1132 – The truth about Vietnam’s take on the Tet Offensive

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South Vietnamese Marines fighting during the Tet Offensive of 1968 in Vietnam.

Episode 1132 of the Vietnam Veteran News Podcast with be a discussion of the Tet Offensive from the viewpoint of the North Vietnamese. Creating a basis of the examination is a story found in the Politico website titled: Why Vietnam Isn’t Talking About 1968 that was submitted by Bennett Murray on February 15, 2018. Murray is the Vietnam bureau chief for Deutsche Presse-Agentur in Hanoi.

Apparently the Tet Offensive is a very sensitive subject for the current day Vietnamese government. Murray states: Fifty years after a turning point in the Vietnam War, the country’s communist government is stamping out public discussion of painful memories.

The Vietnamese government is foisting on its people the notion that during the American Vietnam War only the Americans were fighting against the freedom loving forces of the NVA and National Liberation Front (more commonly known as the Viet Cong). They make no acknowledgement to the reality the South Vietnamese were fighting their hearts out to avoid coming under the rule of the murderous communists of the north.

In modern day Vietnam one would be hard pressed to find a Vietnam citizen who is aware of the slaughter that occurred in Hue during 1968. It would be even harder to find one who is aware of and would be willing to talk about it. As Murray puts it: “Most accounts of the Hue battle and purges—disproportionately American accounts—are shared safely out of reach from Vietnam’s well-oiled police state.”

The authoritarian Vietnamese regime seems to conveniently overlook the fact that millions of Vietnamese died fighting each other.

Murray’s story seems to verify the idea that Walter Cronkite was incorrect in his pronouncement the Tet Offensive was a loss for the Americans, the South Vietnamese and their allies and that the war was unwinnable.

Listen to episode 1132 of the podcast and discover more about why the Vietnamese do not like to talk about the Tet Offensive.

1131 – Vietnam Vet Jeff Jasper hits 1000 victory milestone

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Pascack Valley High School girls’ basketball Coach and Vietnam Vet Jeff Jasper. (Credit: Sean Adams/WCBS 880)

Episode 1131 of the Vietnam Veteran News Podcast will feature a story about another one of those tremendous representatives of the Great Vietnam Veteran Generation. In this case it is Jeff Jasper, a teacher and basketball coach at Pascack Valley High School in New Jersey.

There was a story about Jeff Jasper by Sean Adams of WCBS 880 in New York City. It appeared in the station’s Stories From Main Street series and was titled: N.J. Girls’ Basketball Coach Remains Humble After Historic 1,000 Wins.

In the story Jasper told of an incident that occurred in Vietnam that changed his life forever. He was smoking a cigarette while up to his waist in water in the middle of a bloody firefight in the Vietnam War. In his own words he said: “Tracer rounds were going off, artillery shells going all around, and as I took a drag out of that Marlboro, I said, ‘When I get out of here, I want to make sure that I do something with my life that makes a difference.’”

He kept that thought in mind when he came home to Pascack Valley. Although he was not totally sure he was ready for the job he accepted a teaching position at the Pascack Valley High School. One of his first additional duties at the school was to serve as the coach of the newly established girls basketball team. Title IX had just recently gone into effect and it required schools to match sports opportunities for both sexes.

Jasper took the new girls basketball coaching position and never looked back. Recently he was cited for reaching the milestone of 1000 victories with his teams over a 45 year period.

Listen to episode 1131 of the podcast and discover more about Jeff Jasper and his achievements who is a tremendous representative of the Great Vietnam Veteran Generation.

1130 – The Tet Offensive – What really happened

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South Vietnam’s ARVN Rangers defend Saigon during the Tet Offensive in 1968. Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons/ US military personnel

Episode 1103 of the Vietnam Veteran News Podcast deals with what really happened before, during and after the Tet Offensive of 1968. The writer Luke Hunt submitted a story to The Diplomat website titled: The Vietnam War’s Great Lie that covered his book The Punji Trap: Pham Xuan An – The Spy Who Didn’t Love Us.

In his story, Hunt explains how his book shines light on the darkness surrounding the mystery of how one of the greatest military victories ever achieved by this country and its allies in Vietnam was turned into a defeat and the reason we could never win the war in which it was gained.

As a participant in the Tet Offensive, the writer of this piece you are now reading was stymied for years as to how that could have happened. It seemed inconceivable anyone could come up with any other conclusion than the one that the Viet Cong and NVA suffered a tremendous defeat.

