The meaning of Responsibility

 

 

 

 

The Meaning of Responsibilityby Andrew P. O’Meara, Jr., United States Army, Retired

 

The following observations on inspirational leadership are excerpted from remarks delivered at a graduation ceremony at the Armor School in November 1982.          

 

In the 18th Century Lord St. Vincent observed that responsibility is the test of a man’s courage. One of the finest examples of courage and capacity to accept responsibility was provided by Robert E. Lee in July 1863 at Gettysburg.  The Confederate attack on the Union Center on 3 July 1963 – known as Pickett’s charge – was composed of three divisions of nine brigades. The divisions were commanded by Pickett, Pettigrew and Trimble.Their combined forces numbered 11,000 men. They were joined by Wilcox’s and Lane’s brigades, bringing the total number of men in the attack to 12,500 men.

 

The attack was intended to penetrate the center of the Union position. Sixty percent of the attacking force was lost in the attack. Thirty of the thirty-eight regimental flags that came within musket range of the stone wall that marked the Union position were captured. Prior to the attack, the Confederate campaign was recognized as a major threat to Washington. The Confederate States of America were at high tide. The Union cause and its Army under Meade’s command were in grave danger.

 

As the tide broke and the survivors returned in disorder across the wide valley separating the two armies, Lee’s Army, the Army of Northern Virginia, was now in serious danger. The roles of the two forces were reversed. The attacker now ran a serious risk of being destroyed on Northern soil. More than an attack had failed. The cause of the Confederacy had taken a turn for the worse from which it would never recover. Lee’s hopes had been high as he invaded Maryland and Pennsylvania. He anticipated victory as the soldiers of Pickett’s, Pettigrew’s and Trimble’s Division assaulted Cemetery Hill. He observed the attack and saw it break against the union center. He moved among the survivors as they streamed back across the valley. He understood the meaning of their failure to break through the Union center. His words help us to understand the meaning of the word responsibility.

 

Lee met General Pickett with these words, “General Pickett, place your Division in rear of this hill and be ready to repel the advance of the enemy should they follow up their advantage.” Pickett answered tearfully, “General Lee, I have no Division now; Armistead is down, Garnett is down and Kemper is mortally wounded.” “Come, General Pickett,” Lee responded. “This has been my fight, and upon my shoulders rests the blame. The men and officers of your command have written the name of Virginia as high today as it has ever been written before…. Your men have done all that men can do. The fault is entirely my own.” His words later to Wilcox reiterated his total acceptance of responsibility. “It is I who have lost this fight and you must help me out of it the best way you can.”

 

Responsibility means total acceptance of the men we lead. Their victories are theirs. Their failure is ours – the men who lead them. This is the price of leadership.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Leave no man behind (including comments & biography)

There were several reasons for writing this book, not the least of which, is the “loser” mentality of many Vietnam vets today. If you will read my flyer below carefully I believe you can see that I have made a good case for what I perceive to be “victory” by American and allied vets, not a lost war as described by liberals like Tom Hayden, Jane Fonda and the media. We lost 58,000 troops while killing 1.3 million communists, including some 300,000 KIA body not recovered, 150,000 of which are unaccounted-for today. Unlike the French before us we did not go to Vietnam to open coal mines or gold mines, or tea or rubber plantations. We went there to close with, and kill, destroy or capture the enemy. This was our mission and we definitely accomplished it. We did not go to Southeast Asia in order to conquer Vietnam or make it a colony of the United States. We all knew we would be coming home, we simply didn’t know when. Due to the efforts made by Vietnam Vets, today one quarter of the population of the earth is living under democratically elected governments. Radical Muslims who call for Jihad against Americans should remember that due to the efforts made by Vietnam veterans while fighting against counterinsurgencies throughout Southeast Asia during the decades of the 1960’s and 1970’s., today citizens of two of the world’s largest Muslim nations, Malaysia and Indonesia, are able to freely worship Islam. During the American War in Vietnam our military forces never lost a major battle and the USSR’s involvement in supporting the communists while we were fighting there led to the collapse of the Soviet Union, the disbanding of the Communist Party and a clear victory of the Cold War for Vietnam war vets. America’s Vietnam Vets can hold their heads high and be proud for their service during one of the most critical periods of American history. The struggle is not over, the two most important issues remaining are a full and transparent accounting for our unreturned veterans and democracy for the Vietnamese people.

http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_1?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=leave+no+man+behind

Leave No Man Behind: Bill Bell and the Search for American POW/MIAs from the Vietnam War

by Garnett “Bill” Bell

479-674-5449

“No event in American history is more misunderstood than the Vietnam War. It was misreported then, and it is misremembered now. Rarely have so many people been so wrong about so much. Never have the consequences of their misunderstanding been so tragic.” (Nixon)

“Psychologists or sociologists may explain some day what it is about that distant monochromatic land, of green mountains and fields merging with an azure sea, that for millennia has acted as a magnet for foreigners who sought glory there and found frustration, who believed that in its rice fields and jungles some principle was to be established and entered them only to recede in disillusion.” (Henry Kissinger, White House Years, 1979. Reminiscing about Vietnam)

Leave No Man Behind: An eyewitness account of the Vietnam War from its early stages through the last day of the Republic, 30 April 1975. A startling new look at the postwar era and the issue of America’s unreturned veterans listed as POW/MIA, an issue that has haunted America since the beginning of American involvement. Shrouded in controversy, a subject of great emotion amid charges of governmental conspiracy and Communist deceit, the possibility of American servicemen being held in secret captivity after the war’s end has influenced U.S. policy toward Southeast Asia for three decades. Now, the first chief of the U.S. Government’s only official office in postwar Vietnam provides an insider’s account of that effort. The challenges he faced in dealing with U.S. politicians, including Vietnam veterans, Senators John McCain and John Kerry, are an ardent reminder of the many similarities in the bloody wars fought by American troops in both Vietnam and Iraq-Afghanistan. In an illuminating and deeply personal memoir, the government’s top missing persons investigator in Southeast Asia, who later became a member of the U.S. Congressional Staff, discusses the history of the search for missing Americans, reveals how the Communist Vietnamese stonewalled U.S. efforts to discover the truth, and how the standards for MIA case investigations were gradually lowered while pressure for expanded commercial and economic ties with communist Vietnam increased. Leave No Man Behind is the compelling story of a dedicated group of professionals who, against great odds, were able to uphold the proud military traditions of duty, honor and country.

Every American fighting in Afghanistan should read ‘Leave No Man Behind.’

As the US Marine Corps helicopter lifted from the roof of the American Embassy in Saigon at daybreak on April 30, 1975, I thought about the carnage that would result from a heat-seeking missile fired by Vietnamese Communist forces gradually encircling the besieged capital of the dying Republic of Vietnam (RVN). Exhausted by a lack of sleep for the previous several days, I no longer felt fear, only curiosity. Tears welled up in my eyes, perhaps due in part to the anguish of witnessing the tragic events unfolding before me, but also from caustic smoke belched out of rooftop incinerators glowing cherry-red from reams of frantically burned secret US Government documents. Feeling a sense of relief, I nevertheless harbored an even stronger sense of guilt. On the Republic of Vietnam’s final day, as I looked down into the gradually diminishing compound and into the terrified eyes in the upturned faces of hundreds of Vietnamese nationals and citizens of other countries friendly to the United States, who were being left behind, I knew that I would be haunted for many years to come. As the venerable ‘Sea Stallion’ throbbed its way through the damp morning air toward a helicopter carrier anchored off the coast at Vung Tau, blazing multicolored tracers rising from the dark-canopied jungle below bade farewell to America and to an era known as the Vietnam War.

