Twenty-seven years ago, November 13, 1982, the Viet Nam Memorial was dedicated in Washington D.C. In remembrance of the day, my friend Rees Lloyd sent me the days American Minute, written by William Federer,
The Vietnam War Memorial was dedicated NOVEMBER 13, 1982, honoring 58,000 American troops who died.
U.S. forces inflicted over a million enemy fatalities, yet politicians did not allow a victory.
A former Communist North Vietnamese colonel, Bui Tin, called the American "peace movement" essential: "Every day our leadership would listen to the world news over the radio to follow the growth of the American anti-war movement. Visits to Hanoi by people like Jane Fonda and former Attorney General Ramsey Clark gave us confidence that we should hold on in the face of battlefield reverses."
On October 12, 1967, during Operation Medina, Marine Sergeant George Hutchings of Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 1st Marine Division, had a dozen men killed around him when ambushed by North Vietnamese in the Hai Lang jungle.
Months later, after numerous battles, George was shot three times, bayoneted and left for dead.
He survived and was later awarded the Purple Heart.
Of the Vietnam Memorial, George Hutchings said: "On that wall is the name of Corporal Quinton Bice, who was hit in the chest with a rocket running a patrol in my place.
A Christian, he had shared the Gospel with me, but I didn't understand it till he gave his life in my place."
Very touching and I thank both William Federer of American Minute and my friend Rees for sending it to me.
While not every one who served in that war came away with such understanding, as did George Hutchings, most us came away with a deeper appreciation of freedom and liberty and what it costs to keep. The phrase, “You have never lived until you have almost died, for those who have fought for it, life has a special flavor the protected will never know,” has a special meaning to us others cannot fathom.
The two names shown above hold special meaning to me, as they were two of the 13 from my unit who lost their lives during my time in Viet Nam.
Scott Stanton died, September 8, 1969 from wounds received 4 days earlier, September 4. Everyone felt he was going to survive as he was upbeat and in good spirits. He died in his sleep while on the medevac flight to Japan.
Robert Pilk died instantly July 19, 1970 of wounds he received from enemy fire. The helicopter he was riding in crashed with my best buddy, Ron Strickland sitting in the front seat. Ron survived, but medevaced out to Japan before I was able to see him in the hospital.
I mention them as a reminder, just like George Hutchings above, that war is very personal to those of us who serve and those names etched into granite were real people who are the heroes of every conflict.
They meant something to their Families, loved ones and us.
It is also why we take denigration and destruction of our memorials so personal.
Currently, we are in another war that the anti-war left has succeeded in turning public opinion away from almost as much as they did back during Viet Nam.
We have a leader who cannot, or will not, make any decision on reinforcements for our Troops requested by General Stanley McChrystal back in August!
Most distressing is that we also have one, who was once one of our number, repeating his treasonous acts in undermining the Troops as he did back in 1971.
John Kerry likes to stand before our memorials and make grand speeches, but he knows nothing about honor or heroes, allowing him self to be called a “war hero” after 4 months service and obtaining a chest full of medals used to further his political ambitions that he should not be entitled to wear.
In a 1985 interview he was asked, “What exactly makes a hero?” “Basically, you don’t get killed,” he replied.
As William Federer noted above, there are over 58,000 names of heroes etched in stone on the Viet Nam Veterans Memorial. Nearly three quarters of those names are from after the failed North Vietnamese Tet of 1968 Offensive.
Colonel Bui Tin, disillusioned with the communist takeover, defected and moved to Paris, France, where he gave the interview quoted from above. In addition to the above, in reply to the question “How could American have won the war,” he replied, “Cut the Ho Chi Minh trail inside Laos. If Johnson had granted [Gen. William] Westmoreland's requests to enter Laos and block the Ho Chi Minh trail, Hanoi could not have won the war.” Later in the interview, he admitted, “Then Johnson had rejected Westmoreland's request for 200,000 more troops. We realized that America had made its maximum military commitment to the war,” allowing them to just wait us out.
Sound familiar yet?
Tin continues, “We had the impression that American commanders had their hands tied by political factors. Your generals could never deploy a maximum force for greatest military effect.”
Barack Obama is repeating the mistakes of Lyndon Johnson, but unlike Viet Nam, victory in Iraq and Afghanistan does hold importance for the United States.
Barack Obama campaigned on “I will listen to the generals.” So far, he isn’t. He listens more to opportunists like Kerry it seems.
We will build more Memorials to our fallen and those that come back home, we always do. It is the least we can do for those who show the greatest love of fellow man.
Mr. Obama, keep your word. Listen to the Generals, support and back our Troops. Help us keep from having so many names on this next memorial.