TITLE: We Still Have Not Learned
By gene hudgens
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This is an excerpt from the book manuscript
“Vietnam Memories Fond”
© 1985 Gene Hudgens
Although this book is primarily about my “fond” memories of the ‘every day’ American and Vietnamese folks that I come in contact with during my first tour in Nam, one must understand clearly that a war is going on and many people are dying. This first tour finds me in Saigon living the easy life of a Saigon Warrior, the Pogue, REMF, Remington Raider, and PX Cowboy… The Rearie. On my second tour I will be an advisor with the MACV Advisor Team in the Delta. This will not be combat as the lst Cav is experiencing, but a little more so than being in Saigon.
It is a disgrace and dishonor when American families suffer the loss of love-ones in this war unnecessarily. Yet, hundreds, perhaps thousands of lives are being lost because politicians and other self-interest groups repeatedly interfere with and tie the hands of the trained military leaders that have been entrusted with the awesome responsibility of saving lives and winning battles.
It certainly isn’t necessary for one to be a college professor, historian, or analysis, to understand this. As an enlisted Sergeant First Class in our Army I clearly understand this. I’ve witnessed the sadden and frustrated expression on General Westmorland’s tired face when he was briefed that “again” his hands are tied and his field commanders will not be allowed to utilize the full capabilities of their resources to win the war because of illogical directives and polices.
We, as a nation, brag that we have the best-trained officers, non-commissioned officers and soldiers in the world. It is a fact! We do! It is also a fact that in this Vietnam War we have l00 percent air superiority, the best intelligence, the finest equipment, and the most advanced weapons.
Therefore it is also a fact that the US military seldom looses battles and it’s certainly near impossible to conceive the US military ever loosing this war in Vietnam (which it didn‘t).
If the military “rules of engagement“(dictated by unsophisticated politicians) allowed the military generals to properly utilize their resources, no one any where would ever entertain a thought about loosing the war… and we will suffer far fewer causalities.
However, ill-trained and self-centered politicians will not allow our well-trained generals to do their job. This Vietnam involvement is most definitely not treated as a ‘military‘ war. This is a ‘political game‘utilizing military bodies like chess pieces.
I sincerely hope that history shows that our involvement is to stop the spread of communism, as we are told, and not primarily to make more money for certain rich individuals.
These ‚‘military bodies‘, the American military members, mostly young men, serve their country honorably and are reliable.
The American press and the world-press have too often failed the test-of-trust and have acted extremely unreliable. None of us should expect this war or any war to be popular, but the press, which has a tremendous mind-boggling ability, has the moral responsibility to educate the readers with unquestionable honest and accurate facts.
This just has not happened. The press excelled, during this Vietnam involvement, in encouraging and allowing the average citizen to believe and feel that the average soldier in Vietnam is a shotgun-barrel-drug-smoker, baby-killing, teen-raping, village-burning, atrocity-enjoying, SOB.
This hostile media, both nationally and globally, has teamed up with and supports the ignorant antimilitary Hollywood in an untruthful portrayal of isolated atrocities as being widespread and commonplace.
This just isn‘t true. It‘s a big lie. For sure Hollywood and the press can be proud of their ability to effectively brainwash much of the American public with untruths.
In 1967, the troop strength is around 500,000 and every military member has almost daily access to newspapers and radios and, everyday. Everyday they read and hear the awful things being written and said about them.
They see their buddies dying and naturally wonder what for. They are wondering why they risk their lives and die for a country that doesn‘t love and respect them.
Most military members probably accept the reality that in peacetime it’s natural for the American people to consider its military personnel as ‘class-B‘ citizens and treat them as such. One only has to look at the low pay scale that the military endures to understand what America thinks of its military.
But this is war! The military personnel in Nam expect more from their country. They are in Nam to protect America; so the politicians and recruiters are saying.
The reason that the very few isolated atrocities aren‘t a thousand times more common is because of patriotism and the overall exemplary character of the American military. The military leadership will not tolerate it and with few exceptions the individual soldiers will not tolerate it.
No matter how hard the press and Hollywood tries to tear its military apart, the strict patriotic discipline of the American military prevails. This shabby treatment of America‘s military by the press and Hollywood is a crystal clear example of the lack of patriotism on the part of Hollywood and the press.
I say again, the press and Hollywood can really be proud of their ability to effectively brainwash much of the American public with untruths.
However, this gives a ray of hope. This proves that the press and Hollywood can (if they ever have the desire to act patriotic) effectively use their tremendous power and ability to educate the American public with the truths instead of lies.
Every single individual in America, including the politicians, the wealthy, and those of the press and Hollywood, enjoys his lifestyle because of the sacrifices of the American military members.
America‘s military members should be thought of and treated as Class-A-plus, not as Class-B citizens. The military should be one of the high-pay professions in America, not a food-stamp profession.
No other profession in America asks and requires its members to suffer the hard ships and separation from family that the military requires. No other profession requires its members to offer their lives for their country. Patriotism is an honorable characteristic of a citizen, but patriotism alone doesn‘t pay the bills.
The near future will show if the American people are intelligent enough to safeguard this characteristic of love of country or will allow the press and the anti-military Hollywood to destroy it.
Today many Americans and Vietnamese feel that since America has not fought this conflict as a military war with a goal of winning militarily, all is lost again, as it was with the French. Both America and Vietnam have lost numerous innocent causalities while politicians play their favorite game of chess.
While it seems too late to do much more good in Vietnam, it need not be too late for Washington and the American people to wake up and remember the sad lessons we are learning in Vietnam.
The American military never lost the Vietnam War. The military was, however, prevented by the American politicians and the American media, from winning the war.
Use politics and politicians to prevent wars. If war is imminent then only use the trained military to WIN the war.
Vietnam is certainly not the last war of this same type that America will find itself confronted with in the years ahead. Has my wonderful America learned from this politically ignorant nightmare? I sincerely fear that the answer is no.(c) Gene Hudgens
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