During the more than 30 minute flight into the future I sat angry and confused after some 10 years of involvement with a faraway place called Vietnam. I wondered whether the sacrifices in lives and national treasure made by America had been worthwhile or in vain. After contemplating the issue for many years, I believe it is now time to take stock of the American War in Vietnam so that Americans, especially those of us who served there, can finally decide whether or not we now have cause for a celebration or the lingering agony of defeat.

With the fall of the RVN, as many analysts had predicted, jubilant communist forces quickly invaded and occupied the populated areas. Hundreds of thousands of former military and civilian officials were required to be screened, classified and registered as enemies of the revolution to be detained in remote, isolated concentration camps under horrific conditions. Thousands died due to disease and malnutrition, many never to be heard from again by family members. At the same time, the communist leadership insisted that the Democratic Republic of Vietnam in the north and the Provisional Revolutionary Government in the south be united as one.

From that day forward, according to the constitution, only one political party, the Vietnam Communist Party, would be allowed to exist. On official letterheads of government stationery the three previously used terms comprising the national motto of the communist north: ‘Freedom, Independence and Democracy’ were changed forever to read ‘Freedom, Independence and Happiness.’ To the Vietnamese people this change in terminology, especially the reference to happiness, would provide one of the few sources of humor during a desperate time. To add insult to injury, the graves of fallen RVN military personnel were razed by bulldozers in cemeteries across the country. Typewriters, radios, televisions and anything that could be used for propagation or communication were required to be registered with the ‘Military Management Committee’ responsible for political security under the new ‘Socialist Republic of Vietnam.’ As interest began to wane, occasional references to the Vietnam War coined phrases such as ‘a noble cause’ or ‘an unnecessary war.’ The question as to whether the Vietnam War was or was not necessary was just as divisive in postwar debate as it was during the days following the 1968 ‘Tet’ Offensive. In my own assessment of both the necessity for and the outcome of the Vietnam War two primary considerations were the U.S. national interest at the time and the mission of the U.S. Military Forces that fought in Southeast Asia.

The overall mission of U.S. military forces for the latter part of the 20th century began to take shape shortly after the conclusion of World War II. At that time the policy of the United States was one of containment of Communism. I believed that this policy was fully justified, because it was obvious that the Communist International, especially Russia and China, sought to ‘liberate’ the entire world. This policy of containment became known as the ‘Cold War.’ Although there were numerous clashes involving air crews during missions involving special operations and reconnaissance, the first major battlefield of that war erupted in 1950 on the Korean Peninsula, where the successful accomplishment of the mission of containing communism there was dubbed by the media as a ‘stalemate.’

At the beginning of the War in Vietnam, the basic mission of American soldier worldwide was to kill, destroy, or capture the enemy, or repel his assault by fire. Over one million men and women answered their nation’s call, and they did their level best to carry out their mission in Southeast Asia. As a result, some 58,000 Americans and some 225,000 allied personnel made the ultimate sacrifice, while by comparison, communist Vietnam suffered the loss of over 1,300,000 personnel, including 150,000 personnel who were killed-in-action but never recovered. I personally witnessed the strongest blow struck at communist forces by hard-fighting American and South Vietnamese troops that occurred during the January 31, 1968, ‘Tet’ offensive. The bodies of thousands of communist personnel were stacked in piles around installations throughout South Vietnam, and losses were so heavy for the communist side that the entire military rank structure was temporarily abandoned and cadre selected to command and control units were assigned based on position or job title only, rather than actual military rank. The loss of life to the communist side was nothing less than staggering, and any U.S. military commander whose losses approached even a small percentage of actual communist fatalities at that time would most likely have been relieved of command.

Even though America’s servicemen and women fought valiantly during the 1968 ‘Tet’ offensive, the U.S. and international media nevertheless managed to reshape their hard-earned victory into a political defeat. Vietnamese communist propaganda experts were so skillful that they were able to convince many members of the media and even some military analysts that two separate governments, the National Liberation Front in South Vietnam and the Democratic Republic of Vietnam in the North, existed side by side and that both were involved in a ‘civil war.’ It has since been proven that both the NLF and the DRV were tightly controlled by the Vietnam Communist Party and both governments were actually one and the same. Moreover, personnel of the two purported military organizations of both illusionary governments, the North Vietnamese Army (NVA) and the Viet Cong (VC), were in reality members of the Peoples Army of Vietnam (PAVN).

Admittedly, in terms of national treasure the Vietnam War was not cheap. Depending on which expert’s figures are used, the total cost of the Vietnam War to America was somewhere in the neighborhood of 250 billion dollars. By comparison the overall U.S. defense budget during postwar, peacetime years exceeded that amount annually. In reality one million men could not have been trained at U.S.-based training centers for a 10 year period, even using blank ammunition, for a lesser amount. While the Vietnam War was certainly a drain on the U.S. economy, during the decade of our of engagement there the former Soviet Union also provided significant amounts of financial and material support to communist forces deployed throughout Southeast Asia. Support by the USSR to Vietnam, the 1979 invasion of Afghanistan and a badly managed, centrally controlled economy all combined to bring the former Soviet Union to its knees and bring about the collapse of the Communist Party. Ultimately this collapse led to the end of the Cold War. Veterans of the Cold War, especially those who fought in Korea and Vietnam, now enjoy the gratitude of the peoples of many European, East Asian and Southeast Asian nations. It is now clear that as a result of the sacrifices made by American and allied veterans, today the people of Thailand, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Indonesia are living under freely elected governments. This accounts for one quarter of the earth’s population. Radical Muslims bent on Jihad should pause to remember that the citizens of the two largest Islamic nations, Malaysia and Indonesia, are able to freely worship Islam due in large to the sacrifices made on their behalf by Americans fighting against Communism throughout Southeast Asia.

Obviously, the true losers of the Vietnam War are the Vietnamese people, not just the people of the former Republic of Vietnam, but citizens from all areas of the country, including the north. Although millions of Vietnamese ‘voted with their feet’ by escaping on small boats across dangerous ocean currents, resulting in staggering losses to mankind, today millions more freedom-loving Vietnamese still yearn to be free. I believe that the two most important bilateral issues remaining between the U.S. and the Socialist Republic of Vietnam are an accounting for the almost 1,800 Americans still missing from the Vietnam War and democracy for the Vietnamese people.

Successive administrations in Washington, D.C. have pressed for democracy in many countries around the world, including Russia, Haiti, South Africa, Afghanistan and Iraq. But there has been very little interest shown in gaining democracy for Asians, and this double standard is difficult to understand. It is almost as though we Americans have a collective mentality whereby we believe that peoples with yellow skin cannot manage freedom, and that tight control is the only option available.

The American business community, aggressively buying up cheap products manufactured in Asia for resale on the U.S. market, is blinded by the lack of labor unions, cheap wages and fear of violent reprisals against labor strikes. It is ironic that after some 58,000 fine young Americans died in Vietnam while fighting for democracy the American business community is now steadily developing the economy of communist controlled Vietnam, insuring that the Vietnam Communist Party will not only remain in power, but that it will increasingly have the ability to maintain an even larger and more powerful military force. Concerning the plight of the families of Vietnam War POWs and MIAs, democracy can also go a long way to help in this regard. I believe that most Americans, especially Vietnam veterans, will agree that for the most part the Vietnamese people are honest and hardworking. Like our people right here at home, I can’t imagine a situation where the people of Vietnam would be willing to hide the remains of anyone’s loved one in order to extort money from them. Although during the past 30 years the ruling communists have gradually doled out bits and pieces of skeletal remains and personal effects in return for large monetary sums, once the Vietnam Communist Party has collapsed the Vietnamese people will rise to the occasion and provide whatever assistance is necessary to resolve the issue of our missing men. We should all be doing everything we can to make sure that day comes.

