View Full Version : Deja vu all over again
I had hoped it would be later- after my demise.
U.S. Navy will make port call in Vietnam
By Sharon Behn
THE WASHINGTON TIMES
HONOLULU — The first U.S. Navy vessel to dock in Vietnam in almost 30 years is due to arrive there on a landmark port call in November, according to a military source and a former U.S. ambassador.
The military contact is the first since the United States pulled out of Vietnam in 1975, withdrawing from a war that cost the United States more than 58,000 lives and left an estimated 1.3 million to 3 million North and South Vietnamese dead. There are an estimated 1,200 American POW/MIAs still unaccounted for.
A military official said Friday the ship would dock for five days in what was largely a symbolic gesture reflecting the deepening bilateral relationship between the United States and the communist republic.
A spokesman for the Navy's Pacific Command declined to comment, citing security reasons.
Bilateral ties between the United States and Vietnam have been improving slowly since the former foes resumed diplomatic relations in 1995. A bilateral trade agreement was signed in 2000, and a deal to resume commercial flights between the two countries was signed on Thursday.
"The military-to-military aspect is in a developmental stage,"**** said former Ambassador Charles B. Salmon Jr., currently a foreign policy adviser at the Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies, a Pentagon-funded think tank.
Vietnamese Defense Minister Pham Van Tra is due to visit the United States later this year, Mr. Salmon and the military source both said. It will be the first visit by a Vietnamese defense minister since the end of the Vietnam War. Mr. Tra's visit takes place after Vietnamese Foreign Minister Nguyen Dy Nien's recent trip to the United States.
Mr. Salmon said that despite the growing relationship the issues of POW/MIAs and human rights violations in Vietnam were still of significant concern for many Americans.
The communist government, which tightly controls religion, has clashed and arrested dissident Buddhist monks and refused to recognize Pope John Paul II's appointment of Archbishop Jean-Baptiste Pham Minh Man as Ho Chi Minh City's new cardinal.
**** What the heck is that? I've got your 'military to military' right here, Salmon.
One day - should I live that long - I may wake up one dreary morning to read this in the news:
"US Marines will conduct a joint training operation with the People's Army of Vietnam next spring. Flying off the USS Pellieu, American Marines will land at an old combat base known as Khe Sahn and link up with a battallion sized PAVN force to train in a mock urban warfare village built at what was once a U.S. Special Forces camp. This joint operation with America's newest Asian military ally is set to kick off--- April 30, 2025."
About the only way I'd want to bury the hatchet is in a skull.
Makes me want to puke!
Governments go to war and not people. This was bound to happen. Look at Japan, Germany, Russia and Italy -- our so called friends who were once our enemies. The countries attitudes change but those that fight are expendable. I don't like it and I still want a full accounting of our POW's and MIA's.
We were asked to do our duty, of which we did. Too many of us were killed and wounded serving our country. Many of us still carry the emotional scars of being in combat and losing our brothers. We were never afforded the respect by this country of doing the job that we were sent to do.
Now there is another generation coming along that knows nothing about or even cares about what we endured. As usual we are the only ones that can cure ourselves. There was the Forgotten War (Korea) and the Hated War (Vietnam). Now we will fade into history like all good Marines, as they now fight the War on Terrorism, who will be tomorrow's veterans.
Sam, you are right on the mark as I see it. I had the view from being in WWII, Korea < Vietnam Plus some operations ( Frequent Winds 1975, Second Rescue attempt Iran Prisoners Prep Diego Garcia/Oman Dec79/Jan80). Served/lived in Japan total 16 years, Korea 2 years, Vietnam 4 years & Malaysia 3 years. Goverments make wars!!! The people donot!!! Have said before the veterans that I met that fought us were doing their duty as they were led to believe & for the same reasons we did!! My Country "Wrong or right"!! As in Countries where the Goverment is out of the norm the younger generations are and will change the structure as they strive to obtain the rights they see in countries like the USA.This has been demonstrated in the past by Germany, Japan & recently Russia. SF PM
Sadly, all wars, and veterans fade into the mist of history with precious few exceptions.
