Opinion | The Beatles of Vietnam – Vietnam ’67 – NYT

Published by David Lindsay
“As so many rock ’n’ roll stories do, the CBC Band’s began with the purchase of a guitar behind the back of a disapproving father.

When he was a young child in Vietnam, Tung Linh wanted a guitar, so his mother bought one for him. His father, Phan Van Pho, was a cook for French officials in Hanoi, and he wanted his children to become doctors or engineers, not musicians. When he found the guitar, he smashed it.

But his wife, Hoang Thi Nga, nurtured Tung Linh’s interest in American music, which he shared with two of his seven siblings: Bich Loan, a singer, and Tung Van on drums. When their father died in the late 1950s, Ms. Hoang went to work as a custodian on a Republic of Vietnam naval base. The family was poor, and those years were hard, but she wanted her children to be happy, so she nurtured their desire to perform American music.”

How three poor siblings in Saigon became the CBC Band, one of the hottest acts of the war.
NYTIMES.COM

Was America Duped at Khe Sanh? – The New York Times

In late 1967, Giap concentrated some 40,000 soldiers in the hills of northwest South Vietnam and orchestrated a series of assaults on a string of American combat bases in the highlands, not far from a Marine base called Khe Sanh, which the North besieged in January 1968. Giap later called these attacks a “diversion” to trick the Americans into moving forces from the populated areas to defensive positions in the hinterland. Most American leaders fell for it; one of the few who didn’t, Adm. U. S. Grant Sharp,

Source: Was America Duped at Khe Sanh? – The New York Times

Merrill McPeak | Bombing the Ho Chi Minh Trail – NYT – & response

The Tây Sơn Rebellion on Facebook
Published by David Lindsay2 mins

Merrill McPeak ends with, “But when Saigon fell, it was not a swarm of ragtag Vietcong guerrillas who overran the city, but columns of Russian-made T-54 tanks, leading a modern field army complete with artillery and surface-to-air missiles, all delivered by those tough-guy truck drivers down that seemingly indestructible Ho Chi Minh Trail.”
I hope that Gen. McPeak reads of Vietnamese history, which I believe is the key to understanding the country, its people, and it extraordinary ability to wage war. The Chinese invaded in 101 BC, and tried to make Vietnam part of China, but almost a thousand years later, in AD 938, the Vietnamese rose up and threw the Chinese out in military conflict.
By the time Ho Hue, later called Nguyen Hue, the third son of the famous three brothers who led the Tay Son rebellion, defeated 200,000 Chinese army regulars in pitched battle, it was the seventh time, counting 938. The Viets defeated an army sent by Kublai Khan, and another army of 500,000 sent by his son Kublai Khan. Vietnamese military historians have reported that many of the booby traps used against US soldiers were part of an old technology perfected by the Vietnamese in the 13th century against one of the larger Chinese invasions. Over time, the Viets determined the southern border of China.

No matter how many times we attacked it, the North Vietnamese transit network remained. In the end, it’s how they won.
nytimes.com

Vietnam on the Reel-to-Reel – The New York Timesby Jennifer Finney Boylan – NYT

“. . . The 50th anniversary of the war’s escalation — and the premiere this week of Ken Burns and Lynn Novick’s 18-hour documentary on PBS — is an appropriate time to honor the suffering and the sacrifice of all those who served, including the 58,000 American service members, the estimated 1.3 million North and South Vietnamese fighters and the two million civilians who were killed during the conflict. The effect of the war on those of us who were American children in the 1960s is negligible in comparison.

But the war touched us, too.”

Source: Vietnam on the Reel-to-Reel – The New York Times

Hanoi publicises 500 firms with prolonged insurance debts – VietNam Breaking News

“Hanoi (VNA) – The Hanoi Social Insurance has decided to publicise 500 local enterprises which failed to pay social premiums for their employees for three months upwards. Hanoi now has the highest debts of social, health and unemployment insurance, standing at 3,378 billion VND (148.8 million USD) owed by 23,955 enterprises, affecting the legitimate rights of 334,694 labourers.”

Source: Hanoi publicises 500 firms with prolonged insurance debts – VietNam Breaking News

Why Vietnam Was Unwinnable – by Kevin Boylan – NYT

“There is a broad consensus among professional historians that the Vietnam War was effectively unwinnable. Even the revisionists admit their minority status, though some claim that it’s because of a deep-seated liberal bias within the academic history profession. But doubts about the war’s winnability are hardly limited to the halls of academe. One can readily find them in the published works of official Army historians like Dr. Jeffrey J. Clarke, whose book “Advice and Support: The Final Years, 1965-1973” h

Source: Why Vietnam Was Unwinnable – The New York Times

What Was Australia Doing in Vietnam? – The New York Times

“As Menzies saw it, the risk in American policy was not strategic overreach but isolationism, and what an American withdrawal from Asia in the face of defeat would mean for Australia and its neighbors. As a young man of military age during World War I, and as a youthful prime minister at the outbreak of World War II, he knew how painful it was for Britain and its dominions to be at war without America. The crucial step, it seemed, was to ensure American commitment: Once that was achieved, victory would be certain. Australia’s “forward defense” strategy after 1945 was to make small, but effective, military commitments in order to keep both Britain and the United States, which Menzies called “our great and powerful friends,” committed to Southeast Asia.

