Examining the Myths of the Vietnam War
SESSION 13 (Transcript)

Teaching the Vietnam War

Bill Laurie: Okay. Being as how we’re such academic folks, the title of my little paper here is called “Epistemological Atrocities -- The Historicide in Vietnam” but basically it is about what is being taught in high schools and colleges. This dovetails very nicely with what we have seen from the news media and other sources of information, which have mis-informed our students on Vietnam. And what you have got is not simply bad education, but you have got false education. It is about the same as if you tried to get a degree in paleontology by watching Godzilla movies. Students today in our junior high schools and junior colleges and colleges are being fed and instructed in entirely false myths and of a false reality with just enough particles of truth to make it believable. It is not enough that the story is distorted. It’s that the story is constructed in such a manner that students cannot reach reasonable inferences about some things that occurred that were very very important. Examples of this are the South Vietnamese very successful land reform program. They will only discuss Ngo Dinh Diem’s half hearted and rather amateurish attempts at land reforms in the early sixties. What they won’t tell you is that it was a very successful program, which completely undermined Viet Cong propaganda appeals. They won’t tell you how the GVN was a functioning government, they won't tell you that RVNAF, the Republic of Vietnam Armed Forces, not simply ARVN, Army of Vietnam, improved far more than most people think. Important to know that a correction of this false history does not entail glossing over weaknesses or shortcomings on our side. The GVN was not a squeaky clean government and it is perhaps no better, no worse than any other government in Southeast Asia, and it was better than Hanoi. American Forces overall, did always conduct themselves in appropriate manner. Most did, but still we could have done better jobs at being good guys. Our adversaries on the other hand did an excellent job, a supreme job, of being bad guys. Now, how can we verify our assertion that history is being misconstrued and constructed and lied about? It is not that difficulty to do. We simply look at what they say and contrast it with what really happened.

I did this with one high school textbook. Once you take the 26 pages or remove the pictures and maps from the 26 pages in the Vietnam chapter, you are left with just over 13 pages of text. 13 full page text equivalents. In those 213 pages, I identified 220 false or grossly misleading statements. That is excluding the fact the other sentences on these pages either elaborate upon or amplify the false statement, so it is not too easy to understand why an entire page may be filled with nonsense.

Well, let’s start and see what some examples are. We want to talk about “The Americans, a History” 1992 edition. By the way, we are using a high school text at first, and we will get into some other books later, because it is a distillation of “conventional wisdom.” This is what everybody knows is true. Secondly and perhaps more importantly, this is the last form of exposure a lot of these students are ever going to have to Vietnam, and I should say the Vietnam War was not just Vietnam. It was an Indochinese peninsular war, which involved Laos, Cambodia and, unbeknownst to a lot of people, border areas in Thailand. There were several thousand people killed in Thailand due to communist-inspired insurgency with some Thai insurgents who were trained in North Vietnam beginning in 1962. So it is not just the Vietnam War, but that being said, and this text by the way is not unique; we are not singling it out. It is very, very, very, representative.

Here is an example. The text says, “most of the 1930 revolts against the French were organized by the Indochinese Communist Party.” Fact: There were a number of anti-French revolts before the 1930s and none of them were engineered by the Indochinese Communist Party. The Yen Bai rebellion of 1930 was instigated by the Vietnam Quoc Dan Dang, the Nationalist Party. Its members were later decimated by Hanoi. Scholar Stephen Morris concluded that during the 1930s the ICP, Indochinese Communist Party, was engaged in an intense struggle for pre-eminence within Vietnam against rival political groups. He also adds the ICP was never able to dominate the anti-French resistance in Vietnam until after World War II. Prior to World War II, the ICP was simply one anti-colonial movement among many. In April 1938, it had fewer than 2000 members. When you have got 2000 Leninists, you have got a problem, but still it was not the only source of anti-French nationalism. The book goes on to say that in 1946, after months of negotiation, a full-fledged war broke out between the Vietnam and the French; this is true. There were other things that were going on at the time, and that actually Vietnam was impregnated by war in 1945 because that is why the communists began killing anti-French noncommunist nationalists, the Quoc Dan Dang, the Dong-Minh-Hoi, the Dai Viets and the Hoa Hao. Even the Trotskyites got it. Here is how they did it. Bernard Fall writing in 1964 described one technique of dealing with the ideologically impure. “The communists tied up the captured nationalists together like bundles of logs and threw them into the Mekong to float down to the sea while slowly drowning. This is called crab fishing, that the myth of good old Uncle Ho was so entrenched that it survives to this day.” Again, he wrote that in 1964 and the myth lives until this day. By the way, they reprised their technique in 1975 when they took over Vietnam. Tied the people up and threw them in the river.

Of course, we can't pass up a chance to make fun, snicker, snicker, at this the Domino Theory. Ho, ho, ho, the domino theory; lets take a look at it. Often said as a very simple fact and until 1958, every single Communist country was contiguous with another. Take a crayon and color in 1958 countries on the map that are Communists and they are all together. I think those are dominos. It wasn’t a theory, it was not an untested assertion; it was a syndrome. Also left unexplained is the extremely vulnerable conditions in Southeast Asia to time. Malaysia was in the midst of fighting its own Communist insurgency, see the Philippines had just put one down, there were active Communist parties in every single country in Southeast Asia. Thailand, Singapore, Burma, IndonesiaIndonesia aligned itself with the Communist block. It fought a brushfire war with Malaysia, and Indonesian Communists attempted an abortive coup in 1965; millions were killed and this was not lost on Southeast Asian leaders; they live in the neighborhood, they know what is coming. Here is Prince Norodom Sihanouk in about 1969. He says, “the communization of Cambodia would be the prelude to the communization of all Southeast Asia and finally, although in the longer run, of Asia. Thus, it is permitted to hope that to defend its world interest and indeed not for our own sake, the United States will not disentangle itself too quickly from our area. In any case, not before having established some coherent policy, which will enable our population to face the Communist drive with some chance of success.” As we all know, Cambodia was a domino. It is fair to discuss the applicability of the Domino Theory in Southeast Asia, no problem there, but to deny the evidence, of which there is an abundance, to support its validity, is intellectual mendacity of the worst order; it is a lie. The people who have written these books -- and this was my leading sentence but I will throw it in here. -- this is not a review, this is not a round table discussion, this is an indictment of pseudo-scholarship in American educational institutions and the people who write these books, among them, we will discuss briefly, Stanley Karnow, are either liars or they are ignorant or they are both; flat out.

Let’s take a look at the statement and we all have to smirk and chuckle at this because the American imperialists are so evil and Americans are so stupid and they are paranoid about the non-existent communist threat. We all know that, why the text goes on to say that almost 80% of France’s military expenses at Vietnam were paid for by the United States. Ain’t necessarily so. The very, very last year, 1954, this is Bernard Fall, he is pretty smart, United States contributes 61% of France’s war budget in Indochina.” Let’s look at the entire war against the French. From 1946 to 1954, France was fighting communists and insurgency, Nationalist Liberation people in Vietnam, in Laos and in Cambodia. For that period, the United States contributed a massive 8.7%, repeat 8.7%, of France’s war expenses. There are other factors involved. There was fungible financing and aid in Europe that allowed France to fight in Indochina; that is true, but the United States was not gleefully supporting these evil French colonialists in Southeast Asia. And the thing that triggered Truman’s aid, the decision to provide aid which was a miniscule $10 million in the middle 1950, and very few people are aware of this, was the Chinese Communist seizure of Hainan Island, that island right there, in 1950, with all the Cold War going on and Communism active all over the world. And according to him, it started just a few days after this, but it was not Korea that triggered Truman’s decision. It was all the other indications and then the seizure of Hainan Island. Recently -- to show how our myths persist -- Daniel Ellsberg, who was on television not too long ago discussing his most recent book, and he said that Unites States paid 80% of France’s expenses for the entire war. Remember 8.7%, 80%; Mr. Ellsberg has a problem with decimal points.

Myths have legs and they run long and they run far. The text has this to say and nothing else again, nothing, about VC terror: “Sometimes, the VC were welcomed by the villagers. If they ran into opposition, they would kidnap or murder village officials and put in their own.” “Sometimes.” “If.” This does not allow students to infer that 36,000 minimum were assassinated by the VC, minimum. There were about 60,000 or more that were abducted and never came back. We will go with the lower number for now. Had the United States in mid 1960 had that proportion of people assassinated, I am not talking combat casualties, I am talking assassinations, mid-, say, 1965, had that many people assassinated, we would have lost 432,000 of our elected civic leaders, teachers, agricultural agents, surveyors, postmasters, 432,000. Also, the antiseptic phrase, ‘kidnap or murder’ doesn't allow students to infer the other ruthless terror, which the VC employed in their assassination technique. Here is a case; a GVN village chief stood as the red and white Vietnamese flag was wrapped around his head soaked in kerosene and ignited. This, after the man had just seen his wife disemboweled. Disemboweling, beheading, impaling on stakes were used to instill utter fear and paralyze rural people, and even nonfatal measures were terrifying. I am quoting from a US doctor who treated a girl who was victimized by the VC; “This girl had been bayoneted repeatedly in many places. I could not decide which might be the most serious. There were bayonet wounds in the abdomen, chest, arms, legs, neck and many on the back. The Viet Cong had bayoneted this poor girl 67 times, just out of sheer cruelty. They could have killed her easily, but obviously they were not trying to do that. She had been bayoneted through the neck several times, so I was not surprised that she was in shock. She had been actively fighting the Viet Cong and when they caught her, they just wanted to teach her a lesson and stuck her repeatedly as she lay helpless on the ground. This was one brave girl.”

