Tag Archives: Vietnam War

HAPPY VIETNAM VETERANS DAY!

Have yourselves a merry little day all you Vietnam veterans!

And be sure to make time to stop by your Vietnam Veterans Prize Headquarters sometime today to pick up one or more of these great prizes before the US Congress privatizes the whole mess:

Vietnam vets prize headquarters

Everyone needs to replace those bifocals now and then and this is your chance to get a brand new clean pair and have a look at the world the way it is now!

 

Eyeglasses

Artillery ears getting you down?     Do you cup that hand behind the ear and tell that cashier, “Eh?   Say again?” Every time you go to the grocery store?

Your Vietnam Veterans Prize Headquarters has the answer for you…. they’ll take care of those attempts at lip reading in a jiffy!

Diabetes?   Yeah, those needles and insulin are getting expensive, too!

But not for you!    Just stop by the prize HQ and claim yours.

Knees?   Hips?   Ankles?   Feet?   While you’re there, pick up a cane.

The old ticker running down on you?  Have them check out your pacemaker!

Yes, all that and more.    When you finish and you’re ready to head for the parking lot, stop by the rehab office and pick up one of these beauties!

It doesn’t get any better than that!

Thank you for that war.   We couldn’t have done it without you.

Old Jules

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Clean Laundry and Civil Discourse Satanist Style

If you can’t allow adventure to find you in a coin laundry you aren’t living right

 

Most of you probably won’t remember this post from August 10, 2013, back in Kerrville, Texas.    I’ve come to know a lot of veterans since then, but none with quite the flare of the satanist who wore a Vietnam Veteran cap to get people to listen to him talk about his religion.

I noticed a scrawny old guy wearing a Vietnam War Veteran cap watching me as I fed quarters into the machine.   So when I finished I took a chair as far from him as I could get but still see my machine.  Guy’s wearing Vietnam War Veteran caps aren’t part of my repertoire of wanna-get-acquainted.

I watched him out of the corner of my eye while I pretended to do the ‘bored-people scan’, opened my book, read a page, put it down.  Twigged to the fact nobody in the place would meet his eye, and he was trying to get eye contact.  I figured, “Oh jeeze, this guy’s been here enough so everyone wants to avoid the nuisance he makes of himself.”

But he was focusing more attention on me, working up to saying something, or coming over nearer where I was sitting.  I groaned and stood up, stretching, to go out to the RV, head off anything he was thinking.  Too late.

I turned to the door and he caught my eye.  “Hey!  You’re a lefty!”

Um.  Yeah.”  Hell.  How’d he happen to notice that?  Whoopteedoo conversation starter.  He got up and headed to the door with me.

It’s been a chore, hasn’t it?”  Two of us standing in the shade of the overhang.  Me fidgeting to break loose and sprint for the RV.

What has?”

Going through life left-handed.”

Not when I could find a woman willing to sleep on the right side.”  Figured I might as well clarify my sexual preferences in case that was what was coming down the pike.

A few minutes later it came out he was a supply clerk in DaNang during the Vietnam fracas.  Tough gig.  Whoopteedoo.  “So what the hell’s the hat all about?”

“It’s because of my religion.  People around here don’t like me because of it, so I try to put my best foot forward.  Vietnam Vet buys me an edge.”

I shook my head, remembered getting cornered by the guy preaching Urantia outside the library in Grants, New Mexico.  Wanted to be my new best friend.  Real pain in the ass I never broke free of as long as I lived in Grants, always encountering him.

I could either brush the guy off even though he was hungry for talk, or I could grit my teeth, be polite, and hear what he wanted to tell me.  Turned out he’s a Satanist.

Whaaa?  A Satan worshiper?”

No.  We don’t worship Satan.  That’s just something Christian preachers claim we do.”

At least I don’t have a dog in THAT fight.  “Well, hell.  Better than being an atheist, I reckons.”  I really didn’t want to hear this crap.  “Nice talking to you, but I need to take a nap.”

I left him standing in the shade, careful not to look back.

Old Jules

Miss World 1967 visits the troops

Hi readers.  Thanks for coming by for a read this morning.