Garnett ‘Bill’ Bell, a native of Texas and a retired GM-14, DoD, went to Vietnam as an infantryman in 1965 and served four tours there. Bell was awarded 20 individual decorations and numerous unit awards. Bell later served as an instructor in the Department of Exploitation and Counterintelligence, U.S. Army Intelligence Center and school. During his career Bell served in the 327th Airborne Battle Group, 101st Airborne Division, the 1/35th Infantry Regiment, 25th Infantry Division, the 2/506th Airborne Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division, the 101st MI Company, the 525th Military Intelligence Group, the Defense Language Institute, the U.S. Army Intelligence and Security Command, the 6th Special Forces Group, the Joint Casualty Resolution Center (JCRC), the Four Party Joint Military Team (FPJMT) and the Joint Task Force Full-Accounting (JTFFA). Bell’s wife and son were killed and a daughter critically injured in April 1975, when the families of U.S. officials assigned to the American Embassy in Saigon were evacuated in conjunction with the ‘Operation Babylift’ program. After being evacuated by helicopter from the roof of the American Embassy on the final day of the Republic of Vietnam (RVN) (30 April 1975), Bell returned to postwar Vietnam as the first official U.S. representative after the war ended when he was assigned as the Chief of the U.S. Office for POW/MIA Affairs in Hanoi. He served more than 12 years on the POW/MIA Search Teams. An Airborne-Ranger and Jumpmaster, Bell eventually became a member of the Congressional Staff, U.S. House of Representatives. Fluent in Vietnamese, Thai and Laotian, Bell is a graduate of Chaminade University and the author of ‘Leave No Man Behind.’ Bell is a life member of the VFW, Combat Infantrymens Association (CIA) and the Military Order of the Purple Heart (MOPH). Bell is employed as an investigator in the 12th Judicial District western Arkansas.

This book is one of the most accurate and detailed accounts of the Vietnam War from beginning to end. It is arguably the very best book ever written concerning the important POW/MIA issue. No one, military, civilian, or private citizen, has contributed as much as Bill Bell to the national effort to recover and repatriate America’s unreturned veterans from the Vietnam War. Every veteran of any war definitely needs to read this important work, which is destined to become an icon that will withstand the test of time. Bill Bell certainly deserves the Presidential Medal of Freedom for his courageous efforts.”

Michael De Paulo, Vietnam Vet, USMC and National Service Officer, Rolling Thunder Inc.

This book isn’t just for the soldier, student, or history buff. It’s also for the average American who should know more about the Vietnam War, how people in our CURRENT government felt and behaved then, and how the war in Afghanistan might have a similar outcome. 474 pages, semi-hardback: ISBN 096476634-5,

Signed copy available at billbell@pinncom.com for $20, or from http://www.amazon.com/gp/offer-listing/0964766345/ref=dp_olp_collectible?ie=UTF8

http://www.fayobserver.com/articles/2012/11/02/1214679?sac=fo.home

Garnett ‘Bill’ Bell, a native of Texas and a retired GM-14, DoD, went to Vietnam as an infantryman in 1965 and served four tours there. Bell was awarded 20 individual decorations and numerous unit awards. Bell later served as an instructor in the Department of Exploitation and Counterintelligence, U.S. Army Intelligence Center and school. During his career Bell served in the 327th Airborne Battle Group, 101st Airborne Division, the 1/35th Infantry Regiment, 25th Infantry Division, the 2/506th Airborne Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division, the 101st MI Company, the 525th Military Intelligence Group, the Defense Language Institute, the U.S. Army Intelligence and Security Command, the 6th Special Forces Group, the Joint Casualty Resolution Center (JCRC), the Four Party Joint Military Team (FPJMT) and the Joint Task Force Full-Accounting (JTFFA). Bell’s wife and son were killed and a daughter critically injured in April 1975, when the families of U.S. officials assigned to the American Embassy in Saigon were evacuated in conjunction with the ‘Operation Babylift’ program. After being evacuated by helicopter from the roof of the American Embassy on the final day of the Republic of Vietnam (RVN) (30 April 1975), Bell returned to postwar Vietnam as the first official U.S. representative after the war ended when he was assigned as the Chief of the U.S. Office for POW/MIA Affairs in Hanoi. He served more than 12 years on the POW/MIA Search Teams. An Airborne-Ranger and Jumpmaster, Bell eventually became a member of the Congressional Staff, U.S. House of Representatives. Fluent in Vietnamese, Thai and Laotian, Bell is a graduate of Chaminade University and the author of ‘Leave No Man Behind.’ Bell is a life member of the VFW, Combat Infantrymens Association (CIA) and the Military Order of the Purple Heart (MOPH). Bell is employed as an investigator in the 12th Judicial District western Arkansas

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

You just don’t get it, Tony

You just don’t get it, Tony

By Colonel Andrew P. O’Meara, Jr.

 

I read Tony Blankley’s lead Op-Ed column – “Long Live the New York Times” – in the May 2 edition of The Washington Times with great interest, but I was disappointed by his assessment.

The recent scandal of plagiarism and prevarication at the New York Times is but one in a lengthy list of failures that reveals the need for wall-to-wall housecleaning that must include those responsible for misguided policy – the editorial staff – who are ultimately to blame for false reporting.

The New York Times got it wrong, not once, but it got it wrong many, many times because editorial bias edited the topics, the stories assigned to reporters, the facts suitable for print, and the contents of the editorial page. It got it wrong on the Stalin Purges and the famine in the Ukraine in 1932 and 1933. It got it wrong on the Vietnam War, the Cold War, the war in Afghanistan, the war in Iraq, the contemporary role of the U.N. jeopardizing world peace by protecting tyrants like Saddam Hussein, and recently the sniper story that gripped the nation’s capital.

The bottom line is that Mr. Blankley missed the point, which is that politically correct bias shapes everything. It shapes the stories fit to print, the facts suitable for publication, as well as the internal hiring and promotion policies of the news organization itself. Didn’t he read “Bias” by Bernard Goldberg? What about “Useful Idiots” by Mona Charen?

I watched the New York Times take on the foreign policy of the United States and subvert the war effort in Vietnam from a front row seat as a combat infantryman. They got the message upside down. It was Hanoi that waged an immoral war, not the United States. Hanoi violated the Geneva Conventions, waged terrorist campaigns, held the civilian population hostages, and fought from sanctuaries in Laos and Cambodia and North Vietnam, as well as from schoolhouses and pagodas to neutralize the firepower of their opponents. The American rules of engagement were fashioned to protect the population including the no-fire zones and free-fire zones that were falsely reported in the media. The inaccurate reporting gave rise to student protests and the vast antiwar movement that eventually spiked the cannons of those waging the war in Southeast Asia, leaving behind in South Vietnam a ravaged population that has been subjected to terror and totalitarian dictatorship ever since.

The United States did not cause the Cold War by threatening a peace-loving Soviet Union, as readers of the New York Times editorial pages have come to believe. The Cold War was caused by an adventurous and aggressive foreign policy of the Soviet Union as Eduard Shevardnadze, the last foreign minister of the Soviet Union admitted in an address to the Soviet Foreign Ministry on July 25, 1988.

The times got the story wrong. In short, the New York Times fought on the wrong side, prolonging the Cold War, and it continues fighting on the wrong side, greatly undermining public confidence in the Bush administration in the war against terrorism, raising the stakes of hazardous combat operations, and jeopardizing the successful outcome of American foreign policy initiatives.

One can argue that the politically correct bias of the Times is the price of a free press, but let’s not overlook the costs of failed and misguided editorial policy that has consistently gotten the message wrong since Josef Stalin ruled in the Kremlin. The rights of a free press also entail responsibilities. Those at fault should be held accountable as William Kristal suggests in “America’s Next Great Newspaper,” appearing in the Weekly Standard of May 26.

