Vietnam: For Those Who Have Forgotten

So Much More Than the Blowhards, Kerry, McCain, and North

I got back from Arizona a bit ago, visiting with friends, mostly Vietnam vets. From Veterans Today we had Jim Hanke, Jeff Gates, regular Army and me, as usual, the lone Marine and with our hosts, Navy Seal, Hershel Davis. Years ago it would have been talk about POWs and politics. Now it’s down to motorcycles and single malt. We did get a few minutes in on John McCain as he is running around the state playing war hero to stay in the thieving Senate. Some of us had fought both Kerry and McCain for years as POW advocates.

I could never understand those two corrupt and heartless bastards. Special Forces Colonel Earl Hopper was most vocal about McCain — Hopper and Sgt. Major John Holland. Colonel Ted Guy wanted McCain jailed as did Holland. They claimed treason. This is what Hopper, veteran of both Korea and Vietnam, said before he died (on video):

Within five or seven days of being captured, McCain made a deal to trade medical care in exchange for highly classified military information including specific details of the package routes for bombing North Vietnam. He also told them the primary bombing targets. We lost 60% more aircraft and men because of the information McCain gave to the North Vietnamese. After about a month things had gotten so bad that we called off bombing North Vietnam.

Hell, what do I know?  Who am I to say that the military is corrupt and that we just ran someone for president with the most serious charges made against him of any member of America’s armed forces in her 234 year history? Maybe McCain is right and all these decorated heroes are liars. Whenever challenged about his record, McCain’s face goes red as a beet and he brings out “Bud Day.” If these leftover blowhards from Vietnam, McCain, Kerry and especially Oliver North, would simply fade away and let the rest of us get past the shame they brought on all of us, we could move on, the few of us still around. With tens of thousands dying of Agent Orange, maybe hundreds of thousands, — okay, probably hundreds of thousands — at least we have our PTSD to keep us warm. Ah, PTSD!  Always an issue.

We don’t talk about what we did to the Vietnamese, dumping hundreds of tons of the most powerful carcinogens in the world, right into soil and water table. This is a medical disaster that continues to this day, killing people Americans hate even more than their own veterans, if that is possible. Hell, what do we care anyway?  Anyone different from us isn’t people anyway. You know what I mean. You can see where this can go.  Hell, why don’t we take it home! Albanians! Now that’s a group we can all get behind sending away. My mother warned me about the Japanese. Others have said people with brown eyes couldn’t be trusted. We already know people with blue eyes are bad. Let’s get bulldozers and knock down some homes, illegal in every country save one, where, if you are the right religion, you can do anything imaginable.

People and their racial, ethnic and religious ideas, especially when they start to take them seriously, can be tiring.

The Department of Veterans Affairs claims that thousands of Vietnam vets have been found guilty of fraud for falsifying PTSD claims. We checked.  This was actually in a Chicago press release some time ago. When our legal advisor, Law Professor Bob Walsh (Vietnam 101st Airborne), got the records through Freedom of Information, it all turned out to be a lie. The claim made then that the proof was that veterans were filing claims up to 39 years after leaving Vietnam meant they were fakers.

Let’s take a moment with this, shall we?  By the way, I am always available to testify before Congress. I can be both stimulating and entertaining, PTSD rage is quite photogenic. The first time I heard the term Post Traumatic Stress, I had been out of Vietnam twenty-five years. Vietnam vets didn’t get Traumatic Brain Injuries or PTSD or even malaria.  In fact, if it required medical treatment, in most VA regions, we didn’t get anything at all. Agent Orange cancers were misdiagnosed, undiagnosed and many diseases and disorders related to dioxin poisoning, something I certainly have, are still being looked into. Those of us still around watched our friends die, one by one, while things were being “looked into.”

Gulf War vets are experts at waiting for things to be looked into also. When the South African Truth Commission issued a report proving the United States used experimental chemical warfare agents in the Gulf War, a fact kept from our own scientists and medical personnel, the thousands of dead and dying vets from that military action know they have been written off as dead, another “inconvenient truth” as Al Gore would say.

It may be hard for someone outside the United States to understand how a medical disability case for a war veteran can take 25 years. Ah, but you have to know the American post war psyche. The second a war is over, won, lost, it doesn’t matter.  Soldiers, prisoners of war, missing in action become a burden on society. After all, John Kerry and John McCain did so well, although McCain is the PTSD poster boy of all time. I actually love that about him. That makes one thing anyway.

Duffster and the marvelous M-16 E-1

Do we start by talking about military records? All records of Vietnam vets were destroyed in a fire in 1975. Without records, no help. Hey, it gets better.  Rules were instituted that the government didn’t have to help veterans find records. When all the burned records showed up decades later, it was a actually very funny. Records weren’t all that were burned. Thus far we have found that 16 million pieces of mail were destroyed, some burned, some shredded, some simply hidden in basements of VA facilities. My old squad leader from Vietnam worked for the VA for 34 years, a division head. He watched them carry mail bags, VA police, to a shredding office every day. When you think of what destroying a single piece of mail could do, cost a child a term of college, cost a widow an insurance payment or simply a destroyed medical diagnosis for an otherwise treatable disease, and multiply that by 16 million or 160 million, we will never know….

