tv [untitled] April 5, 2012 9:00pm-9:30pm EDT
aggression unchallenged is aggression unleashed. >> why must young americans born into a land exultant with hope and golden promise toil and suffer and sometimes die in such a remote and distant place? the answer, like the war itself, is not an easy one. but it echoes clearly from the painful lessons of half a century. three times in my lifetime, in two world wars and in korea, americans have gone to far lands to fight for freedom. we have learned that a terrible and a brutal cost that retreat does not bring safety and weakness does not bring peace.
and it is this lesson that has brought us to vietnam. >> for the background to our involvement in vietnam, we must go back to a shell-cratered place called ven ven fu. supplied only by air, completely surrounded by the opposing vietnamese, french troops are fighting the last battle of a long war over what had been called french indochina. it's a strange three-corner struggle. non-communist vietnamese fighting communist vietnamese. and some of both fighting the french. by 1954, the inevitability of french defeat has become clear. hanoi in 1954 reflects the
ravages of long and bitter warfare. but for now, the fighting is over. the french are leaving. the red star flies over hanoi, as the communist forces move in. at a conference in geneva, an agreement has been reached. it divides vietnam into north and south. turns over the north to the communists. and marks the end of french colonial rule. the agreement also provides the machinery for bringing true peace to vietnam if the communists act in good faith. this is a bright victory for the communist world and there are smiles. but not on the faces of the more than 1 million vietnamese who desert their homes and flee southward rather than live under a communist regime. in 1954, vietnam is divided at the 17th parallel, as korea was divided at the 38th.
she faces the future with an imaginary line running from border to border, symbolizing a separation which is far from imaginary. in south vietnam, peace brings a fresh beginning. the people set about building new homes, new hopes. free elections are held in the south alone when it becomes clear that the communist regime in the north has no intention of permitting genuinely free elections in its half of the country. grand reforms redistribute farmlands in the south. so that farmers own their fields, and reap for themselves the fruit of their toil. with american economic aid, the south begins to prosper, and the hopes of the people are for peace. but even as the people of the
south build, north vietnam is creating in their villages political action centers with trained agitators infiltrated from the north, often in the guise of refugees. the communist plan also includes acts of terror and subversion to disrupt the legitimate government. if the south cannot be brought under hanoi's control by less forceful means a new phase of the communist plan is ready to go into action. open guerrilla warfare, furtive and remorseless, aimed at destroying the government and subjugating the people. it is called by hanoi a war of liberation. it does not seem so to the hundreds of anti-communist leaders, teachers and their wives and children who are visited in the night by vietcong persuasion squads.
this is the prize the communists are after. south vietnam, rich in rice, and standing at the gateway to the rice-rich nations of cambodia, laos, thailand, burma and east pakistan. the asian communists have said, a grain of rice is worth a drop of blood. there are also natural resources. coal, phosphate, zinc, manganese, the raw materials on which to base industrialization or feed a war machine. natural rubber, south vietnam has this, too. and the latex processing
facilities which make of raw rubber, the vitally important material it is in today's world. this then is another aspect of the south vietnam which the north covets. a nation moving toward greater industrialization. a rich prize indeed in the eyes of communist strategists. at gettysburg college in 1959, president eisenhower clearly recognizes the danger. >> we have learned, too, that the cost of defending freedom, of defending america must be paid in many forms and in many places. they are assessed in all parts of the world, in berlin, in vietnam, in the middle east, here at home. unassisted, vietnam cannot at this time produce and support the military formations essential to it. military as well as economic
help is currently needed in vietnam. >> by 1960, every area of life in the south has become a combat zone. >> this is a different kind of war. there are no marching armies or solemn declarations, but this is really war. it is guided by north vietnam and it is spurred by communist china. its goal is to conquer the south. and to extend the asiatic dominion of communism. and there are great stakes in the balance. >> no people see this more clearly than the embattled hard-pressed vietnamese. by 1961, they send out an urgent call for help.
the answer to that call is prompt in arriving. america promises substantial military and technical aid, machines and equipment to resist aggression, and the trained men to teach vietnamese fighting forces how to put them into effective use. instructors and advisers willing and able to teach find men whose freedom is at stake, eager and quick to learn. at this time, however, the americans in vietnam are there only as advisers. there are no united states combat units as such. the advisers' primary job is to train and encourage the south vietnamese fighting men they have come to respect and admire. this guerrilla warfare is the latest tactic in the global communist plan. korea showed that the free world would meet and stop conventional invasion.
and communists' efforts to dominate newly emerging nations between trade, aid and political subversion had little success. now a new kind of politically camouflaged invasion must be faced. the so-called people's war of liberation. as months go by, the communists lose a lot of men. but there are many more in the north who will be sent south to replace them. and others can be kidnapped and forced to serve. meantime, in addition to training vietnamese fighting men, american adviser teams are working constantly to help relieve the human suffering of remote villages. under pressure of growing communist aggression, the flow of american equipment and advisers is increased. it is the only means of meeting
the rising tide of infiltration and attack from the north. especially since aggressive guerrillas with no citizenry to protect can tie up forces ten times their own number. superior equipment and mobility are used to full advantage to carry the fight to the enemy. swiftly. wherever its presence becomes known. the vietnamese soldier is quick to grasp the techniques involved in copter-borne action. to guerrilla raids on country villages and he uses his new knowledge well. even with superior equipment, however, this is a difficult war to prosecute. there are no front lines here. the war is everywhere. the war is everywhere. against an enemy that is seldom clearly seen. in these scenes of casualty evacuation, the enemy is not far away.