My. Blankley concludes his assessment calling upon the reporters of the New York Times – “proud hunters of the facts” – to stand tall. I suggest the assessment is wide of the mark, containing undeserved praise and avoiding the hard question of responsibility for four decades of failures. If decades of anti-American and vitriolic crusades against the foreign policy of the United States don’t constitute treason, then it certainly constitutes a consistent propensity for abysmally poor judgment – a pattern of behavior not to be rewarded by ill-advised choruses of “long live” the champion of Jacobins of the radical left in America and brutal tyrants abroad.

If the New York Times did not precipitate the overthrow and assassination of President Ngo Dinh Diem and the American defeat in Vietnam, then who did? If the Times can no longer deliver on providing all the news that’s fit to print, it is time to pass the torch to those prepared to underwrite balanced and objective reporting devoid of hidden agendas and support for our enemies abroad.

Published by The Washington Times, Washington, D.C., June 1 2003, page B5.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Unsung Victories of American Airmen

Unsung Victories of American Airmen

by Andrew P. O’Meara, Jr., Colonel, United States Army, Retired

 

I returned to South Vietnam in 1968 joining the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment operating north of Saigon under the operational control of the 1st Infantry Division. I found myself taking part in a hard fought series of battles as we sought to destroy enemy base camps established in the jungles south of War Zone D. The enemy base camps formed fortified staging areas constructed along multiple parallel routes to the south that permitted the enemy to move his combat forces out of Cambodia from one protected battle position to the next in their invasion of South Vietnam. More significantly the base camps acted as fortified assembly areas for staging NVA attacks upon American air bases and logistical support units located north of Saigon.

 

The battlefield the enemy had selected to contest covered jungle terrain that suited the short-range weaponry that the NVA brought to the conflict in the early years of the struggle, when Hanoi maintained the war of the National Liberation Front (NLF) was an indigenous insurgency.[1] The jungle both restricted visibility to a few yards as American infantrymen and cavalrymen searched for their opponents and it negated the superiority of the long-range weapons and technology the Americans brought to the battle.

 

The enemy’s base camps consisted of bunkers with overhead cover and extensive trench lines. His troops were armed with Soviet assault rifles and machine guns. Chinese Claymore-type mines that covered the approaches to his fortifications augmented his deadly short-range weapons. Situated beneath dense jungle canopy often two hundred feet in height, the enemy was protected from aerial observation, artillery fire, which detonated prematurely in the tall canopy of the rain forests, and the ground incursions required to take the enemy positions one trench and one bunker at a time. We were winning the battles; for at the end of the day we owned the enemy base camp that had become the target of our attacks, but the grim statistics of the battles yielded no joy.

Aero Rifle Platoon members (ARPs) posing with captured enemy weapons after successfully clearing an enemy bunker complex, a dangerous and often costly operation. The individuals from left to right are Sergeant Butler, Sergeant Roeder, Lieutenant Doubleday, Specialist Starkey, and Sergeant Summers.

 

With our dead and wounded often as numerous as those of our enemy, we engaged in an exhausting form of battle that sapped the strength of our soldiers in the heat of the tropical rain forests. The fighting also tested the tactical skills of our troops, who learned to approach the enemy bunkers from the blind side

and grenade the occupants, allowing small teams of expert infantry to move through a large bunker complex and inflict heavy casualties on our opponents. Even so victory did not come cheap. The deadly game of seeking out the enemy’s fortified positions proved costly as American troops encountered the well-concealed mines and snipers of the enemy. Once locked in battle the set piece slaughter began as the American infantry and cavalry troopers took out the enemy one bunker at a time.

 

Bitter, exhausting, and costly engagements characterized the battles for the enemy base camps. My boss, Colonel George S. Patton III, a resolute fighter, commanded the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment. Colonel Patton took care of his men, and his troopers worshiped him in return. We were vexed by the complexity of the problem of reducing the well-constructed base camps of our tenacious opponents. Assigned as the S-2, intelligence officer, of the regiment, I had been watching reports of the battles being waged to destroy the enemy headquarters and base camps along the Cambodian border. These battles had a different character, which pitted the skills of the American air cavalry and the firepower of Air Force B52 strikes to obliterate the enemy. The jungle canopy offered no protection to the massive bomb strikes that literally blew away the massive hard wood trees that grew to great heights. I realized that the battles on the Cambodian frontier made much better use of the American advantages in technology and firepower than our bloody approach to the problem.

 

I went to Colonel Patton and asked if he would authorize the request of Air Force B52 strikes to destroy the enemy’s prepared battle positions in our AO. He challenged me saying: “Do you have the intelligence to justify that expenditure of firepower.” I swallowed hard and answered yes. I had confidence in our intelligence analysis section headed up by Captain Ralph Rosenberg, as well as in our intelligence collection capabilities, especially the scouts of the regiment’s Air Cavalry Troop. Patton thought about my proposal and responded that if the intelligence section could produce the data to justify an “Arc Light Strike,” the code name given to B52 strikes, he would support the request.

 

I took the problem to the commander of the Air Cavalry Troop, Major John C. Bahnsen, who immediately recognized the advantages of fighting from our strengths, rather than allowing the enemy to dictate the terms of battle. He was a great fighter and a smart tactician, who recognized that the search for the enemy base camps called for close coordination between the scouts and those of us in the regimental intelligence section working up the request for B52 strikes. He promptly gave me direct access to his scouts, telling them that they would be working directly for the S-2 in developing B52 targets until they were needed to destroy a communist unit brought to bay in the open terrain that formed the western portion of 11th Cavalry area of operations. He said that our Arc Light targeting effort was too important and the time too precious to waste on intermediary links in the chain of reporting.

 

I fashioned specific AOs for each of our eight scout teams, referred to as pink teams, composed of one light observation helicopter and one cobra gunship providing cover and communication links to the operations section of the troop. I took the scouts teams out one by one and showed them the limits of their assigned area, as well as the enemy trails identified from previous scout reports — intelligence carefully collated and preserved by Ralph Rosenberg and the men working for him. The scouts intuitively recognized the advantages of the new method of attacking the enemy. They did not need to be told that many American soldiers would no longer leave Viet Nam in body bags if we could locate the base camps from the air and bring down on our enemy massive fire from the sky. In the days and weeks that followed the scouts of the Air Cavalry Troop identified multiple enemy base camps in the jungle. We took the intelligence to the 1st Infantry Division and II Field Force, where we convinced our superiors of the lucrative targets that were providing sanctuaries to enemy troop units preparing to launch attacks upon American instillations at Bien Hoa and Long Binh. The Ark Light Strikes were approved.

 

Most of our B52 strikes went in during the night or at first light. Colonel Patton directed his operations officer, Lieutentant Colonel Jim Dozier, to follow up B52 strikes with ground troops. I worked with the scouts to prepare the Bomb Damage Assessments (BDA) of the strikes. The Arc Light strikes had produced awesome results, obliterating base camps, blasting away the tall jungle canopy, and bringing down trees that once obscured observation. Huge craters plowed the ground that formerly housed formidable communist combat units and logistical support troops. Cadavers hung out of the trees on the perimeter of the strike zone. Only splinters remained of massive trees, and the muck and dirt thrown skyward during the bomb blasts now covered the ground in a carpeted layer several feet thick that obscured human body parts dismembered in the attack. Regrettably, the earth did not conceal the stench of human guts and brains that now saturated the carpet of newly plowed ground – formerly the site of extensive trenches and bunker complexes.