Australians had good reason to believe in the domino theory. Since 1945 Southeast Asia had been a caldron of conflicts created by the complex combination of decolonization, the Cold War and longstanding local rivalries. By 1964 the region seemed to be at a tipping point. Malaysia was facing a confrontation with Indonesia, where the world’s third-largest Communist party was exerting increasing influence. Although not a Communist, Indonesia’s President Sukarno had received arms from the Soviet Union and boasted of his close ideological ties with China, North Korea and North Vietnam.”

Source: What Was Australia Doing in Vietnam? – The New York Times

Charlie Company and the Small-Unit War – The New York Times

“The rest of the squad returned fire as best they could, but they were trapped. And Don knew it. Maybe Jacque’s parting words rang in his ears; maybe it was sheer instinct. But Don acted to save his friends. Shouting, “You guys run like hell, and I’ll cover you,” Don waited an instant before springing to his feet and opening up on the enemy bunkers with his M-16 on full automatic. The men of the Second Squad who could still move started their dash to safety, but only a few seconds later bullets hit Don’s midsection. He yelled, “My chest! My chest!” and toppled back into the rice.

For the rest of the day, the Vietcong and the remainder of Charlie Company fought over, around and through the battered remnants of the Second Squad. Charlie Company had a total of 14 wounded and one dead that day, while dead Vietcong littered the landscape, perhaps 100 in all — the fearsome cost of standing against American firepower. By any measure it was a clear victory for the Americans.”

Vietnam.com: Chú Cuội or The Man in the Moon

“Chú Cuội or The Man in the Moon

“Long time ago, in a tiny bamboo hut beside the jungle, there lived a poor woodcutter named Chú Cuội. He had lived every day of his life cutting small trees in the woods and gathering dry sticks to sell as fuel in the market. He then would tie the woods and sticks up in bundles and carry them home with a long wooden pole he uses to hold the bundles on both ends, which he would balance on his shoulder. Because Chú Cuội is poor and had no money to buy himself an ox and wood cart, he carries the bundles all the way to town and to the market by himself.

One morning, as he was gathering stick in the woods, he spotted three tigers playing among each other. He looked around and learned that the three cubs were left alone by their mother to hunt for food. Desperate to make some money to buy himself an ox, Chú Cuội planned on catching one of the cubs and sell it in the market. Slowly, he laid down his bundle of sticks and crept behind a fallen log. While waiting for a chance to grab one of the playing cubs, the youngest one accidentally rolled right next to him. Quickly, Chú Cuội grabbed it by the back of its neck, careful not to be bitten and scratched as the cub kept on squirming. The two other cubs saw what happened to their brother and scampered away in fear.”

Source: Vietnam.com: Chú Cuội or The Man in the Moon

My talented copy editor thought there were no stories of a man in the moon in Vietnam.

The Vietnam War Is Still Killing People – By George Black – The New Yorker

Munitions-clearing operations in Vietnam in 2005. Since the end of the Vietnam War, in 1975, more than forty thousand Vietnamese have been killed by unexploded ordnance.Photograph by Patrick Zachmann / Magnum

“On Saturday, President Obama will set out on a trip to Vietnam, for a visit that’s being billed as looking forward to the future rather than back at the bitter history of the past. On the same day, a funeral will be held in Quang Tri province for a man named Ngo Thien Khiet.

Khiet, who died at the age of forty-five, and who leaves behind a wife and two sons, was an expert on the unexploded ordnance, or U.X.O., left over from the Vietnam War. He was particularly skilled at locating, removing, and safely destroying cluster bombs found in the farm fields of Quang Tri, an impoverished agricultural province that straddles the old Demilitarized Zone, or D.M.Z., which once divided North and South Vietnam.

Quang Tri is a place of great natural beauty, a narrow strip of land that stretches from the curving beaches and breakers of the South China Sea, in the east, to the misty, forested mountains along the border with Laos, in the west. Perhaps no other part of the country suffered more grievously during the Vietnam War. More ordnance was dropped on Quang Tri than was dropped on all of Germany during the Second World War. The province was also sprayed with more than seven hundred thousand gallons of herbicide, mainly Agent Orange. The names of battlefields like Cam Lo, Con Thien, Mutter’s Ridge, and the Rockpile still give American veterans nightmares. The seventy-seven-day siege of the Marine base of Khe Sanh, in Quang Tri, so obsessed Lyndon Johnson that he kept a scale model of the base in the White House, and demanded daily updates on the course of the battle.”

Source: The Vietnam War Is Still Killing People – The New Yorker