Memorializing Those Who Fought in Vietnam

Air Force Pilot Owen Haddock (seen wearing ball cap) With Special Forces Operatives in Mekong Delta, Fall, 1967
Air Force Pilot Owen Haddock (seen wearing ball cap) With Special Forces Operatives in Mekong Delta, Fall, 1967

Vietnam War’s fifth anniversary has caused new research to surface revealing a different image of why my fellow combatants served. Hollywood and popular culture misrepresented those of us who served and why. This report is extracted from “Wisconsin Vietnam Veterans” published in the Military Order of World Wars magazine, “Officers Review” Oct., 2013 issue.

“The Vietnam War was not fought largely by draftees. Two thirds of the soldiers in Vietnam were volunteers. While minorities played a full played a full role in the fighting, 86 percent of the Americans who died fighting in Vietnam were white, middle-class volunteers.

The North Vietnamese Army (NVA) was not a rag tag army of black clad peasant guerillas who fought from the shadows. We know from released Soviet Union records that the North Vietnamese comprised of 27 divisions that were kept at full strength by a communist nation supplying 200,000 new 18 year olds per year. There was a famous North Vietnamese saying, “born in the North to die in the South”. Archives show the Soviet Union poured huge amounts of money and weaponry into North Vietnam. The North Vietnamese Army had full armored divisions, high tech weaponry and extremely sophisticated supply network.

The realities of the Vietnam War are harsh. It was a war with no front lines and fought on difficult terrain. America’s lack of political will deeply restricted military strategy in the war. Through it all our troops fought bravely and with distinction only to have their nation turn their backs on them as they returned. Some were blamed for the war.” (End of comments from “Officers Review”)

Who were the anti war groups supporting? After the fall of Saigon in 1975, the Communists sent 1 million to reeducation camps where 250,000 died of malnutrition, torture and execution. Of the 2 million who tried to flee 200,000 by drowning or pirate savagery. What happened with the borders of China, North Vietnam’s key sponsor? While I was fighting regular North Vietnam divisions in II Corps, China had the “Cultural Revolution” in full swing. They starved approximately 1.5 million Chinese depending on source. Mao’s personality cult was in full swing with immature Red Guard touting his little “Red Book”. Before that the “Great Leap Forward” starved anywhere from 18 to 37 million depending on source. When Mao’s reign ended with his death in 1976, he had killed 70 million people. Vietnam’s Cambodian neighbor Pol Pot’s communist government killed 1.5 million out its total population of 7 to 8 million.


Note: What most people, including Vietnam Veterans, know about Vietnam stems from the limited news sources reporting the war during the 1960s and 70s. After the Berlin Wall fell, Russia and China opened their safes to investigators. Much of their discovery has only recently been reported. Unfortunately the entire Vietnam War was painful and prevented many from updating their understandings. Now Ken Burns is planning his own massive (18 hours) version of the Vietnam War. His focus on John Kerry introducing the series protends a anti war intrepetation of events. Kerry testified before congress of American troops responsible for the most horrendous atrocities imaginable. His testimony is emotionally disputed by other Vietnam vets. Ref: or Google John Kerry Vietnam War Congressional testimony and record. Understanding resentment about his leading Vietnam War discussions can be found by googling his record and researching books like STOLEN VALOR and UNFIT FOR COMMAND. Plus always check