Despite the experience of Vietnam I have managed to set aside my earlier hatreds of a people who were used, and manipulated much as we were by many 'politicians' in succeeding governments. I have come to realize that most mothers, and fathers want peace for themselves, and their family. They want food, and medicine, they want shelter from the elements, and all to often these simple needs are tradded away by a small cadre of powerful people, and sacrificed on the altar of war.
It is sad to realize, that after more than thirty years for most of us we would still hate enough to want to kill.
Am I still sad about what occured in Vietnam? Of course I am. We all did more than any when it came to medevacs, and body bags...enough to make us hate to our last breath, but will the hate help the future. I think not........
I am 100% in favor of ANYTHING that will assist the United States in gathering POW/MIA information. This attempt to establish relations is a solid step in the right direction. I want ALL our BROTHERS accounted for and any remains brought home.
George.....bless you my son......
At times it is like being a voice in the wind. I agree, we need to find all of our brothers who are not accounted for.
Like others on the list I have a major stake in the current world situation. My son is a Marine, and will do what is expected of him when ordered to do so. But I cannot help thinking of all the possibilities if, and when the orders arrive. If God forbid, he were to become an MIA I would not want to wait years, and possibly go to my death not knowing the fate of my son because we carry the albatros of hate around our necks like some badge of courage.
We should be doing MORE to find our lost comrades. That can only happen if we accept the past, and learn from our mistakes.
I'm proud of my service in Vietnam...no guilt, no regrets, but I can put aside my hatred in the hope of passing on the simple fact that we have better, and more positive options.
I don't hate the people of Vietnam. In fact, I know the soldiers that killed my brother and 27 personal friends there were doing their jobs. I do hate communism and Vietnam is a communist country. I don't think we should sleep with the enemy. I don't think we should kiss their butts to find out about our MIAs.
I also have a son in the Marine Corps and another going in June. If something, God forbid, were to happen to them I would hope our government would maintain some dignity about their situation.
It's not a matter of hating them. I didn't hate them even then: I respected and feared them. I was aware that the NVA and the VC were fighting for what they believed in (although could not understand that, and certainly disagreed with their beliefs). But I certainly had a lot of respect for their guts and committment.
Just as we "forgave" the Germans and the Japanese, so it could be with the Vietnamese. I do not blame the common soldier or the people.
The difference is that the former enemy's government recants and repents. That is not the case with Vietnam (or North Korea).
Normalization must require full, fair, documented, investigated accounting for our missing brothers. Nothing less. That's what we want. I think that America forgives pretty easily.
But Vietnam is no longer an economic client of the USSR, and they're hurting economically, so looking for a "sugar daddy". But there has been no shift in their position.
Without movement on their part, it's premature to say "Let's let bygones be bygones".
We'll lose out if we give them the "quid" without getting the "quo". Until and unless we can have accounting of all our missing, it ain't over. And it ain't over till it's over.
Very well said, Ed.
A very healthy exchange of opinnions and ideas!!! I also feel that if our Commander & Chief & Staff believe that there is reason to follow this policy than they have a better knowledge than I. As for MIAs I am sure we all believe in the follow up and all possible avenues to conclude that issue. I cannot help but remember the thousands of MIAs in WWII & Korea that was not & probably never will be concluded. Many of those heros were lost in situations that no source could definitely give a final answer. I have friends that were lost in places like Okinawa that no final solution was possible, their names are on the wall over at the Honolulu National Cemetary. They will remain always in my memories!! Semper Fi PM
I do communicate with three former NVA, one is a former Colonel. These contacts have provided me with valuable photos, maps and information. I have placed some of this information up on the web site.
These contacts have been very helpful in voluntarily leading the U.S. Government to crash sites introducing the POW /MIA search teams to first hand witnesses.This communication was only made possible in the last 10 years as the U S began to reestablish normal relationships. The hope in the ships visiting is as a GOOD WILL tour not a show of Force. These few ships will send U.S. Servicemen out to spend money in a poor community, teams of U.S. Servicemen volunteers will build an orphanage and participate in a few other volunteer community projects. The U.S. will provide hundreds of hours of free medical care and many new exchanges will take place.
Depending on the U.S. Navy's after action report, more port visits will be scheduled and we will make hundreds of new and valuable contacts.These contacts will be invaluable in the POW / MIA quest for final closure. We also have many KIA family members that are searching for an opportunity to visit the death site of their KIA. I see this as a positive step in the right direction for the Vietnam Veterans Closure.
