Tag Archives: Viet Nam War

How the Heck Did We Get Here: Blame it on the Baby Boomers??

I am sitting in my office scratching my head about the upcoming election.  How did we get to this place where neither candidate is trusted or believed, and a large number of citizens are considering a third party candidate just to avoid voting for the two primary party candidates.  Our country has become a country of entitlements, political correctness, and media manipulation.  I certainly don’t have all of the answers, but I think my generation contributed to this mess.

I am a baby boomer.  Most of the time, I am proud of being a ‘seasoned senior citizen.’  We baby boomers were born between the years of 1946 and 1964.  That would make the oldest of us 70 years old, and the youngest would be 52 years old.  In some respects, the younger generations would consider us ‘overly seasoned’ or perhaps, ‘fossilized.’

Our generation was the first that had a name.  We were those people born immediately after WWII. Take a bunch of war veterans and mix them with a bunch of women that haven’t had a real date in years, and BOOM, the world experienced an explosion of births.  Our parents were a tough bunch. They all lived through the Great Depression.  Then, as teenagers and 20 somethings, they fought and won WWII.   Tom Brokaw later referred to them as the ‘Greatest Generation.’  They knew of, and sometimes experienced the atrocities of WWII.  Immediately after WWII, we were back in Asia fighting a war in Korea.  It became apparent that not all countries wanted world-wide peace.  At the same time, numerous countries were conducting nuclear bomb tests.  That warm relationship between the US and Russia during WWII was not all that warm.  The possibility of a nuclear war hung over us for most of our childhood years.

This made our parents a rather tough bunch.  We were taught the difference between winning and losing.  We did not receive any ‘participation’ trophies.  We were instructed in ‘bomb drills,’ in the event of a nuclear attack.  Our teachers were always right and were always respected.  Any deviation from good behavior resulted in punishment.  In my case, I got spankings by my mom and five ‘beltings’ by big Daddy G.  I deserved every one of them.  This was not considered child abuse, it was considered parenting.  There was no pretense that our parents were going to be your ‘best friends.’  They were going to be disciplinarians, and they filled that role marvelously.  (My dad was not my friend until I was in my 30s.)  We were taught to be independent and to work hard.  Being blue collar was not a stigma.  It was instilled in us that if we wanted something bad enough, we could obtain it through hard work and diligence.  Anything was possible!

Every school day was started with the Pledge of Allegiance.  We sang our national anthem with fervor. Then, as we got older, we were called upon to represent our country in another war….the Viet Nam conflict.  Many volunteered or were drafted and performed their duty to fight in a war without a genuine purpose.  To this day, the best explanation for fighting this war was the ‘domino theory.’  That theory was the belief that if one country fell to Communism, then others will fall to Communism.  But Lyndon Johnson took this to the extreme by committing over 500K troops to Viet Nam.  He made Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City) the 23rd largest American populated city in the world.  Over 57,000 Americans were killed in this war, with hundreds of thousands more suffering psychologically from what they had experienced and from the way they were treated once they returned home.  Americans believing they had served their country were now being spit upon and called ‘baby killers.’  Many lives were lost, and many more minds were destroyed because of this war.

So there you have it.  A very brief description of what formed and what affected the lives of the baby boomer generation.  What was my purpose for relating this information?  Well, because of the way we were reared, we, as a generation, decided not to be as strict and structured as our parents on our children and our grandchildren.  We became adherents of the ‘live and let live’ theory.  We became more concerned about ourselves and our families to the point of missing the gradual changes to our society.  And now, as I look back at the way our country has evolved since my childhood, I want to publicly apologize to Generation X, Generation Y (Millennials), and Generation Z as to how the Baby Boomers have failed you.

We Boomers need to apologize for the level of entertainment on our televisions and our movies. In our youth, all movies and TV programs were appropriate for all ages.  We did not need a rating system designating P, PG, R or anything else.  I am not a wilting flower, but it is difficult for me to believe the amount of profanity, sexual innuendo, sex, violence and gore that has permeated our entertainment.  Parents of today need to realize that your children are seeing this garbage and they are being affected by it.  How could they not see it?  It is on at prime time on numerous channels. Instead of having three good TV channels like when I was young, we now have hundreds of bad channels.  Look at how few good comedies we have today.  We had many while growing up.  Reality shows and cop shows seem to be the general format of TV today.   Garbage entertainment really began in the late 60s and early 70s.  TV was still somewhat regulated, but the movie industry had taken a definite turn for the worse.