 

We were elated but hard pressed to describe the results of the BDA. We could count the cadavers hanging from the trees, but we had no idea of the numbers of enemy soldiers incinerated by the blasts. Nor could we imagine the number of NVA survivors who fled toward the Cambodian border as fast as they could to evade our post-strike reconnaissance operations. We did not learn of the massive losses we had inflicted upon the enemy until weeks later, when captured prisoners revealed during interrogation that they had been members of a unit stationed in one of the enemy base camps targeted for attack by the B52s. Whole companies and battalions had virtually ceased to exist in the succession of massive explosions that had obliterated the communist base camps. By then it was difficult to claim the enemy casualties inflicted in a battle that had taken place weeks, if not months, before. The skeptical journalists denied our claims. We were lying to make our commanders look good they claimed. They were wrong.

 

As hoped, the use of Arc Light Strikes in the fight of the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment against NVA base camps dramatically reduced our casualties. The large number of body bags headed to Long Binh on their way to grieving family members of the 11th Cavalry troopers fell sharply. The aircrews of the B52s flying at 25,000 feet could see nothing of their targets except jungle canopy. They had no way of knowing the impact their long and exhausting missions had on our combat operations, especially in view of the fact that the media, reflecting Hanoi’s propaganda, derided the value of the strikes. But we knew and were grateful.

 

I am confident that I would not have survived my tour of duty with the 11th Cavalry had it not been for the men of the Air Force, who saved the lives of infantrymen and cavalry troopers by sparing them bitter battles to demolish enemy base camps. Words cannot convey our gratitude to the brave Air Force leaders and crewmen who made possible our victories and saved the lives of countless American fighting men.


[1] Later in the war, following the decimation of the Viet Cong military formations and the elimination of the Viet Cong infrastructure by the Phoenix Program, the NVA employed conventional tactics using divisional size units fully equipped with Soviet heavy equipment including tanks and artillery. By 1972 the NLF insurgency had failed and all pretext of NLF control of the North’s war effort in South Vietnam was abandoned, despite the fact that the NLF continued to play a role in the Paris Peace Talks as a diplomatic ploy to bring about a settlement based upon communist participation in the government of South Vietnam (GVN).

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Permanent french crisis

By Andrew O’Meara, Colonel, U.S. Army (retired)

This analysis includes the striking assertion that “The time has come to mark all debts to Lafayette: Now and forever paid in full.” This editor knows many observers who would agree with that sentiment, but a probably equal number who, struck by the historic mystique of la Belle France, would find such a sentiment hard to subscribe to. The reader is invited to express his or her opinion in that regard. – Ed.

French apologists shed alligator tears for urban rioters as if the plight of unemployed immigrants was somehow divorced from the larger crisis facing the nation. French explanations of the riots raise more questions than answers. The untold truth is that France could sustain the burden of unemployed immigrants as long as state run industries operate at peak capacity. As arms contracts with client dictators have dried up and the lucrative oil contracts negotiated with Saddam Hussein for expansion of the Iraqi oil fields became worthless with the demise of the former Ba’athist Regime, the French economy has contracted. Production has slowed, workers have been laid off, and French unemployment has reached crisis proportions.

So what’s the problem? Is it unemployed and unassimilated immigrant thugs? Or is it something much larger? Is it the fact that the socialist state is dependent upon government owned and operated industries that are in turn dependent upon client dictators who are unable or unwilling to subsidize the French economy. And workers are laid off, while immigrant workers doing menial labor are taking the heaviest hits.

A spate of recent publications have exposed the corruption of the authoritarian French State, prompted by the French betrayal of America in the days leading up to the war in Iraq. The Conservative press has highlighted The French Betrayal of America by Kenneth Timmerman, Our Oldest Enemy by John Miller and Mark Molesky, and Vile France by Denis Boyles. All of which have illuminated the problems facing France.

More enlightening than the critiques of French diplomacy and corruption in government owned industries is Gertrude Himmelfarb’s comparison of the British, French and American cultures: The Roads to Modernity: The British, French, and American Enlightenments. Gertrude Himmelfarb’s book reveals the true character of the problems confronting France. The French Enlightenment spawned a revolution fueled by class warfare to eliminate unfortunates identified as enemies of the people. The Jacobin revolutionaries demolished the monarchy, banned the Church, and trashed the existing political culture in return for revolutionary change based upon unlimited faith in the perfectibility of man. In sharp contrast to the French totalitarian approach, the American and British enlightenments looked for the betterment of mankind through gradual progress based upon private and public works built upon the existing institutions of society. Moreover, the British and the American Enlightenments preserved their deeply rooted political cultures, religious institutions, as well as their convictions regarding the imperfect nature of man.

The French revolutionaries disavowed their ancient political culture, trashed the institutions of government, outlawed religion and launched a revolution founded upon a philosophy of equality through the mass murder of class enemies and redistribution of wealth. The French approach to modernization became the prototype for two centuries of socialist revolutions and dictatorships to achieve utopian societies built on faith in unproven, radical theory.

Consistent with their differing approaches to modernization, the British and the French took dramatically different approaches to management of their colonies over the last two centuries. The British prepared their colonies for the transition to democracy. The French did not. The British integrated native public servants into the administration of their colonies, while introducing democratic institutions in their colonies, thus easing the transition to independence. The British encouraged native owned and operated industries, whereas the French controlled production through French owned industries and agriculture, especially rubber in Indochina. More harmful to the French colonies than Gallic resistance to colonial reforms was the reliance upon police power, as well as military forces, to stamp out political opposition. The results were telling. Whereas Great Britain assisted their colonies in the peaceful transition to democracy, the French colonies produced widespread revolutionary warfare and in the end authoritarian and totalitarian dictatorships.

Socialist dictatorships, under various names provided by French revolutionaries, Karl Marx, Lenin, Hitler, Mao, or Pol Pot, seldom progressed beyond revolutionary myths, wars, and death on a scale never seen before. Socialist dictators threatened world wars and world socialist revolution. The list includes German National Socialism, the Soviet Dictatorship of the Proletariat, Mao’s People’s Republic and multiple uprisings of colonial serfs reacting to the excesses of the French Colonial Empire. And a century later France is now haunted by the party line that all are equal within the French revolutionary culture, the ploy used to mobilize the mobs that carried out the revolution. It is the same falsehood that has jump-started French industries by promoting arms sales to and economic exploitation of state sponsors of violence, while opening France to immigration from their former colonies.

And now the worthless note has come due on French promises of equality with immigrants from their former colonies; while socialism, the sterile creation of the violent French Jacobins, still governs supreme in scores of countries in the U.N. General Assembly including beleaguered European states that struggle with stagnant economies. And today as French cars burn in the night, Europeans must come to grips with the failure of their socialist economies and secular cultures, while unassimilated Islamic zealots recruit émigré malcontents to commit acts of violence in the night.

Socialist centralized planning and colossal industrial experiments, including the gulag, have proved unsuccessful. And today intelligent, communist leaders are attempting the transition to free market economies as rapidly as they can accommodate change. Despite the failures of socialism, the French remain committed to their enlightenment philosophy and the grim practices of their predecessors. French society still professes equality at the expense of individual rights and looks to an authoritarian government to make good on the socialist party line, while tolerating autocratic rule that sharply curtails the press and eschews transparency in government. And once again France finds her feet being held to the fire by followers of her ruinous enlightenment theories.

Where to now for the French Enlightenment as cars burn in streets across France? America saved France from German National Socialism in World War II; and we saved them from the aggressive Soviet Empire that threatened to overrun all of Western Europe during the Cold War. We even attempted to bail them out of their disastrous colonial debacle in Indochina, where the Soviets and the Chinese Communists exported wars of national liberation. But the time has come to call a halt to saving France from itself. The time has come to mark all debts to Lafayette: Now and forever paid in full.

And the American Enlightenment? It is working still, even if the liberal academic community in America, which bought into French Enlightenment theories early in the Last Century, fails to admit the triumph of freedom and democracy. The American Enlightenment has spawned no dictatorships. It has encouraged the growth of democracy in the Philippines, Germany, Japan, Italy, South Korea, and Afghanistan. And today Americans are encouraging a fledgling democracy in Iraq, a society formerly ruled by the murderous Saddam Hussein – a French supported dictator and leader of a socialist Ba’athist Party.