VC terror was not limited to opposition political or military figures. It extended to, among other things, to school teachers. In Dinh Tuong Province, the first mention of systematic destruction of government presence appeared early in 1959 when the Communist Party embarked on the assassination of school teachers and this campaign contributed to the lack of schooling for nearly 30,000 children. Thus, by conditioning its statement with ‘sometimes’ and ‘if’ the text provides the Communists with a moral exemption they do not deserve. It conceals the Leninist nature of the Communists, which Ho brought over from Moscow and it conceals his approach which he had mastered in studying in Moscow and he very candidly stated on one occasion, “all those who do not follow the line I have set out will be smashed” or impaled or beheaded or disemboweled.

The text goes on to say, let’s get ready for the Tonkin Gulf Resolution. After Tonkin, the North Vietnamese began infiltrating regular units into South Vietnam, aha, they are responding to American aggression. It is false. NVA began sending NVA regulars South before the Tonkin Gulf Resolution. 12,400 came down in 1964 and another 437,000 to 459,000 followed in the subsequent three years. This exclusion denies any opportunity for any students to ask why were NVA regulars necessary in South Vietnam if the indigenous Southern VC were so good and supported by the people. It contributes to the misconception that America made the war happen and that the VC/NVA forces simply reacted to American aggression. Parallel to this mis-representation is the omission of any mention of lethal NVA weaponry, the war being presumably a guerilla contest fought with booby traps and snipers. Nothing is said once, ever, about NVA weaponry. Nothing is said about 107, 122, 140 rockets, 82 mm, 120 mm mortars, and eventually 122 and 130 guns superior to American artillery, SA-7 heat seeking missiles, T54 tanks, etc. Not a word. All of this weaponry came from the Communist Bloc and exclusion of that does conceal the fact that Hanoi was entirely dependent on a Communist Bloc to sustain its war. In discussing tactics, the text states that since it was difficult for American troops to distinguish between enemy fighters and civilians, Americans these attacks were called search and destroy mission. This is then described as a complete destruction of villages and burning and trashing and so forth and so on. I see I might have to hurry up. What the text does not say is search and destroy missions were not conducted against villagers at all. They were going against VC/NVA units. Were there departures in exception from this? There certainly were, but in all, overall, we were doing the same thing that Giap was doing, and Giap said the fundamental problem of every war is that of annihilating the enemies’ Armed Forces; that is what we were doing, because that is what they were doing. Thus American units were condemned for what they were not doing on a wholesale basis, while Ho Chi Minh’s nephews are doing exactly what American units were doing; destroying main force military units.

I am going to have to move ahead here because I won't have time. I am going to another statement, I will go to Karnow; the text says in separate sentences that 30% of the landscape was denuded by Agent Orange. South Vietnam stopped exporting rice in 1967 and that it was necessary to import rice to prevent mass starvation; it is all nonsense! 14%, not 30% of South Vietnam’s land area was hit with Agent Orange. There may be some double counting for hitting the same area. The fact of the matter is, and you should all take pride in this, is that in 1965, Vietnam’s rice acreage, and this is in 1000 hectare blocks was 2,562. By 1974, rice acreage had increased 10.5% to 2,830,000 hectare blocks. Rice production, even better. Rice production increased from just over 3 million metric tons of rice in 1965. By 1974 it was over 4 million, an increase of 40.1% of rice production in Vietnam. This was attributable to a) GVN land reform, b) increased security and c) introduction of IR8 rice.

Let me go to Karnow real quick here. Karnow is terrible; he is just absolutely. One another quickie, the text says that because of the Vietnam War we had to cut social programs in the United States. So not only are we burning off villages and killing the noble nephews of Uncle Ho, we are making people poor in the United States because we were cutting social programs. How bad can this get? The fact of the matter is, that grants in aid and transfer payments rose from 41.4 billion in 1965 to over 200 billion in 1975. There was no significant cut in any social programs; they increased by a factor of 5 in ten years, bigger than any other item in the budget.

The text also says that fighting continued after 1968, it just went on, and on, and on, and on, and on. Well, yes and no. Between 1968 and 1971, US forces in the country decreased 58%. The VC/NVA battalion side attacks decreased 98%, small scale VC/NVA attacks decreased 41%, terrorist attacks decreased 30%, assassinations decreased 34%, abduction were down 43% and civilians admitted to hospital for war related injuries decreased 55%. At that time, the VC/NVA strength had decreased by 21%; you will notice all the other indices of VC/NVA offensive activities decreased by a far greater amount than did the VC/NVA themselves. This is all the hallmark of a military force fighting for survival rather than having attacked core strategic initiatives on the battlefield; it is all nonsense.

Okay, Stanley Karnow, this book is absolutely terrible. He repeats the myth, and we have all heard this one; no place was safe in Vietnam. You tell that to the guys enjoying R&R services in Vung Tau. Ask how much of a threat he had to deal with. The fact of the matter is if you take the nine provinces from Hau Nghia and follow up the Vietnamese-Cambodian border, those are nine provinces with 18% of South Vietnam’s population, 64% of American combat fatalities took place in those nine provinces. It is just coincidental perhaps that that those are the closest to the Ho Chi Minh trail and where the NVA were and this is not to say that some of the coastal lowland areas like in Quang Nam, Kien Hoa in the Delta, Chuong Thien in the Delta didn’t have very nasty pockets of VC, there is no denying it. You get just as dead in Chuong Thien as you could in Quang Tri. It is to say that those pockets of VC support would have withered and died had the Ho Chi Minh trail been cut. Karnow says that the VC/NVA only needed 15 tons of weapons per day. I went through the whole book, he says it twice, and then later on he says “and then there was a huge logistical increase.” Okay, what does huge mean? Hanoi itself said, it said 50,400,000 tons down the Ho Chi Minh trail; that works out to 8,908 tons a day, not 15. Bui Tinh, he is a Communist. He said even in 1965 that they needed 50 tons a day, not 15. I only wish Karnow had been in charge of the NVA’s logistics and then it would have been a lot easier. Karnow has not idea of what he is talking about. Simple things. He says that that Viet Cong [flag] is red and yellow. [That is the North Vietnamese flag.] It is not red and yellow; it is a split blue and red field right on top, yellow star in the middle. Again, is this consequential? No. But if he can't get the most facts right, how in the world is he going to deal with more complex matters. So, the fact is he cannot, he does not.

Karnow covers the ‘68 to ‘75 period in 81 pages and most of that covers the political intrigues and machinations of Washington and Paris. This is a period when the greatest changes in Vietnam took place. Land reform. We finally gave the South Vietnamese modern weaponry; they had World War II equipment up until ‘68. All these things occurred. The VC disappeared as a strategic force in the country. You won't be able to discern that from Karnow’s book because the last seven years of the war are covered in 81 pages. These two, be on the look out for. One is a book called “A Time For War” by Robert Schulzinger and one is called “Where The Domino Fell.” These are now being used and one of them is reprinted and being shopped around as college textbooks. Go down and find out if they are using it. Schulzinger is real bad; it is terrible, it is worse than Karnow. Time has run out, so I am just going to go to “Where the Domino Fell.” Again, remember this and if you want copies of this, I have it in my room and I have also got a book list in my room, but watch for this one and I will send you my review of this if you find anyone using it.

In “Where the Domino Fell,” Professors Olson and Roberts tell us that Ho Chi Minh’s forces were still unarmed in September of 1945. Bernard Fall, in 1960, says that the Communists obtained 35,000 rifles, 1,350 automatic weapons, 200 mortars, 54 artillery pieces and 18 tanks from surrendering Japanese forces. He concluded (Bernard Fall did) this should dispose of the myth that the Viet men began the war against the French almost barehanded; it should have. It didn’t because of the sloppy, amateur, pseudo scholarship in our school system. They said that Truong Chinh was a moderate. Okay, was he? This is not the opinion of well informed Vietnam scholar, P.J. Honey who concluded that Truong Chinh conducted a mis-named land reform program with, and I quote, “a brutal, a brutality and disregard for justice that shocked the Vietnamese peasants more than the war against the French had done. Chinese patterns had to be followed even when they proved to be unworkable on different conditions in Vietnam and the number of casualties appalled the most battle-hardened soldiers. He is described as a moderate. On page 166, they think that the Chieu Hoi Program was one big joke and that all the VC defectors were simply Chieu Hoi, take an R&R and then go back and fight. What do the Communists have to say about it? Might not they have some good points on the subject? They said, the party viewed that the Chieu Hoi Program as being more dangerous than the Phung Hoang Phoenix Program and conceded there would always be the problem of cadres rallying even through a ceasefire. They also said that the Party had been seriously hurt by the Chieu Hoi Program. Now, Olson and Roberts say one thing and Communists say something completely different. On page 189, he says the sum total of Westmoreland’s tactical victories between 1965 and 1968 was zero. Let’s find out from a Communist, Mr. Hai Chau, a defector. He says that his comments reported to his superiors that the inexhaustible American buildup was threatening the very existence of the revolution at the grassroots level. Something had to be done as the Americanized war intensified through 1966 and 67, the desperate Communist high command was compelled to take drastic action to salvage the revolution’s eroding position. This was the purpose of the 1968 Tet Offensive, but according to Mr. Olson and Roberts, it accomplished nothing. Ask the Communists; they will tell you. One other thing, when Walter Capps started a course at University of California, Santa Barbara, he wrote a book called “The Unfinished War.” He says, and these books are all used in college classes, he says that when Nguyen Thai Hoc changed his name to Ho Chi Minh, Nguyen Thai Hoc was a different person altogether. He founded the Vietnamese Quoc Dan Dang, the Nationalist Party; he was beheaded in 1930 for the Yen Bay Rebellion. Nguyen Thai Hoc was no more Ho Chi Minh than Benedict Arnold was George Washington. He [Capps] can't even keep peoples’ names straight, and very important people at that. He also says that one million American troops were in Vietnam. High point was 543,000 sorry Walter, you haven’t got it right. He has passed on, rest in peace, but he didn’t know history. He says that the 52nd parallel latitude divides North and South Korea. Now that is 900 miles north of the 38th parallel that does. He says that Nixon bombed Haiphong Harbor because of the William Calley trial and because of Ellsberg’s release of the Pentagon Papers. There is absolutely no mention made of Hanoi’s 1972 offensive at all. My time has run out, I am going to give it to Jim, but I have a lot of information I can hand out to you and if you want to deal with this at the local level, touch base with me later.