We should keep in and that thousands of Vietnam Veterans have returned to Vietnam in the last ten years, including myself, to revisit Khe Sanh, Hue, Quang Tri, Phu Bai, MMAF, Da Nang , I Corps and many other Vietnam War bases. These tours have been lead in some cases by Retired Marine Generals and the after action reports are always positive with many veterans returning more than once.
One way to "normalize" (sp?) relations with North Vietnam, is to have them do what they, the "ruling elete" said they wanted.
Free and open elections.
Think that will happen? I doubt it.
I lost, and carried to many of my fellow Marines out of zones that had been more than just "dead or wounded". Many were not all there because the "opposition" kinda spread the parts around, as policy. I believe this was policy and not just a few incidents. Remember the lime pits in Hue? How about the teachers, doctors, police and others that were routinely assinated by the NVA and VC.
Now we are supposed to forgive and forget?
By the way, who on earth ever had "body bags" for our Brothers. I never saw any. They were in ponchos or nothing.
Sorry, but I really can't get to PC on this subject.
The 'body bags' is merely descriptive, and to make a point. No one has to tell me about ponchos, and at times the lack of ponchos to cover our dead...and the pools of blood and body parts that had to be cleaned off of the choppers deck...
This discussion is about what it will take for us to get over the trauma and pain experienced in Vietnam, and its lingering affects. Hate accomplishes nothing except to prolong the healing. Sadly, and on to many occassions, war brings out the worst in people on all sides.
In my opinion, we should try to learn from the tradegy of war. That can only be accomplished if we put aside our hatreds, take that energy and apply it to trying to influence people who are to willing and ready to go to war.
Am I sad about what happened to our fellow Marines? You bet I am. Do I want to see it happen decade after decade? No I do not. I do believe the best memorial we can leave to honor our fellow comrades is to somehow take part of our lives and use it so we do not see more headstones in cemeteries.
If all veterans of all wars could harness our individual and political power, we could work miracles in this world.
The point I am trying to make is not one against the individual trooper, no matter what country.
I am saying that the government sanctioned those horrendous acts. Now we are supposed to get all warm and fuzzy with that government?
Personally, I think not.
Let their good buddies bail them out, not the American consumer and taxpayer.
Monday this week I was installing a built-in ironing board from Home Depot and on the wood door that came with it I saw a lable (Made in VietNam). Here it is Thur. and the door is still laying where I left it. I don't ponder things that are over my head but why is it that a piece of wood has set me back so? The atrocities prepatrated by the (NVA/VC) was thought of as war crimes in Bosnia. Those who don't adhere to the Geneva Convention are on my (s**t) list, tell me again how wrong I am about this. Are they poor as dirt, yes that is what communisum does for you, ask the Russians. Should we pay them to give up our Brothers? With honest folk you shouldn't have to. Am I trying to make a point, or just a very personal observation? In light of how well you's guys write your thoughts, I know when I'm bested. "If you don't respect your elders, then respect your betters".
Still hate them or forgive them. Everyone has their own opinion. I too looked up something like 26 or 27 names on the wall the last time at Pensacola. Some of these grand young men are still in Vietnam and they are with me everyday. Yes the Communist government was behind the NVA and the Vietcong and they are still in power and I personally would not spend one copper cent in that country today. As far as not blaming individual troops of the enemy for their atrocities, how can we not? They were only required as far as I know to kill us, not mutilate our brothers bodies. Remember the unarmed Catholic chaplain early September of 67 that refused to leave the wounded and was machine gunned literally to pieces (received Medal of Honor posthumously). When the prisoners were released, how many of the aviators were helicopter pilots and crew members? Most that I know were not given the opportunity to sit out the war in the horrendous prison camps, but were executed at the point of capture like unwanted animals.
I say let Vietnam rot in its own Communist filth. To me, personally, they are still my enemies. They have had over a quarter of a century to help us retrieve our missing, why haven't they done it by now? So keep your money in your pockets troops, the French and Germans will no doubt go to their aid.
Larry "Pops" Powell
I still say we should have dropped more napalm.