It is sad that Lenin did not live to see this day. Lenin wrote that the predicted collapse of capitalism was averted by colonial holdings of the Imperialists, which artificially stimulated industrial growth and produced earnings at the expense of hostage colonial populations. Yet today capitalist economies, without colonies, are booming around the World. It is socialist economies that are in crisis. It is socialist France that is dependent upon arms contracts with corrupt client dictators to provide jobs and illegal contracts in violation of U.N. sanctions to fuel a wasteful socialist industrial base. Lenin had it all wrong. It is socialism that is dependent upon colonies. Joining France in opposition to U.S. demands for military action in Iraq were socialist regimes in Russia, China and Germany that all appear to have been dependent upon neo-colonialism in the form of illegal trade with Saddam Hussein.

Lenin was not a true scientist. Lenin was a true believer. When the predictions of Karl Marx failed to materialize, Lenin rewrote socialist theory. When facts did not support his theory, he manipulated the data producing more accommodating facts. And his contemporary followers wear the same blinders and mouth the same broken promises. And socialist true believers are unlikely to accept their failures as long as there is a mob to incite and a booming American economy to serve as a scapegoat. Theirs is a profitable tradition – for party elites – of class warfare, violence and plunder that is a powerful incentive to those who can’t make it in the work place.

Today capitalism flourishes in a global economy. Socialist economies have become dependent upon protectionist policies and new colonies ruled by client tyrants and dictators. So Lenin had it wrong. And France, the primary proponent of socialist theory, is trapped in a quagmire of stagnant, corrupt and inefficient industries predicted by Lenin as the fate of the American industrial giant. And today radical socialist zealots rail against the global economy and the free enterprise system that raises the standard of living of entire populations in democratic states.

Gloating may be inappropriate, but righteous indignation may be in order at the demonization of American workers and entrepreneurs by the Marxists over the last century. And pride in a free enterprise system that still provides widespread prosperity is in order. Regrettably, the government controlled press in France, China, Cuba and North Korea still produce virulently anti-American propaganda that has fueled an anti-American rage that continues to do violence to American interests in the international community of nations.

Despite socialist propaganda, the success of the American free enterprise system is legendary, bringing immigrants of all nationalities to our shores. It is seen in the flourishing of the American culture and economy reflecting the vitality of the American Enlightenment, while the French Enlightenment has entered a period of widespread decline. The collapse of socialist economies is global in scope causing pervasive economic stagnation. It is seen in the massive unemployment rates in socialist welfare states. It is the cause of cars burning in the streets of Paris and Lyon, and Marseille. All of which point to the culmination of the French Enlightenment in a macro failure demonstrating that hubris and utopian theory are no substitutes for hard work by free people based upon free enterprise, private ownership of property, and the protection of individual liberties under governments for, by and of the people.

While Conservatives are dismayed by the plight of self-professed enemies of the American Enlightenment, Americans must not return to the pattern of our past mistakes. The French brought this disaster upon themselves. And this time we cannot save them from the evil they have loosed upon themselves. This is a French crisis created by hubris, greed, corruption and massive bloodshed orchestrated by the French State over many years. France must reform by taking responsibility for their long history of criminal conduct; and they must repudiate their radical tradition that paved the way for two centuries of bloodshed leading to failed economic systems and rogue states. All Americans can do is recognize the problem and salute Gertrude Himmelfarb for her brilliant analysis of the French, British and American Enlightenments, which identifies the fallacies of the French Enlightenment that constitute grave obstacles on the road to modernity. And it may be appropriate for Americans to permit themselves some satisfaction in this moment of truth in appreciation of the vindication of the American Enlightenment.

 

 

Colonel O’Meara graduated from West Point and served abroad in Europe and Vietnam. He was decorated five times for valor during his service in Vietnam. He attended the Army War College and earned two graduate degrees over his military career. Since retirement, Colonel O’Meara and his wife have resided in Pawleys Island, SC. His published works include Infrastructure and the Marxist Power Seizure, Accidental Warrior, Only the Dead Came Home, and Voices from the Underground.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Fonda’s World

by Andrew O’Meara, Colonel, U.S. Army (retired)

The war in Iraq has highlighted the role of women in combat. Vivid images of  raped and tortured women have altered popular opinion.

Congressional demands for protecting women have called into question the  merits of equal opportunity for women in uniform. There is a dilemma. And  flag-draped caskets returning the dead women soldiers aggravates the problem.

Demands for women’s rights resonate in an emotionally charged climate created  by antiwar advocates opposing President Bush’s policy in Iraq.

Into this debate enters a seasoned champion of women’s rights. Jane Fonda  celebrates the victories of feminists and the antiwar movement in her new book,  “My Life So Far.” Miss Fonda presents herself as a leader, albeit an angry one,  of both the antiwar and women’s liberation movements.

From difficult childhood to unrepentant dowager, we observe Miss Fonda  observing Miss Fonda through rose-tinted glasses. For those of my generation,  who cherish the culture of our youth, the image is sometimes grotesque, as Miss  Fonda relishes her liberation from the worldview earlier called virtue: honor,  loyalty, generosity, modesty, and self-restraint.

In the interests of full disclosure, I confess I am one stigmatized by Miss  Fonda’s seditious libel during her triumphal tour of Hanoi. The juxtaposition of  her self-image of triumphal liberation versus my revulsion by her narcissism and  disloyalty calls attention to vastly different images of the liberated woman.  The conflicting attitudes call into question mutually exclusive values. How do  we account for the antagonistic interpretations of morality?

The answer is in the eye of the beholder. I admit my views are those of a  victim of Miss Fonda’s condemnations of fellow Americans who went in harm’s way  to oppose communist aggression. My personal commitment to duty, honor and  country conflicts with Miss Fonda’s beliefs.

By her own admission, it is clear Miss Fonda has been a disloyal,  intellectual lightweight, pro-communist feminist and an atheistic, apostate  Christian. She glories in her liberation from virtue, from love of country, and  from all we once regarded as the legacy of Western Civilization.

Miss Fonda’s view contrasts totally with those who choose subordination of  self-love to love of country, family and of God. Miss Fonda appears as the  archetype of liberation, dramatically contrasted with the ideals of men and  women in uniform, who willingly choose self-sacrifice for love’s sake.

Most striking is Miss Fonda’s lack of repentance, though she regrets the bad  PR over the anti-aircraft artillery scene in Hanoi that encouraged communist  combatants at the expense of her fellow countrymen. No regrets is the message.  Liberation uber alles. Do it all over again in a heartbeat — pacifism, hatred  of America, support for our enemies, passion in celebrating passion, lust for  hard cash, down with the unborn and the white male, and God reinterpreted in her  own image and likeness.

The antithesis of liberation is nurturing, a quality both men and women may  possess, though the woman is naturally superior in this vital, sustaining virtue  of civilization. The repudiation of maternal nurturing is at the root of  liberation. And protection of maternal nurturing is the hallmark of great  cultures. It was celebrated even by the warlike Spartans.

War’s tragedy is it randomly destroys nurturing by quashing all feelings but  anger, a condition the medical profession calls Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder  (PTSD). Therefore, war attacks virtue at its most vulnerable spot. In this, it  strikes at society’s heart.

So what? Maybe we should think hard, as a society, about allowing our young  women to take part in combat. This is not to say our women have failed. They  have not. They have performed magnificently. Rather it is to protect our young  from evils they cannot begin to fathom. And it is to preserve the virtues that  sustain our way of life so mothers have the capacity to nurture, even when they  return from war.