Our Boomer generation invented the computer.  This led to the popularity of PC’s and laptops in every home. Technology is marvelous for all it can do.  But as one pundant has surmised, home computers have become a ‘pipeline for pornography.’  Do you think people are being affected by that?  Coupled up with violent video games, do you think our children are being affected by it?  I am not quite sure how we could have stopped this garbage, but I will apologize anyway.

I apologize that we appointed a Supreme Court that overturned term limits on federally elected officials.  Yes.  Legislation was actually passed during the Clinton administration limiting term limits, only to be overturned by the only organization without them…the Supreme Court.   Now we have career politicians and all the graft, corruption and personal enrichment that are a result of it. Decisions are being made every day by our elected officials for personal gain without regard for what is best for the country.

Our newspapers, magazines and TV news at least attempted to appear impartial during elections held in the past.  This year?  The gloves have come off with such notable organizations like the New York Times and the Washington Post not even attempting to hide their support of Hillary Clinton.  In previous elections, news organizations would show their support for a particular candidate in an editorial.  Not now.  They show their support by smearing their candidate’s opponent.  The latest is the release by the New York Times of Donald Trump’s 1995 tax returns which show a loss of over $900 million being carried into following years to reduce any future tax burden.  The crime here is not Trump’s taxes and carry-over as that is perfectly legal and by IRS statute allowed.  The real crime is the publishing of his taxes by the New York Times.  They claim that they received them in the mail. Yeah. Right.  Any CPA doing such a thing would lose their license to operate.  I believe the IRS themselves did it.  This is the same group that targeted conservative groups prior to the 2010 mid term election.  In particular, the Tea Party movement.  Who would investigate this matter?  Well, the FBI.  That same group that let Hillary off the hook for emails even though the FBI director’s brother provides legal services to the Clinton Foundation.  Sound fishy?

Isn’t it a shame that most of our printed media has reduced itself to the level of the National Enquirer?  In some instances, the National Enquirer is more believable.

Do you trust the government?  During the 60s, when the unemployment rate was reported, it actually meant the number of people who were without jobs that wanted them.  Today’s unemployment rate has been reported at less than 5%.  I assure you, this is for purely political purposes in an attempt to show how wonderful our economy is faring before this election.   In fact, the real unemployment rate is just under 10%.  Why?  Because so many people have quit attempting to find work.  But wait….there’s more.  Do you know how many households in America do not have anyone working?  Over 22%!  Yes.  Over 22% of the households do not have a breadwinner.  How are they surviving?  Working for cash?  Welfare?  How wonderful does our economic picture appear now?

Do you like our current policy of allowing anyone to use any bathroom depending on what sex they feel like on that particular day?

So, as I look back on my life, the goal I have always had is that I leave the world a better place than when I entered it.  My generation of Boomers has failed.  We have made mistakes.  We allowed the country to become so liberal, so politically correct, so dependent on the government and so militarily weak that it is not the same country of our youth.  We have taken free speech to such an extreme that we now have public disrespect for our flag and our national anthem being considered heroic. Yet, only 1% of our citizenry has served in the military to protect our country and our freedoms.  We now have groups of people attacking and killing our police because they think they are ‘entitled’ to do so. We have had deadly Islamic terrorist attacks on our people.  We allow people of unknown origin to enter this country every day without having any idea of their true purpose in coming here.  Many times, it is not to assimilate like previous immigrants.

I want to make a plea.  I know many people who are not enamored by either candidate.  For their personal beliefs, they are going to vote for a third party candidate.  That has been tried before with disastrous results.  Rather than giving George H.W. Bush a second term, Ross Perot siphoned off  enough conservative votes to give Bill Clinton the presidency without having received a plurality.  Do you want to vote for the Libertarian candidate who did not know what an ‘Aleppo’ is, or could not name his favorite foreign leader?  If you like the policies instituted by the present administration, by all means you should vote for Hillary Clinton.  If you truly believe that the country is heading in the wrong direction, then do not waste your vote on a third party candidate, hold your nose and vote for Donald Trump.