Attacking Vietnam vets is all the rage today. With two more wars lost, the survivors of Vietnam are an easy target. Vietnam was an odd war.  I suspect all are. As Marines, we slept on the ground, never the same place twice, every night. We ate only C-Rations, often leftovers from World War 2. We all suffered malnutrition as any X-Ray of a combat vet will show. If you know a Vietnam vet, a “ground pounder,” you will also know someone with joint replacements, some from wear and abuse and some from poor diet. You will also see a mouth full of caps, bridgework or false teeth. Hell, a year of living on 30 year old canned peaches could have been worse. It could have been applesauce.

That “hot chow” we see on the war movies, always being slopped out in a rainstorm, is actually funny. Thanksgiving, Christmas, same thing — canned spaghetti or lima beans. There were people who lived well, unimaginably well, grew fat, rich, selling food, weapons and narcotics. These were our leaders. The few prosecuted criminal cases have long since been put away. Troops were starved in Vietnam because their food, their uniforms, boots, even malaria pills, were all sold on the black market.

At least that part is still true today. With $300 billion missing in Iraq alone, at least the accounting is being attempted although I suspect we have misplaced more like $1.6 trillion dollars or more.

It is hard not to be angry, and I suspect I am being manipulated that way as are so many, when I see our current “volunteer army” being praised and us being horse whipped by the ignorant media. We destroyed the army we sent to Vietnam, killed off 2/3rds of them in their 40s and 50s. Today, with hundreds of billions spent on — well, we aren’t sure –tens of thousands of our troops in the Middle East are on anti-psychotic medications and nearly 400,000 recent vets have applied for disability compensation, most for psychiatric disorders. The myth that playstations and stealth bombers can save troops from being destroyed by war is just that — myth.

As the weather gets hotter, I remember more of Vietnam. I remember the m-16 rifle best of all. There was a model, called the M-16 E1, that simply didn’t work. It jammed continually, even worse than the other M-16s, if that is possible. Marines got those. The real M-16s, the M-16A1, was given to the South Vietnamese, or as we would joke, “never fired, dropped only once.” Everything they got was new — .45 caliber pistols which they would sell for $25 and guys would mail home. So what if it took months to get malaria pills distributed? I do so enjoy my malaria, but at least I am still around.

I wonder how things are going to be when — perhaps we should say “if” — our troops start catching on about the “war on terror.” With our “mainstream press” increasingly fictional, to the point of being amusing, there isn’t going to be much warning. One day those buying the lies will quit paying and the stories will change. The “war on terror” will be exposed as the fraud it is, a few false flag attacks, lots of drug money, corruption and a military led by “third stringers” who sold their souls to the ignorant bible thumpers for quick promotions and safe assignments well out of range of combat.

I still remember being told to kill farmers, with a knife if possible, to cause “terror” and end the threat of global communism. Happily, I can assure you we didn’t kill any farmers, not on purpose anyway, not during the day. At night, you never knew who was who. Ah, I picture those days out there with the villagers discussing political theories, Marks, Engels and the moral superiority of capitalism. Killing two million people, 95% of whom were illiterate, because of their obscure political beliefs tied to a 19th century German born philosopher that none of them could name, makes sense, I guess. Our new CENTCOM guy, you know, the nutcase taking Petraeus’ place, plans on killing everyone in Afghanistan because they wear towels on their heads.

I know a lot of those people. I hope he plans on sending “other people” to do his childish bigoted dirty work or he is going to be getting more than a bit of Afghan foot up his ass. Mattis is his name. He joined the corps, 3rd Marine Division, in 1972. Problem is, 3rd MARDIV left Vietnam in 1969. However, he wears a CAR, Combat Action Ribbon, earned in two subsequent wars, one as a regimental commander and one as a division commander. I would love reading those citations. Mickey Spillane must have written them.

Marines are very particular about the CAR. Of the over 15,000 combat Marines killed in Vietnam, this was their only individual award. We’ll give a Navy Cross to a tree stump but not a CAR.

While writing this, I just got an email from a reader reminding me “The war is over.” No, it isn’t. We are still stuck with John McCain and John Kerry, the weasel twins. The dead, maimed and abused are still everywhere, older, sick and dying many of them but not gone yet, not soon enough for 300 million Americans that have forgotten Vietnam. Hey, they have forgotten Iraq (1 and 2) and Afghanistan also. Nobody is waiting for that big win in Afghanistan. A curious few are wondering exactly how we plan on surrendering to the Taliban and marching away with flags held high. As a specialist on the region, heaven forbid, I am watching it all come together. A cease fire, some honest nation building and throwing the thieves and spies, tens of thousands of them, out of Afghanistan and we could have a happy ending.