[APPLAUSE]

 

Jim McLeroy: I am going to discuss one particular course package that is being used, it has been around since 1988, but it is being used in a lot of high schools and junior colleges, I have encountered it myself. It is titled, ‘The Lessons of the Vietnam War’ and if you want to take a look at it afterwards, you can feel free to do so. But before I do, I just want to mention a couple of things that occurred to me, little notes that occurred to me as other speakers were talking. Bill pointed out at one time that is interesting in trying to compare the Vietnam War in terms of complexity with other wars. He said, if World War I is arithmetic, World War II is algebra, Korea is trigonometry, the Vietnam War is calculus, in terms of complexity, and all the things that you have to know in order to have it make sense. What that means is that you don’t just teach, you have to do more than just teach. There are kids who are uninformed; we have to teach kids who are mis-informed as well. So you teach them what they don’t know and you unteach what they do know that ain’t so, okay, and so that makes it difficult also. Particularly because there is a kind of a stereotype in the education, you know, the people who can't teach, so they teach other people how to teach. They have a common image of the good teacher, very similar to what Walter Cronkite said the good reporter should be. You know you have to be a liberal to be a good reporter and I think that there is this kind of the stereotype image that school teachers should be a paragon of mental health and tolerance and, you know, sort of warm and fuzzy good feelings and therefore not be confrontational or be certainly not be radically revisionist and all that, and so that image really contrasts or clashes with the requirement, this radical revision of this mis-information, which you are going to see here but, anyway, some of you might want to think about this. That’s one of the things that makes it difficult to teach a course like this; a) it is extremely complex really and b) the stereotype image of the teacher is simply incompatible with the kind of polemic, almost of you have to take in order to change anything.

Okay, these are the politically correct Lessons of the Vietnam War. How should an introductory history course on the Vietnam War for high school and junior college students be taught and what lessons from that war, if any, should they learn? Well, how about these? 1) America, a neo-colonialist power attempted to replace the French imperialists in Indochina by intervening militarily in a civil war to support a reactionary South Vietnamese elite minority, attempting to suppress the popular independence movement. 2) American imperialist forces in South Vietnam were defeated militarily by the Viet Cong guerillas. (Although some Viet Cong were Communists, most were patriotic nationalists fighting only for a united and independent nation.) 3) American military forces deserved to be defeated by the brave Viet Cong guerillas because America was caught on the wrong side of history in South Vietnam and the primary cause of the war was a corrupt and unjust, US capitalist, imperialist, political and economic system. 4) Although the Vietnamese government is now Communist, most South Vietnamese are much better off than they were or ever could have been under the government of South Vietnam or the former Republic of South Vietnam. 5) America’s illegal and immoral intervention in Vietnam Civil War and the reckless wholesale destructiveness of its military forces caused terrible suffering for millions of helpless innocent civilians. The My Lai atrocity was not an aberration but typical. My Lai is a metaphor for all the US military in Vietnam and a symbol of the paranoid US anti-communist foreign policy in most Third World revolutionary conflicts. It required to mark the above statement to true or false, any student whose knowledge was limited to this book, The Lessons Of The Vietnam War, would undoubtedly mark each one true. No student could read and perceptually experience the sophisticated instructional material without consciously or subconsciously absorbing those messages.

I learned this when I was invited to speak to a local high school history class about my Vietnam experiences. The teacher had a few reference books on the subject, including the well-known Vietnam War Almanac by Harry Summers, the late Harry Summers, but she was not using any of them. When I asked why, she said she didn’t need to because Lessons (I refer to this in the future as just Lessons), Lessons were so complete, so well organized, so convenient to both her and her students. She could easily photocopy the tests and quickly grade them with the answer sheets provided. Lessons are ideal for teachers like her because it enables her to confidently teach a subject that she knows virtually knows nothing about and has no interest in studying. She let me read a test provided by Lessons that she had just graded and was returning to her students. I was appalled but said nothing about it to her because I knew that she would resent any criticism of such a useful teaching aid. Instead I wrote ten basics facts about the war taken from the Vietnam War Almanac. On my next visit to her class, with her permission, I read them aloud and asked the students to mark each of the following statements either true or false: 1) US military forces were never defeated in Vietnam and did not lose the war militarily. 2) Under US law and international law, the presence of US military forces in Southeast Asia including South Vietnam was not illegal. 3) By the standards of any other US War, the Vietnam War was not exceptionally immoral and the conduct of most US military forces in Vietnam was not exceptionally immoral either. 4) The 16-year Vietnam War was partly a civil war and partly a guerilla war, but it was primarily the incremental invasion of one country, South Vietnam, by another country, North Vietnam. 5) Vietnam was not a united and independent nation before America entered the war in 1965 and had not been one for more than 200 years. After 1954, the Democratic Republic of Vietnam, formerly North Vietnam and the Republic of South Vietnam were diplomatically and legally recognized by many countries as separate nations. 6) South Vietnam was not conquered in 1975 by Viet Cong guerrillas or by guerrilla tactics. The Viet Cong guerrillas were rarely a serious threat to most US combat units and by 1969, there were no longer a serious threat to most South Vietnamese combat units. 7) Murdering masses of unarmed civilians and torturing prisoner of war and political prisoners were contrary to US law and practice, officially sanctioned and widely practiced tactics of both the Viet Cong guerrillas and the regular North Vietnamese Army. 8) Before December 1972, the US government never permitted the sustained systematic bombing of strategic targets in North Vietnam. When such restrictions were finally lifted in December 1972, the North Vietnamese government capitulated to all US demands before the end of the month. 9) Only 1.3% of all US Vietnam veterans were killed in combat. Between 80% and 90% of all US Vietnam veterans were never directly involved in a sustained combat and about half of all US combat wounds were so minor that they did not require any hospitalization. 10) The majority of US Vietnam veterans were white, middle class volunteers, who were proud of their military service and reported no unusual physical, mental, occupational or social problem as a result of it. As I expected, the teacher and her students were convinced that all of these statements were false. When I explained that each one had been taken from one of their own officially approved reference books, and offered to show them the exact sources, neither the students nor the teacher showed any interest in objectively verifying my statements. They regarded me with polite suspicion and their unspoken consensus seemed to be that only a right wing extremist fanatic would make such outrageous statements. Needless to say, I was not invited to speak again at that school.

This stuff, Lessons, A Modular Textbook edited by Jerold M. Starr published in 1988 by the so called Center for Social Studies Education, and entity which he established for that purpose in his house. It consists of twelve 32 page units, a 64 page teacher’s manual with tests, answers, student projects, unit handouts, and classroom activities and an extensive annotated list of films and video cassettes. The units are titled, ‘Introduction to Vietnam,’ ‘America At War In Vietnam,’ ‘Was The Vietnam War legal,’ ‘Who fought for the US,’ ‘How The Us Fought The War,’ ‘When War Becomes A Crime,’ ‘The War At Home,’ ‘How The War Was Reported,’ ‘the Vietnam War and American Literature,’ ‘The Wounds Of War and the Process of Healing,’ ‘Boat People And Vietnamese Refugees In The US’ and Vietnam War: Lessons From Yesterday For Today.’

