jungle used for cover by communist forces.

Decades later, civilians still suffer the consequences. Dioxin still lurks in Vietnam’s soil, causing deformities which are passed on from generation to generation.

Worldfocus correspondent Mark Litke and producer Ara Ayer travel to Vietnam and witness the devastating effects the toxin has left behind.

For more information on efforts to aid the victims of Agent Orange, visit the Vietnam Friendship Village.

World Focus

Music for an Empire in Decline

NOTE:  All but the last two videos in this diary are YouTube finds.  The final two are compilations of my own (please forgive the poor quality – I’m still learning), and the last one features some prominent kossacks from last year’s Yearly Kos in Chicago.

It is all too easy to idealize an age, especially if sufficient time has passed to blunt the pain and obscure the harsh realities of the day.  It is too tempting to look back in longing for a past that never really existed.  We all seem to have a tendency to do this – ah the good old days we say.

“Nothing is more responsible for the good old days than a bad memory.”

Franklin Pierce Adams

“Things ain’t what they used to be and probably never was.”

Will Rogers

“The good old days. I was there. Where was they?”

Moms Mabley


My ‘Brothers’ Want Their Proud Name Back!!

When you hear the term “Swiftboat” what comes into your mind?

I already know your answer, but it isn’t the meaning for those who served on nor any Navy Personal who served In-Country Vietnam.

Not to far back a small group of misguided Navy personal, who served aboard ‘Swiftboats’ in ‘Nam, took that once proud name and used it for their political purposes and gains, with some others joining them, who not only never served on  swiftboats, and the extremely dangerous missions they were sent into, but some never served at all, in the Military nor In War/Occupations!

Shame On You T Boone, Shame

Your word has turned to slime, hope the business world is paying attention, though you’ll always find

snakes like you to deal with and make some bucks, and I’m sure many already have learned about you

through your years of building your billions.

What’s this all about? Well,


40 Years – Remembering Tet 1968

In August of 1967 General William Westmoreland claimed to have hurt the enemy so badly that “their major efforts” were limited to the periphery of South Vietnam.

“We have reached an important point when the end becomes to come into view,”  General Westmoreland said in his speech to the National Press Club in Washington on November 21, 1967. “We are making progress…it (success) lies within our grasp, the enemy’s hopes are bankrupt.”

Meanwhile –

General Vo Nguyen Giap explained how and why the Hanoi leders had enticed the American forces to the borders of the South in an extended two-part article published in Quan Doi Nhan Dan (The Army of the People) published in September 1967. Giap cited the fighting along the DMZ and in the Central Highlands as principal examples of Hanoi’s strategy at work.

Quoted from A Bright Shining Lie by Neil Sheehan

The Offensive began on the eve of the lunar new year, 30 January 1968. In it’s early hours Westmoreland still contended that the Tet attacks were a diversion and that the real objective was Khe Sanh.

From Viet Nam – A Love Story

Her grave is set near her family’s home, adjacent to a large grove of coconut palms, beside the backwater of a peaceful lagoon east of Hoi An. She died far away, in childbirth, bringing twin girls into the world in the high plateau country of Dac Lac Province. One of her newborn daughters died. One survived. It was not a good time in that part of the world. It was 1978. She was 31 years old.

A portion of his ashes lies buried next to her tomb. Another portion, the larger amount, rests in an urn in a Buddhist Temple in Ho Chi Minh City, nearly 900 km to the south. His name was John. He was a US Navy Hospital Corpsman. Her name was But (sounds like “boot”, pronounced with a rising inflection). She was a Vietnamese nurse.

I knew John for less than a year, the last year of his life. It was an honor to have known him and to have been his friend. I hadn’t known But, but I knew of her, and about her unfortunate death, years before I knew John.

This is a true story. It became known locally as “A Vietnamese Love Story”

John was a veteran of the Vietnam War, or as it’s known in Viet Nam, “The American War.” One of my earliest contacts with him was late in 2001. He was living in Australia.

He e-mailed me about But after learning that she had died and told me about his plans to return to Viet Nam:

As a Corpsman and a life long observer of people I think my collective knowledge will serve me well in this instance as it has in the past. I will consult with P. about how best to do what I plan to do, especially when I go to the temple to burn some incense and say a prayer to Buddha for But’s and my spirits.

