Thursday, November 12, 2009

Bare Wires

Then time will tell who has fell
And who's been left behind

When you go your way and I go mine

--Most Likely You Go your Way and I'll Go Mine;

Bob Dylan

And if you really didn't know

I swear I really didn't know

So I'm sorry, so sorry

--Sorry, So Sorry
, Howie Day

Ranger Prediction of the Day:

The trial of Ft. Hood shooter Hassan will be classified
and hidden from public scrutiny
behind the veil of National Security


During a recent windy and rainy night Ranger had a dream of Vietnam, long ago. But this was a dream, and not full of stress, anxiety and fear. After 39 years, not a nightmare, but a dream.

The dream commanded me to return to the country as a tourist and look for the lost ones that served the U.S. war cause faithfully -- the Vietnamese nationals.
As a Special Forces soldier, I always felt responsible for the Vietnamese civilians that worked long-term in camp. My interpreter, Lu Tham, was about 35 and had institutional knowledge beyond that of the VN/U.S. chain of command. Then there was Ms. Hoa, Vinh, Pop, Thé, and Tro.

Though my dream told me to go back and find them, better men than me have tried to find and exfiltrate these people with limited success. At this point, it would be an exercise in futility.

Thinking of my camp provides a fine example of the futility of war. Camp Long Thanh was a World War II Japanese ammunition dump for the airfield, and was used by the French in the 1st Indochina War. During the American war, Camp Long Thanh [CLT] was a U.S. airfield, and the ammo dump grew into a U.S. Special Forces camp. (As a small aside, Diem's body was brought to CLT, though it is unclear whether he was killed in Saigon or CLT. This fact was mentioned in
The Pentagon Papers.)

This provenance is presented to show the continuity of warfare and the stupidity of the venture. The Japanese, French and Americans all attempted to hustle the East, but all they learned was you cannot keep frogs in a shallow bucket -- even if you call the fog-keeping by a fancy name like COIN.

It didn't work in Vietnam, and it ain't gonna work in Afghanistan. Regardless of the spin, it did not work in Iraq, either.

The Vietnamese I knew believed in Jesus as their Savior and believed in his goodness and mercy. I sure hope He believed in them.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...


I'm just reading Jon Schell's 'The Real War,' including 'The Village of Ben Suc,' as well as Appey's 'Patriots,' which is kind of a Studs Terkel interview collection from both sides of the war.

Incredible the similarities between the catastrophe in Vietnam and what is happening now in Afghanistan. Uncanny, and very sad.

Anyway, if you're interested, I felt compelled to write about it:


All the best, and thank you for your excellent blog.

Thursday, November 12, 2009 at 9:12:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger The Minstrel Boy said...

i miss a lot about vietnam. i loved the people, the food, the graciousness of the place.

there were times in the rain forest where i could easily imagine myself in a glorious cathedral.

i was also accused of "going gook" or "troppo" more than once.

the shameful way we made our exit, then congress cutting off all aid, all hope of aid to the south was not our finest hour.

if you find it in your heart to go, by all means, go.

i haven't the nerve.

Thursday, November 12, 2009 at 9:49:00 PM GMT-5  
Anonymous barcalounger said...

I used to work with a guy named Tham. He was in the army during the war. He made his way to the States after the war. But Tham had left family behind, specifically his two sons. When it was OK to do so, Tham went back to VN to look for his sons. After several trips he found out his sons were somewhere in the camps in Thailand. So Tham started going to Thailand and searched the camps, looking for his sons. This took years. When I knew him he'd already been on this quest for 10+ years. But he did finally find his sons. When Tham left Vietnam his sons had been toddlers. When he found them they were teenagers. But now his sons are with him here in the States. Tham isn't a rich guy, he had to work and save and scrimp to go looking for his sons. But the riches he has can't be figured up in a spreadsheet. Tham never gave up, he never stopped looking for his sons until he found them. I consider myself to be very lucky to know someone like Tham.

Thursday, November 12, 2009 at 10:55:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger rangeragainstwar said...

Anon, of 12 nov.
There is a difference in the wars. The people that I served with-VN that is-really wanted us there. The rest of the country wasn't buying the package deal.
I don't/didn't blame them after 100 years of colonialism.
At least VN now makes us cheap underwear and stuff and AFGH will benefit us naught.

I will never go back to VN, I just don't have it in me. This is why my dream was so surprising.

Friday, November 13, 2009 at 10:10:00 AM GMT-5  
Anonymous tw said...

Morley Safer wrote a book called FLASHBACKS On Returning To Vietnam. Morley reported from VN beginning in 65. Twenty five later he returned to Viet Nam. What he found was eerily similar to what was happening in the US. I have to reread this but as I remember it, the younger generations knew nothing about the war and old veterans hospitals were underfunded and ignored. A good quick read

Saturday, November 14, 2009 at 5:11:00 PM GMT-5  

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