There are three main reasons why lessons are used in more than 2,500 high schools and an unspecified number of colleges. First it is easy for students and teachers to use. It is expertly designed, self-contained, well organized and requires no subject knowledge or extra work by the teachers. It is 200 pages of graphics, easy tests and no homework, make it attractive for students. The second reason for its widespread success is the lack of any competing course package with the same attractive and convenient features for both teacher and student. The third reason is that most high school and junior college teachers do not realize and many do not mind that it is a sophisticated work or radical leftist disinformation and covert anti-American propaganda. If its disinformation and propaganda were obvious, many administrators and teachers would reject it. Many other loyal members of the National Education Association however agree with these lessons for the same ideological reasons that they agree with the Oliver Stone film ‘JFK,’ and Michael Moore’s film ‘Fahrenheit 9/11.’ Senator John Kerry, who lost his political career by slandering all American Vietnam combat veterans including by implication himself, as war criminals, has praised lessons as “essential reading for the next generation of Americans.” Its underlying assumption is that the primary educational need of high school and junior college history students is not to learn the basic facts of the Vietnam War, but to rap about it with their teachers and classmates and perform improvisational theatrics to act out their politically correct feelings about it. Another assumption is that factual history based on the objective evaluation of empirical evidence is less important than the emotional opinions of superficial impressions of immature, uninformed and misinformed students. A third assumption is that the suggestion images and highly emotional language of films and television shows are legitimate substitutes for factual narratives and rational analysis as historical study. According to the editor of Lessons, all fact-based researches of truth are falsehoods and should be avoided because they detract from the larger truths and more important lessons of the war. Students should not risk trivializing these larger truths by analyzing them in detail or using inappropriate concepts like objectivity and evidence. Instead, they should learn to think about the war visually in terms of images and emotionally in terms of slogans and labels. Students should learn to think this way by viewing hundreds of photographs, cartoons, and drawings depicting America’s immoral and illegal actions in Vietnam. They should read the poems and songs of war protesters and the letters, anecdotes and diary entries of unhappy soldiers, especially black and Hispanic draftees. Students could then act out the roles of key historical figures of the war using the images, slogans and labels they have emotionally internalized from all of the above sources. With these assumptions, it is not surprising that the graphics in Lessons occupy almost as much space as the text. An art advisor and a poetry advisor maximized the psychological impact of so many non-rational images and verbal insinuations on impressionable young minds. When any portion of the text seems to imply or suggests any successful or well-intentioned aspect of the US military in Vietnam, it is accompanied by negative cartoons, photographs, drawings, poems or quotations that directly or indirectly remind students of the immorality and incompetence of the US military. Every poem, drawing, photograph, anecdote, quotation and cartoon condemns America as the main cause not only of the Vietnam War, but also of all the evils of warfare itself. The cumulative psychological effect of so many negative images and statements is designed to produce an uninformed and impressionable young students a vague feeling of moral revulsion, that feeling then turns inwards, it becomes a feeling of shame that is soon transformed into a feeling of national shame, guilt, and moral revulsion against America and all its military forces. Lessons never mentions the self-sacrificing heroism of some US combat troops, their combat proficiency, their loyalty to their units and dedication to their comrades in arms or their many non-combat contributions to the safety and welfare of millions of Vietnamese civilians. Lessons covert propaganda message has two underlying themes: 1) Communism is not really bad, just different and 2) No matter how bad Communism may seem, anti-communism is much worse, especially America’s immoral and illegal war in Vietnam. There is never any mention of the genocidal history of the totalitarian Communism in Soviet Union under Stalin where Ho Chi Minh was trained. The Stalinist nature of Vietnamese Communism under Ho's totalitarian dictatorship, the USSR’s announced strategy of global expansion by encouraging and supporting third world war deliberation or the constant and virtually unlimited Soviet support of the North Vietnamese Army during its 16-year incremental invasion of South Vietnam. A kind of disinformation used in lessons could be called “the drip method.” It consists of the constant repetition of small, subtle, indirect, but relentlessly negative messages about the US government and its military forces in Vietnam. This steady barrage of negative messages is made superficially credible by the academic format and the editor’s pious disclaimer of any intent to influence students’ personal value judgments about the war. Anticipating the criticism of those who recognized these disinformation techniques and know the military facts behind their covert propaganda message, the editor of Lessons disdainfully dismisses such criticism in advance as “the predictable opposition of the military.” After the publication of lessons, the editor admitted “I have never believed in the abstraction of objectivity about something so huge and complex as a war.” His recommended methods for teaching these lessons are equally subjective. According to the teacher’s manual, ‘all points of view about the war should be acknowledged as equally legitimate. The term ‘points of view’ is a synonym for factual assertions. Its purpose is to equate all assertions of historical facts with the subjective emotional opinions of uninformed and misinformed students and the leftist ideological bias of many teachers, most of whom are equally uninformed and misinformed about the basic facts of the Vietnam War. The title itself is an indication of its ideological priorities. In this context, the term Lessons is synonymous with the moral of the story. The conclusion one should draw or the judgments one should make about human conduct or character in terms of good and bad, right and wrong. How appropriate is such a title for an introductory history textbook for high school and junior college students? Would it not seem inappropriate for an introductory history textbook on the Second World War to be titled, ‘The Lessons of the Second World War’? Why should such students focus more on the political and philosophical significance of the Second World War denies basic factual history. Why should such students learn the lessons of such a long and complex series of events before they learn the historical facts surrounding those events. The defining characteristic of effective disinformation is the creation of a credible disguise for its hidden propaganda. The first few modules of lessons are classic examples of this technique. The author of the first module is a legitimate academic authority on the history of East Asia and he is the only author of the 12 with a relevant academic credentials to establish his expertise. His statements about Ho Chi Minh’s Soviet training and Communist ideology are accurate and his evaluations of Ho are realistic, reasonable and balanced. The credibility of the first author is used to initially establish an illusory facade of objectivity and reliability for the other authors. Starr, the author of the next module then paints a completely contradictory picture of Ho Chi Minh. He is described as “first and foremost a Vietnamese nationalist, who was incidentally a Communist” as if being a Stalinist totalitarian was incidental as being a Catholic or a Buddhist. He scoffs at the na´ve American assumption that the conquest of South Vietnam by the North Vietnamese would have disastrous consequences. He portrays the Communist ruthless purchase of the Vietnamese population as an exercise in restraint and he implies that decentralized coercive collectivist economy imposed on South Vietnam by the Communists was beneficial to most South Vietnamese. The essential Cold War history that preceded the second Indochina War is dismissed as mere “tensions and rivalry between the US and the USSR.” The Soviet sponsored insurgencies in other Asian countries in the 1950s and ‘60s are never mentioned. The Vietnamese Communists are referred to as nationalists and the anti-communist indigenous population of South Vietnam are either ignored or depicted as unpatriotic fringe groups. All events and circumstances tending to justify or explain the US rationale for its entry into the war are ignored or portrayed as sinister attempts by the US government to manipulate the American public opinion in favor of the war. An entire module on the legality of the war emphasizes the alleged illegality of the US presence in Southeast Asia and implies that all US military and intelligence activities in the third world are illegal. An entire module on the My Lai atrocity implies that it was not an aberration, but was symbolic of the American participation in the war. Another module propagates the myth that the corrupt American system forced disproportionate numbers of blacks into combat. American troops are uniformly depicted as the unwilling victims of incompetent leadership and physical and moral abuse, low morale, drug addiction, desertion, mutiny, fragging and mental disorders are portrayed as characteristic of all American troops in Vietnam. US combat actions are depicted as the mindless, ineffectual slaughter of helpless, innocent civilians and minority draftee soldiers. American military officers are portrayed either as fools or as enemies of the people. The predominantly ideological orientation of Lessons as further evidenced by the fact that only seven pages in its twelve modules are devoted to the combat of the war and those pages are mainly summaries of US troops and casualty numbers. Only one of the twelve writers was a Vietnam combat veteran, one other served in a non combat Vietnam assignment and none of the other ten had any military training or experience. The editor also claims no military training or experience, no secondary teaching experience and no academic credentials as either a historian or political scientist. He is, in fact, a sociology professor and self-described survivor of the Vietnam War at Home. He explains, “I survived the moral anguish of that period. It was very disturbing to me.” His claims to expertise in this subject is thus having survived, discovering moral anguish on the home front. Ironically, the only Americans who considered themselves at war on the home front during that period were militant radical leftists whose enemy was their own government, and they openly cheered for the Communists in South Vietnam and all other third world countries. The editor’s ideology is indicated by the fact that he founded a chapter of “Educators for Social Responsibility (ESR).” In the 1980s, ESR was a leading agent of the Soviet-sponsored unilateral disarmament campaign called “Nuclear Freeze.” It urged American colleges to “break the law and ban the bomb.” It also published peace studies guides for elementary and junior high schools. A review of these guides found frequent references to the Vietnam War as illustrations of US deception, brutality, and violence to convince students of what opposition to Communism can lead to. The study concluded that ESR’s peace studies guides seemed designed to produce feelings of fear, horror, shame and righteous indignation toward America in the minds of young impressionable students. ESR delivers copies of lessons to high schools throughout America. The editor also founded The Center for Social Studies Education to produce these Lessons. For his advisory board, he recruited members of the Committee for a Sane Nuclear Policy. In the 1980s the Director of SANE wrote a book urging American soldiers to revolt in order to undermine discipline and morale and promote mass resistance inside the US military. The Chairman of SANE’s education fund and SANE’s national creditor were both members of the World Peace Council. The US House of Representatives Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence officially labeled WPC, the largest and the most active Soviet organization and one of the major Soviet instruments for political action and propaganda within the international peace movement. And equally significant indication of lessons’ ideological orientation is the fact that one of the largest financial contributors to its production was the Samuel Rubin Foundation. Rubin, former chairman of the board of Faberge was a lifelong member of the Communist Party of the USA and his daughter, Cora Weiss, was the director of his foundation, always American support of the Communist government of North Vietnam, she was one of the organizers of the 1969 March on Washington. She was invited to Hanoi as an honored guest and on her return, she held a press conference in which she said the American POWs in Hanoi were being very well treated and that a prerequisite for further POW negotiations would be the withdrawal of all US military forces from South Vietnam. In a later press conference, she labeled the American POWs as war criminals and denounced the US government for its alleged atrocities in Vietnam. She then formed a Committee of Liaison, COL, with the families of the POWs to encourage them to join her antiwar movement and support North Vietnam’s political demands. The US House Of Representatives Committee on Internal Security investigated COL and declared it a propaganda tool and apparently an apparent agent of the North Vietnamese government. In 1970, the American Communist Party invoked a special strategy action conference in which Cora Weiss issued a “halt for chaos in America.” In the late 1970s she was responsible for the transfer of millions of dollars to Vietnamese government and in 1978 she and some of her comrades took out a full page ad in the New York Times praising the “moderation” of that Communist government in its reconciliation efforts for all its peoples. That is how one of the major financiers of Lessons fought her Vietnam War on the home front. It would not be unreasonable to assume that the purpose in funding this disinformation and a covert propaganda was to promote the same radical leftist anti-American ideology for which she worked so aggressively against her government in wartime as an agent of a hostile nation. Cora Weiss and her kindred spirits like Oliver Stone have done all they can to ensure that the history of the Vietnam War and America’s collective memory of it is written in their own image. By financing Lessons, Cora Weiss has again put her money where her ideology is. By buying this fraudulent pseudo-history, many administrators, textbook committees, and teachers are also putting their money and their academic integrity for Cora Weiss’s ideologies.

 

Bill Laurie: I neglected to introduce Jim and then Bob Matthews. Bob is going to show us how he does it and how it should be done. Bob, coincidentally enough, is a Vietnam veteran. Maybe he knows a little bit more about it than some other people that emerged from our education colleges. Bob…

[APPLAUSE]

 

Bill Laurie: And I also neglected to mention that R.J. Del Vecchio who will be up here and now he is going to beat me on the head. Sorry Del.