Hang in there Bud. Just take it back and see if you can find what you need that is from a country that has a "civilized" government. Not one that sends its citizens to "re-education" camps, among other things.
It is, in my humble opinion, a sad state of affairs when we, any and all of us, can and do forget the sacrifices made by so many of our Brothers and so many of the Vietnamese, particularly the civilians.
As was stated previously in this tread, if what the [North] Vietnamese government did was done in Europe or Bosnia, or Cuba or Bolivia, just to name a few places, those responsible would be tried in the world court. As was done at the Neurenburg trials.
The "I was just following orders" guana didn't cut it then, and I don't think it should cut it now.
The fact that our government seems to be going along with the "normalization" of relations with North Vietnam would appear, to me at least, that those actions have been dissmissed as "somewhat trivial".
Like I said, it is hard to be PC on this subject. It is just to close.
Roy & Larry:
I can understand your feelings and do not blame you for having them.
But, if we were to maintain those feelings, the world would probably be in a worse situation than we now find ourselves. Though much animosity still exists between many Americans, Germans, Japanese, and Russians it was inevitable that we eventually would mend fences with them. Like no man, a country is not an island.
My hope is that by demonstrating by example the Vietnamese will somehow see the light for their government and their people. Reagan convinced the Russians, and while they have a long way to go they are at least trying. This event occured because America, after decades of trying, and Reagan's ability to use that history had enough belief and commitment in the past to help change Russia. America paid a heavy price to accomplish this change, but it happened. My hope is, America can somehow put the atrocities of the Vietnam war behind them and move forward and at least try to change Vietnam. In life you never gain something unless you are willing to sacrifice something.
Change will come. Countries like China, North Korea, Vietnam and others are an anachronism and their people will want freedom. We may not see it in our lifetime, but I truly belive it will happen.
I appreciate your last posting and what you had to say is undoubtedly the thoughts of many others. I was seven years old when WWII ended. Everything I came in contact with news wise about the war while growing up was to hate our enemies. Don't know how old you are or if you remember those times. The Germans were depicted as goose-stepping stumble bums, the Japanese as slant-eyed yellow sneaky little devils. Not only in the movies, the cartoons, but also in the stories we heard on the radio. As children, we were truly brainwashed to believe as our government wanted us to. Most Americans did not know the extent of the atrocities that were committed by the soldiers of both those countries until after the war had ended. Not publishing these type of things was our government's way of protecting the American public, as almost every family this country had someone in either the European or Asian conflict. When it did come out, most Americans were horrified about what had happened. My family lost members in both conflicts and when they found out how those that died they never forgave Germany or Japan. We did learn how to get along in life with those feelings. Our government seen fit to re-establish relationships with these countries through the political process (after occupation) and a complete change of governments. Now, on the other hand, the same Communist government is still in control of not only North Vietnam but the United Vietnam. I cannot and will not change my thoughts or feelings towards this government and the atrocities that were befelled upon our brothers. This country has maintained a blockade of the Cuban Communist party for over 40 years for setting up missiles that were never fired. So why in the world would we re-establish relations with a government that allowed the atrocities not only to our troops but to their own people. If anyone feels that I am not very politically correct in my thinking, they are probably right, after all, it is my feelings, my attitude and my opinion, but I do respect and honor yours.
Larry "Pops" Powell
I agree with having those feelings...I myself have them. But are we to just give up? I belive the greatest honor that can be bestowed upon a fallen hero is to know the change they were fighting for was not in vain, but change did arrive...that we did not give up, but instead tried a different tactic to accomplish our goal. This does not diminish their heroism and dedication...to look upon a country from above and know you helped make that change is what counts.
We shalll never forget the atrocities that befell our comrades, and we should not. But we have to be brave enough and confident enough to continue to face up the the challenge and not abandone the goal that was set before us...and that is to somehow bring countries into the fold of freedom and self determination.
As for Cuba, I cannot understand why we have not destabilized their government and forced it to crumble. Their are some political decisions about Cuba that have been made over the past five decades that I do not understand and maybe someday we will find out the reasons why we have not done anything about Cuba. It is a mystery to me.
I do respect and accept your feelings and understand them. All of our hearts are heavy at the loss of our fellow Marines and I pray for their souls every day...may God have had mercy on them.
Semper Fi Marines,
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