A letter from a reader: Teaching the truth about Vietnam

March 19, 2008:

I agree completely with Col. G.D. Batcheller '60's assessment of the Vietnam War in his letter in the Nov. 21 issue. He is right on the mark.

The overwhelming defeat of the NVA (North Vietnamese Army) in the 1968 Tet offensive allowed the ARVN (Army of the Republic of Vietnam) to begin assuming more military responsibilities from our forces. Unfortunately, people like Walter Cronkite told the American public that it was an American defeat. Why and what their real motives were, those of us who served in Vietnam will never understand. American troops indeed had many more bloody battles to fight, but by 1973, all American combat forces had been withdrawn. The ARVN had taken charge.

In 1969, I was present at the ceremonies at the Chu Lai airfield marking the departure of one of the first American combat units being withdrawn. By then, the NVA was confined to the mostly uninhabited far western part of South Vietnam and was being kept there by ARVN. In 1973, I was present at Arlington cemetery for the funeral of a good friend, the last American combat soldier killed in the Vietnam War. For all intents and purposes, including a peace treaty, American forces and its ally, the Republic of Vietnam, had won a military victory over the NVA.

The fall of Saigon in 1975 and the dramatic scenes at the American Embassy had nothing to do with American combat forces in Vietnam. The war was lost in the halls of Congress and in the media, rendering our loyal ally helpless in face of the NVA invaders. And anyone who saw the return of our POWs knows that they were not only not "well treated"; they were terribly mistreated.

I find it disturbing that a Princeton educator would conduct a course that is party to dishonest and false propaganda. The spirit of Hanoi Jane apparently lives on. As Col. Batcheller says, if Princeton educators do not challenge such blatant lies as those propounded by the Communist rulers of Vietnam, where will the truth come from?

Lt. Col., U.S. Army, retired
Bartlett, Tenn.

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