certainly within shouting distance. the enemy is not seen, but american and vietnamese fighting men bear on their bodies the painful evidence that he is still here. still determined, still deadly. throughout this time, the combat capability of south vietnam's military forces is growing. american advisers work to bring the level of training and combat readiness of these forces as high as possible. but as north vietnam continues to send in fresh cadres, there is a growing need in south vietnam for fighting men. the losses suffered by the south in combat are cruelly heavy, for a nation whose population is no larger than that of new york state. the fact is, in proportion to population, south vietnam's
losses in combat are ten times as great as those suffered by the united states in korea. greater even than our total losses in world war ii. then, in august of 1964, the communists again enlarge the scope of the conflict. >> renewed hostile actions against the united states ships in the high seas and the gulf of tong tonkin have today required me to order the military forces of the united states to take action and reply. that reply is being given as i speak to you tonight. air action is now in execution
against certain supporting facilities in north vietnam, which have been used in these hostile operations. >> never until now have american men and machines struck directly at communist north vietnam. later in august secretary of defense mcnamara sets the record straight. >> we wish to emphasize we seek no wider war. our response will depend upon the action of the aggressors, in this case the north vietnamese. the key to the situation remains the cessation of infiltration from the north into the south. >> we seek no wider war. but we find ample evidence that there is no relenting on the part of the north. in this one captured shipment of vietcong arms, there are a million round of small arms ammunition. 3,500 rifles, submachine guns,
and some 4,000 anti-tank and mortar rounds. and there's no doubt about the source. the chinese markings are unmistakable. in meeting the aggression so clearly evidenced here, we have sent strength to meet force. but we have also repeatedly sent word that we are willing to talk, as secretary of state dean rusk makes plain. >> our war aim in south vietnam is peace. >> last year, we brought the vietnam problem before the security council of the united nations. at the time of the gulf of tonkin affair. but hanoi refused an invitation to come to the security council to talk about it. the distinguished secretary-general of the united nations considered a peace mission himself to bring about peace. but hanoi and peiping told him
not to come. britain has made many efforts to find a path to a settlement. first by working toward a new conference in geneva and then by a visit of one of their senior statesman, mr. patrick gordon walker. but the effort for a geneva conference has thus far been blocked, and mr. gordon walker was told that he should stay away from hanoi and peiping. the commonwealth attempted to send a committee of the commonwealth to several capitals to explore the possibility of peace. we welcome that initiative but hanoi and peiping have told them not to come. we made a number of efforts on our own, both publicly and privately. president johnson in baltimore, for example, offered unconditional skidiscussion wit
the governments concerned. but hanoi and peiping called this offer a hoax. 17 non-aligned nations publicly appealed for a peaceful solution by negotiations without pre-conditions. we welcome this proposal. but it was rejected by hanoi and peiping. the distinguished president of india made a constructive suggestion, that there be an end of hostilities and an afro-asian police force established in vietnam. to us, this proposal was full of interest and hope. but by hanoi and red china, it was rejected as a betrayal. so all of these abrupt and violent rejections of peaceful settlement are just what they appear to be. clear proof that hanoi is not yet prepared for discussions. unless it be accepted in advance, the south vietnam be subjected to communist
domination. and so, the record seems very clear to us. hanoi is presently resisting the road to peace. peiping, even more so. a declared doctrine and purpose of the chinese communists remain clear. the domination of all of southeast asia. and indeed, if we listen to what they're saying to us, the domination of the great world beyond. >> the united states will continue to make every effort toward reasonable negotiation, and there can be no doubt as to our intention. >> we do not seek the destruction of any government. nor do we covet a foot of any territory. but we insist, and we will always insist, that the people of south vietnam shall have the right of choice, the right to shape their own destiny, and
free elections in the south, or throughout all of vietnam under international supervision, and they shall not have any government imposed upon them by force and terror. so long as we can prevent it. we do not want an expanding struggle with consequence that no one can foresee. nor will we bluster or bully or flaunt our power. but we will not surrender. and we will not retreat. >> the answer to american offers to move from the battlefield to the conference table continues to come in the form of high explosives. aimed at american air bases and other troop installations in the south, including the barracks of american servicemen.