 

Bob Matthews: Okay, thank you, and at first I want to thank everybody that has preceded me because I have been working on a method of teaching Vietnam to high school kids for about 12 years and every time I come to a conference like this or any conference, I get so much out of that I just write like a fool, so I wasn’t being rude if I was just writing down everything that I could. And each time I go back, I tweak, if I can, the curriculum and we try to do a lot of things if we can, but let me give you briefly a little history of the North Carolina method. First of all, as was said before, I am a Vietnam veteran, I am from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, was drafted and I was drafted when I was 21, a college graduate in Mary; I was a teacher, but I didn’t get a chance to teach because of the draft. So, when I got to Vietnam, I think I had a little different perspective on things, but I used this later when we started to do the course, because one of the keys in my course is using veterans, different people in the communities, different places you go and you bring people in, but what I like to do is mention that when I moved from Pittsburg to North Carolina, it was 1980. Later, of course, as the Wall started to be constructed and things started to get more tight on Vietnam, a lot of us started to say, “wait a minute, this story needs to be told.” And I was lucky; very lucky. I would be the first to knock on the wood and say, “I came home, but I also was a Vietnam veteran, I also was a teacher, and I think I had an obligation, at least I talked myself into it and I think I was right, to all the veterans, living and dead, that their story was not being told. And set out and I met guys like Del here in North Carolina and we had a plan. I was teaching at a large school called Enloe High School; it is a big magnet school in Raleigh; it is pretty well know nationwide, but what they are, they are course rich, they patronize so many courses that I thought I could get a chance to run a pilot course on Vietnam and I was lucky enough to be coaching at the time because I was pretty well known on campus and I knew a lot of the kids in many ways, off the field at night, different places like this, so I felt I could draw them in by knowing me and then I would have, not a captive audience, but an audience, and so we advertised the course. I went to the school system and said, “could I run a course, in my foreign policy course, a pilot called the Vietnam War, Lessons of Vietnam, the Vietnam experience. The title wasn’t that important as the opportunity.” So they said, go ahead. So I did, and one of the myths I wanted to try to expose today and I know some of the educators know this, that one of the myths I think is that the kids today, in the last few years do not have a high level interest in this story; that is a big myth. They have a tremendous interest in Vietnam, tremendous. And another myth War I wanted to expose was that they would sign up for it as an elective in their senior year where everybody thinks they get senioritis. That is also a myth. There is a serious disease called senioritis late in the senior year. It also can be cured, but with good teaching, as Jim said, with good information and backup [of] what you say. Okay, that said, I had to convince the school system that they had to let me have the course registered in April of the previous year so the kids could take it in September because as much as you talk about a course in high school until you register the course, no one takes it. You talk all you want. So my biggest hurdle obviously was guidance, administration, faculty opposition and just change because Vietnam to a lot of people, was a scary subject. It is one of those words in history when you say Vietnam, no one says, “I don’t know what you are talking about.” See, like everyone has some kind of opinion, whatever, so it was a hot word. So I went in and, to be quite truthful, I had to burn a few bridges, had to get a couple of those parents’ signatures, but we got it on the ballot and the kids signed up for it and we started it in Enloe High School and the way we started it is we found two kids that had lost their lives in Vietnam and we dedicated the course to them and like a memorial course, so we planted a couple of trees in and we made a nice press conference of it and a lot of Vietnam veterans at that time, our group was called NCVVI, the North Carolina Vietnam Veterans Incorporated. They rallied behind me and I will love them forever for this because what I needed was support and money, and they gave a lot of one and a little of the other, you could guess which is which, but basically we had one man who just said, “Bob, what do you need?” I said, “I need some money to get information, to get teachers, to have a workshop.” So what we did is, in Raleigh now, we have 16 high schools. Really growing as Jack knows because his son lives down there, but basically all the schools were about 2000 people, so we brought them into Enloe High School; we had a couple of tables about this size and we had stuff all over, all kinds of books, charts, maps, everything we could get our hands on, local artists doing some work for Vietnam, I mean everything from everybody, like we called it a tool kit. At each table, we had a Vietnam Veteran who was going to be a liaison at their school, a guy that would help them through, kind of like a mentor, and we went through the whole thing and we started it and since then it was our 12 year anniversary. Our method of teaching Vietnam or a method that came out of ours, because a lot of our teachers have taken it and have adapted some things which Del is going to tell you about a little later in my talk, which is good, because every school is different. Every school has different philosophies in using money. Some schools have a very great parent network, some do not. Some schools, you can't get anything, like there are parents night unless they have dinner. Other schools everybody does, so you can't do the same thing in every school. So coming to the change, we started to knock the myths down and we started to get closer to the hardest hurdle of all. And Jim might have mentioned this too, in fact, I am sure we talked about it before tonight, was teaching teachers to teach Vietnam because most teachers are not veterans, most teachers are schooled in teaching chronological history, most teachers were afraid of teaching Vietnam at that level and they had no resources. And if you took it and made a unit on US history, by the time you got to April or May where everything is winding down and you might have maybe two days of Vietnam and I may be on a field trip or dentist appointment, I miss Vietnam. So we tried to get the teachers to buy into letting other people come into their classroom and help them teach the course. Now, most of you remember your teachers and some of you are teachers. You know when I say the word, most teachers are territorial, it is their room, it is their chalk, it is theirs, their space. I shared a room for many years and you get like a little piece on the board like this big for your assignment because that is their board. Well, basically, I ran into ten or twelve excellent teachers and with the veterans and so forth, we developed a list; we call this like our living library of all of the veterans that would work with us in the community and we furnished them with this, in order we put who they were, who they are, their phone numbers, their home addresses and now of course e-mail, voice mail, pager number; you got a million ways to get hold of somebody and MOS (what they did) and where they lived and all of this, it became a very nice network whereby I was telling Steve before class, there are millions and millions and millions of things about Vietnam, of course, I don’t know; I am like the facilitator. So to get into an area that I didn’t know anything about, like I would say the air war. We look at our list and we would have one here, several helicopter pilots, several people that worked after Vietnam in that part of Vietnam, they then would come into a class and it was almost like position playing in sports, it was this position starting to be used and the kids got used to this and then we come up with a program called linkage. This is where I want Del to jump in and talk about what I mean by linkage and how I think it cemented the course into a part of Wake County schools now where it is used almost in every high school and I think last year was our highest registration. So Del, would you explain linkage please?

 

R J Del Vecchio: I guess there are one or two people here who weren’t here yesterday, so I will do the 12 second tour of who the heck I am. I was a Marine Corps Combat photographer in Vietnam from fall of 1968. Enough of that. Moving along, what happened was I got recruited into this. The way the linkage program works is that different teachers teach the course differently. But the typical way to teach the course is they will have two or three sessions a week, the kids will have classes, and there will be assigned reading. Every student in the class, in the better classes, gets told, “you have got to find a link, you got to find one of these veterans that you are going to talk to” and that student has to get a hold of you, interview you, ask you questions, write a report about what you said and then you get invited into the class for a session and the student introduces you and you then talk to the class for the following class period, whatever it is and the class preps for you and good teachers are require the kids to prep and make a list of questions ahead of time, think about this. I have been in classes for three different teachers and they all had different styles, but they all tended to do some of the stuff, the better ones do more of it, and the kids are required to think about this; required to think about their questions. You get into the class and you start talking. The interesting part that should be mentioned is that if you do this, if you have a veteran every week for the whole semester and you go through a bunch of veterans, well, it is kind of a potpourri; you get different people at different times. We have got one veteran in our group that is renowned for driving everybody crazy because he is a radical. He is the one guy in the group who wants to vote for Kerry by the way, so that tells you how radical he is. We have one guy who was a CAP marine, who was an old fashioned marine, “Kill them all and let God sort them out.” There is something to be said to that point of view. And there is a lot of people who seem to be partial with the helicopter pilots are one part, part of the guys who didn’t see combat are another part. I happen to have the particular advantage of having seen more of the war than most people by being a photographer, seeing everything from reviews at division headquarters to being in the middle of a big fire fight and interviewing people at hospitals, being at a hospital when the doors blew up because a bunch of people badly hurting came in, being visiting villages and handing out food, all kinds of good stuff, so I have a particular point of view and I was better trained than most people before I went to Vietnam. To give you a quick example of what I do in a class, when I walk in, what I have found is that some of the kids always have the same questions. Certain questions are very very common and one of the questions is, why did you go? You had a suicidal impulse or what? And I will stand up and talk about why I go is partially and largely because I was raised to be patriotic and we did things when I was in grade school, like hiding under desks because we were worried about the Russians coming and dropping atomic weapons and you start there and you get an awful lot of kids who had this like, “say what?” because they don’t know any of that stuff. They have never heard any of that stuff. They don’t understand why anybody would be afraid of Communism and you give them a very quick history in lesson about Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, and you start talking about what went on after World War II of which they know zero most of the time, and slowly because you can see them like, “Oh, so people actually did feel threatened by Communism.” Duh, yes, as a matter of fact and there was good reason to do so. And talk about Kennedy's speech and what I am doing there is 10801 _____ this is about myths. I eventually get to the point of debunking the myth that there was never any need or reason for United States to go into Vietnam, and so we started there. That will sometimes lead to a discussion of American history, which the teacher looking at Vietnam, might well, you know, has got to understand the United States to some extend as well and I talk about what the United States and what we had that other nations don’t have. You know, a lot of these kids have no concept and I will quote an Indian immigrant that I met once who said, “Well, I decided in India that I wanted to go live in some country where the poor people are fat because there aren’t many of those in the world.” Okay, and these kids are like, “huh?” They don’t understand, so you give them some discussion. I have been lucky enough in a couple of classes because I always look for kids who were born somewhere else, I had refugee kids who would stand up and say a few words and you try to explain to American kids why somebody would take their wife and children and get on a boat with a known 50% survival rate to get the hell out, because, you know, it is not just because we have nice sunsets in the United States; it is because we have this thing called Freedom that they don’t understand that they have, so we talk about that. Then we get into things like philosophy of why would a citizen do anything and I talk about the fact that for every privilege, we have a responsibility for every INAUDIBLE _____ they need to hear that, INAUDIBLE _____ I am politically correct, you know, I just go off barely into that stuff. Then I get into what I know about Vietnam before I went and I talk about the fact that Uncle Ho actually wasn’t a really kindly old guy altogether and we touch on some things people talk about here and he wasn’t really just a nationalist, that not all Vietnamese really were dying to be united to the North, and in fact, some of them had serious objections, in fact a lot of them did. Then I go on to my personal experience because eventually I am talking about history stuff and they can take that or leave that. What the kids want to hear, as much as anything else is, what did you see, what did you know, what can you testify to, and fortunately I can testify to a whole bunch of things. I was there during Tet and I can talk about Tet, I can talk about the bodies in Hue, I can talk about a bunch of things. I can talk about the fact that I was there for a long time, saw a lot of people and they weren’t doing a lot drugs and they weren’t doing a lot of atrocities, that these things were just, again, legends, so I could talk about it from personal experience. Eventually, we get through all of that and there is usually a lot of questions about that and one of the questions that almost always comes up is, “tell us about My Lai and why that kind of thing could have happened,” and I give them a whole discussion of this difference between any individual aberration and a policy 11047 INAUDIBLE _____ after a year of booby traps and going nuts and not being well supervised and shooting towards at some of their people and the people arriving in a Hue with lists of at least 4000 people that they took out and killed very carefully, that this enormous difference between one guy getting drunk and raping someone and having a rape camp and they have to hear this kind of stuff. So, all these and a lot of other discussion, I am kind of winding down here quickly, then I talk about stuff that I wasn’t there for, but the things that had happened after I left, and I talk about the fact that the ARVN kicked back, you know, the Easter invasion and did a great job on it, that they did know how to fight, that they were damned good people and that they had been maligned terribly and that is a bad thing. I talk about what happened after the fall of Saigon, which the western press did not cover, that somewhere depending on who you believe, at least 50,000 if not more than a 100,000 people got shot in the back of the head or floated down the river, that nobody wanted to notice and I finally talk about the fact that if you think Communism is great, try to explain why a very significant percentage of people between 1975 and 1985 when the boat people finally got slowed down, why in a culture where people are married to the land and married to the culture, why such a large percentage would get up and risk death to leave. It doesn’t mean they are having a good time where they are, okay, and yet people think about all these things and other questions come up; Kim Phuc will come up, various things. One of the last things we would like to point out is that you have seen a lot of veterans come in here; how many of them look homeless to you, how many of them look they have a bad nasty drug habit, how many of they look like they have been beating their wife and children all the time? You know that most of us are as normal as World War II veterans were. We came back, we all have memories, everybody who goes to a war is affected; I think we have got that pretty well established, okay. I happen to have the privilege of knowing a number of World War II combat veterans. One of them is still alive, I talk to him on a regular basis; one of them I buried earlier this year, and they had issues and some of them drank a lot and some of them committed suicide and the bulk of them went out and led good lives and that is being part I always referred of Saving Private Ryan, the end of the war, the end of Saving Private Ryan, in a sense one of the greatest message there was, “what do you do after the war?” You go home and you lead the best life you can for your family, yourself and your society and your country, and that is what Vietnam veterans, by and large, have done as well as anybody else.