I am somewhat pantheistic with strong leanings toward Eastern religions as well as native American beliefs. In short do good by your fellow man and be a custodian of The Earth Mother.

I worked very closely with But in ’71 while at HQ 2nd CAG and have several pictures of her. I hold her in the highest regard, largely for her patience with me.

I doubly mourn her loss. She was a fine person and an even better nurse. I’d like nothing better than to present her parents, if alive, or the surviving child, with one or more of the pictures I have. Could that be arranged? I plan to go Vietnam within the next year.

Sadly John

I would help to set up contacts for John in Da Nang, friends who would meet him at the airport and take him to meet But’s family near Hoi An. He returned to Viet Nam the first time in June of 2002.

Upon his arrival in Hoi An he learned of an another unfortunate incident in which But’s surviving daughter had died. He told me his impression was that she had taken her own life but that he could not understand the details.

John stopped by Bangkok en-route back to Australia. I was due to go to Laos for a new visa and so John agreed to join me. We took an overnight bus to Nong Khai and crossed the Mekong into Laos early the following morning. We spent several days in Laos and traveled from Vientiane to Vang Vieng, a picturesque village in a serene valley frequented by low-budget backpacker tourists.

While we were there John shared memories from his time in Viet Nam – from his experiences during the war and from his recent trip. He took special pride in his accomplishments while assigned to 2nd CAG. He told me many stories about what he did there taking care of wounded Marines as well as injured and sick Vietnamese civilians and of going on med-caps to rural villages. He also told me of his fondness, respect and admiration for his co-worker, Tran thi But. He told me that through the years since he left Viet Nam he had never forgotten her and often wondered how she fared when the war ended. I sensed that he loved her and was still mourning her death.

Unknown to me and to John before he returned to Hoi An, But also had two sons who lived in Saigon. When he learned of this he arranged for them to come to Hoi An and he took a serious interest in their welfare and had plans for assisting them to help jump start them on their way through life. He had “adopted” them as sons and they looked to him as a father. He had them enroll in English classes in Saigon.

While here in Thailand we looked at motorbikes. One of “his boys”, as he like to call them, was a motorbike taxi driver and his bike had seen much better days. John was planning on getting him a new one and was trying to figure out what might be appropriate. But’s other son was a mechanic and John planned to purchase tools for him to use in his work.

John suffered from chronic PTSD. His first trip back had been a very heavy one emotionally. He wasn’t sure what to do next. I encouraged him to return again if he had no other plans, and spend time getting better acquainted with But’s two sons.

In early July he would travel back again to check on “his boys” and to see what else he could do for them and for the local people of the area. On the night of July 3 I had one of those horrible Viet Nam nightmares, re-playing once again the same theme I have seen for decades. They had become less frequent as the years passed but were equally as frightening as they had been in years gone by. That same night in a hotel room in Hoi An John died of a heart attack. A police investigation followed and determined that there had been no foul play.

John’s brother arrived from Australia and working through the US Consulate in Ho Chi Minh City and the Vietnamese government, permission for local cremation was obtained and John’s remains were placed in an urn kept in a temple near the homes of But’s son’s, “John’s boys”. I went over to help with what I could and with local friends and But’s family, arranged for a simple private ceremony at a temple in Hoi An. A small portion of John’s remains, with the permission of But’s family, were laid to rest beside her tomb. A large number of people were involved and helped. Interestingly there were people who had been on opposite sides during the war years and who had joined efforts in making sure everything was handled properly and and that John’s brother, on his first trip to that part of the world, was made to be as comfortable as possible.

The evening after the service John’s brother and I stopped off a tailor shop in Hoi An. We had a brief wait as he was having some articles of clothing altered. Several local people were there chatting with the shop owners in typical small town fashion and the topic was the American who had been found dead in a local hotel. They had no inkling of the connection between John and the two foreign customers sitting among them in the shop. To them we were just two of many foreign tourists who visit their historic town. They seemed to know all of the details about the local girl, But, and the American. People in Da Nang, people in Hoi An were talking about it, they said.

And so, the story of But and John came to be known in Quang Nam Province as a Vietnamese love story. And, for a country, which until very recently, had been at war for many generations, and in which most love stories had tragic endings, indeed the story of John and But fit the pattern very well.