I am considerably older than those members of Gen X, Y, and Z and here I am apologizing for the direction our country has taken in the last 60 years.  My fervent hope is that in 30 or 40 years, you will not be writing a blog apologizing for the bad decisions your generation has made and suffering from the consequences of bad decisions.

Viet Nam War and Islamic terrorism. What’s the strategy?

I am beginning to get that pit in my stomach that tells me that I am experiencing a feeling that I last experienced almost 50 years ago.  Or, as that great philosopher Yogi Berra said, “it’s deja vu all over again.”  So sayeth the late Yogi.

This feeling of discomfort is being caused by my memories of the Viet Nam War and how we are approaching the handling/elimination of radical Islamic military groups.  In particular, our recent involvement in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan.

People that are younger than the baby boomer generation were never exposed to the turbulence and violence of the Viet Nam War.  It was also known as the Second Indochina War and, by our antagonists the North Vietnamese, it was known as the Resistance War Against America.

Because of the US strategy for curbing the spread of communism, we got involved in Southeast Asia.  The Eisenhower administration had a strategy that was called the ‘domino theory.’  The domino theory was the belief that if one country fell to the Communists, in this case South Viet Nam, then other surrounding countries would also fall to communism.  Specifically, there was concern about Laos, Cambodia, Burma, Thailand and, believe it or not, concern about India, Japan and the Philippines.  In retrospect, this all seems surreal, but at that time, it was a concern that formulated into a strategy.

Viet Nam became a Cold War era proxy war.  In one corner, we had the US with its anti-communist allies.  Most of these allies were members of SEATO (Southeast Asia Treaty Organization).  In the other corner, the North Vietnamese were supported by Russia, China and other communist countries.  Did you know that Castro visited and Cuba supported the North Vietnamese with troops?

In 1950, American military advisors arrived in what was then French Indochina.  US involvement escalated in the early 60s, with troop levels tripling in 1961 (3,200) and again in 1962 (11,300).  The US involvement escalated further following the 1964 Gulf of Tonkin incident in which a US destroyer clashed with a North Vietnamese fast attack craft. The Gulf of Tonkin Resolution was passed through congress, which gave the POTUS authorization to increase the military presence.  Thus, regular US combat units were deployed beginning in 1965.  Operations crossed international borders.  Laos and Cambodia were heavily bombed because the Ho Chi Minh trail ran through both countries and moved men and material from the North into the South.  Our troop level reached its zenith in 1968 with 536,100 US military personnel in Viet Nam.

Any time the enemy massed their forces and attempted to fight the US/South Vietnamese forces in conventional warfare, the US side was the winner.  An example of this was the infamous Tet offensive, which was launched by the North Vietnamese on January 31, 1967.  Over 100 cities were attacked by over 85,000 North Vietnamese troops at a time when there was suppose to be a cease-fire truce. The US forces, after the initial shock, responded and decimated the enemy with the use of the US superior firepower.  Tet was also the turning point for American civilian support for the US war effort.  The Tet offensive came as a surprise and generated many American deaths.  It did not matter that we won that battle decisively, it was more a belief that our military and political leaders were losing credibility in the conduct of the war.

Viet Nam has been called the ‘Living Room’ war.  That is because on every newscast, there were very explicit pictures of injured, dying or dead Americans.  It was reality TV before reality TV was ever concocted.  Cameramen had no scruples when it came to sticking a TV camera inches from the face of a dying American.  They also did this with the faces of the dead.  How would you like to have seen your loved one dying on the 6PM newscast?   That is exactly what happened.  Don’t get me wrong, I think the reality of war should be shown……but our news broadcasts went on broadcasting steroids and showed all of this night, after night, after night.  And the more bloody and violent, the more the media reveled in bringing it into your living room.  It was little wonder that American support for the war waned as the war continued.  I have not watched a newscast since the Viet Nam war because of this.  I read my news or select my news sources on the internet; but I have held true to not watching a TV newscast since the 70s.

Our enemy was smart and patient.  They conducted large scale operations infrequently and relied more on small unit or gorilla tactics.  They were much more successful with this tactic.  Eventually, we realized that Viet Nam was a losing proposition.  This was mostly because of weak and unstable South Vietnamese leadership.  Direct US military involvement ended on 15 August, 1973.  Saigon fell to the North Vietnamese army in April 1975.

