Welcome to the Annals of Vietnam, a collection of articles, reviews, and images dealing with America's misadventures south and north of the 17th parallel. I have a particular interest in the early years, because that's when I was there as a reporter for the left-liberal magazine, The Nation, which was so financially strapped that it would even publish reports even from a Republican like me.
Well, I did manage to slog my way through the Ken Burns version of the Vietnam War, and I have to say that if the conflict was unsatisfactory, he and his team managed brilliantly to convey that fact. This they did by giving us untold hours of confusing, often conflicting, usually one-sided, and -- incredibly! -- sometimes boring film clips. I doubt the end result satisfied anyone, including the sponsors.
I did enjoy the clip of Jane Fonda clapping her hands like a schoolgirl as she climbed aboard one of the anti-aircraft guns that had shot down so many of her countrymen. And to the series' credit, the audio (though not the video) did quote her to the effect that those same Americans were war criminals who should be tried "and probably executed."
And my apologies to the 173rd Airborne Brigade! In my surly assessment of one of Mr Burns's earlier episodes, I said that the US Marines assaulted Hill 875, when in fact it was the US Army.
The title of Rice Paddy Recon is a bit deceptive, since the "recon" amounted to just a third of his 19-month tour. For me, anyhow, it was the most fascinating third. Book publishers and movie producers, what sells the product is a battle, preferably one that is big and bloody. The Marines in a reconnaissance team have something else in mind: they want information, though they're certainly willing to shoot the odd VC or NVA soldier, especially if the engagement might result in their taking a prisoner. (I was astonished by how often that happened, and even more by the number of enemy walk-ins, sick or weary soldiers who simply gave themselves up.) A recon team typically included six or eight men. They came in by helicopter and went out the same way, often under fire, sometimes by clipping themselves to a folding aluminum ladder, lowered through the jungle canopy, and riding that ladder all the way home. A fascinating read. Blue skies! — Daniel Ford
Question? Comment? Newsletter? Send me an email. Blue skies! -- Dan Ford
Posted November 2017. Websites ©1997-2017 Daniel Ford. All rights reserved.