How to Clear a House (Vietnam, 1968)

h.  The assault party is divided into 2 groups, the searching party and the covering party. The covering party protects and aids the advance of the searching party. The searching party provides covering fires and protection for the covering party as it displaces. The searching party enters and clears all buildings that the unit is responsible for clearing. i.  Prior to entering buildings or rooms of buildings, which are believed to contain enemy, a grenade is thrown in a window or door or some other opening in the building. j.  A searching team is normally composed of at least two…
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Coup and Counter-Counter-Coup (1963)

Returning from the Army Command and General Staff College in the summer of 1957, I had the privilege to begin a close professional association with President Diem that lasted for nearly three saw first hand the strong talent for leadership President Diem exhibited, his great concern for the people of Vietnam, and the earnest efforts he made on behalf of security for the country. I came also to appreciate the brilliance of Mr. Nhu, the President's brother.  He was an innovative thinker - not a real leader as was Diem - but a man of ideas.  The President would sign…
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Op-Ed

Veterans Day for Just One American Hero

I love marching bands and parades but I don’t go all soppy on Veterans Day remembering our fallen heroes.  That is because Veterans Day is the one day I don’t  think about them.  Sounds odd, doesn’t it?  Instead, it is the day I reserve for a private thanksgiving for what those men and women have given us – our country, safe and whole.  That makes it a second Fourth of July for me, one more day each year on which I feel especially good and very proud.  It’s also the one day of the year I don’t think about one…
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Op-Ed

The Vanishing War

I've heard it said that every war fades from memory until a soldier is left with just a few highlights to recall, and those strangely happy.  I think, instead, it's the souvenirs we lose that make a war vanish.  Until the only remaining physical marker of a war is you and me.  Then we die and take war's memory with us, and what ought to be remembered and told to others vanishes with us. We, you and I, ought to do better than that. The first souvenir I lost after coming home from Vietnam was a 20 piastre piece.  You…
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VN

Moving Out!

Here’s one of those great photos some of us were too chicken to snap when the RPGs came whizzing over the foxhole, and forget about being up there running around with cans of ammo: "MOVING OUT—Lance Cpl T. J. Gledhill dashes from position to position, passing out ammunition to his men during an enemy attack at Fire Support Base Russell. Gledhill is a squad leader in the 1st Bn., Fourth Marines. (Official USMC Photo by Cpl. J. G. McCullough)." Source:  Force Information Office, III Marine Amphibious Force, Military Assistance Command Vietnam (undated, probably 1968).
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VN

The Tet Surprise (1968)

The year 1968 began with a stream of intelligence reports on the enemy's imminent Winter-Spring campaign which bore all the signs of a major offensive. Despite the telltale signs, both the and RVN commands were still speculating on the probability of the enemy campaign, and neither was certain when it would take place or if it would even be conducted. No evidence obtained so far had ever pointed clearly toward the inevitability. As early as 19 October 1967, the enemy had announced he would observe a 7-day truce on the Tet occasion. This was the longest truce ever proposed by…
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Op-Ed

Counting the Dead, Again

The Battle of the Bulge ended 69 years ago yesterday and I had a buddy in the movie made 20 years after the battle.  Great battle, great film.  True, he only had a bit part, but that included one line up there on that big Cinerama screen, just him and one of the movie’s stars.  A couple of years later, he and I were in Vietnam doing pretty much what he had playacted in the movie – trying to keep alive.  But what is keeping alive? The battle’s anniversary made me turn to some casual reading in an outdated copy…
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VN

Report on the Morale of Forces (1968)

The morale of United States forces involved in the war in Vietnam was consistently high.  This condition could be attributed to a belief in the mission of the United States in Vietnam, pride in accomplishing this mission, esprit de corps within units, the one-year tour, and the Rest and Recuperation (R&R) Program.  The one-year tour length allowed a serviceman to know from the beginning of his tour the day he would return home.  This was considered to be the single greatest morale factor for our forces.  The R&R Program allowed each man to have one respite of five or six-day…
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Military Trivia and Its Hard Meaning

