US NEWS and WORLD REPORT
1 May 2000 issue
The article was written by Richard J. Newman
See Below What You Can Do - If You Agree
Go to the 11th Cav site for more information. The 11th Cav has taken on this issue as a major insult to us all.
The cover and article indicate that the US Military lost the Vietnam War. We, the military, certainly did NOT lose the war! Why? Because we weren't there in 1975 when Saigon fell. Nor were we there in 1974 and most of 1973. The last US ground combat troops left Vietnam in late March 1973, a full two years prior to the fall of Saigon.
Congress, in 1974, enacted legislation that cutoff all US support for South Vietnam. What this meant was that all close US air combat support for the South Vietnamese would cease. By this legislation, Congress forced our Military to abandon the South Vietnamese. This was done over the objections of the Military which knew the South Vietnamese were not ready to handle the war alone - and had stated that fact clearly.
We all have stories about how we were treated upon returning from Vietnam. Personally, I was called a "Baby Killer", not at in a social gathering, but in a class, by a "professor", at a major university - because "he" had seen the film and knew what was going on "over there". Where did "he" get his information - from the press and the TV news.
From Ia Drang to TET '68 to Khe San and beyond, we, the US Military beat the crap out of the VC and NVA. Every major offensive by North Vietnam (the real aggressors) ended not only in defeat of the North Vietnamese, but the price of their defeat was felt by the soldiers they sent into battle. During the first two weeks of their TET '68 offensive, they lost a minimum of 40,000 troops KIA (the upper estimate ranged as high as 80,000). The VC ceased to exist. This was defeat with a capital "D".
North Vietnam had plenty of people to replace those lost during TET '68. They tried again in 1970 and 1972 to "take" South Vietnam with major offensives and they LOST.
Is this how the population of the US saw the war? No! When Walter Cronkite started reporting TET '68 as a major "blunder" by the US Military, the mood of the country went negative. And do you remember "Hanoi Jane" and in the 80's when Mike Wallace went after Gen. Westmoreland.
After 30 years I've had enough. I am sick and tired of "defending" what went on during the war in Vietnam. I am tired of explaining the above to people in general and to WW II and Korean vets at the VFW and American Legion. 25 years after the fall of Saigon, the press, magazines and Hollywood should finally be able to get it right. Not so with US News & WORLD REPORT.
Do you really believe that the US Military, which had defeated both Germany and Japan in WW II and the best the Chinese could send to Korea could not defeat the North Vietnamese? You're right, we would have taken Hanoi if the politicians wanted it. They didn't. The politicians controlled the war and "they" lost it. But our troops died because "they", the politicians, had no solid goal for winning the war. In the United States, the Military is subservient to the politicians. So much for the "Best and the Brightest" as "they" loved to be called.
If You Feel As I Do
What can you do? Send an e-mail or letter to
the people at US News & WORLD REPORT and tell them, politely, what you
think. Below are the contacts you should make aware of your feelings.
This our chance to set the record straight. For the first time in recent years a major publication has presented us in a negative light - again. If you have "had enough", I urge you to let them know. NOW! This is our chance to have our voices heard.
US NEWS & WORLD
Email and phone
Senior Vice President, Corporate Communications
Director, Media Relations
Mail Letters to:
Editor Stephen G. Smith
450 West 33rd Street
NEW YORK, NY 10001
Below is a copy of the e-mail I sent to US News & World Report
Ms. Emma Clurman,
Senoir Vice President, Corporate Communications
US News & WORLD REORT
Dear MS. Clurman,
Below is the e-mail I recently sent to all the Vietnam Veterans I have contact with. The group is small but proud. For over 30 years we have been vilified by the press, TV and Hollywood as "War Mongers", "Baby Killers" and worse.
Your recent publication dated 1 May 2000 with it's lead article, "Vietnam's Forgotten Lessons: 25 years later, does the military still remember why it lost?" was, to say the least, provocative. In truth, the soldiers on all sides of the Vietnam War lost, as too many paid with their lives. For what? If I may be so bold - for Freedom and Democracy.
You raised the issue of the U.S. Military and "why it lost" the war. Well, to let you in on a deep dark secret - the U.S. Military did not lose the war. Why? The U.S. Military had removed all ground combat troops by late March 1973 and in 1974 Congress passed legislation that terminated all support for South Vietnam - over the objections of the U.S. Military. This was two years before the fall of Saigon, on 30 April 1975. Who lost the war? You tell me.