Bob Hope used to do those USO shows every year.  In fact Al Jolson died in the aftermath of returning from a USO show in Korea.  Fact is, any Christmas entertainment that includes John Wayne jokes and nasty jibes at draft dodgers burning their draft cards is probably worth a rerun anytime anyone is singing songs about Peace on Earth, Goodwill to Men.

Ms. Welch, at least, is about reality, which every USO show should include a taste of.

As an aside, a lot of you probably didn’t know Clint Eastwood’s real identity was Andy Williams.  Here he is singing something I thought of as a favorite in 1963.

No Christmas is complete without Clint Eastwood singing Old Bilbao Moon.

Here’s wishing everyone a merry little war.

Old Jules

 

 

 

 

The redeeming virtues of right wing death squads

An open letter to President Wossname, the guy in the White House

Backward South American countries gave right-wing death squads a bad name during the last half of the 20th Century. Naturally nobody wanted to be identified with anything backward Mexicans in Chile or Argentina did, so for a while the United States People In Power tried to find lower profile alternatives to accomplish the same goals.

But the truth is that throwing the baby out with the bathwater just narrows the options more than is required.

Henry Ford, the US mining industry, the US lumber industry, and during the Vietnam War, the US government all used right-wing death squads for the greater good of all. The industries would have had a lot more difficulties busting the unions if it hadn’t been for right-wing death squads. The US government couldn’t have killed off all the Black Panthers without them. The Vietnam War protests would have gone on and on ad infinitum if the Ohio National Guard’s right-wing death squad hadn’t opened up on those students at Ohio State and showed them what-for.

Bill Clinton and Janet Reno ran up a trial balloon at Waco, then again at Ruby Ridge in an attempt to restore the usefulness of right-wing death squads, clean up the image. But for reasons not fully understood, the practice was then dropped.

Hopefully this guy in there now will examine the benefits the US has reaped in the past through the use of right-wing death squads and see it’s time to bring it back for the greater good of all.

Right wing death squads aren’t a solution to every problem, as Bill and Hillary Clinton and Janet Reno demonstrated. But that only means they didn’t use the right tool for the right job.

Right-wing death squads worked admirably for Henry Ford and the mining and lumber industries. They worked great in South America, despite the bad press. And history proves they can work well again in the United States if properly applied.

Yours truly,

Old Jules

Ever wondered who the Vietcong were?

Eddie Adams

Eddie Adams photo 1968

Last night I came across a thrift store book I’d never gotten around to reading.  One of those ‘last resort’ books set aside again and again.  A backup for a time when I would be desperate for anything besides the labels on sardine cans.

But as I thumbed through it I was abruptly captured.   When Heaven and Earth Changed Places: A Vietnamese Woman’s Journey from War to Peace, by Le Ly Hayslip.

Here’s a woman born in 1949 in a Vietcong controlled village near Danang where her family’s spent the previous generations fighting, first the French, then the Japanese, then the French again.  As a small child she watches relatives and neighbors in her village raped and slaughtered by French mercenaries.  Then:   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Le_Ly_Hayslip

“Hayslip was born in Ky La, now Xa Hao Qui, a small town in central Vietnam just south of Da Nang. She was the sixth and youngest child born to farmers. American helicopters landed in her village when she was 12 years old. At the age of 14, she endured torture in a South Vietnamese government prison for “revolutionary sympathies”. After being released, she had fallen under suspicion of being a government spy, and was sentenced to death but instead raped by two Viet Cong soldiers.[2]

“She fled to Saigon, where she and her mother worked as housekeepers for a wealthy Vietnamese family, but this position ended after Hayslip’s affair with her employer and subsequent pregnancy. Hayslip and her mother fled to Da Nang. During this time, Hayslip supported both her mother and an infant son, Hung (whom she would later rename Jimmy), while unmarried and working in the black market, as an occasional drug courier and, once, as a prostitute.

“She worked for a short period of time as a nurse assistant in a Da Nang hospital and began dating Americans. She had several disastrous, heartbreaking affairs before meeting and marrying an American civilian contractor named Ed Munro in 1969. Although he was more than twice her age, she had another son with him, Thomas. The following year Hayslip moved to San Diego, California, to join him, and briefly supported her family as a homemaker. In 1973, he died of emphysema, leaving Le Ly a widow at age 24.