If we ignore the problem, our young women could end up like Jane Fonda —  liberated from the most noble of all virtues and possessed by anger that  destroys our own flesh and blood.

Jane Fonda will have done us all a service, if through her example we can  recognize the danger to our culture from women’s liberation and the result of  close combat — destruction of the capacity to nurture.

I recommend Jane Fonda’s book as a testimony to the sterility of life beyond  virtue.

 
 
 

 

 

 

ANDREW P. O’MEARA JR.

Col., U.S. Army, Retired

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Leave no man behind

By Bill Bell

There were several reasons for writing this book, not the least of which, is the “loser” mentality of many Vietnam vets today. If you will read my flyer below carefully I believe you can see that I have made a good case for what I perceive to be “victory” by American and allied vets, not a lost war as described by liberals like Tom Hayden, Jane Fonda and the media. We lost 58,000 troops while killing 1.3 million communists, including some 300,000 KIA body not recovered, 150,000 of which are unaccounted-for today. Unlike the French before us we did not go to Vietnam to open coal mines or gold mines, or tea or rubber plantations. We went there to close with, and kill, destroy or capture the enemy. This was our mission and we definitely accomplished it. We did not go to Southeast Asia in order to conquer Vietnam or make it a colony of the United States. We all knew we would be coming home, we simply didn’t know when. Due to the efforts made by Vietnam Vets, today one quarter of the population of the earth is living under democratically elected governments. Radical Muslims who call for Jihad against Americans should remember that due to the efforts made by Vietnam veterans while fighting against counterinsurgencies throughout Southeast Asia during the decades of the 1960’s and 1970’s., today citizens of two of the world’s largest Muslim nations, Malaysia and Indonesia, are able to freely worship Islam. During the American War in Vietnam our military forces never lost a major battle and the USSR’s involvement in supporting the communists while we were fighting there led to the collapse of the Soviet Union, the disbanding of the Communist Party and a clear victory of the Cold War for Vietnam war vets. America’s Vietnam Vets can hold their heads high and be proud for their service during one of the most critical periods of American history. The struggle is not over, the two most important issues remaining are a full and transparent accounting for our unreturned veterans and democracy for the Vietnamese people.

 

Leave No Man Behind
by Garnett Bill Bell
479-674-5449

“No event in American history is more misunderstood than the Vietnam War. It was misreported then, and it is misremembered now. Rarely have so many people been so wrong about so much. Never have the consequences of their misunderstanding been so tragic.” (Nixon)

“Psychologists or sociologists may explain some day what it is about that distant monochromatic land, of green mountains and fields merging with an azure sea, that for millennia has acted as a magnet for foreigners who sought glory there and found frustration, who believed that in its rice fields and jungles some principle was to be established and entered them only to recede in disillusion.” (Henry Kissinger, White House Years, 1979. Reminiscing about Vietnam)

Leave No Man Behind: An eyewitness account of the Vietnam War from its early stages through the last day of the Republic, 30 April 1975. A startling new look at the postwar era and the issue of America’s unreturned veterans listed as POW/MIA, an issue that has haunted America since the beginning of American involvement. Shrouded in controversy, a subject of great emotion amid charges of governmental conspiracy and Communist deceit, the possibility of American servicemen being held in secret captivity after the war’s end has influenced U.S. policy toward Southeast Asia for three decades. Now, the first chief of the U.S. Government’s only official office in postwar Vietnam provides an insider’s account of that effort. The challenges he faced in dealing with U.S. politicians, including Vietnam veterans, Senators John McCain and John Kerry, are an ardent reminder of the many similarities in the bloody wars fought by American troops in both Vietnam and Iraq-Afghanistan. In an illuminating and deeply personal memoir, the government’s top missing persons investigator in Southeast Asia, who later became a member of the U.S. Congressional Staff, discusses the history of the search for missing Americans, reveals how the Communist Vietnamese stonewalled U.S. efforts to discover the truth, and how the standards for MIA case investigations were gradually lowered while pressure for expanded commercial and economic ties with communist Vietnam increased. Leave No Man Behind is the compelling story of a dedicated group of professionals who, against great odds, were able to uphold the proud military traditions of duty, honor and country.
Every American fighting in Afghanistan should read ‘Leave No Man Behind.’

As the US Marine Corps helicopter lifted from the roof of the American Embassy in Saigon at daybreak on April 30, 1975, I thought about the carnage that would result from a heat-seeking missile fired by Vietnamese Communist forces gradually encircling the besieged capital of the dying Republic of Vietnam (RVN). Exhausted by a lack of sleep for the previous several days, I no longer felt fear, only curiosity. Tears welled up in my eyes, perhaps due in part to the anguish of witnessing the tragic events unfolding before me, but also from caustic smoke belched out of rooftop incinerators glowing cherry-red from reams of frantically burned secret US Government documents. Feeling a sense of relief, I nevertheless harbored an even stronger sense of guilt. On the Republic of Vietnam’s final day, as I looked down into the gradually diminishing compound and into the terrified eyes in the upturned faces of hundreds of Vietnamese nationals and citizens of other countries friendly to the United States, who were being left behind, I knew that I would be haunted for many years to come. As the venerable ‘Sea Stallion’ throbbed its way through the damp morning air toward a helicopter carrier anchored off the coast at Vung Tau, blazing multicolored tracers rising from the dark-canopied jungle below bade farewell to America and to an era known as the Vietnam War.

During the more than 30 minute flight into the future I sat angry and confused after some 10 years of involvement with a faraway place called Vietnam. I wondered whether the sacrifices in lives and national treasure made by America had been worthwhile or in vain. After contemplating the issue for many years, I believe it is now time to take stock of the American War in Vietnam so that Americans, especially those of us who served there, can finally decide whether or not we now have cause for a celebration or the lingering agony of defeat.

With the fall of the RVN, as many analysts had predicted, jubilant communist forces quickly invaded and occupied the populated areas. Hundreds of thousands of former military and civilian officials were required to be screened, classified and registered as enemies of the revolution to be detained in remote, isolated concentration camps under horrific conditions. Thousands died due to disease and malnutrition, many never to be heard from again by family members. At the same time, the communist leadership insisted that the Democratic Republic of Vietnam in the north and the Provisional Revolutionary Government in the south be united as one.

From that day forward, according to the constitution, only one political party, the Vietnam Communist Party, would be allowed to exist. On official letterheads of government stationery the three previously used terms comprising the national motto of the communist north: ‘Freedom, Independence and Democracy’ were changed forever to read ‘Freedom, Independence and Happiness.’ To the Vietnamese people this change in terminology, especially the reference to happiness, would provide one of the few sources of humor during a desperate time. To add insult to injury, the graves of fallen RVN military personnel were razed by bulldozers in cemeteries across the country. Typewriters, radios, televisions and anything that could be used for propagation or communication were required to be registered with the ‘Military Management Committee’ responsible for political security under the new ‘Socialist Republic of Vietnam.’ As interest began to wane, occasional references to the Vietnam War coined phrases such as ‘a noble cause’ or ‘an unnecessary war.’ The question as to whether the Vietnam War was or was not necessary was just as divisive in postwar debate as it was during the days following the 1968 ‘Tet’ Offensive. In my own assessment of both the necessity for and the outcome of the Vietnam War two primary considerations were the U.S. national interest at the time and the mission of the U.S. Military Forces that fought in Southeast Asia.

The overall mission of U.S. military forces for the latter part of the 20th century began to take shape shortly after the conclusion of World War II. At that time the policy of the United States was one of containment of Communism. I believed that this policy was fully justified, because it was obvious that the Communist International, especially Russia and China, sought to ‘liberate’ the entire world. This policy of containment became known as the ‘Cold War.’ Although there were numerous clashes involving air crews during missions involving special operations and reconnaissance, the first major battlefield of that war erupted in 1950 on the Korean Peninsula, where the successful accomplishment of the mission of containing communism there was dubbed by the media as a ‘stalemate.’

