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A Marine’s Journey through South Vietnam, 1968-1969
In early February of 1968, at the beginning of the Tet Offensive, Private First Class Gregory V. Short arrived in Vietnam as an eighteen-year-old U.S. Marine. Amid all of the confusion and destruction, he began his tour of duty as an 81mm mortarman with the 2nd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, which was stationed at Con Thien near the DMZ. While living in horrendous conditions reminiscent of the trenches in World War I, his unit was cut off and constantly being bombarded by the North Vietnamese heavy artillery, rockets, and mortars. Soon thereafter Short left his mortar crew and became an 81mm’s Forward Observer for Hotel Company. Working with the U.S. Army’s 1st Air Cavalry Division and other units, he helped relieve the siege at Khe Sanh by reopening Route 9. Short participated in several different operations close to the Laotian border, where contact with the enemy was often heavy and always chaotic. On May 19, Ho Chi Minh’s birthday, the NVA attempted to overrun the combat base in the early morning hours. Tragically, during a two-month period, one of the companies (Foxtrot Company) within his battalion would sustain more than 70 percent casualties. By September Short was transferred to the 1st Battalion 9th Marines (the Walking Dead). Assigned as an infantryman (grunt) with Bravo Company and operating along the DMZ and near the A Shau Valley, he would spend the next five months patrolling the mountainous terrain and enduring the harsh elements. At the end of his first tour, he re-upped for a second and was assigned to the 1st Marine Air Wing in Da Nang, where he had an opportunity to become familiar with the Vietnamese culture. Direct, honest, and brutal in his observations, Short holds nothing back in describing the hardships of modern warfare and our leaders’ illusions of success.
The 1972 Easter Invasion and the Battle That Saved South Viet Nam
In 1972 a North Vietnamese offensive of more than 30,000 men and 100 tanks smashed into South Vietnam and raced to capture Saigon. All that stood in their way was a small band of 6,800 South Vietnamese (ARVN) soldiers and militiamen, and a handful of American advisors with U.S. air support, guarding An Loc, a town sixty miles north of Saigon and on the main highway to it. This depleted army, outnumbered and outgunned, stood its ground and fought to the end and succeeded. Against all expectations, the ARVN beat back furious assaults from three North Vietnamese divisions, supported by artillery and armored regiments, during three months of savage fighting. This victory was largely unreported in the U.S. media, which had effectively lost interest in the war after the disengagement of most U.S. forces. Thi believes that it is time to set the record straight. Without denying the tremendous contribution of the U.S. advisors and pilots, this book is written primarily to tell the South Vietnamese side of the story and, more importantly, to render justice to the South Vietnamese soldier.
Jerry Daniels, the Hmong, and the CIA
It just didn’t sit right. Not with his friends, not with his coworkers, not with his hunting and fishing buddies, and certainly not with his family. The American Embassy in Bangkok had reported the accidental death of Jerry “Hog” Daniels by carbon monoxide poisoning. Three decades later, his family and most of his friends remain unconvinced that the U.S. government told them the truth about his death.
As a former CIA case officer to legendary Hmong leader General Vang Pao during the “secret war” in Laos, Jerry Daniels was experienced, smart, and careful. Those who knew him well said he wasn’t the type to die as reported. Raising even more doubts, his casket was “Permanently Sealed” by the U.S. State Department before being shipped home to Missoula, Montana, where he was honored with a three-day funeral ceremony organized by his former comrades-in-arms, the Hmong hilltribe warriors from Laos.
This book examines the unique personality and reported death of a man who was a pivotal agent in U.S./Hmong history. Friends and family share their memories of Daniels growing up in Montana, cheating death in Laos, and carousing in the bars and brothels of Thailand. First-person accounts from Americans and Hmong, ranchers and refugees, State Department officials and smokejumpers capture both human and historical stories about the life of this dedicated and irreverent individual and offer speculation on the unsettling circumstances of his death. Equally important, Hog’s Exit is the first complete account in English to document the drama and beauty of the Hmong funeral process.
Hog’s Exit provides a fascinating view of a man and the two very different cultures in which he lived.
Thai Soldiers in the Vietnam War
In Buddha’s Company explores a previously neglected aspect of the Vietnam War: the experiences of the Thai troops who served there and the attitudes and beliefs that motivated them to volunteer. Thailand sent nearly 40,000 volunteer soldiers to South Vietnam to serve alongside the Free World Forces in the conflict, but unlike the other foreign participants, the Thais came armed with historical and cultural knowledge of the region. Blending the methodologies of cultural and military history, Richard Ruth examines the individual experiences of Thai volunteers in their wartime encounters with American allies, South Vietnamese civilians, and Viet Cong enemies. Ruth shows how the Thais were transformed by living amongst the modern goods and war machinery of the Americans and by traversing the jungles and plantations haunted by indigenous spirits. At the same time, Ruth argues, Thailand’s ruling institutions used the image of volunteers to advance their respective agendas, especially those related to anticommunist authoritarianism.