[APPLAUSE]

 

R J Del Vecchio: So, I try to get all that through to the kids and if you think it is easy, trust me, it is tough and yet it is great. One of the things I said when we try to recruit vets in the club is, “this is one of the most fulfilling worthwhile things you will do in your life if you can get to some kids and wake them up.” I get these thank you letters from kids that make my whole day when I read them, so I wish the heck we could really expand this program and get more vets to do this kind of work in the schools. I’m going to stop now.

 

Bill Laurie: We have got another half hour. We are going to go to Q&A.

 

Bob Matthews: Can I go another couple of minutes?

 

Bill Laurie: Okay.

 

Bob Matthews: Okay. What I want to continue with what Del said is the third leg of linkage and Del is a great example of the kind of community members that we have been able to recruit, if that is the word, and every community, when I go around the country and I have done this a few times, I have got a little consulting business that makes no money, but what I do is I go around and if the school system will say, “we would like to put the Vietnam curriculum or a phase of it in our school and you guys have had some success in North Carolina, could you show us how you were doing it and maybe adapt it to our system?” Well, one of the big things is you are a veterans community and some of these communities are under the radar, so I put it out in the paper, says I am going to start a Vietnam course in the high school, would any Vietnam vets in the area like to help with memorabilia, with their experiences, let’s meet, let’s talk.” Steve and I talked earlier today and he said, that is dangerous, but it is also you have got to be dangerous sometimes, you got to get outside the box, and when I asked the teachers in the school, I want to show a movie, but not in segments; I want to take, an in-house field trip, I need the kids for the first four periods of the day, then the math people are mad. They say, “I am giving a test Tuesday”. I say, “well, will you work with me on this?” and they said, “no”. And so what you have to do is you do. Like I said, you have to ruffle some feathers. At the next leg of linkage what we do is, and we are fortunate in Raleigh, is we are four and half hours or five from Washington DC, and we do use The Wall a lot. We have our students research friends and family members, a name that is on the war, a Vietnam veteran that is not on the wall, someone they can identify with that is an adult in their life other than their parents and their teachers in their link. And some of the links like Del and several of our people that are on our list, they even go as far as to help chaperone a three-day trip to The Wall where we have classes there, we speak there, we talk, we meet at all times of the day; one night we had 75 kids in DC and we said, “we are going to have a teach-in at The Wall at midnight on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial and we are not going to come and get you in the bus. You guys have the dinner hour free, the evening is yours, we will see you guys at midnight and we would like you to be there.” Well, they were skeptical when I sent them off, way out that time. Every kid came. You don’t miss attendance. We talked to about 2:30 and walked back. Of course, we didn’t have a curfew that night because we were with them, but the trick is that field trip, the use of the vets and the key questions. I was talking to some other people before here and I was going to give you a quiz, but we don’t have enough time, but I was going to ask you to go back to being a high school senior and if you heard that this school system was going to offer a course on Vietnam, what do you think? Do you already know, you think you know or will you want to know? And I like to start all my teaching like that, so I know what my audience is like. I am have a kid in the third row that read 18 books on Vietnam, his dad may be a decorated Vietnam veteran, but I don’t know that. So once I get their history and they know me, the course becomes friendly. It is referred to on one of the campus as ‘the course’ or ‘the trip’ and there we go with the hot spots, and I say who, what, when, where, and why, to bind with Social Studies teachers. You do the big five Ws, you lay things out and you take a discussion as far as it will go, you answer every question as maybe in this room I can say it, but some questions are dumb, some are ill-timed, some are silly, some are repetitious, some aren’t listening, but we take every question. I have had veterans walk out of the classroom when a student said, “how do you feel being one of the soldiers who lost the only war in US history?” And he looked at me like this, and I said, “I am just a moderator, I cannot be a Vietnam veteran and be the teacher.” The kid got the guy mad. He came back in. We have had several people who had at one time like, lets for instance take us four, would be in front of the classroom with 30 kids and they ask the same question and they get four different answers. I like to expose the students to as much about Vietnam as possible, the good books, the bad books, and then correct it all. See where they stand. Now, I agree with Jim; there is some bad, bad stuff out there, but I also agree that sometimes the bad question brings out the good truth. If we have one teacher or several teachers really, as Del mentioned, that have gone beyond the basic teaching of Vietnam. We have now in Wake County adopted a block schedule technique and this is, it hurts a little bit the veteran teachers because they are used to 42 minutes and a smoke or coffee, but now the new block schedule is, you have 90 minute classes and you have four a day and you have them twice a year. So what that gives the kids is less classes per semester, but more choice on a menu of courses, so it’s enabled courses like Lessons of Vietnam, Study of the Bible, Black History, whatever you want to call an elective to get a lot more discussion time. Teachers teach three in 90 minutes shots, but it is tough on the teachers, but it is great for this course. So it is perfect and I loved it and teachers don’t like it, some of them, but we love it. Getting back to the base of it, we are almost done. Okay, I am going to ask Del to pass you out a publication that one of our teachers helped put together that her kids actually do a newsletter, okay, and the last thing I want to say, of course I have a million things to tell you, I have got some business cards here, some brochures and stuff. And we do go around the country, we presented at Texas Tech, we spoke at several state and national conventions on this. In Carolina, we got a couple of awards, USA came down and took some photographs of the linkage program and put it in USA Today, a nationwide story, and I am not bragging, but we have been called one of the best curriculums in the nation at a high school level. Now, the last thing I want to tell you is one of my favorite things to do. I quit teaching for a while, I went to a place called Science Institute, and I help put up a private school, I got all their technology, I used some of their money. So I got the ability to go around the country and interview people and tucked them into my library so when we are talking, like Jim said, when you talk about a key part of Vietnam, it is real nice to go hear 15 minutes of William Westmoreland and they see Westie. Well, I had a chance to get Jeremiah Denton’s navigator, I told you earlier, Bill Shute on tape, very nice interview. I got a chance to do in San Diego a guy you all remember, that kind of got lost in the Vietnam shuffle, Lloyd Bucher of the Pueblo, got him on tape, went to his home and got him, got Westie as I said, got a real good relationship with Admiral Zumwalt before he passed away; he was very instrumental on Texas Tech. His daughter ironically was in Cary, Admiral Zumwalt’ daughter. We got to talk there quite a bit. We got all kinds of people who we consider, not heavyweight, but people that will make you look twice and then of course we interviewed all of the veterans and as best as I can, which I think is not bad, we tried to screen out the wannabes, and the liars, and the invalidators.

 

R J Del Vecchio: We demand DD214’s.