Not only did the communist forces suffer a tremendous military defeat, but the anticipated rebellion by the South Vietnamese populace did not happen. The schemers in the North were sure that once given the opportunity the Southerners would jump at the chance to throw off the shackles of U.S. neocolonialism.

The southern populace apparently wanted no part of the Ho Chi Minh communists who had murdered tens of thousands of their fellow countrymen simply because they owned property when they took over the North a decade earlier.

Hunt divulges in his book the very person who was instrumental in setting the stage for the greatest hijacking of a victory ever seen. Hunt makes it clear as to how the American people and leadership were taken for a ride that cost many more lives and the loss of South Vietnam.

Listen to episode 1130 of the podcast and discover what really happened with the Tet Offensive.

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1129- Vietnam Vet Ronnie Monroe adds to Library of Congress Veterans History Project

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Meauwataka native Ronnie Monroe remembers Army service in Vietnam as part of the Veterans History Project through the Library of Congress. The United States Congress created the Veterans History Project in 2000. Photo by Rick Charmoli

Episode 1129 of the Vietnam Veteran News Podcast will highlight the story of Vietnam Vet Ronnie Monroe of Meauwataka, Michigan. In the fall of 1968 he was a member of the 2nd Battalion, 502nd Airborne Infantry Regiment of the 101st Airborne Division. While on patrol in the mountainous 101st AO near the DMZ his unit was suddenly attacked and during the ensuing fire fight Ronnie was hit. After he was wounded something happened that he will never forget.

A story about  Ronnie and his memorable experiences in Vietnam appeared in The Cadillac News. It was titled: Vietnam vet will never forget getting last rites and was submitted by Rick Charmoli, a writer for the Cadillac News. Charmoli’s story described Ronnie’s contribution to the Veterans History Project. This project was created by The United States Congress in 2000. The Library of Congress was tasked with administering the program through its American Folklife Center.

The mission of the Veterans History Project is to assemble, retain, safeguard and make available to all personal stories of American war veterans going back to World War I. The Project’s goal is to enable future generations to hear directly from our war veterans about their experiences so that the realities of war will be fully understood by all.

Ronnie was one of a group of Vietnam Veterans chosen to share their memories with the Veterans History Project. It was there where he described the event that he will remember forever. He also told about some of the unusual things in Vietnam he had to learn to live with such as the leeches, monkeys and the constant heat.

Ronnie is another one of those outstanding representatives of the Great Vietnam Veteran Generation. He was drafted in 1967 and discharged in 1969. He still maintains to this day he is proud to be an army veteran and that he served his country in Vietnam.

Listen to episode 1129 of the podcast and discover more about Ronnie Monroe’s amazing experience in Vietnam.

1128- Vietnam Vet George Brown served with 4th Div. Regulars

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George Brown received his Purple Heart from wounds received in a mortar attack while serving with the 4th Infantry Division in South Vietnam. Photo provided

Episode 1128 of the Vietnam Veteran News podcast will feature a story about Viet Nam Vet George Brown of Potts Grove, Pennsylvania. His story comes from The Standard-Journal of Milton, PA and is  of titled: A change of plans Purple Heart recipient was in line to receive battlefield commission from Gen. Westmoreland. It was written by Chris Brady of The Standard-Journal.

This story first interested the podcaster because Brown served in the 4th Infantry Division during the same time as the writer. Brown served in the 1st Battalion of the 22nd Infantry. It was tough duty because the 4th Division was headquartered at Camp Mark N. Enari which was about ten miles south of the city of Pleiku. The Division’s AO (Area of Operation) was in the inhospitable Central Highlands.

The Division covered an area from Ban Me Thuot in the south all the way up to Dak To in the North. The area was mountainous and ran along the Cambodian and Laotian border. The Ho Chi Minh Trail ran all along the western edge of its AO.

This meant the “Fighting” 4th Division saw a great deal of heavy combat in the mountains of Central South Vietnam. George Brown saw more than his share of combat. On February 14, 1967 he was seriously wounded by a mortar round. That was his painful ticket home with stops at hospitals in country, the Philippines and Japan.

According to Brady’s story, Brown was in line to receive a battlefield commission with a rank of captain from General William C. Westmoreland himself. Unfortunately Brown was wounded and evacuated just before the general arrived to pin on the bars.

It seems to this writer, the general should have made arrangements to have the battlefield commission forwarded to Brown in the hospitable.

Listen to episode 1128 of the podcast and discover more about Vietnam Vet George Brown and what happened to his direct commission.

1127- Vietnam War photographer seeks closure

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US Army combat photographer John Olson after an NVA mortar round hit his camera equipment on Highway 9 in Vietnam during 1968.