Ah, I digress. Yes, Vietnam is over. Take the clock back to 1970 when prisons were filling with PTSD vets. It’s happening again. President Obama has decided to spend billions putting everyone on disability for PTSD. My own experience, flawed though it is, and certainly not based on any clinical expertise, indicates that our current vets’ PTSD will kick into high gear in about 15 years. As a Vietnam War combat vet (very different from a Vietnam War vet, only 9% were combat vets) I know something about this. If we think we are treating PTSD — hold on! This is like disarming a time bomb by putting it in a trash bag under our beds.

What led me down this road? Every time Veterans Affairs opens their mouths I feel pushed too far. The idea of putting the lives of American soldiers in the hands of bean counters and neo-con elitists who believe that veterans, represented by unbelievably ineffective service organizations, “fairyland” outfits, can be silently disposed of offends me. When Bush staffed the Veterans Court of Appeals with neo-con vet haters, he announced, almost as though he had printed it on every billboard in America, that vets were fair game.

Why take care of veterans? Military recruiting is easy now, simply ship our remaining jobs to China, if there are any, crash the real estate markets, loot the banks, leave the economy with the liquidity necessary to restore employment and rebuild communities without printing more counterfeit money, and you will have all the soldiers you need. They can fight or starve.

When they break, drug them and send them back. When that doesn’t work, give them bad conduct discharges, eliminate their benefits and hope they kill themselves.

If you don’t know this was the plan from the beginning, you aren’t paying attention.

But… first, clean up the mess for Vietnam. America owed $500 billion in back benefits to families of Vietnam vets who have been denied EVERYTHING for decades. One of these days, when the TV announcer comes on and tries to pass off a blown up nuclear plant or dirty bomb in a port as a terrorist act, Americans aren’t going to buy it anymore. A country that treats its veterans like dirt isn’t the greatest country in the world. Millions of Americans claim to know nothing. “I know nothing.”

Bibi Netanyahu dropped a list of countries he wanted attacked when he was at the White House with Obama last week. If we are going to be mercenaries working for a pimp, we should expect better pay.

Gordon Duff is the senior editor of Veterans Today. Read other articles by Gordon, or visit Gordon's website.

3 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. observing said on July 15th, 2010 at 11:23am #

    I hear echos of my parent’s thoughts and recollections about who paid what price in my family during and between two WW’s. It was all grand and glorious for the few swaggering heroes, fat-cat corporate types and triumphant politicians. Not so much for the soldiers dead, maimed or mentally shattered in the trenches and killing fields, the workers and citizens shelled/bombed where they worked and lived, and the permanent memories they carried of the horrors of war.

    How did the recognition of the insanity of elective/foreign war, encapsulated after WWI in “Never Again” get morphed into the slyly patriotic call to arms “Lest we Forget”? Certainly, don’t forget, but only to remember not to do it again.

    How about it Obama, Harper and the rest of your G20 “bomb it” buddies?
    Just stop sending our young people to kill others for oil, God and Country, profit or the latest version of Manifest Destiny.


  2. VPK9 said on July 15th, 2010 at 12:56pm #

    I agree with the perspective presented here, but I just wanted to say that conspiracy theorizing is not going to change anything. People will not buy the claim that the economy was deliberately sent down the drain for the purposes of gaining new enlisted troops. Even if you believe it, try not to contaminate our arguments for ending the war. It just makes the rest of us look bad.

  3. observing said on July 16th, 2010 at 9:35am #

    Binning the world economy/financial systems is not a conspiracy in the sense that the Bilderberg Group overtly decides to do so with the stated intent to harm others. If you read press releases from the “official arm” of the Bilderbergs, the G2o/G8, it is all about progress and growth. But they and others similarly associated by wealth and power DO all work from the same Chicago School script. Their collective self-serving management/financial activities obviously primarily benefit them, and negative effects on those lower on the economic/power scale only become a concern if this threatens the Bilderberg crowd’s accumulation of wealth and power.

    War is good for multinational business, profiteering all ’round. General Butler ripped that cover off in 1935, in “War is a Racket”. Has anything changed since then? Not really.

    It IS a conspiracy if the sense that a certain segment of human society purposefully, actively and collectively acts in a manner which exploits and harms other humans and the environment we all depend on.

    There can be no “ending the war” (any war) until those colluding to control the dogs of war are leashed and muzzled. Bring the multinational industrial-military complex “conspiracy” to heel and war ends.

    The G20 could feed, clothe and provide free health care for every person on earth… if the money wasn’t wasted in the Pentagon and other military/black budgets. But Blackwater/Xe et. al. stock would be worthless… boo hoo.

    It’s stupid, just stupid.