The Presidents during the Vietnam War
By: Jill Morris
was the first president to go head first into the
Soon after Diem claimed his country was under attack from communist. In 1957 the Vietnam War began. Diem imprisoned all those he viewed as being suspected communist and his people became outraged, administering protest and demonstrations.
1961 Kennedy was now in office and he had a new team to investigate the
Lyndon B. Johnson 1963-1969
was the president in office when the
Richard Nixon 1969-1974
claimed he had a secret plan to the war and won the election. He used a process
called “Vietnamization”. This was a method of training the
Finally a peace talk emerged but
My Problems with the Foreign policies in
There is a
connection between the foreign policies that started the war and what ended the
war. Eisenhower did not want to see communism taking control. It took measures
to make it so but ultimately plunged us into the Vietnam War. Why get involved?
Some say that when running a country in a tyrannical fashion it will eventually
destroy them. Is that enough to bet on? If I were to make a decision in
Eisenhower’s time I would not have made the SEATO. What will be, will be.
Although we were there to stop a communist government they eventually took
over. It is easy to say all this in view of what the public knows today, but it
is risking interfering with every communist government that tries to pop up. It
should be left alone to deal with internally in those nations because
eventually it will overthrow itself. Carry-over-effects are unstoppable when it
comes to a retiring presidents foreign engages and the new president’s.
Kennedy had a situation to deal with now. Sending an investigation team was an
excellent idea. One problem I had with Kennedy was the support of the coup
against Diem. Meddling is what I call it. In my opinion I do not think it is
fit to run into a country stir up opposition and then stage a coup. I
understand that our government works well for us and gives us freedoms that
most do not have, but as my mother says “you can not fight with ignorant
people”. All we can do as a standing-by country is to live by example.
When things get out of hand and human rights are being violated then it comes
time to act. When I mean human rights I mean awful acts such as genocides.
Enlighten is all we can do as a superior country, using force is just degrading
us. When Johnson went into office he was knee deep in war. In my opinion
Johnson was a victim of circumstance. He came into office with this dirty mess
splashed into his lap and he spent his whole time in office trying to wipe it
off. I truly believe that he did all he could do to win the war. The one problem
I had was that troops should never have hit the ground in
Some Myths about the Vietnam War
This was proved false by false by Westmoreland. Two-Thirds of the soldiers that went to the army were volunteers. It has been said also that most of the draftees did not even leave the country. They were stationed in army camps around the U.S just in case. McCaffery found that seventy percent of soldiers that died in the war were volunteers also.
Myth: The war was fought largely by the poor and uneducated
McCaffery found that soldiers from well-to-do areas had a higher risk
of dieing because they were usually pilots or infantry officers. Also
seventy-nine percent of the soldiers had a high school diploma or better. It
was also found that
Deaths Average Age
Total 58,148 23.11 years
Enlisted 50,274 22.37 years
Officers 6,598 28.43 years
Warrants 1,276 24.73 years
E1 525 20.34 years
11B MOS 18,465 22.55 years
Myth: The fighting in
was not as intense as in World War II. Vietnam
infantryman in WWII saw forty days of combat in four years. The average
Personal Interviews from
The following Veterans prefer to remain anonymous. I let them talk as much as they wanted without asking too many questions. I preferred to let them talk because some question could be too evasive.
Position: E-5 Sergeant, Motor pull/ transportation
Veteran: “I guess I can start by telling
you what I did in
Jill: Did you enlist or were you drafted.
Veteran: I enlisted. I was in the official army six months and they came knocking on my door. I probably would have been drafted if I didn’t already enlist. In my opinion most of the men I knew were drafted but then again I served in 68’ and 69’ so by that time they all were.
Jill: What was life like in
Veteran: Well we slept in barracks that were two stories high. No one slept in the top barracks because if you did you got shot. If you would walk up stairs you could see bullet holes everywhere. It was right at the level of the ground and was an easy target. We never knew who we were fighting against. The general stores and clerks were mostly run by Vietcong but we didn’t know that. At 6:00 the curfew for the towns went into affect and that is when the nice store clerks during the day turned into the Vietcong. The towns all smelled like rotten fish. That is all they ate that and rice.
Jill: Did you eat any dog?
Veteran: (pause to laugh) No fortunately we all
had American food unless you were out on the field then we had sea rations.
They consisted of little tin cans that had steak and eggs or any other dish
mixed up in it. We all got used to the taste I guess. We also had USOs they
were areas where American soldiers went to get their hair cut or took steam
baths. They were all ran by
Jill: Do you care to talk about the fighting or anything related to that?
Veteran: Well I refused to carry a large gun
because I was supposed to be neutral. I carried supplies not only for the
American soldiers but for the
Jill: How were the weather conditions?
Veteran: Well the worst part was the monsoon weather. It would rain for 30 days straight. Are feet would get so wet and worn that you would get this inching sensation in your feet and two days later a layer of skin would peel off. This would happen repeatedly in those 30 days. When I came back from the war some people didn’t recognize me because I was so dark.
Jill: Now you do not have to answer this, are the rumors true about the treatment of the civilians there?
Veteran: Well for the most part they were treated
very well. When we saw poor people we would give them money. If we saw children
we would give them candy. They only ones we had to watch out for were the Mama
Sons, they were the old ladies. They were mean. (Laughter) The only problem we
ran into was some soldier on drugs and alcohol. Opium was a big thing over
there. Some would take the drug to forget where they were at. This is when we
ran into problems. The effects of taking that drug made soldiers not think
about what they were doing. This is when the mistreatment happened. Some
soldiers were not made out to be soldiers. They should not have been holding a
gun in the first place. We did not have personality tests and screening like
the military does now. Some say that is why they have them. They found out that
not all men were fit to have a gun. The black market was a big thing in
Jill: Do you have anything to say on Agent Orange?
Veteran: I am still feeling the affects of Agent
Orange. My skin peels and my teeth and tonsils were affected. My daughter when
she was born had a bad disease with her kidney that no one could figure out. It
was found that because of my exposure to Agent Orange it went through me to
her. The doctors found some cure in
Jill: You served during LBJ’s office term. What do you think about him and his leaving his office?
Veteran: Well some say he wasn’t doing his job. Others thought the soldiers needed more money over there. I think he did what he could do. I would say that the reason why we lost the war was because we could fight in the way we wanted to, also because we never got much aid when we needed it. The war was too political. House changes and vetoes during the war really hurt us.
Jill: Did you have trouble when you got back from the war?
Veteran: Well I was a little messed up. It caused my divorce. I wanted to be alone. I could not control my anger. Every time I got mad I had to leave and go away. I realized I needed counseling and that help a lot. The government paid for it all so I went as much as a need to cope with what I did and saw.
Jill: If you do not mind me asking about the kill count ratio and how that actually worked?
Veteran: Well the whole kill count thing was a lie. That hyped men up so much that they actually started to kill animals to get there kill count up. It wasn’t something that was actually true it was all the media and a way of handling the people back home to keep them on our side.
Interview with a Foot Soldier
Jill: What were the conditions like one the ground?
Veteran: We walked through millions of field of rice were we were knee deep in water. There was one time were I saw a hole and I thought it was a Vietcong hole so I poor gasoline down it and set it on fire and out walked a huge tarantula. Now that I saw where they lived I saw them everywhere. It made me not fear spiders like I used to. We would use the bamboo to lift us out of the creeks and most of the time when you did that a viper would wrap around your arm. We learned not to fear them even though they are the second most deadly snake. They have small teeth so they would only be able to break the skin in between you fingers. You had to be careful.
Jill: What was the main thing you searched for or did on the field?
Veteran: Well we would search and destroy hiding spots or looks outs we thought were used by the Vietcong. Massive trees equivalent to a sequoia tree we would blow down with C-4.
Jill: How long where you out in the field?
Veteran: Well most were there for
six months. If you extended your leave on the field you got to go home five
months early. I decided to put in for relocation as guard in
Jill: Did you hear or know anyone that went through the Tet Offensive?
Veteran: I knew one soldiers that was pretty good friends with me. They were walking through a horse arena and the Vietcong dung wholes in the sand and covered themselves up and they never knew they were there. The ambushed the American soldiers and kill everyone but this one guy because he was wounded and laid down pretending he was dead.
Jill: Is there anything else you would like to say?
Veteran: Yes, when I was over in