but in this war against people, the high explosives are not only aimed at men who bear arms, the american embassy in saigon itself becomes a grim battleground scene as vietnam terrorists single it out for a bomb attack. it is all part of the carefully planned and continuing campaign of terror against both american and south vietnamese civilians. increasingly now, americans are functioning directly in the fight for freedom in this far foreign corner of the earth. the risks are real, just as the stakes for which they are taken are real. but americans risk and sometimes give all that they have half a
world away from home because they know that once again half a world away has become our front door. if freedom is to survive in any american hometown, it must be preserved in such places as south vietnam, and as president johnson has pointed out, it is up to us. >> most of the non-communist nations of asia cannot by themselves and alone resist the growing might and the grasping ambition of asian communism. >> because this is true, we intend to convince the communists that we cannot be defeated by force of arms. or by superior power. i have asked the commanding general, general westmoreland, what more he needs to meet this mounting aggression.
he has told me, and we will meet his needs. >> combat units of the united states marine corps arrive in vietnam, joining other marines already there. it is the first time that marines in full combat gear have hit the beach in an active combat zone since korea. army combat units also arrive, and the message of their presence on vietnamese soil is plain. whatever the present or future needs of the fight for freedom in vietnam, they will be met. so the war goes on. clearly, it is the communists who have made that choice. and as always, the innocent suffer.
for the children of vietnam and of all southeast asia, the future is in the balance. if they are to realize their heritage as free men tomorrow, there are for us today hard realities to be faced. >> i do not find it easy to send the flower of our youth, our finest young men into battle. i have seen them in a thousand streets, of a hundred towns, and every state in this union, working and laughing and building and filled with hope and life. but as long as there are men who hate and destroy, we must have
the courage to resist. we did not choose to be the guardians at the gate. but there is no one else. now, would surrender in vietnam bring peace? because we learned from hitler at munich that success only feeds the appetite of aggression. moreover, we are in vietnam to fulfill one of the most solemn pledges of the american nation. three presidents, president eisenhower, president kennedy and your present president, over 11 years have committed themselves and have promised to help defense this small and valiant nation. strengthened by that promise, the people of south vietnam have
fought for many long years. thousands of them have died. thousands more have been crippled and scarred by war. and we just cannot now dishonor our word or abandon our commitment or leave those who believed us and who trusted us to the terror and repression and murder that would follow. this then, my fellow americans, is why we are in vietnam. on "washington journal" tomorrow morning we'll look inside the race for the republican presidential nomination with mike allen,
white house correspondent and evan thomas on their new ebook "inside the circus." we'll discuss the scope of student debt with mark kantrowitz and take your questions and comments of bullying in the schools when we're joined by jack buckly with the national center of education statistics and katherine bradshaw with the johns hopkins center for the prevention of youth violence. 7:00 a.m. eastern. friday, more "american history tv" on c-span3 in prime time. at 8:00 p.m., the american artifacts series travels to orange county virginia and james madison's montpelier to learn about the family cemetery and nearby slave cemetery. 8:30 p.m., a living museum in massachusetts that depicting early new england life from 1870
to 1940 and 9:00 p.m., a look at the role of first ladies, including a collection of inaugural gowns and white house china from the smithsonian's national museum of american history peer on c-span3. american history tv. this weekend marks the anniversary of the bloodiest battle to be fought in the civil war up to that point. the battle of shiloh with almost 24,000 casualties and tour the battlefield with chief park ranger stacy allen saturday at 6:00 p.m. eastern and sunday night at 7:00 the angels of the battlefield and founder of the red cross clara barton operated the missing soldiers office until 1868. join us as we rediscover the third floor office as it's prepared for renovations this weekend on "american history tv" on c-span3.
in 2005, 40 years after the first full scale engagement between u.s. troops and the people's army of vietnam, the vietnam archive interviewed veterans from the battle of the la dang valley. next, excerpts of oral interviews of george forrest in the 1st bah ral i don't know 5th cavalry. this is 50 minutes. >> i'm conducting an a video oral history. today's number 12, 2005 and approximately 12:05 p.m. and we are in crystal city, hilton, washington, d.c. at the 40th anniversary reunion of the la drang valley falcon, x ray and albany and others. colonel forest, tell us a little bit of your recollection of arriving at x-ray on the 17th, 16th and on that tuesday.
what did x-ray look for like to you? >> probably a sight like we had never seen. my unit unlike the other units, we walked in to x-ray. >> right. >> we had spent the night, the previous night at elsie clum yus and then the next morning went over land in to xray so on the way in we could see some of the casualties, at least to the north vietnamese casualties as we got into the landing zone. but we saw -- yeah. we saw guys who were absolutely physically exhausted. i think jack smith characteristiced it once as they said they had that blind combat stare. >> did you know what happened there? >> we did not. because communications was poor. we were not on the frequency
until we got -- actually got in to xray. >> okay. do you remember the then lieutenant colonel -- >> absolutely. >> saw that. >> absolutely. he was probably this monumental figure standing in the middle of all of this chaos with a total control of who he was, what he was and what he wanted us to do. without hesitation, told me this is where i want your unit, in the perimeter and move out. so we basically did and deployed. immediately at some point later we came back for a more thorough briefing from him what had gone on and what he anticipated would happen the rest of the day and the next night. >> he came in and addressed the company commanders? >> company commanders came in. part of his normal -- either morning briefing or afternoon briefing. because we got there fatherly early in the morning. r