“In 1974 she married Dennis Hayslip. Her second marriage, however, was not a happy one. Dennis was a heavy drinker, clinically depressed and full of rage. Her third and youngest son, Alan, was fathered by Dennis and born on her 26th birthday. The couple filed for divorce in 1982 after Dennis committed domestic violence. Shortly thereafter, he was found dead in a parked van outside a school building. He had established a trust fund, however, that left his wife with some money, and he had insurance that paid off the mortgage of the house.”

So here’s a woman, a real, no-shit Vietcong, tortured by the South Vietnamese, suspected of being a traitor by the Vietcong and sentenced to death, raped and escaped.  Married a US civilian and became a US citizen.

Probably a person couldn’t be more caught-in-between from birth than she was.  Surrounded by hundreds, thousands of other peasants caught in-between.  Trying to dodge the steamrollers of forces they didn’t understand, South Vietnamese and US rifles pointed at them daytimes, Vietcong rifles pointed at them nights.

Yep, this lady is one of the people the guys with Vietnam Veteran caps walking around mining for praise and ‘Thank you,” spent their tours in Vietnam trying to kill.

Damned book ought to be required reading for anyone buying a SUPPORT OUR TROOPS sticker.  Because at a foundation level, SUPPORT OUR TROOPS isn’t about the troops.  It’s about people who are being defined as ‘the enemy’ those troops are going to do everything in their power to ruin the lives of.

People in US government who couldn’t locate the place on the map defining one side as ‘the enemy’ and the other side as ‘friends’.

Old Jules

Grandkid:  Granpaw, what did you do in the Vietnam War?

Old Vet:  I helped Presidents Kennedy, Johnson and Nixon kill a lot of people who didn’t need killing, helped destroy a country that didn’t need destroying, helped get a lot of GIs killed and maimed in the process.  And I’m damned proud I did.

Grandkid:  Oh wow!  Thank you Grandpaw!

21st Century King-Election Weenies Got Nothing on 1968

No way you could manage it.

The Vietnam War raging in a daily bodycount to see if we were winning right now; half- the cities in the US on fire with race riots.  Decision time for America:

So the Democrats ran Humphrey Dumprey, pledged to keep the War going, continue with LBJ strategy counting bodies.

The Republicans ran Tricky Dicky Nixon, pledged to get us out of Vietnam, but only with ‘honor‘.  [Same as he ran on four years later.]

And on a third party campaign, pro-segregation, former Alabama Governor George Wallace ran to ‘Take Back America’.  And get out of Vietnam in 90 days if it couldn’t be won.  And he carried five Southern states.  I’ll leave it to your imagination identifying ‘take it back from whom’.

Hell, Humphrey Dumprey only carried eight states that election.

So the outcome was we got peace with honor for four years with Tricky Dixon and the war killing them off like flies, counting bodies.  Dixon elected again, four years later and everyone in sight fleeing Vietnam hanging from helicopters off the top of the US embassy in Saigon. 

But honorably.

I think I voted in the 1968 King Election, but my mind won’t allow me to examine the memory in enough detail to recall whom I voted for.  Seems clear to me today I should have just given it a miss.  I think I’d remember that.

One of my favorite Playboy limericks of the time:

There was a young man named Hollis
Used snakes and snails for his solace
The offspring had scales
And prehensile tails
And voted for Governor Wallace.

Wish I’d written that.

Yeah, we were weenies in those days, but REAL MEN weenies.  We knew how to do it up right.

Old Jules

Khe Sanh – Two Worthy Reads – Book Reviews

The Hill Fights – The First Battle of Khe Sanh, Edward F. Murphy

Considering he also authored Semper Fi, – Vietnam, and is/was probably a fairly gung-ho man, Murphy does a surprisingly workmanlike job depicting what actually led up to the Khe Sanh bloodbath, why became a bloodbath, and where the responsibility for it having become a bloodbath clearly rested.  All without pointing fingers of blame.  He just describes events as reported by the people involved in them.  For instance:

“Fourteen of the eighteen patrols Wilder sent out early in July found NVA, several within mere minutes of being inserted into their patrol areas.  He learned from other intelligence sources that the North Vietnamese 324B Division had moved south of the Ben Hai River with the mission of conquering Qang Tri Province.  When Wilder dutifully reported this to higher headquarters, he unwittingly stepped into the fray raging between General Westmoreland and General Walt.