At the beginning of the War in Vietnam, the basic mission of American soldier worldwide was to kill, destroy, or capture the enemy, or repel his assault by fire. Over one million men and women answered their nation’s call, and they did their level best to carry out their mission in Southeast Asia. As a result, some 58,000 Americans and some 225,000 allied personnel made the ultimate sacrifice, while by comparison, communist Vietnam suffered the loss of over 1,300,000 personnel, including 150,000 personnel who were killed-in-action but never recovered. I personally witnessed the strongest blow struck at communist forces by hard-fighting American and South Vietnamese troops that occurred during the January 31, 1968, ‘Tet’ offensive. The bodies of thousands of communist personnel were stacked in piles around installations throughout South Vietnam, and losses were so heavy for the communist side that the entire military rank structure was temporarily abandoned and cadre selected to command and control units were assigned based on position or job title only, rather than actual military rank. The loss of life to the communist side was nothing less than staggering, and any U.S. military commander whose losses approached even a small percentage of actual communist fatalities at that time would most likely have been relieved of command.

Even though America’s servicemen and women fought valiantly during the 1968 ‘Tet’ offensive, the U.S. and international media nevertheless managed to reshape their hard-earned victory into a political defeat. Vietnamese communist propaganda experts were so skillful that they were able to convince many members of the media and even some military analysts that two separate governments, the National Liberation Front in South Vietnam and the Democratic Republic of Vietnam in the North, existed side by side and that both were involved in a ‘civil war.’ It has since been proven that both the NLF and the DRV were tightly controlled by the Vietnam Communist Party and both governments were actually one and the same. Moreover, personnel of the two purported military organizations of both illusionary governments, the North Vietnamese Army (NVA) and the Viet Cong (VC), were in reality members of the Peoples Army of Vietnam (PAVN).

Admittedly, in terms of national treasure the Vietnam War was not cheap. Depending on which expert’s figures are used, the total cost of the Vietnam War to America was somewhere in the neighborhood of 250 billion dollars. By comparison the overall U.S. defense budget during postwar, peacetime years exceeded that amount annually. In reality one million men could not have been trained at U.S.-based training centers for a 10 year period, even using blank ammunition, for a lesser amount. While the Vietnam War was certainly a drain on the U.S. economy, during the decade of our of engagement there the former Soviet Union also provided significant amounts of financial and material support to communist forces deployed throughout Southeast Asia. Support by the USSR to Vietnam, the 1979 invasion of Afghanistan and a badly managed, centrally controlled economy all combined to bring the former Soviet Union to its knees and bring about the collapse of the Communist Party. Ultimately this collapse led to the end of the Cold War. Veterans of the Cold War, especially those who fought in Korea and Vietnam, now enjoy the gratitude of the peoples of many European, East Asian and Southeast Asian nations. It is now clear that as a result of the sacrifices made by American and allied veterans, today the people of Thailand, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Indonesia are living under freely elected governments. This accounts for one quarter of the earth’s population. Radical Muslims bent on Jihad should pause to remember that the citizens of the two largest Islamic nations, Malaysia and Indonesia, are able to freely worship Islam due in large to the sacrifices made on their behalf by Americans fighting against Communism throughout Southeast Asia.

Obviously, the true losers of the Vietnam War are the Vietnamese people, not just the people of the former Republic of Vietnam, but citizens from all areas of the country, including the north. Although millions of Vietnamese ‘voted with their feet’ by escaping on small boats across dangerous ocean currents, resulting in staggering losses to mankind, today millions more freedom-loving Vietnamese still yearn to be free. I believe that the two most important bilateral issues remaining between the U.S. and the Socialist Republic of Vietnam are an accounting for the almost 1,800 Americans still missing from the Vietnam War and democracy for the Vietnamese people.

Successive administrations in Washington, D.C. have pressed for democracy in many countries around the world, including Russia, Haiti, South Africa, Afghanistan and Iraq. But there has been very little interest shown in gaining democracy for Asians, and this double standard is difficult to understand. It is almost as though we Americans have a collective mentality whereby we believe that peoples with yellow skin cannot manage freedom, and that tight control is the only option available.

The American business community, aggressively buying up cheap products manufactured in Asia for resale on the U.S. market, is blinded by the lack of labor unions, cheap wages and fear of violent reprisals against labor strikes. It is ironic that after some 58,000 fine young Americans died in Vietnam while fighting for democracy the American business community is now steadily developing the economy of communist controlled Vietnam, insuring that the Vietnam Communist Party will not only remain in power, but that it will increasingly have the ability to maintain an even larger and more powerful military force. Concerning the plight of the families of Vietnam War POWs and MIAs, democracy can also go a long way to help in this regard. I believe that most Americans, especially Vietnam veterans, will agree that for the most part the Vietnamese people are honest and hardworking. Like our people right here at home, I can’t imagine a situation where the people of Vietnam would be willing to hide the remains of anyone’s loved one in order to extort money from them. Although during the past 30 years the ruling communists have gradually doled out bits and pieces of skeletal remains and personal effects in return for large monetary sums, once the Vietnam Communist Party has collapsed the Vietnamese people will rise to the occasion and provide whatever assistance is necessary to resolve the issue of our missing men. We should all be doing everything we can to make sure that day comes.

Garnett ‘Bill’ Bell, a native of Texas and a retired GM-14, DoD, went to Vietnam as an infantryman in 1965 and served four tours there. Bell was awarded 20 individual decorations and numerous unit awards. Bell later served as an instructor in the Department of Exploitation and Counterintelligence, U.S. Army Intelligence Center and school. During his career Bell served in the 327th Airborne Battle Group, 101st Airborne Division, the 1/35th Infantry Regiment, 25th Infantry Division, the 2/506th Airborne Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division, the 101st MI Company, the 525th Military Intelligence Group, the Defense Language Institute, the U.S. Army Intelligence and Security Command, the 6th Special Forces Group, the Joint Casualty Resolution Center (JCRC), the Four Party Joint Military Team (FPJMT) and the Joint Task Force Full-Accounting (JTFFA). Bell’s wife and son were killed and a daughter critically injured in April 1975, when the families of U.S. officials assigned to the American Embassy in Saigon were evacuated in conjunction with the ‘Operation Babylift’ program. After being evacuated by helicopter from the roof of the American Embassy on the final day of the Republic of Vietnam (RVN) (30 April 1975), Bell returned to postwar Vietnam as the first official U.S. representative after the war ended when he was assigned as the Chief of the U.S. Office for POW/MIA Affairs in Hanoi. He served more than 12 years on the POW/MIA Search Teams. An Airborne-Ranger and Jumpmaster, Bell eventually became a member of the Congressional Staff, U.S. House of Representatives. Fluent in Vietnamese, Thai and Laotian, Bell is a graduate of Chaminade University and the author of ‘Leave No Man Behind.’ Bell is a life member of the VFW, Combat Infantrymens Association (CIA) and the Military Order of the Purple Heart (MOPH). Bell is employed as an investigator in the 12th Judicial District western Arkansas.

This book is one of the most accurate and detailed accounts of the Vietnam War from beginning to end. It is arguably the very best book ever written concerning the important POW/MIA issue. No one, military, civilian, or private citizen, has contributed as much as Bill Bell to the national effort to recover and repatriate America’s unreturned veterans from the Vietnam War. Every veteran of any war definitely needs to read this important work, which is destined to become an icon that will withstand the test of time. Bill Bell certainly deserves the Presidential Medal of Freedom for his courageous efforts.”

Michael De Paulo, Vietnam Vet, USMC and National Service Officer, Rolling Thunder Inc.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment