Vietnam War in the News is an edited review of Vietnam War related news and articles.

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'No event in American history is more misunderstood than the Vietnam War. It was misreported then, and it is misremembered now.'
- Richard M. Nixon

Vietnam War Battles and Soldiers

Search and Destroy: The Story of an Armored Cavalry Squadron in Vietnam: 1-1 Cav, 1967-1968 (book review)
The hell of the Vietnam War from 19671968 as lived through the the 1st Squadron, 1st Cavalry Regiment, of the 1st Armored Division, is told by Keith W. Nolan in "Search and Destroy." From Chu Lai in August of 1967, Cigar Island in October, Que Son Mountains and the Pineapple Forest in November, to the fight for Hill 34 in the Tet counteroffensive, on to the battles of Tam Ky and Tien Phuoc in 1968, Nolan's narrative is well researched. The daily horrors became almost unbearable, as one trooper explained: "It did a combat soldier no good to think deeply about what he was doing. It was not the way to keep one's sanity."

Frederick J. Karch landed with the 9th Marine Expeditionary Brigade on Red Beach at Da Nang
Frederick J. Karch was a Marine Corps brigadier general who led the first official American ground combat troops into Vietnam. On March 8, 1965, he landed with the 9th Marine Expeditionary Brigade on Red Beach at Da Nang, South Vietnam. Before their arrival, all U.S. military personnel in Vietnam were there as "advisors," and Karch told reporters that the activities of his men would be defensive. Later that year, he expressed his respect for the stamina of the Viet Cong: "I thought that once they ran up against our first team they wouldn't stand and fight, but they did. I made a miscalculation."

Lt. Gen. Victor Krulak headed all US Marine forces in the Pacific during part of the Vietnam War   (Article no longer available from the original source)
Victor Krulak commanded 100,000 Marines in the Pacific 1964-1968, period when the US dramatically increase its forces in Vietnam. Krulak, called "Brute" for his direct no-nonsense style, was a decorated WWII and Korean war veteran. He criticised the government's directing of the Vietnam War, saying that the war could have been won only if the South Vietnamese had been befriended and if enemy supplies from North Vietnam were cut off. "The destruction of the port of Haiphong would have changed the whole character of the war," he said two decades after the fall of Saigon.

Koh Tang Island: The last battle of the U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War
As May 15, 1975, dawned, the last wave of American troops in the Vietnam War, 210 leathernecks, set foot on Koh Tang Island - 18 didn't survive. Their task was to rescue 39 sailors on board the merchant vessel SS Mayaguez, seized by the Khmer Rouge, a Cambodian political group responsible for 1.5 million deaths 1975-1979. President Ford's demand for safe release of the sailors and ship had fallen on deaf ears. The veterans of America's last battle in Vietnam haven't forgotten that day - and they haven't forgotten each other. The men meet as often as they can.

Australian Officer Dave Sabben's account of the Battle at Long Tan draws praise   (Article no longer available from the original source)
Dave Sabben has created a 50-slide animated Powerpoint presentation on the Battle at Long Tan. Sabben, one of 3 platoon commanders in the battle, would like to see it sent to schools and military institutions. The presentation has fascinated military historians, teachers and military leaders. Long Tan was the most important battle for Australian troops during their 10-year Vietnam conflict. The presentation re-creates the battle in which 105 Australian infantrymen met a force of over 2000 enemy troops in a rubber plantation near Long Tan village on 18th August 1966. It can be downloaded from

Robert Haldane dies at 83 - His unit discovered the Cu Chi tunnels
Robert Haldane, an Army officer who led the battalion that exposed Cu Chi tunnels during the Vietnam War, died at 83. He was in charge of the American infantry contingent of the 8,000-man U.S.-Australian Operation Crimp. His troops came under fire as soon as they landed and were baffled when the enemy soldiers vanished in open terrain. The battalion found a large trench, and the area was clearly home to a regiment-size force, but few Viet Cong were seen - and yet snipers harassed the Americans. It wasn't until Sgt. Stewart L. Green sat on a nail, attached to a wooden trap door, that a camouflaged tunnel entrance was found.

Small teen becomes hero, first to shoot down an American aircraft   (Article no longer available from the original source)
Dismissing advice that he was too small for military service Pham Ngoc Lan enlisted. For the first 4 years he was the contact person for Dak Lak Police Department, assigned nearly every task except for active duty. After begging his commander for the action, he was allowed to join a regiment. "I actually arrested a French soldier," Ngoc Lan said, his eyes sparkling as he recalled the first few days as a "real" soldier. After filing for a tank driving course in 1955, Ngoc Lan was sent abroad for flying lessons. General Vo Nguyen Giap ordered Ngoc Lan and his fellow pilots into battle on April 3, 1965...

First soldier killed in Vietnam - Captain Harry Griffith Cramer Jr.
History now regards Captain Harry Griffith Cramer Jr. - West Point Class of 1946 - the first American soldier killed in Vietnam. That wasn't always the case as the circumstances surrounding the explosion that killed Cramer remain murky. On Oct. 21, 1957 (2 years before the unofficial launch of the Vietnam War) he was commanding a U.S. Army Special Forces team training South Vietnamese soldiers near Nha Trang. Someone threw a block of TNT Cramer's way. The Army called it an accident, caused by an old French explosive that detonated early, but Cramer's comrades have suggested otherwise. The practice ambush was used by the Viet Cong to target American GIs.

Battle near Khe Sanh
April 24, 1967, Marine Paul Kaspar was on a reconnaissance patrol at Hill 861, about a mile from the base at Khe Sanh, South Vietnam. His platoon ended up in a 2-and-a-half day battle with North Vietnamese regulars that left them with a 60% casualty rate. There was one company of Marines, 3 platoons, based at Khe Sanh. "There are 3 rifle platoons to a company, and the way we worked it, usually 2 platoons stayed in camp at Khe Sanh for security and one went out for reconnaissance... We were due to do a reconnaissance up on 861. We ran into the NVA up there... On other bases, things were built above the ground. At Khe Sanh, everything was underground."

Reunited soldiers tell about war in Vietnam
The last time Oscar Carroway saw Parker Johnston was in 1968, when both men were in intensive care in a military hospital in Vietnam. Last night, they looked in much better shape, despite the passage of 39 years. Mr. Johnston, who won the Silver Star for gallantry in action, has been inducted into the Hall of Valor at Soldiers & Sailors National Military Museum & Memorial in Oakland. May 28, 1968, his team was dropped close to what turned out to be a large enemy base camp near Vietnam's border with Cambodia. "We saw what looked like the entire North Vietnamese Army. Then everybody started shooting...."

The most decorated Native American soldier of the Vietnam War
Full blood Cherokee Billy Walkabout, Airborne Ranger of the 101st, died at 57. He was the most decorated Native American soldier of the Vietnam War. He received a Distinguished Service Cross, the second highest U.S. decoration for gallantry in combat, for his actions in Nov 1968. "After a long range reconnaissance patrol southwest of Hue... Sergeant Walkabout`s team radioed for immediate helicopter extraction. When the extraction helicopters arrived and the lead man begin moving toward the pick-up zone, he was seriously wounded by hostile automatic weapons fire. Sergeant Walkabout quickly rose to his feet and delivered steady suppressive fire on the attackers..."

Ellis W. Williamson, who led troops in Vietnam War is dead at 88
Maj. Gen. Ellis W. Williamson, who led the first Army combat troops into South Vietnam, died on Jan. 28. He participated in the D-Day landings in Normandy in WWII and the Inchon landings in the Korean War. In 1963, he reactivated the 173rd Airborne Brigade. For two years, his 3,500 troops trained in Okinawa. They began arriving in Vietnam on May 5, 1965. Their first mission was to secure Bien Hoa Air Base. Then 47, General Williamson developed tactics for a war with no defined front. Fighting with South Vietnamese troops, he had his men penetrate the countryside surrounding the base and then worked to expand the perimeter with day and night patrols.

Friendly fire happened in Vietnam war with disturbing frequency
According to Lt. Col. Charles R. Shrader, deaths of fighting men in Vietnam due to friendly fire happened with "disturbing frequency." He concluded that such death occurred when visibility was poor or due to servicemen's nervousness or fatigue under fire. It also occasionally occurred that a McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom aircraft passed overhead of the military action on the ground and misinterpreted a signal from the ground - causing the pilot to release a missile at the signal. Invariably, the missile would track the radar signal to the ground and explode, killing Marines in that vicinity.

Vietnam-era Marines recall siege of the Khe Sahn Combat Base
Three former Marines who survived the Vietnam War`s Siege of Khe Sanh told American History students that the experience forever cemented them as brothers. The Khe Sahn Combat Base was a remote American outpost that came under sporadic attack by North Vietnamese forces in 1967, only to come under full-scale siege by Jan 1968. Eventually, American forces drove through to rescue the embattled Marines by April 1968. Though credited as a military victory for the US, the strategic significance isn`t fully understood today. Some historians suggest the siege was a diversion for the Tet Offensive, others say the North Vietnamese planned to replicate victories at Khe Sahn.

Tank commander Reneau remembered as war hero
A star fell, leaving behind a legacy of heroism. In 1967, Thomas A. Reneau received a Silver Star - the third highest American military award - for continuing to fire from his flaming battle tank during a Vietnam war battle. He was first assigned to Germany, then to Vietnam as a tank commander in the 25th Infantry Division from July 1967 until July 1968. "The night of the 12th, about 8:15 p.m. my platoon, the 1st Platoon, was hit by a Viet Cong ambush. Then fire started coming from both sides of the road we were on. The tank was hit five times, caught fire but we stayed and fought until the last minute."

Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia: A history of Enlarging the problem
Even its name, the Vietnam War, contains an omission: The war was against 3 countries: Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos. In all 3 countries, the U.S. military waged sustained war for years upon end with indiscriminate savagery. American planes dropped over 8 million tons of explosives - force equivalent to 640 Hiroshima bombings and is over four times the tonnage of all bombs dropped by all sides in WWII. Washington tried everything: coups, napalm, death squads, and so on. In the end none of the strategies or tactics worked. The Vietnamese wanted the U.S. occupiers out of their country. The U.S. lost the war, plain and simple.

Operation Medina - Vietnam War with the U.S. Marines
The smell of battle in a hot and humid jungle lingers with Mike Robinson. It's difficult to shake a life-changing experience. He is a vet of the Vietnam War with the U.S. Marines and has vivid recollections of a "search and destroy" mission against the North Vietnamese called Operation Medina. It was a hard-fought, 3-day battle in October 1967 in Quang Tri, South Vietnam. The casualties were high on both sides and it remains an epic chapter in the Vietnam War that's not forgotten. He is a principle character in a book aptly titled "Lions of Medina" written by Doyle Glass and set for release this fall.

Vietnam clash that became a legend - Battle of Long Tan   (Article no longer available from the original source)
The Battle of Long Tan, on August 18, 1966, defined the way in which the North Vietnamese and Viet Cong would respond to Australians for the remainder of the war. The battle took place not long after the Australian Task Force had established at Nui Dat in Phouc Tuy Province. Until then, the Viet Cong had dominated the area, with little resistance from the South Vietnamese Army. Given the presence of the Diggers, the enemy's aim was to overwhelm Nui Dat before it could be established as a permanent base for operations. To that end, a reinforced NVA Regiment was sent to conduct a major operation.

Bond between paratroopers of the 101st Airborne Division
The paratroopers of the 3rd Battalion, 506th Infantry, 101st Airborne Division fighting in the Vietnam War were among some of America's best-trained soldiers - Sometimes fighting shoulder-to-shoulder against a enemy. Jarrett Goodman, whose duty in Vietnam ended in 1971 after losing a leg from a landmine explosion, helped research a book written by Jerald Berry. "My Gift To You" offers a glimpse of the young men's lives and about the Currahee deaths in Vietnam. Berry, too, served with the unit (as a combat reporter and photographer) and was wounded in 1968 at the Communist Tet Offensive. "I took a lot of the last pictures of these guys."

Strategic Marine Corps base battered in a 77-day siege
Two former Marines and a retired Army colonel nicknamed "Bulldog" sat around a table, reminiscing about their service at Khe Sanh in the Vietnam War. Khe Sanh was a strategic Marine Corps base close to the border separating South Vietnam and North Vietnam when it was battered in a 77-day siege by enemy forces. The base, manned by some 6,000 Marines and assorted other American forces, was surrounded by more than 20,000 North Vietnamese Army troops. "It was an unbelievable experience," said David C. "Bulldog" Smith underwent the entire siege while a major at Khe Sanh. "We were attacked by rockets, mortars, howitzers -- by everything.

Marine Corps colonel: leading an armored task force
In September 1967, Joseph O'Brien was leading an armored task force through enemy territory when it came under attack. Exposing himself repeatedly to enemy fire, he helped move the wounded to safety while getting burns on his hands and face. Later in firefight, he saw wounded Marines being dragged away by enemy soldiers. He rushed to protect them, killing several men with his pistol and an enemy rifle. Though wounded by enemy hand grenades, he refused medical treatment. After spearheading a successful assault on the enemy position with hand grenades, he collapsed from his wounds.

Vietnam War images still haunt Sisto Sandoval
As he drifts off to sleep, Sisto Sandoval sees the colored flare of rockets. He hears the sound of mortars and canons. "Sometimes, I still fear going to sleep, thinking I'll wake up in Nam again." He was 22 when he enlisted. He thought he was indestructible. He was assigned to the US Army Strategic Command, Long Lines Battalion South. He regularly went to a Vietnamese barber, who used a straight razor for the shave. One day after a firefight, it turned out the barber was a Viet Cong. "After that, I never trusted anybody with a straight razor." Supply delivery was made by any means necessary: planes, helicopters, boats, trucks, even elephants.