 

Bob Matthews: And I will stop there because I could go a long time, but believe me, one thing I want to leave you with, one more thing, and that is don’t sell the kids in high school short today. A lot of people do. is 12253 _____ they don’t give a shit,” excuse my language, they give a shit, they give more than we did, and they want to know more. They want guys like Jim to comment and Del and you guys and tell them the truth; it may hurt, but lay it down. Thank you.

[APPLAUSE]

 

Bill Laurie: We are ahead of schedule and Matthew will continue in a second please, but we are ahead of schedule and we are going to have 15 minutes, but I have some other things that I truly and truly think you will find almost funny in some of these noted textbooks. Did you know, certainly you knew when we were in Vietnam that 1000 officers were fragged and killed by their troops; that is in another college textbook. One that Schulzinger says that among the other horrible evils of Vietnam, and this is really bad, that men could never stay dry and clean on an operation. As if they can stay dry and clean on an FTX at Fort Bragg or if they were deer hunting and they just load these things up. Schulzinger also says that a guy by name of Larry Cable has published some of the most insightful works about counterinsurgency and warfare; Dr. Larry Cable, Phd. He also served with the Quang Ngai Special Platoon and Olson and Roberts quote him too. They said this guy Larry Cable is something else. Jug Burkett found out that Larry Cable didn’t have a PhD, he had never served in the military, he had never been to Vietnam and he has peddled himself, exactly, yes.

 

Unidentified Audience Member: 124:33 INAUDIBLE 1:24:41

 

Bill Laurie: Never, he never set foot [in-country], he was never in the military. Two other things and then we will open up for discussion. One common thread, one gross glaring omission is of the Southeast Asians themselves. It is as if they didn’t exist. We were just there burning their hootches, My Lai and everything. I know all too painfully well, that the South Vietnamese and the Laotians and the Cambodians had some pretty sorry units. I also know that by the time I got there from ‘71 and ‘75, I was home for a few months in ‘73, that they had improved considerably which is all the more significant and the fact that some of their younger tough leaders, who were friends of mine, some of them, were killed, these were combat leaders. Follow me. A lot of good young officers got killed. People should be aware you can't ascertain this from any of the textbooks. By the end of 1975, most books count RVN casualties, RVNAF casualties, if they do, up till ‘73. The last two years, which were the bloodiest years in the war, the most reliable estimate is that 275,000 RVNAF personnel were killed in action and I mean to tell you in 1975 contrary to what the press says, they did not all cut and run; so they were a lot of little Alamos in South Vietnam. Had the United States sustained the same proportion of combat fatalities in Vietnam that the South Vietnamese did, we would need about 55 more Walls in Washington. This country, as has been noted by Sir Robert Thompson, has never had as many men under arms for so long, under such difficulties, and we blame them and this country has never had to do what they did. One other glaring omission, most of the history books stop after 1975. We know about the dead. There are more people who have died violent deaths after 1975 than during the war, which led Vietnamese scholar and veteran, Pham Kim Vinh, to say that a Communist peace is worse than an anti-communist war. I have this information here and I encourage you to come down and get it. It is from Human Rights Organization; we are not talking about any Right Wing group. Wonder what kind of mess do we have in Southeast Asia now? Right now, not five years ago, not fifteen years ago, right now. Transparency International -- have these web sites so you can go in and get them – ranks governments by corruption country by country. Guess where Vietnam is? Right down amongst the bottom. Because of malnutrition caused by a horrible economy, the life expectancy of the three Communist Southeast Asian countries is 59. The life expectancy of the four Southeast Asian countries all around that is including Singapore is 70. Infant mortality rates in the three Indochinese Communist countries is 76 per 1000. The infant mortality of the four surrounding non-communist Asian countries is 35; it is less than one half the infant mortality of the communist countries. At the same time, one more, at the same time the percentage of gross national product devoted to the military is 9.2% in Vietnam and overall average of the Communist countries is 5.3% and the surrounding noncommunist countries, the percentage of GNP devoted to military spending is less than a third, 1.67% percent. So we have got three countries that simply want arms sales as militant Leninists or whatever they are at the expense of their people. Thank you.

[APPLAUSE]

 

Bob Matthews: I forgot one rather important thing that I had to tell you real quick before questions. Del mentioned it a little bit and one real important thing and that is when the gentleman and women, believe me it is men and women we bring in to our classroom, not just the veterans but the women that waited. From our best classes we brought in wives that sat there and talked about their year at home. But what I am talking about is when the veterans leave, we always talk about this quick transition, you were in Cam Ranh Bay on Monday, you were in Seattle Tuesday having a beer and bamb! all this culture shock; well, one thing this linkage program has done, it has given guys like Del and me and a lot of you a chance to give a lot back to an audience that wants to hear it and not just one day; these guys show up in class and never speak. They just say, hey what’s up and sit down. They got a break in their job or they have got half a day off. They might bring you donuts one day; it is so cool. It is such a cool thing to do. It is one of the nicest things I have done in 32 years of teachering, the linkage program, and I consider Vietnam vets as my best friends. I have a lot of new friends now, but the thing is we have the common bond, we are giving back, it is what we always wanted. Thank you.

 

Jim McLeroy: A couple of comments that might be a little bit humorous and revealing. On Veterans Day and there were other than Pheonix stuff, there is an institute organized by former Medal Of Honor Receipient Joe Foss and he is dead and that was part of his foundation and he wants to combat veterans to come on Veterans Day and talk to school people and so forth, so I said okay. They sent me to an elementary school, I had never done that before and I said, “Are you sure?” These kids are sixth graders, they are very precocious sixth graders. “They are sixth graders man, how are they going to understand or even care about this?” “Oh no, don’t worry about it, just go ahead and talk to them.” One girl said at the end of the questions and answers, she says, “Of all the things that you did when you were in Vietnam,” she said, “what is the thing that you did that you are most ashamed of?” And I said, “you mean among all the other things that I am ashamed of, you want me to pick out the absolute worse thing I am ashamed of, the one that I am really haunted by because I am such a rotten, no good criminal?” I said, “I am not ashamed of anything, I am proud of what I did, I didn’t do anything shameful.” But then there are two other girls, amazing how prescient they were, how insightful. One of them said, “Well, I don’t understand that. Why exactly did we have to have that war in Vietnam? Why did we have to do that?” and I said, “Well, that is a very profound question. I am not going to try to answer, but repeat that question, that is a very good question.” And then the other one said, “I don’t understand this. If we are going to just walk off and leave it, why did we get to start it in the first place? Why have a war if you are just going to turn around and abandon it to the enemy?’ I said, “Profound. Brilliant. Keep those two questions.” Okay.

 

Max Friedman: Okay, I guess, I can probably speak for a lot of guys here. I have waited 35 years to hear a lot of this. Also not just the stories but the fact that people have actually been out there doing something about telling the story and I know that there are thousands, tens of thousands, millions of guys out there and winning, who wanted to know what I have heard here today that somebody has actually cared and has done something good and this is where some of us who, I guess, the civilians in this group, Scott Swett and a couple of the others who have information and Bob too is a scholar that could help you in your presentation. You mentioned the Hue list, and I showed it to people the other day and many had never seen this 4000 names nor the 65,000 I had on the other list, nor some of the Communist propaganda leaflets that were being given out around the country and I am hoping that if Scott has the computer capability or Viet-Myhts site or some of the others that we can get a lot of this on there so that you can download it and have it and print it and give it out. But I also would like you to do something. You have given some great speeches. You had tremendous figures, you have been able to pinpoint a myth-target and do a counterpoint. If you could prepare some sheets for us that also be downloaded on to computers and give your sources for your counterpoints for each of the topics that you are talking about, that would be a great aid to us so that we could use it in our writing or speaking or anything else. The Internet is a great vehicle for education and I found this out by having somebody read a column of mine, it went out on Thursday, he called Scott on Friday to get my phone number and he’s a guy that I hadn’t talked to in 35 years, a marine named Bruce Kessler. He calls me and says, “Max, this is Bruce Kessler.” I say, “where the hell have you been for 35 years?” “I have been trying to find you.” Bruce now sends me 4000 e-mails a day. He searches the web for Vietnam information. He is great at it, he can do your word searches in a second and he is a link, Scott is a link, Steve is a link, you guys are going to be links whether you like it or not and we are going to share the information. Your teaching techniques I think are fabulous, because I used to speak to students; they want to know the truth. No bull shit, no propaganda. You tell them the truth, they will respect you and then they learn if they have that quest for knowledge. Then you have got them on the way of opening a book instead of looking at TV or roller blading and we have to got to work together. Also I see some members of the Vietnamese community here. The Vietnamese community is now awakening to the fact of their heritage. They want to preserve it, but they have to share their history with the rest of America, they have got to make it presentable in the formats that we can use; A) to understand the culture, B) to understand your history. As they are doing at, I think there is a community out in California that was on television about the fact where adherents of Ho Chi Minh have built their own business. All the veterans awoke. That was it. And then the kids say to their parents, “what did you do, what happened in the war?” This is the key. We have an opportunity, not next year, not December, this month, next month up to the election. I will just say Kerry opened a Pandora’s box on Vietnam and he is writing his history. I say, he writes his history, you guys are writing the truth.

 

R J Del Vecchio: Let me throw something in here. It started before I came to this meeting. I write technical books. The most successful one I ever wrote is a 60 page very simplified summary of a large technical subject, can't remember technology, it doesn't matter. And what I have been talking to people like Bill Laurie about and some others is putting together and I know how to get it printed and distributed, a 50 or 60 page book on the myths of Vietnam, taking the top; there are probably 200 myths of Vietnam, okay, but probably taking the top 12 to 15 myths like Tet was a Communist victory, okay, and succinctly, carefully taking them apart in simple language with references at the back of the book. Putting together a nice 60 page soft cover book that is easy to print, we can put it on the web as well, we can hand it out at high schools and it may not solve a lot of promise; I am a believer that you light one candle you don’t curse the darkness, okay, and some of the people here are people like yourself I am going to be contacting for information and support in doing this. We got to pick out a list in this, pull them apart. If we do this, fairly decently, we can have this book done, this booklet done and out in no more than three months, in plenty of time for the elections. So, some of you are going to be hearing from me about this. Yes sir?