Episode 1127 of the Vietnam Veteran News Podcast will feature Vietnam War photographer John Olson and his quest for closure with the veterans in his photographs. There was a story on Fox News by Marta Dhanis titled: Former war photographer revisits Tet Offensive in new exhibit where she describes a special exhibit at the Newseum in Washington, D.C. She calls it “a defining moment in American history.”  An exhibit known as “The Marine and Tet” is open now and will remain so until July 8, 2018.

The highlight of the exhibit is 20 large-format photographs. One is Olson’s most famous picture  known as: The Tank.  It shows the gripping image of a young Marine who had been shot through the chest. He was placed on a door that was used as a stretcher and was placed on a tank. His fellow marines are shown trying to assist him and get him to safety.

For someone who is blind or has low-vision the exhibit will also have on display 10 tactile versions of the photographs. This new technology uses sound and touch to enable those individuals to also experience the photos as well.

 A few years ago Olson decided he wanted to contact all those who where in his photos taken fifty years ago. He said the process has been emotional he added: “The former war photographer said the process has been emotional and he added: “I didn’t set out to help them, I felt this was an enormous opportunity to associate 70-year-old men with their 50-year-old photographs that shows them at 18 and hear how this time in Vietnam has affected their lives. I do believe many of these men, the time they spent together, the time talking about their experience –- it’s closure.

Don’t miss John’s website Tet 1968 where you can see more of his photographs, interviews with Tet veterans and an opportunity to submit your own stories. CLICK HERE for the website.

Listen to episode 1127 of the podcast and discover more about John Olson’s quest for closure involving men who fought at The Battle of Hue during the Tet Offensive.

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The war photographers most famous picture – The Tank – captures a young American soldier who had been shot through the chest laying over a door, used as a stretcher, on top of a tank, while his fellow marines are assisting him and trying to get him to a safe haven. (John Olson)

1126- Rolling Thunder traveled to Oklahoma

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Kay Guynes with Rolling Thunder Oklahoma explains the significance of the POW/MIA flag and its role in American history during a special POW/MIA program at Coweta High School on Jan. 31, 2018. CHRISTY WHEELAND/AMERICAN-TRIBUNE

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Maureen Dunn. a co-founder of the National League of Families of MIA/POWs

Episode 1126 of the Vietnam Veteran News Podcast will be dedicated to the memory of Maureen Dunn of Randolph, Massachusetts. She lost her husband, Joseph P. Dunn in 1968 when he was declared an MIA. After that for the rest of her life she worked tirelessly on behalf of MIA/POWs. She was a founding member of the National League of Families of MIA/POWs.

The occasion that evoked this dedication was described in a story that appeared in The Wagoner County American-Tribune of Coweta, Oklahoma titled: We Remember: Rolling Thunder details the significance of the POW/MIA flag that was submitted by CHRISTY WHEELAND News Editor.

According to Wheeland, on Wednesday, January 31, 2018 a special program was presented to the students of Coweta High School by the members of Rolling Thunder Oklahoma. The program provided an explanation of the elements of POW/MIA flag and how much it represented and how important it is in American history.

Rolling Thunder OK member Kay Guynes told the story of how the flag came to be and that the flag in the program was traveling on a tour that would include stops in every state of the Union. The flag’s journey is scheduled to be completed in mid-May. At that time it will be presented to the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D.C. where it will be permanently displayed for all to see and appreciate. Guynes added the POW/MIA flag represents a promise, hope and gratitude.

To show the importance our country places on MIA/POWs, their flag is the only one according to flag etiquette that is allowed to be flown on the same flag pole as our “Old Glory.”

This story is truly a fitting tribute to the memory of Maureen Dunn.

Listen to episode 1126 and get the whole story about the Rolling Thunder program recently held at the Coweta, Oklahoma High School.

1125- Master spook Ed Lansdale met Robert McNamara

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Episode 1125 of the Vietnam Veteran News Podcast will feature a contrast of two viewpoints of how to approach the conduct of the American Vietnam War. The contrasting philosophies about the war were illustrated recently in a post on the Task And Purpose website titled: Max Boot’s ‘Road Not Taken’: An Excerpt by Max Boot.

The excerpt described a meeting with the larger than life CIA operative Edward Lansdale and Robert McNamara at the Pentagon in 1961. The purpose of the meeting was for Lansdale to present a ten-minute briefing—and not a second more—on his Vietnam trip to the then Secretary of Defense McNamara.