Drawing on numerous interviews with Thai veterans and archival material from Thailand and the United States, Ruth focuses on the cultural exchanges that occurred between Thai troops and their allies and enemies, presenting a Southeast Asian view of a conflict that has traditionally been studied as a Cold War event dominated by an American political agenda. The resulting study considers such diverse topics as comparative Buddhisms, alternative modernities, consumerism, celebrity, official memories vs. personal recollections, and the value of local knowledge in foreign wars. The war’s effects within Thailand itself are closely considered, demonstrating that the war against communism in Vietnam, as articulated by Thai leaders, was a popular cause among nearly all segments of the population. Furthermore, Ruth challenges previous assertions that Thailand’s forces were merely "America’s mercenaries" by presenting the multiple, overlapping motivations for volunteering offered by the soldiers themselves.
In Buddha’s Company makes clear that many Thais sought direct involvement in the Vietnam War and that their participation had profound and lasting effects on the country’s political and military institutions, royal affairs, popular culture, and international relations. As one of only a handful of academic histories of Thailand in the 1960s, it provides a crucial link between the keystone studies of the Phibun-Sarit years (1946–1963) and those examining the turbulent 1970s.47 illus., 2 maps
Nationalism and Communism in Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam
"Dommen's book promises to be the definitive political history of
Indochina during the Franco-American era." -- William M. Leary,
E. Merton Coulter Professor of History, University of Georgia
This magisterial study by Arthur J. Dommen sets the Indochina wars 'French and American' in perspective as no book that has come before. He summarizes the history of the peninsula from the Vietnamese War of Independence from China in 930-39 through the first French military actions in 1858, when the struggle of the peoples of Indochina with Western powers began.
Dommen details the crucial episodes in the colonization of Indochina by the French and the indigenous reaction to it. The struggle for national sovereignty reached an acute state at the end of World War II, when independent governments rapidly assumed power in Vietnam and Cambodia. When the French returned, the struggle became one of open warfare, with Nationalists and Communists gripped in a contest for ascendancy in Vietnam, while the rulers of Cambodia and Laos sought to obtain independence by negotiation.
The withdrawal of the French after their defeat at Dien Bien Phu brought the Indochinese face-to-face, whether as friends or as enemies, with the Americans. In spite of an armistice in 1954, the war between Hanoi and Saigon resumed as each enlisted the help of foreign allies, which led to the renewed loss of sovereignty as a result of alliances and an increasingly heavy loss of lives. Meticulous and detailed, Dommen's telling of this complicated story is always judicious. Nevertheless, many people will find his analysis of the Diem coup a disturbing account of American plotting and murder.
This is an
essential book for anyone who wants to understand Vietnam and the people who fought
against the United States and won.
This enlightening book offers a collection of histories of underground papers from the Vietnam Era as written and told by key staff members of the time. Their stories (as well as those to be included in Part 2, forthcoming) represent a wide range of publications: counterculture, gay, lesbian, feminist, Puerto Rican, Native American, Black, socialist, Southern consciousness, prisoner's rights, New Age, rank-and-file, military, and more. The edition includes forewords by former Chicago Seed editor Abe Peck, radical attorney William M. Kunstler, and Markos Moulitsas, founder of the Daily Kos, along with an introductory essay by Ken Wachsberger.
Wachsberger notes that the underground press not only produce a few well-known papers but also was truly national and diverse in scope. His goal is to capture the essence of "the countercultural community."
A fundamental resource for anyone seeking a deeper understanding of a dramatic era in U.S. history.
The American War on Vietnam, 1975-2000
Beginning where most histories of the Vietnam War end, Invisible Enemies examines the relationship between the United States and Vietnam following the American pullout in 1975. Drawing on a broad range of sources, from White House documents and congressional hearings to comic books and feature films, Edwin Martini shows how the United States continued to wage war on Vietnam "by other means" for another twenty-five years. In addition to imposing an extensive program of economic sanctions, the United States opposed Vietnam's membership in the United Nations, supported the Cambodians, including the Khmer Rouge, in their decade-long war with the Vietnamese, and insisted that Vietnam provide a "full accounting" of American MIAs before diplomatic relations could be established. According to Martini, such policies not only worked against some of the stated goals of U.S. foreign policy, they were also in opposition to the corporate economic interests that ultimately played a key role in normalizing relations between the two nations in the late 1990s. Martini reinforces his assessment of American diplomacy with an analysis of the "cultural front"—the movies, myths, memorials, and other phenomena that supported continuing hostility toward Vietnam while silencing opposing views of the war and its legacies. He thus demonstrates that the "American War on Vietnam" was as much a battle for the cultural memory of the war within the United States as it was a lengthy economic, political, and diplomatic campaign to punish a former adversary.
