Darwin Campbell Saigon Evacuation post 9

I finished my outline, or at least a rough guideline for ideas.  After that I began working on my paper, and trying to figure out how to use the Chicago style.

media differences-open in Vietnam, more closed in Iraq- absorption/consumption by the public

Attention span of the newer generations-way media seen, pictures seen etc

Troop differences-volunteer vs. draft

peoples support of the troops

Fighting style-use of munitions, visibility, mobility

Fear in Saigon, vs ? in Iraq

Reason for being in the countries

Jobs after/integration of troops

This is the photo i found for the comparison.  In the top it is the helicopter leaving Saigon, in the bottom it is the trucks leaving after the hand off to the Iraqis.

Iraq pullout: The quicker the better

Darwin Campbell Saigon Evacuation Post 8

Today I worked on my outline for the paper.  After talking to the other members of my group, we discussed the presentation and our ideas on how to make it flow. Parker gave me some good pointers, and got me thinking.  One of the biggest aspects is not only the difference in the wars themselves, but also in the way in which they are received by the public.  Americans attention spans have gotten shorter than they were before, and they were short to begin with.  When the announcement came that we were pulling troops out of Iraq by Obama, everyone was up at arms and excited.  But it was a quick subsidement, the attention being quickly diverted once he was elected, to only ask why he hadn’t fulfilled his promise in the electoral run for election.

In Iraq, we had less reporters, and less coverage.  In Vietnam it was the first war that the media was allowed to film and shoot, so the public followed it very closely, picture by picture, and video by video.  In Iraq, most of the information was sensitive, and would have gotten people killed if released in the papers or in any media form.  Most of the coverage was done by people that were actually enlisted in the military, or affiliated with it.  And the stuff that was released to the public was not only fewer in number, but in a different way.

People absorb the information differently now.  In the past, people got their news from the papers, magazines, or the nightly news on television.  Today people get their information on such a variety of ways.  Some from the internet, some from radio, some from the older sources.  There is so much diversity today in reception of news. And not only that, but more scepticism.

When the troops were actually pulled out of Iraq, people had already focused their attention elsewhere.  There was scant attention paid to it, so as a consequence, there were not the same photo styles or representations.  We weren’t reliant upon the photographs to tells us what was goings on there as the older people were in the Vietnam era.  We had other information, as well as multiple sources.  I think this is why there is no correlating photo to the evacuation of Iraq.  That and the fact that the pullout of Iraq was slower and more planned.  It wasn’t a day or couple weeks venture, it was over years, and planned well far ahead of time.

Darwin Campbell Saigon Evacuation post 7

This week I am focusing on the difference in reactions between Iraq and Vietnam.  My intent was to find, or at least start the process of comparison between the fear, shock, and mass panic of Vietnam, and see if that is the same or a different reaction was present in Iraq.

The first article I came across just struck me as odd, so I bit, and started reading.  It is an assessment of a VA report on the casualties of the Gulf War.  The article states that more individuals have died in the Gulf War than in Vietnam.  I delved into the piece, reading mainly raising questions.  I read the original data information from the VA, and began to understand more.  Part of the issue makes more sense, the amount of deaths were measured since 1990.  So depending on your idea of how the Gulf and Vietnam wars are measured in time can give slightly different results.

the article I read is definitely using the data in a slight falsehood in my opinion, as the data is for the Gulf in total, whereas the article states just Iraq, and leads one to believe just the Iraq war since early 2000.  On the other hand I do find the information interesting.  And even more interesting is the difficulty in finding the original VA source.  The fact that this information is hidden says something is in the air.

One of the biggest differences that I myself as a veteran can vouch for, is the difference in the way the soldiers are treated.  Although there are some that disapprove of us, and speak their minds openly, generally other civilians stand up and take care of the basher themselves, rather than the military person having to defend themselves.  Even those that are completely opposed to the war, still for the most part support those that are there.  My issue is that if they don’t support our cause, then they don’t support us in actuality, but that is a different issue.  Whereas the Vietnam veterans came home to be treated unfairly.




Parker LiaBraaten- Saigon Evac Post 9

When reading more letters to the editor in the New York Times, I saw even more discussion regarding the South Vietnamese refugees. The idea that the United States should take care of refugees to ease its guilt was very prominent. One letter expressed that the United States had an opportunity to make “a small down payment on the enormous moral debt” it had acquired from the Vietnam War, in addition to the historical discrimination and harsh treatment towards immigrants. One writer even reminded those who were against hosting Vietnamese refugees that many countries over the years had taken and helped refugees from the World Wars and other conflicts even when they were struggling economically and from war damage. The idea was posed that the United States, aside from their responsibility for creating the refugees, should feel obligated to help as it is the strongest and richest nation. This feeling of obligation was definitely a theme in these letters.

I was not surprised to read more opinions and concerns for the orphans from Vietnam. One writer discussed the “wave of spontaneous concern” for these orphans which allowed me to assume that the American people were opening showing sympathy for the Vietnamese children. Another writer brought up a very good point about this sudden sympathy and concern for these orphans when they asked where all the sympathy was when the children were being bombed, napalmed, mutilated, and burned. I imagine the answer is that this sympathy arose after reading articles and seeing photographs about the orphans. Most likely the Saigon Evacuation photograph specifically should not be credited solely for this reaction, but the big news of a sudden abandonment surely brought this issue to people’s attention making them wonder what would happen to the children who had been evacuated.

