Last week, the death of the infamous Vietnamese general, Vo Nguyen Giap, was reported. He was described as a brilliant military genius, the consummate field general, having defeated both the French and Americans in his distinguished career. This cavalier and oversimplified reporting of America’s fighting men being defeated in Southeast Asia does a terrible disservice to the 58,000 men who died there, and all the others who served. Seventeen of these patriots who paid the ultimate price came from our own city and deserve better treatment of their sacrifice.
The facts are that although we lost 58,000 of our own in that theater, we killed 1.1 million of the enemy. Between the Tet offensive in 1968 until 1973, the vaunted Viet Cong were virtually annihilated and we soundly defeated the North Vietnamese Army. Although most of the children of America’s rich and privileged went about their lives as usual, and despite what is widely seen in the movies, the working-class boys of our nation performed for the most part, professionally and superbly, and won virtually every major battle they engaged in.
Having sustained terrible losses, Gen. Giap withdrew most of his remaining troops from the south by 1969, and America responded by withdrawing many of its own. It was clear that our public and our politicians had no stomach for continuing this ordeal, so the Paris Peace Accords were signed in 1973. Despite signing for peace, this only gave the aforedescribed Gen. Giap ample time to recruit and rebuild his army. Although they had been slaughtered on the battlefield by America’s war machine, their propaganda effort was a clear winner pitted against an American populace that had been turned against the war by the commercial media.
Politically, the sad fact is that communist North Vietnam did later invade and conquer its southern neighbor. The earlier battles were won by our own young men, however, and that fact should not be diminished.
Was there any meaning to the whole thing? Debatable, but don’t deny the fallen and their families the honest pride they felt in doing their job and doing it well. When the press reports we got our butts kicked in Southeast Asia, they are just ignoring the facts. The “genius” Gen. Giap sacrificed an entire generation of his young men, committed untold atrocities on the civilian population, hid in the weeds until America was long gone, broke his word on the peace treaty and eventually accomplished his evil goal. We also recall the huge numbers of boat people who, in an effort to escape the “joys” of Communism, risked their lives on the high seas. Estimates are that an equal number drowned as survived. That says it all.
Doug Frantz, Enid