Visit our web site http:/www8.50megs.com/15thengineer/ for more information. All veterans have fought for "Freedom" and that includes "Freedom of the Press" - don't abuse that freedom. Get the facts first and then publish those facts. Opinions, keep them to yourself.
Going back to my statement about all involved in the Vietnam War (conflict, to be politically correct - who are we kidding - how many have to die for a conflict to be termed a War?) fighting for Freedom and Democracy. Do you truly believe any of the soldiers, NVA, VC, South Vietnamese or U.S. soldiers believed they were fighting to suppress the their opposition? They all fought for Duty, Honor Country - at least before they entered into combat. Once in combat the focus changed. And you would have to experience combat before passing judgment on any soldier. Forget Hollywood, they haven't got a clue. How many actors or directors were in combat - after WW II, not many. And the few that did do not represent me.
One thing was different with the North Vietnamese. Typified by the TET offensive in 1968, they had orders to kill civilians when they captured a village or Province in Vietnam. In the area around Hue during the TET '68 offensive, there were over 3,000 South Vietnamese executed by North Vietnamese cadre. Who were the targets? Teachers, politicians and the leaders of the press (that means you, MS. Clurman would have been killed had you been there). Why? Because you/they would possibly oppose the North Vietnamese who, during TET, felt there would be a "Popular Uprising" by the local South Vietnamese in support of the their TET offensive.
The "Popular Uprising" of the South Vietnamese populous in support of the North Vietnamese, during TET '68, never happened. TET '68 was a disaster for the North Vietnamese. Minimally 40,000 KIA in the few weeks after the offensive started. Encouraged by this lack of success, they tried again in 1970 and 1972. No joy - failure again and again.
TET '68 was a military disaster for the North Vietnamese. In the USA Walter Cronkite and the war protesters declared a "victory" for the North Vietnamese. So much for the "truth". North Vietnam buried their 40,000 plus dead and thanked the US press for their "victory". "Hanoi Jane" just added to the confusion.
Who "won" the war? The press and the protesters did. Thanks for your help.
Who lost the war? All of Vietnam did. And today they, the "victors" want the "free world" to establish businesses in Vietnam. Most businesses have a hard time abiding by the harsh rules of the "victors" and are now abandoning business enterprises established a few years ago. Democracy and free enterprise will win out in the end - just give it some more time.
So who really "won" - the politicians of course. They usually do. They start the wars and the "average" man has to fight the war. They live in luxury while the average "Joe" and "Jane" suffers. If the politicians had to actually "fight" the wars they started - there wouldn't be any wars. Unfortunately the Military is at the beck and call of the politician and the Military fights the politicians’ war.
Are we as a country on the wrong track? No! Is the system correct? No! I just haven't figured out a better system. Someone wiser than I am said the USA isn't the greatest system of government - they just hadn't found anything that was a close second. I'll go with that.
So when the national anthem is played I'll stand tall and snap a salute - I earned it. The civilians can place their right hand over their heart - so few do that today. I doubt they even understand. We, the veterans of all wars, do.
Freedom isn't FREE. No hero here, just an average GI "Joe".
Richard Coogan (Vietnam Vet and Web Master for the 15th Combat Engineers, 9th Infantry Division, RVN 1968, 1969)
To my fellow Vietnam Veterans:
A month ago US News & WORLD REPORT published their 1 May 2000 issue. The cover shows the face of a soldier in combat dress. The lead article for the issue, shown on the cover is: Vietnam’s Forgotten Lessons – 25 years later, does the military still remember why it lost?
For over 30 years the press, TV and Hollywood have portrayed us, the Vietnam Vets, as losers. They have portrayed our military during Vietnam as inept. It’s time to set the record straight once and for all.
Visit http://www8.50megs.com/15thengineer/ and view the "Special Notice" section. There is information about the publication and people you can send e-mail to if you find the US News &WORLD REPORT publication of 1 May 2000 offensive. You will also find a link to the 11th Armored Cav web site, which has taken the lead in rebutting this negative story.
WE did not lose the war! Go to the sites, read the information and do what you believe is necessary.
Be proud – you went where many feared to go. You may view the Vietnam War as right or wrong – but you went, served and returned. There were many draft dodgers in WW II but it was easier to be a draft dodger in the Vietnam era – some, today, still proudly admit to being draft dodgers. So who died because they chose to avoid the draft?
Freedom isn’t "free". And draft dodgers will always be draft dodgers.
And inept reporting will always be with us unless we voice our opinion until the facts are presented correctly. Your choice.
Dick (Web Master, 15th Combat Engineers, 9th Infantry Division)