“Within days General Walt, General Kyle, and Major General Louis B. Robertshaw, commander of the 1st Marine Air Wing, arrived at Wilder’s headquarters at dong Ha for a personal briefing from Wilder.  As soon as Wilder mentioned the presence of the NVA 324B Divbision, Robertshaw rudely interrupted him.  “You’re a liar,” Robertshaw accused Wilder.

If any single incident could sum up what happened to the unfortunate grunts getting themselves blown apart at Khe Sanh over the next couple of years, that probably does it.  What happened to the US lower-grade officers and enlisted men throughout the Vietnam experience, for that matter.

It echoes and it rhymes.  The M16, newly issued and fired for familiarization before being taken into combat.  Jams.  Jams.  Jams.  So the cover story becomes, “You’ve got to keep it CLEAN!  If you don’t keep it clean, it jams.  Your own fault, marine!”

A few weeks later squads, platoons were being slaughtered by the NVA at Khe Sanh.  Found afterward with jammed M16s, unable to return fire against the enemy.  Marines complained, the high command accused them of lying.  Of not cleaning their weapons.  The slaughter continued until a letter home from a dead marine ended up being read on the floor of the US Congress and an investigation began.

The M16 was designed around a cartridge containing a particular propellent.  But a major military contractor with the right connections offered a cheaper cartridge because it contained a different, more inexpensive powder.  Millions of rounds purchased, all defective.  Probably hundreds, maybe thousands of US servicemen lost their lives because they were provided weapons incapable of returning fire without jamming.

Friendly fire?  Khe Sanh began with a US air strike dropping napalm several miles off target on the friendly village of Khe Sanh, killing 250 villagers and injuring hundreds more.  Following that it was helicopter gunships, fighter aircraft and artillery strikes opening up on ground troops by mistake. 

Air forces all over the world from early during WWII provided their planes with IFF [Identify Friend/Foe] radio transponders.  Somehow the concept never seeped down to include ground troops being protected from friendly fire.  As late as Gulf War 1 it continued to happen.  And at Khe Sanh it happened a lot.

Then there were the commanders who just made lousy choices for whatever reasons other than the well-being of the troops they commanded.  “You guys aren’t likely to find anything up there.  Take off your flak jackets and leave them down here.”  Twice.  Two separate occasions.  Two bloodbaths.

There was no overall strategy for US troop involvement in Vietnam.  The curse of the undeclared, presidential wars from WWII onward.  The US high command couldn’t agree among themselves what the roles of the troops under their commands should be and how they should perform those roles.

Despite all this, The Hill Fights – The First Battle of Khe Sanh, Edward F. Murphy doesn’t dwell on this side of things.  He simply provides a detailed history, day-to-day of one of the countless debacles of the 20th Century quickly forgotten when another president needed some other injection of excitement to keep the voters going to the poles, the flags waving, and the patriots pounding their fists on their chests.

[Incidently, there’s a good photo section in the book.  I was surprised to see my old friend,  Mel King as a young marine standing unidentified next to a Company Commander who’d just gotten a few of his men out alive and unhurt.  Mel must have gotten his injuries later.]

—————————————————

A Marine at Khe Sanh, by John Corbett.  A young marine just out of basic training arrives in country at Khe Sanh and spends the next 77 days living in a foxhole, almost constantly under mortar, artillery and rocket attack.  This is his diary. 

Kennedy, Johnson, and Nixon never got around to hanging their heads in shame for the young men the dead and crippled as by-products their Vietnam presidential military adventures.  But then, I don’t suppose any of the other, later ones have, either, for theirs.

After all, a lot of the right people made one hell of a lot of money from those wars.  You can’t make an omlette without breaking some eggs.

Old Jules