 

Dave Dolby: INAUDIBLE They have come with the Medal Of Honor Society and talked to us about supporting what they are doing. I do a lot of it. In some cases, I bring in people who were conscientious objectors or were against the war, but served and I have to carry out that. They served and their input to the students, and they are from the local community. There are probably about five towns, the different towns in the state that we use as approach and it works fantastically. But there are other groups trying to do that and it is unfortunate that we are unable to tie these groups. Service tends to be a little more towards the patriotism side of teaching our students.

 

Bob Matthews: We think this is going to work and we think the simplicity of it will, but I wanted to make an apology. I didn’t mean that our linkage program disenfranchises everybody but veterans. All of our linkage people are not veterans; they are correspondents, they are men and women active in the community, they just want to help the kids, it is just the way to open the door. It doesn't mean you have to be a Vietnam veteran and that is where a lot of teachers backed off right away. They said, you can teach Vietnam because you feel pretty good you were there. Yeah, I learnt so much more about Vietnam since I have been home than I ever did. I’m going to shut up. Let’s take some questions.

 

Jay Veith: Bill, a second ago you mentioned about the images of South Vietnamese military and I think one of the myths of the war and one that has not been addressed so much here is the image of the ARVN as a completely bumbling, corrupt army and you know from the work I am doing on 1975 and what can be done to change that? And before you answer, I will say the North Vietnamese don’t have that image, especially in 1975, of the ARVN and I will just relate to you a very short story; we translated an article by the Commander of the First Corps, Major General Lin Hoa who was on the First Corps on the western side of the Saigon and people like Karnow and others talk about the battle for Saigon and refer to this, you know, ARVN would rapidly collapse, and the PAVN just sort of walked in. The North Vietnamese don’t have that; don’t even talk about that. As a matter of fact, General Hoa relates that there is sort of a thing among the Vietnamese that they had taken up PAVN, they would taken Saigon without breaking a light bulb implying that they had sort of waltzed in and his response to that was, “those who say we took Saigon without breaking a light bulb should help bury our dead.” And so the PAVN sort of recognized the South Vietnamese had fought pretty hard in the last days of the war. So my point is, what can be done to change the image of the South Vietnamese, 14100 _____ says, this wholesale defamation of the South Vietnamese Army. You know how close _____ people like that, so I am curious to hear your opinion.

 

Bill Laurie: I think I am an optimist that truth always killed lies and there is some, I have tried to be, perhaps we can repeat some of that. There are some incredible stories, absolutely incredible stories of last minute defiance when there was no hope. I will give you an example; a Vietnamese Stinger pilot, he was flying around Saigon hitting NVA units on the 29th of April, there is one day left. He goes down to rearm and refuel and his colonel said, “it is over, forget it.” He says, “no I will not.” Rearmed and refueled, he was shot down by SA7 missile about two hours later. There was four ARVN, five ARVN airborne. I don’t know if you are familiar with the Turtle Fountain in Saigon. They held off NVA, a whole tank, column where you have got these concrete parapets and they wouldn’t quit and they ran out of ammo and they stood up together and killed themselves with a grenade. There is no shortage of these examples.

 

Jay Veith: One of the things I am doing this 014225 INAUDIBLE _____ gave a lot of copies and republications right before the INAUDIBLE _____ most of these materials INAUDIBLE _____ articles written by INAUDIBLE _____ were very very well done. But the problem is that there just totally ignorant INAUDIBLE _____ ensure that there are plenty of INAUDIBLE _____ but there are plenty of guys who fought pretty well.

 

Bill Laurie: A hell lot of guys that fought well, but one another thing and then let me answer that and we will go to John and then I’ll take it to Del. The greatest, not talking things over with the people from the Republic of Vietnam is a thread that runs through our whole involvement and the best sources for that is not only the articles, but getting veteran circles from the Republic of Vietnam Armed Forces or they don’t have to be, you know, in the military, can be some other civilian agencies. They can tell you stuff that will blow your mind. And one other thing people should keep in mind. Everybody thinks, well, it just collapsed. The wonder is they fought as long as they did. When I was there in ‘74, Stuart Herrington that wrote Silence Was a Weapon and Peace With Honor question mark, both he and I determined in 1974 that it was an unsalvageable situation because of the aid cutbacks. What happened was by 1975, how would you like to be a grunt and, say, by the way, here is your basic load of ammunition for this week; you get three magazines, 20 rounds each; you get 60 rounds of M16 to fight your war and oh, by the way, you have two artillery rounds are in call. You can't survive. One other quickie, people have to keep in mind, this was not the same as the Tet offensive. The initial wave of forces committed in the Tet offensive, VC/NVA was about 84,000. The Easter offensive in 72 was about 200,000 once all is said and done. The final offensive in ‘75 was 400,000, armed to the gills with artillery and armor. That is what, five Tet offensives with tanks and artillery. At the same time that ARVN was being starved to death, and at the same time that the North Vietnamese had to throw everything they had into it. It is just amazing. John.

 

John Cavaiani: I had one point. Granted the ARVN, they weren’t my favorite soldiers, but that was primarily because I was with Special Forces and I pretty much stayed up in the Highlands and I didn’t have a lot of ARVNs who wanted to stay up with there with me. But I had CIDG and I think it is important that we understand that both forces were responsible to be able to hold off the North Vietnamese as long as we were ultimately able to. Our biggest defense were the people that we have left behind; I am talking Montagnards, I am talking Vietnamese that wanted to leave the country. The CIDG, I lived with them. I mean I worked with them, I lived with them, they were just like my brothers. One of my Montagnard to get killed was the same as if they shot my brother. So keep in mind there were two armies in Vietnam. One was CIDG and the one of them was the ARVN.

 

Jim McLeroy: Let me just say, was it worth it?

 

John Cavaiani: I would suggest that one other thing that you might do is put a couple of pages in that book of just quotes by famous military people. Swartzkopf said very good things about the ARVN and I guess his book, I have a quote somewhere from him where he said they were outstanding in many cases. Colin Powell is on record saying good things about them and I am sure that if there is somebody who wants to do any kind of research that they can find a great number of quotes by famous people, people buy something like that a lot quicker than they will buy something else. If you can get five pages of short quotes by famous military names, that would go a long way. Number two, somewhere you could probably get a list of the medals; I had a pilot that got the American Silver Star for the plane that went down and rescued the guy in the A1 and landed behind enemy lines while that guy was surrounded. He got the Congressional Medal of Honor for it and everybody forgets about the fact. In fact, the Air Force has a painting of it that they use to give out of the guy landing and picking the guy up in the middle of enemy fire and the guy that made it possible was a VNAF pilot that constantly circle the area until they ran out of ammunition and just would make runs on these guys just to draw their fire away from the American. I am sure that if you did some kind of research, you could just get a list of our Vietnamese who won medals, not only their own but won our medals for doing things like that. A short chapter on that, the Battle of An Loc which was unbelievably well done by the ARVN. Good God, I was there the day they broke out. I mean that was an incredible battle that they put up and the Battle of Kontum; I have a picture, I will offer it to supply it to you; I have a picture of a Soviet tank that is a couple of yards away from the command post in Kontum, the last command post that they were holding and the final line was a few feet, from here to that wall, and again, if you did a chapter on An Loc, a chapter on Kontum, a chapter on the whole Easter Offensive in general plus one on famous military people saying good things plus another on medals they won, I think you would go a long way. My personal opinion is that the biggest mistake we ever made in the United States in that war was not following up and I never quite understood why they didn’t. I kept telling the Vietnamese, I was very close to the VN staff and I told them over and over again to the point they finally had me go to the President of the country with the idea and President Thieu listened very carefully and told Colonel Lam to follow up and do everything I said, which was get a bunch of clean cut young, low ranking Vietnamese officers who spoke English and bring them over here and have them tour every state in the Union, go to the local Rotary, go to the Kiwanis, because the American people never saw the Vietnamese except as little tiny figures on television screens somewhere in the background that had nothing to do whatsoever with fighting a war. And the unbelievable thing to me is when I went to the Vietnamese, month after month saying when are you going to follow through with that? The President himself told me he was going to do it. The answer was finally, “your State Department didn’t want us to do it.” So that was one of the greatest mistakes we made during that war and I think that a book like that would go a long way towards straightening out history and I think you have got five chapters that I just mentioned and you know, throw another five and then you have got the whole thing done. I will work on it if somebody wants me to come up with some stuff.

Dolf Droge: And another book is a book that was written by 15053 INAUDIBLE _____ and it is truly a great book by INAUDIBLE _____ within the army and you see what happens when ARVN said, “we don’t fight by day, we belong to the night and take the night away from the enemy” because there was no village for them to rest in, there is no blood donation area that they can pick up because we are in those villages. We are not destroying the villages; we are just occupying the places that the Viet Cong sleep every night.

Jim McLeroy: I think I will just make a quick comment before we run out of time.

Steve Sherman: We ran out of time ten minutes ago. We have got a five-minute break between now and the next session.

Jim McLeroy: Okay. I just wanted to point out that when you are contemplating these rebuttals like you are talking about this and all that, the question of attitude is very important because if you portray to these teachers and administrators an adversarial, hostile, angry attitude, even though you are totally justified in having it and even though it’s a very righteous indignation, you are going to discredit yourself because this, the enemy does not do that. They come very sunny, very happy, very optimistic. Anything you put in rebuttal has got to be positive and not negative, so don’t start out trying to debunk something else because it would just make you look hostile.

[APPLAUSE]

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