A lot of people used the sudden evacuation as a time to say “I told you so” and complain about the conflict while President Ford and others wanted to move on and focus on the future. However, one writer mentioned that after Vietnam was the perfect time to take steps in finding alternatives to war instead of while bullets are flying.

Not all letters were negative or of warning, one writer wrote in to praise those in his local area for their kindness and welcoming of South Vietnamese refugees. Again, this concern for refugees stemmed from the sudden abandonment and failed promise that the US would protect them. Another writer did not see the evacuation as a total abandonment, but as a “last chance to show the Vietnamese who had trusted [the US] that their faith had not been entirely misplaced.” I do agree that there was sacrifice and commitment during the evacuation, but this was on an individual level. Overall, I believed the evacuation was bailing on the US’s promise.



Parker LiaBraaten- Saigon Evac Post 8

By reading articles in Reporting Vietnam, I was able to get an understanding of how the South Vietnamese responded to the United States evacuating from Saigon. Before the evacuation thousands of Vietnamese refugees were fleeing from the Communist attacks and pressure closing in on areas around Saigon. One writer talked about watching a tide of people walk by who could not even be directed by soldiers shooting guns into the air because the Communist tanks were scarier than the South Vietnamese soldiers M16s. These Vietnamese knew that their lives would be in danger when the Communists arrived, and their fear showed.

In a past post I talked about the madness of the evacuation from the perspective of a US officer trying to direct and get people loaded, but this article gave me insight on the madness from the perspective within the crowd. One correspondent had to scratch and claw his way through the mob around the embassy trying to reach the wall, and he later said, “We were like animals.” In this madness, he was punched, offered a baby, and he promised to adopt a boy. He ended up getting the attention and help from a marine who literally pulled him over the wall into the embassy. The Vietnamese knew that their lives would be in grave danger when the Communists arrived. One Vietnamese woman had worked for the US for ten years, but went home to poison herself because she knew that even if she made it to the air base she would not be allowed on a plane.

In another article, a US Captain talked about how he was lied to at the very end of the evacuation and would have refused the order if he has known the truth. He was ashamed and when talking about the last hours he said, “You saw deceit. You saw how we let this country down to the very end.” The lie he talked about was when he was told to arrange people in groups, get them ready to leave, and to tell them that they would be evacuated. He said that even the Vietnamese firemen who helped him were left behind.

In previous posts, I talked about the general lack of clarity present in the Vietnam War, but these articles exposed flat out lies. Another US officer was extremely upset that the US lied to its own people. He also said that he will be haunted by their betrayal to the Vietnamese people for the rest of his life. Evidently the order to immediately stop the evacuation came directly from President Ford.

This article ends saying that the last helicopter left hundreds of Vietnamese waiting for the next one which never came. Some knew it was a hopeless cause, but like those in the Saigon Evacuation photograph, many believed that the US would/could not leave them behind; especially after promising them refuge.

The evacuation of Saigon was received by the Vietnamese with feelings of betrayal, grief, and fear. The Americans that got out of Saigon felt guilty because their “passport to salvation” was their big nose– as the Vietnamese called it. It was reported that the general Vietnamese belief was that Americans could not be trusted. This proved true with the evacuation which not only left so many at the hands of the Communist invasion, but when US banks closed in Saigon weeks before, they left thousands of Vietnamese unpaid.

DAYTON – Saigon Evacuation Post 8

In this week’s reading, I found information that described how Nguyen Van Thieu, President of the Republic of Vietnam, and the South Vietnamese reacted to the devastating loss at Ban Me Thuot.

Following the loss at Ban Me Thuot, Thieu believed that defending the most heavily populated and economically powerful portions of the country should be made the highest priority. In order to defend these regions, Thieu found it important to rally the people of South Vietnam, primarily at the line stretching from Ban Me Thuot, to Tuy Hoa, to the southernmost tip of the Mekong Delta. He hoped to use the cultural identity to the country’s advantage and ideally, they would rally together to fend off northern invaders. This area was also crucial because a large portion of the agricultural base, along with influential oil deposits, rest there.

It was critical that Thieu and the South Vietnamese recapture Ban Me Thout, as the North could use it to attack Saigon from several different directions. Thieu planned to gain the territory of either Pleiku or Kontum. He named his strategy of overtaking these crucial areas “Light at the top, heavy at the bottom”, in March, 1975. Thieu was faced with a similar situation in 1972 but chose against moving the regular forces out of the Northern Highlands. Although claims were made that he was making a bold move, backing to a more defensive position due to a lack of hope for future aid, Thieu believed that his decision was a result of a well thought out strategy that rested primarily on his perceived inability to neutralize the North Vietnamese.

To add to the controversy of Thieu’s decisions, withdrawing from the Northern Highlands would be extremely dangerous, considering American firepower was not available to hold off the North Vietnamese. Another significant problem was that there was not a lot of time for planning. Generals carrying out orders would have to act in an improvisational manner. After meeting with Phu, Major General of the Army of the Republic of Vietnam, Thieu gave him 3 days to complete the withdrawal plan.

The retreat turned out to be extremely poorly planned, as civilians and North Vietnamese troops could both spot the exiting South Vietnamese.
Although Thieu’s plan to retreat was logical, it proved catastrophic to leave the civilian population to fend for themselves. These mistakes that I have discussed proved to be very critical to the eventual Fall of Saigon.