Vietnam -- or French Indo-China

No one in those days thought much about Viet Nam, since all we had done was put some advisors there, and the French had taken all the bad press about the situation and bugged out in 1954. Most everyone felt that we had no business in there, and President Kennedy did not seem inclined to commit anything there. Then Jack Kennedy was killed, and the atmosphere changed. After Johnson took over, it became apparent pretty early that we were going to be putting more and more troops in, and that we were likely to be the only ones to stop the "dominoes" from toppling. All the propaganda was pushing that the North was committing atrocities, and the people in the South were protesting those atrocities. When priests started burning themselves to death in the streets, it got people's attention. Much of what was going on was beyond the American public's comprehension. The South Vietnamese government was the target of much of the protest activity.

My professor of Russian studies had spent several years in Romania, then went on to spend two years working for the U.N. in South Vietnam. He said that the American policy and implementation in that country was seriously flawed, in that the bureaucrats in charge had no understanding of what was going on in the country. After the French left, we had a big aid program that was sending food in to help the South Vietnamese people. There would always be a contingent on the docks to help unload the pallets full of rice. As each pallet came ashore, one of the helpers with a spray can and stencil would mark each bag of rice in Vietnamese characters. One day someone came by who could read those characters. Every bag of rice had the sign "Gift of the Chinese People's Republic" stenciled on it.

As we became more and more involved, the number of U.S. combat ships in the Tonkin Gulf became more numerous and varied. Yet it was apparent that we were not being allowed to conduct the war in order to win. The White House was dictating the target agenda day by day, while we stood by and watched. We were roiling the water in the Gulf, flying missions over North Vietnam, spying out targets and requesting permission to hit them -- and being denied permission almost invariably. We were on Condition 3 alert, standing 3 section watches, getting mail sporadically, watching Annette and Dean Martin movies. We were acting as if we were at war, and dropping bombs on a people who knew how powerful we were, without being able to bring that power to bear. This was supposed to cause those people to become afraid of us and to surrender. Instead, they reacted just as people always have to invaders, strengthening their resolve, and being taught by their leaders to hate those who would destroy their country.  When it was all over and the North took over the South, more than 100,000 South Vietnamese were executed.

Here are a few stories of our time there, sometimes known as sea stories.  Everyone knows that sailors never exaggerate, so of course they are all true in every detail.

Farewell to Olongapo Heavy Seas Man Over from Carrier PBR vs. Missiles at sea Refueling in Olongapo
The Great Olongapo feud USS Knox Man Overboard! Lost Rudder Dip the flag
Peanuts 4 Rescue F4 over Hainan An A4 Pilot It all started when.. Porpoises hunting
Yokosuka Run The refugees