The meeting did not go well. Lansdale got the impression McNamara had no idea about what he was saying and no inclination to learn about the things the CIA man was trying to tell him about the conflict in South Vietnam. McNamara was a numbers man and the things the dashing champion of counterinsurgency from the front line trenches of the guerilla war in Indo-China was telling him were not quantifiable so it was all dismissed by the Secretary.

McNamara should have given Lansdale’s comments more consideration if for no other reason because of his prior exploits for our country. In World War II Lansdale was assigned to a special unit doing clandestine work. He worked for “Wild Bill” Donovan and the special unit became known as the OSS. After the war he was sent to the newly liberated Philippines where he found the hidden treasure that was looted by the Japanese commander General Yamashita.

After putting down a rebellion and stabilizing the fledgling Filipino government he was sent to a new trouble spot next door in Indo-China. He was instrumental in the creation of North and South Vietnam so he knew what he was talking about. McNamara should have listened at the meeting.

Listen to episode 1125 of the podcast and discover more about the fateful meeting of Ed Lansdale and Robert McNamara at the Pentagon in 1961.

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1124- Cousin memorializes Tet Offensive casualty with Vietnam trip

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Spec 4 Murray Lee Veron born July 4, 1946 and killed in action Jan. 31, 1968, defending the Tan Son Nhut airport. Photo submitted by Ken Vernon

Episode 1124 of the Vietnam Veteran News Podcast will feature the story about the wonderful thing Ken Veron of Corydon, Indiana did to memorialize his cousin Murray Lee Veron who was killed in Vietnam during the Tet Offensive. The story appeared in The News and Tribune and was titled: Corydon man goes to Vietnam to remember cousin killed in 1968 Tet offensive and was submitted by Chris Morris.

The Chris Morris story is at the confluence of two relevant Vietnam War peculiarities. One was the Tet Offensive which occurred fifty years ago and the other is the increasingly popular pursuit of Vietnam Veterans to make sojourns back to the country where they fought so hard many years ago.

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The placing and hiding of the commemorative coin at the site where Veron’s cousin and others were killed. Photo submitted by Ken Vernon

The story is centered around Ken Veron, the cousin of the fallen 25th Division cav trooper, making a trip to Vietnam to honor his cousin. He was accompanied by several members of his cousin’s old unit Charlie Troop 3/4 Cav.

The Tet Offensive in reality was a tremendous defeat for the Viet Cong and their North Vietnamese counterparts yet it was characterized by the defeatist American media as a colossal defeat for the Americans. This produced a big drop in support for the war and set up the eventual takeover of South Vietnam by the heathen communists from the North.

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Ken Vernon and his group of Vietnam Veterans. Photo submitted by Ken Vernon

The position taken by the defeatist American media placed great contempt on the memory of Murray Lee Veron and others how gave their lives to stave off the communist hordes in the Tet Offensive.

The article also described the welcome the returning veterans received from their former deadly adversaries when they returned to Vietnam.

Listen to episode 1124 and hear the whole story about the wonderful thing a cousin did to honor his cousin who was killed in Vietnam during the Tet Offensive and the unexpected reception received by the returning Vietnam Veterans.

1123 – Claim – America was England’s Vietnam

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King George III, king of England during the American Revolutionary War.

Episode 1123 of the Vietnam Veteran News Podcast will feature a story by Charles F. Bryan Jr. in which he points out ghostly comparisons between the American Revolution and the Vietnam War. His story appeared in The Richmond Times-Dispatch and was titled: America was Great Britain’s Vietnam. Bryan is president emeritus of the Virginia Historical Society.  

George Santayana, the Spanish philosopher, essayist, poet and novelist coined the sobering admonition: “Those Who Do Not Learn History Are Doomed To Repeat It.” Sometimes one wonders if the leaders of our country (Presidents Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon) who have blood stained hands from the Vietnam War ever carefully studied our history with special emphasis on the American Revolution.

In his article, Bryan points out so many eerie similarities between the 18th and 20th century wars one is left with the conclusion – how could they have missed all the hard lessons learned and demonstrated by King George III? There is a memorial wall in Washington D.C. today with 58,315 names of Americans killed in the Vietnam War etched on its black marble surface.

Those names are there in large part due to our presidents overlooking the lessons of the American Revolution. It is critical to note that as we move forward into the 21st century America faces many challenges in this fallen world we live in today and it is so critical that those serving at the helm of this great nation are more than aware of the fine nuances of our historical lessons. It is critical for the well being of our country that our leaders have sufficient wisdom to apply the lessons of the past as we move forward into the brave new world before us.

 Don’t miss listening to episode 1123 of the podcast and discover the full story by Bryan where he lists all the hauntingly similar features of the American Revolution and the Vietnam War.