The Battle to Save South Vietnam
In the spring of 1972, North Vietnam invaded South Vietnam in what became known as the Easter Offensive. Almost all of the American forces had already withdrawn from Vietnam except for a small group of American advisers to the South Vietnamese armed forces. The 23rd ARVN Infantry Division and its American advisers were sent to defend the provincial capital of Kontum in the Central Highlands. They were surrounded and attacked by three enemy divisions with heavy artillery and tanks but, with the help of air power, managed to successfully defend Kontum and prevent South Vietnam from being cut in half and defeated. Although much has been written about the Vietnam War, little of it addresses either the Easter Offensive or the Battle of Kontum. In Kontum: The Battle to Save South Vietnam, Thomas P. McKenna fills this gap, offering the only in-depth account available of this violent engagement. McKenna, a U.S. infantry lieutenant colonel assigned as a military adviser to the 23rd Division, participated in the battle of Kontum and combines his personal experiences with years of interviews and research from primary sources to describe the events leading up to the invasion and the battle itself. Kontum sheds new light on the actions of U.S. advisers in combat during the Vietnam War. McKenna’s book is not only an essential historical resource for America’s most controversial war but a personal story of valor and survival.
Beginning more than sixty years ago, speechmaking supported the U.S. commitment to South Vietnam. Rhetoric helped send more than a half-million troops to defend the Vietnamese government the United States had yet sponsored; that policy led to dissent, and ultimately, Congress forcing the executive branch to terminate U.S. involvement. The fourteen key speeches collected in this volume, from Ho Chi Minh's "Declaration of the Independence of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam" in 1945 to John Kerry's "Testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee" in 1971, express the entire range of positions on the war, which contributed to the political and societal developments that ordained its course and outcome. They span the most volatile years of that period, framed in the words that shaped an era. These speeches include: Ho Chi Minh: "Declaration of Independence," September 2, 1945 John F. Kennedy: "America's Stake in Vietnam," June 1, 1956 Michael J. Mansfield: "Interests and Policies in Southeast Asia," June 10, 1962 Lyndon B. Johnson: "Peace Without Conquest," April 7, 1965 Paul Potter: "Speech to the March on Washington," April 17, 1965 George Aiken: "Vietnam Analysis--Present and Future," October 19, 1966 Robert F. Kennedy: "On Viet Nam," March 2, 1967 Martin Luther King Jr.: "Beyond Vietnam," April 4, 1967 Gen. William C. Westmoreland: "Vietnam: The Situation Today," April 28, 1967 Walter Cronkite: "We Are Mired in Stalemate," February 27, 1968 Lyndon B. Johnson: "The President's Address to the Nation," March 31, 1968 Richard M. Nixon: "Address to the Nation," November 3, 1969 and April 30, 1970 John Kerry: "Testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee," April 22, 1971
An American Sergeant in the Vietnam War, 1968-1970
In 1968 James T. Gillam was a poorly focused college student at Ohio University who was dismissed and then drafted into the Army. Unlike most African Americans who entered the Army then, he became a Sergeant and an instructor at the Fort McClellan Alabama School of Infantry. In September 1968 he joined the First Battalion, 22nd Regiment of the 4th Infantry Division in Vietnam. Within a month he transformed from an uncertain sergeant—who tried to avoid combat—to an aggressive soldier, killing his first enemy and planning and executing successful ambushes in the jungle. Gillam was a regular point man and occasional tunnel rat who fought below ground, an arena that few people knew about until after the war ended. By January 1970 he had earned a Combat Infantry Badge and been promoted to Staff Sergeant. Then Washington’s politics and military strategy took his battalion to the border of Cambodia. Search-and-destroy missions became longer and deadlier. From January to May his unit hunted and killed the enemy in a series of intense firefights, some of them in close combat. In those months Gillam was shot twice and struck by shrapnel twice. He became a savage, strangling a soldier in hand-to-hand combat inside a lightless tunnel. As his mid-summer date to return home approached, Gillam became fiercely determined to come home alive. The ultimate test of that determination came during the Cambodian invasion. On his last night in Cambodia, the enemy got inside the wire of the firebase, and the killing became close range and brutal. Gillam left the Army in June 1970, and within two weeks of his last encounter with death, he was once again a college student and destined to become a university professor. The nightmares and guilt about killing are gone, and so is the callous on his soul. Life and Death in the Central Highlands is a gripping, personal account of one soldier’s war in Vietnam.