An email chain making the rounds of my office:  -----Original Message----- From: X Sent: Friday, February 27, 2014 To: ALL Subject: Trivia This trivia question is tailor-made for W.  Not because his gray hair says he could have been there but because he reads military history at lunch – What was the Allied military offensive in World War II whimsically codenamed “Chattanooga Choo Choo?”  I have no idea. -----Original Message----- From: W Sent: Friday, February 27, 2014 To: X Subject: RE: Trivia Never heard of it so looked it up (but no spoilers).  Being the resident stuffy BOVV (Bitter Old…
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Op-Ed

The Last Vietnam Veteran Remembers…

The last uniformed veteran of World War I, a British woman, died this month. The last combat veteran, a British sailor, died last year in Australia. The last American veteran, an ambulance driver, died last year as well. All three reached age 110. She worked in a Royal Air Force canteen in England and remembered her war as a “good time,” filled with handsome pilots and excitement. The sailor, whose Royal Navy battleship fought a zeppelin, recalled his war as “tough.” What will the last Vietnam veterans remember at age 110, with great-grandchildren bouncing on their knees and asking for…
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The Clowns of War

I never saw Bob Hope in the combat zone, never heard his zippy one-liners and never gawked at his starlets and beauty queens in hotpants and skimpy blouses.  He never came to my corner of the boonies.  But we had comedy enough of our own, though it may seem a little crazy to some.  But war is crazy, isn’t it? * * * The hero of my favorite comic story is Lt. Alfa Bravo – that’s what I’ll call him – who misread an azimuth by 180 degrees and fired six howitzers east, instead of west.  Blew up the basecamp…
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Op-Ed

The Warrior’s Task

I had a buddy in the Vietnam war who was a different kind of fighting man.  He didn’t carry a gun.  He was a civilian warrior for hearts and minds.  But he taught me the most important part of the combat soldier’s task.  I want to tell you about his one very special combat. I’m going to call him “Bob.”  His mission was the aid and humanitarian work that kept children and their families alive in the crossfire of war.  As you would expect, he was a misery to the Viet Cong.  His work threatened to blow up their lies…
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Does Raquel Welch Still Love Me? *

My Vietnam war ended 44 years ago.  I have gray hair at one end and flat feet at the other, and perhaps you do, too!  But I don’t feel that old.  Still 19 inside.  Still marching off to see what battle is all about and if I’ve the courage to face it. Today’s young soldiers look at me, bemused, expecting to see the fires banked.  A war they see as way back there in the Stone Age is nothing to be upset about this century.  They don’t understand that my war can never end.  Theirs may not, either. There were…
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VN

Ambush on the Dak Po (1969)

DEPARTMENT OF THE ARMY Headquarters I Field Force Vietnam APO San Francisco 96350 19 November 1969 After Action Interview Report Ambush at the Dak Po 21-22 January 1969 Binh Dinh Province, RVN, grid coordinates BR 337461. Company A, 1st Battalion (Mech), 50th Infantry, 173d Airborne Brigade. 8…. a. Route 19, which runs from Pleiku City in the Central Highlands to Qui Nhon on the South China Sea, is one of the most important supply routes in II Corps Tactical Zone. Its location has seen the defeats of the French Mobile Group 100 in 1954 and the successes of the 1st…
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WW2

The Chaos of Victory

Clip:  "In the week following the Emperor's order to cease hostilities, planes on photo-reconnaissance missions over Japan were twice attacked by enemy interceptors.  On 17 August, four B-32s were attacked over Tokyo by an estimated 10 Japanese fighters, of which two were probably destroyed and a third damaged. The same day, three other photo planes over Yokosuka and Miyakonojo were met by antiaircraft fire. On the 18th, two unescorted reconnoitering B-32s over Tokyo were attacked by 14 enemy fighters. An aerial photographer in one plane was killed, two of the crew were wounded, and both planes were heavily damaged. Our…
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