There you have it.  Five presidents, Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson and Nixon were all involved in some degree with placing military advisors or military troops in Viet Nam.  There were 58,220 American causalities.  The best estimates of North Vietnamese causalities is 1.1 million!

I can tell you from firsthand experience that the Viet Nam War turned the lives of draft age men upside down.  Draft?  Do you younger readers have any idea of what the draft entailed?  Men were needed to fill the ranks of the military, so the government reinstituted the draft for the first time since World War II.  This was handled by the Selective Service Administration.  December 1, 1969 was the fateful night the first draft was conducted since 1942!  Your fate, your future was dependent on what order your birthdate was drawn on one of the 366 little balls that looked exactly like bingo balls.  And the first winner of this wonderful lottery?  September 14 was the first number selected.  Bummer.  June 8 was the 366th ball drawn.  You were golden!  All of the men drafted were from the first 195 numbers drawn that night.

There were deferments for college, married with children, sole source of family support, physical disability and a myriad of other conditions.  But the college deferment was a double edged sword.  If you flunked out, or dropped out from lack of money…you immediately received your ‘Order to Report for Physical Exam.’  If you were physically fit, you then received your ‘Order to Report for Induction.’  Many men chose another military branch before being drafted into the Army or Marines.  72,000 chose to flee to Canada, as Canada did not support our Viet Nam War effort and provided a safe haven.

At this point, I need to interject that I am not a lucky person.  I will never win the Powerball.  I began college in the fall of 1966 and enrolled in ROTC.  I was commissioned in 1971 and missed the Viet Nam experience as the war was rapidly winding down by the time I completed my Office Basic Course.  My draft number?  293.  I would never have been drafted.  Many of my ROTC classmates that dropped out of college for any reason, were immediately drafted as the Army already had a file on them and they had already passed a physical.  There were times when they dropped out of college and were inducted within 2 weeks!  I have never visited the Viet Nam memorial, as I know too many men killed in Viet Nam from my ROTC classes of 1967-1970.  The class of 1968 was decimated.

In 1973, we went to an all volunteer military system.

Remember my deja vu feeling from the first paragraph?  Well, here is why I have it.  During the Viet Nam War, Lyndon Baines Johnson escalated the war like no other president.  He had a ‘war room’ in the White House.  He and his staff would determine targets to be bombed or not bombed, and then send their decisions to the Pentagon.  Micromanaging at its finest.  I am a believer that war is the result of the failure of political processes.  No war in the US was ever started by the military.  Once the politicians turn our forces loose on an enemy, they should let the war-planners do what they do best…..win one for the home team!  But that was not what happened in Viet Nam.  The politicians not only put their fingers in the pie, they were in up to their elbows.  The result?  We lost.  We decided to fight this war with one arm behind our back and we lost many lives needlessly.

Another example?  Remember ‘Stormin’ Norman’ Schwarzkopf and the first Iraqi War?  It was a marvelous example of military planning and execution.  We won the war with cunning and daring with a minimal amount of casualties.  Then the politicians got involved.  They thought it would be cute if it could be called the ‘100 hour’ war even though the largest battle took place after that 100 hour mark.  Then the politicians decided that we needed to stop knocking out tanks and leave Saddam Hussein in power.  The result?  Iraqi War II.

So here it is.  What is our strategy to defeat Islamic terrorism at home and abroad?  Do we have a strategy?  Are we using airplanes to attack this enemy, when a knife would be more appropriate?  Is the White House directing our efforts or is the Pentagon?   Is there an effort?   Quite honestly, with the number of generals and admirals that have been ‘voluntarily retired’ during this administration, I am losing confidence in both.  Shades of Viet Nam.  I’m feeling that pit in my stomach again.

PS:  HB2U, HB2U, HB Common Sense by Grandpa T, HB2U.

Yes, December 28 is the third anniversary of when I established this website.  I began writing after the election in 2012, but did not establish the blog until December 28.  After our first year, we had 42,556 unique hits.  On our second anniversary last year, 130,612 unique hits.  This year?  277,463 unique hits!   More than double the first two years!   Wow and thank you.   Grandpa T